Side Orders • Mar. 21, 2013

AT THE COLLEGE . . . Maui Culinary Academy at UH-Maui College is really cooking up a storm these days.

In its popular food court, Edo Ya Ramen will celebrate its grand opening Friday, taking the place of the former Farm-to-Table lunch concept.

“We’re starting out really basic, but every step we take will bring us closer to Momofuku Noodle Bars that are all the rage in New York City,” says Ed Costa, general manager of Sodexo operations at MCA.

The garde manger class boils giant cauldrons of aromatic shoyu, miso and non-traditional vegan broths as the ramen soup bases from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Toppings include pork, spinach, poached eggs, fish cake, green onions and more.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, international tea expert David de Candia will lead a tea demo and tasting at MCA’s Pa’ina Building on the Kahului campus, and it’s free and open to the public.

His role as Director of Tea for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Enterprise encompasses everything from sourcing and then purchasing exotic teas directly from estates around the world to creating new blends.

Last but not least, MCA is enticing bread and dessert lovers with its Pop Up Patisserie on the stage in the massive Pa’ina Building. Themes change each month. Open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, it offers pastries, espresso, and you may order specialty cakes, fresh apple pies and fun mousses with cool techniques.

“Things change daily, depending on what the students are baking,” says MCA’s Pastry Chef Instructor Teresa Cheech Shurilla. “Everything is made from scratch.”

Friday is bread day, and anyone from the public may pick up focaccia, French baguettes and sourdough bread made from Cheech’s 12-year-old starter. We also hear Cheech is a contestant on Food Network’s “Sugar Dome,” in which, according to the website, “three teams of cake designers, sugar artists and top specialty craftspeople battle it out in a series of themed challenges.”

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WINNERS, ALL . . . Word has it that Coconut’s Fish Cafe in Kihei made the national CNN list of “Top 10 Places to Eat Like a Local.”

“The list is comprised of restaurants from all around the country,” says Coconut’s owner Mike Phillips. “We’ll also be featured in Travel + Leisure magazine next month, and Maui County Council will recognize us with special award on April 19. I just knew we had something good when we started here at Azeka Mauka four years ago, and we just kept growing because we serve healthy food, made perfectly, and focus on our customers.”

Next month, Coconut’s Fish Cafe will open another spot in Scottsdale, Ariz., with more in the works. “We hope we can bring the Coconut’s experience to our friends, no matter where they live,” says Phillips.

In addition, Sunset magazine just debuted its first-ever food issue, and Hawaii received numerous highlights and features in the publication.

For instance, in the “Edible Maui” section, 10 stops were suggested for a Maui road trip, including Sam Sato’s and Home Maid Bakery in Wailuku; and food trucks Geste Shrimp and Kalama’s Local Grinds, both parked regularly at Kahului Harbor.

In Haiku, Wayne’s Sushi Bar and Colleen’s at the Cannery got raves; and Upcountry, the best stops in the top 10 were Grandma’s Coffee House, Ulupalakua Ranch Store; and Kula Country Farms.

In Sunset’s “Eat Like a Chef” category that spotlighted 38 top outlets in the West, Maui’s own Choice Health Bar in Lahaina and Spago at Four Seasons Resort Maui were at the top of the heap.

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BITS AND PIECES . . . The Royal Lahaina Resort in Kaanapali will set the stage for the Rotary Club of Lahaina’s annual Mardi Gras party, “Let The Good Times Roll,” from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Executive Chef Bernard Salazar will present famous New Orleans and Creole food and drink and the scholarship benefit will also get your feet tapping to the popular JD on the Rocks band that wow visitors at Pioneer Inn in Lahaina. Tickets are $75 and selling fast, just like oyster po’ boys at Carnival. For tickets, call 669-5200.

Savor a four-course wine-paired dinner at Porto, Pacific Whale Foundation’s Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Maalaea from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday with president and founder Greg Kaufman. Call 249-8811.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Sunday for Starry Night Cinema at the MACC for the film “Rise of the Guardians.” Food vendors are Maui Vegan Soups, Sumo Dogs, Maui Kazowie Kettlecorn and Kalama’s Local Grinds.