A Taste of Paradise on Maui

Molokai sweet potato pancakes at Cane & Canoe at the Montage Kapalua. What a way to greet the morning.

Molokai sweet potato pancakes at Cane & Canoe at the Montage Kapalua. What a way to greet the morning.

 

MAUI, HAWAII – In seven days on this tropical paradise, one can do major damage to the waistline. So much for that Speedo or bikini bod.

I can practically live on nothing but poke and papaya when I visit Hawaii. But of course, when you’re a guest invited by the Maui Visitors Bureau, with meals and accommodations provided, you end up eating a whole lot more. Happily, of course.

In fact, I miss the food already. Can you blame me? Just take a look.

Montage Kapualua Bay

One of the newer resorts in the area, the 24-acre, oceanfront Montage Kapualua Bay opened in June 2014. A former Ritz-Carlton time-share, the property still boasts a fair number of privately-owned luxury units. But 50 of them are operated by the hotel, comprising one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences with gourmet kitchens, living rooms and spacious lanais.

There’s also a large fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, spa services, outdoor hot and cold plunge pools, and exercise classes. Yours truly even dragged herself to an early-morning cardio core class one day.

The view during breakfast.

The view during breakfast.

The living room in our suite.

The living room in our suite.

The full-service kitchen, which even has a washer-dryer off to the side.

The full-service kitchen, which even has a washer-dryer off to the side.

One of three bedrooms in this particular suite.

One of three bedrooms in this particular suite.

But first things first. After a very long flight that arrived late at night, my husband and I were so looking forward to breakfast the next morning at the resort’s restaurant, Cane & Canoe.

The open-air restaurant affords a perfect view of the pool and ocean as the sun comes up. Bask in that sight as complimentary mini kabocha muffins arrive to the table.

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Tantalizing Tastes From the 8th Annual Maui County Ag Fest

San Francisco Chef Ritchie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in his dish.

San Francisco Chef Richie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event as Maui Chef Jeff Scheer looks on. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in a dish.

 

MAUI, HAWAII – Despite its rich soil and tropical, year-round growing season, Hawaii actually imports about 90 percent of its food. To promote a growing trend toward locavorism, the Maui County Farm Bureau has hosted its Maui County Ag Festival for the past eight years.

For the fourth time, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest judge for the event by the Maui Visitors Bureau.

The all-day event on April 4 drew hundreds to the Maui Tropical Plantation to eat, drink, and mingle with chefs and farmers. A lively farmers market gave folks the chance to buy Maui-grown strawberry papayas, avocados, apple bananas and even hand-pounded poi.

An assortment of food trucks made sure there was no shortage of food. In fact, I hate to admit that my day consisted of: Pigging out at Chef Kyle Kawakami’s Maui Fresh Streatery Gourmet Food Truck, which changes its menu according to the local ingredients available each week; followed by judging 12 dishes prepared by chefs in the live cook-off; then judging another 12 dishes in the Grand Taste event, where each chef had to make a dish spotlighting an ingredient grown by a local farm.

Maui Fresh Streetery truck.

Maui Fresh Streatery truck.

The truck's poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

The truck’s poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

My eating didn’t end there, either. Even though I vowed I was done after that, I somehow ended up at the chefs after-party at Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Migrant restaurant, where plate after plate descended upon the table in a non-stop parade.

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A Visit to the Kogi Truck at LAX

Yup, you can find this at Los Angeles International Airport.

Yup, you can find this at Los Angeles International Airport.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA — Flying from the Bay Area to Maui is a long trek, even in the best of circumstances on a nonstop flight.

So, my husband and I might have been a bit cranky two weeks ago at the thought of having to suffer through a layover in Los Angeles — if not for one delightful development.

We were scheduled to change American Airlines planes in Terminal 4.

Yes, the home of the permanently parked Kogi Truck, situated in the food court there, which opened in December 2014.

Imagine bypassing the usual fast-food chains and other tired-looking airport offerings for Chef Roy Choi’s clever mash-up of Korean and Mexican food instead. We’d chased down Choi’s original Kogi Truck in Los Angeles before, so we were no stranger to his kimchi-laced tacos, burritos, quesadillas and sliders, which essentially ignited the modern-day food truck craze.

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A Taste of Luxe at Alexander’s Patisserie

Presenting L'Orange from Alexander's Patisserie.

Presenting L’Orange from Alexander’s Patisserie.

 

From the lighted, jewelry-like display cases to the tony, studded white leather wingbacks to the French marble tabletops, Alexander’s Patisserie oozes luxury.

The patisserie, which opened last year in downtown Mountain View, is by the team behind Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, and The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto.

Executive Pastry Chef Dries Delanghe honed his skills at Pierre Herme in Paris before joining the team at Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Taking a load off in style.

Taking a load off in style.

His pastries are exquisite looking. Individual domes and tarts, perfectly formed and flourished, are displayed like little works of art.

Fortunately, they deliver in taste, too, as I found recently when I purchased a few goodies to take home.

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The Big, Bold Flavors of Shrimp Tamarind

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

 

For weeknights especially, I’m always on the hunt for recipes that promise big bang for the buck.

Not necessarily economically. Though, that’s always a plus, too.

But more so in terms of delivering bold, brash, satisfying flavors without a lot of effort.

“Shrimp Tamarind” is just such a dish.

It’s from “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy last year. The book is by Van Tran and Anh Vu, Vietnamese-natives who now run a couple of popular market stalls and cafes in London. Their focus is on recipes easily made at home, such as “Asparagus and Crabmeat Soup,” “Salmon with Ginger Caramel.” and “Braised Eggplant.”

“Shrimp Tamarind” comes together in the time it takes your rice cooker to cook up some fluffy steamed rice to accompany this dish.

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