Side Orders • Jan. 10, 2013

LAHAINA TOWN . . . Celebrity sightings on Maui this time of year are as common as humpback whales swimming up to a tourist vessel. Nonetheless, movie star Milla Jovovich of “Resident Evil” caused a bit of a stir at Wharf Cinema Center recently.

“Maui Island Coffee is usually a quiet little place to enjoy an early morning cup of coffee here at The Wharf, but Milla caused a bit of a stir and put a smile on owner, Tahar Baccar’s face for the day when she recently stopped in and ordered a tasty cup of Peaberry French press from him,” says the Wharf’s Director of Marketing Narda McDaniel.

“It’s great to know that people seek out the best places in Lahaina, and Maui Island Coffee is certainly one of them!” she continues. “Stop in and enjoy coffee made to perfection, a yummy pastry or panini sandwich, use the Internet and relax by the waterfall and the koi pond. We’re always happy happy to see you at The Wharf, and who knows, you just may spot a star while you’re here!”

Speaking of Lahaina, those looking for places to dine, but need some assistance, may book a food and art excursion with the new Hawaii Tasting Tours.

“I was the executive assistant at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, where I was regularly asked the question, ‘Where should we eat tonight?’ ” says owner Gigi Gaea. “That’s how the concept was born.”

The guided walking and dining experience takes groups of 2 to 16 people, ages 21 and older, to four restaurants all in one night.

“At each venue, guests will enjoy a signature pupu and beverage pairing,” says Gaea. “Throughout the night, the tour guide provides interesting facts about Hawaiian foods, and the island of Maui while keeping everyone on schedule.”

One excursion, called Lahaina Lights, meets at a local art gallery at 5 p.m., then heads to restaurants such as Kobe Japanese Steak House, Lahaina Prime Rib & Fish Company, Fleetwood’s on Front St., and Breakwall Shave Ice. But with 189 restaurants in West Maui alone, the partners may change due to the owner’s whim.

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BITS AND PIECES . . . When Chicago breezes into town Tuesday for a concert at Maui Arts & Cultural Center, there will be plenty of food from local vendors before and during the outdoor show.

Guava, Gouda & Caviar of Wailea will serve assorted cheese plates, mac ‘n cheese and meat loaf with Caesar salad. Teddy’s Bigger Burger of Lahaina will make the drive to grill juicy hamburgers, cheeseburgers and more. And Brigit & Bernard’s Garden Cafe will bring a taste of Europe from its Kahului eatery with Hungarian goulash, chicken Marsala, and penne pasta with marinara sauce.

In Paia at 381 Baldwin Ave, the Aloha Cafe & Juice Bar near the town’s historic train depot recently launched Reggae On The Rock Fridays. Fresh-squeezed fruit juices, smoothies and coconuts are available for purchase.

Tante’s Island Cuisine recently opened in Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului in the old Coconut Grill location. Currently, it’s only operating for breakfast and dinner, with lunch soon to arrive.

“Right now, our best seller is the seafood luau platter with lobster tail, mussels, crab legs and shrimp,” says owner Tante Urban, a native of the Philippines who most recently ran restaurants in Kona on the Big Island. “Diners also love our barbecue ribs and shrimp saimin. Our liquor license is pending, so you may BYOB.”

Now, here’s an interesting quote: “Food without wine is a corpse. Wine without food is a ghost. United and well matched, they are body and soul, living partners. . .” Andre Simon, (1877-1979).

The quote is a sentiment at Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea. So they will host the Bruno Giacosa wine dinner at Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante Jan. 18 with abalone cappellini; Malama Farms Berkshire pig; braised short ribs with beef demi; and panna cotta. Wine expert Fotis Tassopoulos of Young’s Market will chat with guests. Cost is $125, plus tax and tip. Call 874-8000.