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.
Chef Ed Kenney holding the world’s craziest mug at Mahaina & Sun’s.
Chef Ed Kenney’s New Mahina & Sun’s
OAHU, HAWAII — Chef Ed Kenney never in his wildest dreams thought he’d have a restaurant on Waikiki Beach.
The touristy scene just wasn’t his particular cup of tea. After all, his other restaurants — Town, Kaimuki Superette, and Mud Hen Water — are all mere steps from one other in the quieter, residential neighborhood of Kaimuki.
But when Aqua-Aston Hospitality got the idea for revamping an old motel in Waikiki, they wooed him for a year until he finally agreed to open Mahina & Sun’s there in the Surfjack Hotel.
When he first saw the property, it was deja vu. Kenney chuckled, remembering that he once was a regular at a punk rock club that was on the premises.
The social media-sensation of a swimming pool.
The fun artwork.
Movies pool-side at night.
Call it fate. But Kenney’s forward-thinking, Hawaiian farm-to-table cuisine seems right at home in this super cool and funky fun space.
Breakfast is served — by Chef Lee Anne Wong at her Koko Head Cafe.
Honolulu’s Koko Head Cafe
OAHU, HAWAII — Even if you think you’re not a breakfast person, you will be after eating at Chef Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Cafe.
The down-home Hawaiian diner entices from the get-go, as I found when I was invited in as a guest two weeks ago.
Three years ago, the former “Top Chef” contestant made the big move to Hawaii from New York, after falling for a local farmer.
Shortly afterward, she opened her lively joint that serves only breakfast and brunch.
Whether you favor sweet or savory, you’re sure to find something to enjoy.
Each day, there is a different dumpling offered.
For us, that meant Breakfast Bruschetta ($6) — toasted bread slathered with macadamia yogurt and garnished with fresh tropical fruit. I’d eat this every morning quite happily.
Grilled lamb chops by Chef Jonathan Waxman.
MAUI, HAWAII — They came. They soared.
That’s just what six chefs did for “Soaring Plates,” the gala dinner held a week ago to culminate the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival’s celebration on Maui. I was lucky enough to join in on the fun as a guest of the Hawaii Tourism Bureau.
The dinner was held at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, on its the newly finished grass patio overlooking the ocean on Ka’anapali Beach. About 350 guests took their seats at boldly black-and-white striped tablecloths just in time for a dazzling sunset.
A festive night under the stars.
Chef Francois Payard with Chef Jose Garces.
The six-course feast kicked off with a starter by the resort’s Chef Gregory Grohowski of miso-cold smoked Maguro tuna with salmon roe, flower petals and yuzu Japanese mayo that did taste a little like a kicked-up version of the mainstay Kewpie Japanese mayo.