Side Dish: My Little Cabbage

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Story by Gossip Gourmet

Happy New Year, fellow foodies! What are your resolutions? Miz Gossip’s is simply this: Chew more slowly. Life is worth digesting. Beyond that, there are plenty of new restaurants to try. Gossip can’t wait to indulge in robata-yaki at the elegant new Kai Wailea. Robata (derived from the Japanese word for hearth, or fire) are all the rage from Tokyo to New York. Using clean-burning bincho charcoal (a tradition dating back to eighth-century Japan) robata chefs grill superior-quality meats and seafood to order, and serve the tasty tidbits to guests on a giant paddle. Mmm . . . save us a seat.

Looking dapper in a white jacket and red-ginger lei, Steven Capelli celebrated the grand opening of his new Bistro Casanova, a benefit for the Maui Coastal Land Trust. The party, he claimed, was just an excuse to don the coat his pal, artist Piero Resta, talked him into buying. Consider the gauntlet thrown, Peter Merriman! We’ll be waiting to see what corporate chef Merriman wears to the grand opening of Duke’s restaurant in Ka‘anapali this January. . . .

Down economy be darned! Belts were loosened, rather than tightened, at the recent Noble Chef event hosted by the Fairmont Kea Lani. Not only was the banquet lavish (mmm . . . kalbi short ribs with pineapple caviar . . .), but the annual benefit for Maui Culinary Academy raised $100,000 for culinary arts students. Thanks to hot bidding during the live auction, several dinners for ten—courtesy of private chef Dan Fiske, caterer Ralph Giles, and local celeb chef Bev Gannon—sold for more than $3,000 apiece. Especially generous bids sponsored future chefs’ tuition and fees. Way to put your money where your mouth is, Maui!

Speaking of students: MCA’s first evening cohort aims to make the grade by serving up delicious dinner fare. Head to Pa‘ina Court Monday and Wednesday nights for A+ plates of carbonara pasta or mahi with bok choy.

Chef David Paul Johnson devised his own solution to public education’s Furlough Friday crisis: he invited students ages twelve and up into his Front Street kitchen for cooking lessons. We reckon that slicing, dicing, and sauteing with one of the best in the biz more than fulfills DOE standards in applied math, chemistry, and French. . . .

Inside scoop: Local artist Brandis Sarich has found a sweet outlet for her creativity—Ono Honu ice-cream sandwiches. She’s supplying Surfside Spirits & Deli with tasty little “turtles” in three flavors: coffee, mint, or haupia (coconut) Roselani ice cream, sandwiched between two gooey, lick-your-fingers brownie cookies. At $3.75, these homemade treats might become a serious habit.

Miz Gossip thought she discovered a slice of Paris on Mill Street when, driving past the Wailuku landmark Tasty Crust, she spied cafe tables alongside their parking lot. Sadly, her fantasies of ordering banana hotcakes outdoors were cut short; after routine maintenance, the tables were moved back inside. C’est la vie!

Finally, four ways to woo your gourmet valentine:

•    Milk goats at Surfing Goat Dairy and stay for dinner.
•    Rent a tandem bike and pack a Who Cut the Cheese picnic basket.
•    Leave a Waialua Estate chocolate bar on the pillow.
•    Use French culinary terms of endearment, such as je t’aime ma cocotte (I love you, my chicken), mon choux (my pastry), or mon petite chou (my little cabbage).

If you want the romantic spirit to linger, book seats at the February 24th ‘Aipono Winemaker’s Dinner. David Paul’s Island Grill will host a tastebud-titillating tour of Napa Valley’s finest vintages, kicking off our “California Showcase” theme for 2010. The annual ‘Aipono Winemaker’s Dinner series benefits Maui Culinary Academy. So we can eat, drink, and do good all at once. Bon appetit!

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