Category Archives: Travel Adventures

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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Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays 2015 at the Ahwahnee

Chef Duskie Estes' "S'mores in a Jar'' for sampling at Chefs' Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

Chef Duskie Estes’ “S’mores in a Jar” for sampling at Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — Featuring half a dozen renowned chefs — all with Bay Area ties and most of them familiar from the world of food TV — last week’s final sessions of Chefs’ Holidays for 2015 proved delectable, delightful and deliriously fun.

I was honored to be a host of Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel for a third straight year for the annual series of cooking demos and gala dinners.

Session 7 featured Chef Ron Siegel of Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, who recounted his experience of being the first American chef to beat an Iron Chef on the original Japanese program. Siegel, who prepared the five-course gala dinner, revealed that he was most worried about cutting himself on the Japanese cooking show (he didn’t) and how he was glad the “secret ingredient” was lobster, rather than something really crazy like a live cow he’d have to milk on stage.

ChefsHolidaysSign

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

He was joined in that session by Chef Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland, who showed off the hand-forged Japanese knife he had made when he lived and studied in Japan; and by Chef Hoss Zare of The Fly Trap in San Francisco, who talked about how he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he was growing up.

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An Amuse Bouche to the 2015 Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon -- served on a magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon — magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

 

When you get a group of esteemed Master Sommeliers together, you know there’s going to be an abundance of fine wines uncorked.

When you get them together at Big Sur’s gorgeous Post Ranch Inn as a prelude to next spring’s Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza, the drinking and dining are of the highest order and pretty much go on non-stop.

That’s what I was lucky enough to be privy to when I was invited as a guest to the soiree and to Post Ranch Inn a few weeks ago.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

The Nest -- a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

The Nest — a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Among the other guests at the two-night affair were: David Bernahl, founder of the Pebble Beach event; Lara Sailor Long, executive wine director for the event; Kim Beto of Southern Wine & Spirits; Shayn Bjornholm, education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers; Ian Cauble of SommSelect; Dominque DaCruz, wine director of Post Ranch Inn; Christie Dufault, former wine director at Restaurant Gary Danko; Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines; Jordan MacKay, wine and spirits writer; Carlton McCoy, wine director for The Little Nell in Aspen; and Larry Stone, estate director of Huneeus Vintners in Rutherford.

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