Side Orders • May 2, 2013

WHISKEY RIVER . . . The rich and dark spirit is at the top of my mind this week for several reasons.

First off, Tuesday was beloved part-time Maui resident Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday – and he’s the man who immortalized the song, “Whiskey River.”

Secondly, a master distiller here is almost done brewing copious amounts of whiskey, soon to be released.

In Kaanapali, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa will flow with a whiskey, cigar and beer event next week (see Page 19) that will be smokin’ hot.

“Brown is the new white,” says Maui Brewing Co. pub’s general manager Tony Ren, who will be at the event. “Dark spirits like whiskey and dark beers are trending at the top right now.”

Now, I hear Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay will do an All-American Whiskey Barbecue at 6 p.m. Friday, May 17, on its luau grounds.

Sip, swish and savor dark caramel Dickel Rye Whiskey and Bulleit Rye with Master of Whiskey Dr. Thomas Turner as you sink your teeth into slow-cooked beef brisket, kiawe-split roasted whole pig and bone-in barbecue short ribs.

Then try your hand at Hawaiian cowboy roping at the paniolo station. Yee haw! How fun is that? The event is $75 per person. Call Manele at (808) 565-2388.


BITS AND PIECES . . . “Pura Vida means ‘aloha,’ ‘pure life’ in my native Costa Rica,” Frank Ortega, owner-chef of the new, gleaming white, Pura Vida Maui food truck in Kihei, told me when I approached his window last week.

Just then, a tourist with a Pura Vida T-shirt from Costa Rica walked up, curious and looking hungry, too.

From the capitol of San Jose, Ortega will wow you with Caribbean cole slaw made with jicama, chayote, cabbage, cilantro and habenaro chili-pepper water; pescado (fish) sandwiches; empanadas homemade from corn-tortilla flour and stuffed with squash and chorizo; green plantains deep fried and served with avo salsa and queso fresca; and shrimp ceviche. The beet-and-potato salad is colorful and cool. To place orders, call Pura Vida at 446-5679.

Cilantro Mexican Grill in Lahaina will celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, May 5, with a fundraiser for Lahainaluna High School’s garden.

In a nutshell, a portion of all Sunday sales will go to the school’s garden program. Making a special appearance on that day only will be chicken mole enchiladas. Other house specialties are chile rellenos, award-winning Mother Clucker flautas; and chipotle-citrus rotisserie chicken.

Sunday hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 667-5444.

Cilantro’s owner Paris Nabavi also does Persian cooking classes at his beautiful home on a regular basis, and the exotic food is just incredible, as my friend and I evidenced on Saturday night.

A Day of Mexico with Hawaii’s Rising Star Chefs classes will run all day today at Maui Culinary Academy. Learn how to make mole, chorizo and sopes.

The best meat cutters in America will face off in finals for a $20,000 prize on Sunday at Grand Wailea.

“The Texas Roadhouse National Meat Cutting Challenge began as a nationwide competition with nearly 450 professional butchers slicing and dicing their way through local and regional competitions has come down to just seven,” says spokesperson Travis Doster. “It’s winner takes all in this timed meat-cutting event.”

Monsoon India will prepare food such as dahl curry, mutter paneer, naan, and tandoori chicken for the Shantala concert Sunday at Makawao Union Church.

5 Palms Lahaina closed for a planned, extensive renovation, according to Director of Operations Kennan Randolph.

“We’ll be coming back with a multi-level concept in a couple of months. Ground level, will be daytime fast-service food and shops. The upper level will reopen with an exciting new concept.”

The upcoming Andaz Maui at Wailea is holding a job fair Saturday and Sunday at Kihei Elementary School for those looking to work in food and beverage outlets and other departments.