Hula Grill’s poke tacos.
MAUI, HAWAII — Imagine three miles of sand and water so entrancing that it was once the retreat for Hawaiian royalty. That’s what Kaanapali beach on Maui’s west side is all about.
I had a chance to check out some of the food in the area when I was a guest on the island last month, courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
There’s almost always a line outside Hula Grill — for good reason. It has a coveted place right on the beach. In fact, the outdoor tables and chairs are planted right in the sand with a stunning view of the ocean.
There’s often live music, too, including the likes of Derick Sebastian, an award-winning ukulele player and singer.
A popular place to dine where you can dig your toes into the sand.
It’s a perfect place for a casual, no-nonsense lunch. The Hula Caesar ($9) features local upcountry romaine, garlic focaccia croutons and shredded parmesan. I added seared ahi for another $10. I missed having anchovies, but I appreciated that the salad was lightly dressed.
Brunch — local fruit, banana bread and honeycomb — is served at the Four Seasons Oahu.
OAHU, HAWAII — Staying at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is every bit as posh as it sounds.
When my husband told a co-worker that we’d be staying there complimentary, as guests of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, she gasped, “Do you have the right clothes for that?”
My husband and I also quickly calculated that the total price of our room for two nights nearly approached the cost of one month of our mortgage.
But if you possess the means, wow, what a way to relax in paradise.
A former Marriott, the property was completely renovated a year ago. Its 17 floors sport 371 rooms, the majority of them ocean front.
Our room with a view.
The resort will deliver cold beverages to you by the pool or beach via these babies.
A wedding chapel on the grounds.
The lobby decor.
Take a load off in one of the airy sitting areas.
An especially nice touch is an iPad in the room, which among other things, allows you to order room service from any of the property’s five restaurants and lounges.
Chefs Chris Kajioka, Mimi Mendoza and Anthony Rush of the soon-to-open Senia restaurant.
Senia is arguably one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants to open in Honolulu this year.
And I had the opportunity to get a divine preview taste — in San Francisco, of all places.
Transporting a taste of the islands to the city by the Bay makes perfect sense when you realize that Co-Executive Chef Chris Kajioka has strong ties to the Bay Area. He worked at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco under the tutelage of Ron Siegel, as well as at Thomas Keller’s Per Se. He also cooked at San Francisco’s Aziza, and helped open its sister restaurant, Mourad.
It was at Per Se that he met his British-born Co-Executive Chef Anthony Rush, who also had worked at the French Laundry. Not to mention, Senia’s pastry chef, Mimi Mendoza, just left that position at Chez T.J. in Mountain View. Moreover, one of Senia’s main investors lives in San Francisco.
Hearts of palm draped over Maui venison tartare.
So while Senia is being constructed in Honolulu’s Chinatown, right next door to the popular Pig & The Lady, the chefs took the time to host an invitation-only pop-up dinner at the Naked Kitchen in the Mission District. The private event space is inside a Victorian whose first floor has been transformed into a souped-up professional kitchen with long tables spanning through the dining room and living room.
Chefs David Costa and Jessica Carreira of San Jose’s first Michelin starred restaurant, Adega.
Last Thursday, a mere two days after Adega scored the first Michelin star in all of San Jose, the vibe was still celebratory and one of complete shock.
Co-owner Carlos Carreira recounted that after they got the early morning phone call with the announcement, his daughter, Pastry Chef Jessica Carreira, who along with her fiance Chef David Costa, oversee the kitchen, were so dumbfounded that they thought it might have been a prank call.
Carlos Carreira assured her it couldn’t have been. But he also thought to himself, “What did we just do?”
Merely make history by becoming the first restaurant in San Jose to score a coveted Michelin star, and only the second Portuguese restaurant in the United States to garner such acclaim (following New York’s Aldea).
Adega takes its wine very seriously.
The intimate dining room.
Art on the walls.
All this for a restaurant that only opened last year, in the frill-free, working-class neighborhood known as Little Portugal.
A simple looking soup that has a deceptive depth of flavor.
Here’s the funny thing: As much as I liked the “Pumpkin Brownies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting” from Betty Rosbottom’s new cookbook, I liked this soup recipe even better.
After all, the book by this food writer and cooking teacher is called, “Soup Nights” (Rizzoli).
Soup is the focus to be sure — every kind imaginable from “Creamy Smoked Trout and Cucumber Chowder” to “Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Soup” to “Icy-Cold Watermelon Soup with Whipped Feta and Mint.”
But what’s genius is that Rosbottom also includes recipes for salads, sandwiches and desserts to round out the soup meal.