Side Orders • Feb. 20, 2014

AROUND THE TOWN . . . When locals and visitors hear about a new restaurant, they embrace it wholeheartedly. On its opening day, the new Sangrita Grill & Cantina in the Fairway Shops in Kaanapali had eager diners charging in like bulls at Cinco de Mayo.

They sunk teeth into Mexican fare, such as short-rib tacos, seized whole chickens in the grab ‘n go section, and drank top-shelf margaritas. Owner Paris Nabavi seems to have filled a niche in this new spot with wood furniture imported from Bali, distressed to look like it jumped right out of Senor Frog’s in Mazatlan.

Remember Patrick Callarec, chef of the old Chez Paul in Olowalu and formerly of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua? He’s now an executive chef in Java, Indonesia, and is set to open a five-star hotel. He says he’s looking for a chef de cuisine and a restaurant manager with one-year contracts. Email him at executive.chef@royaltulipbandung.

Speaking of the Ritz, we hear new General Manger Alex Ahluwalia is excited to announce that Celebration of the Arts will move to Mother’s Day weekend this year (it used to be Easter weekend). The hugely coveted luau and show will be Saturday, May 10, and tickets are sure to go as fast as opihi, poke and sashimi at an island party.

Max Media owner John Graziano has just teamed with Wally Amos to launch the “famous” baker’s new company called, The Cookie Man. You know that chocolate chips will be part of the package.

Slappy Cakes near Times Supermarket in Honokowai is the fun place to bring the whole family for breakfasts. Now, it’s open for Slappy Hour from noon to 5 p.m. daily with $5 pupu and drinks; and dinner from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays to Sundays. We checked it out recently and loved the ahi poke tacos; the top-sirloin poke rice bowl with chili peppers, green onions and pickled ginger; and the grilled pear salad with bleu cheese and spicy candied walnuts. The coconut syrups are all made in house for pancakes; and so are simple syrups for specialty cocktails.


BITS AND PIECES . . . Wanna dive into a crustacean sensation? Then get tickets to LOBSTER-FEST 2014 to crack and crunch at 1 p.m. Sunday at Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Yokouchi Pavilion. The annual Rotary Club of Wailuku benefit will be snappin’ with live Dixieland music, icy cold libations (for purchase), the freshest lobsters and more – Nawlins style.

Philip Smith and the Gentlemen of Jazz with vocalist Gina Martinelli will keep your feet tapping while you don bibs to devour spiced steamed lobsters with etouffee, dirty rice and Louisiana potato salad. You may also quaff French Quarter Hurricane cocktails, and bid at auction. Tickets are $100. Call the MACC at 242-7469.

Maui AIDS Foundation is excited to announce the return of Mardi Gras Maui on Saturday, March 8, at The King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. Wear your beads and masks as there will be prizes for best costume. You must be 21 and older to attend.

Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Kaanapali just celebrated its grand reopening this week. It’s delighted Maui visitors for more than 30 years, and it’s back to amaze you.

“The luau experience includes a lavish dinner buffet of traditional island dishes and unique desserts, an open bar, crafts by local artisans, a hula lesson and island wear fashion show,” says the Hyatt Maui’s Marketing Manager Jessica Kapoor. “Please join us on the newly renovated lanai, the Sunset Terrace.”

Banfi Vintners is the sole U.S. importer of fine Italian wines from the Mariani family estates in Tuscany, as well as the Piedmont region of Italy. Tonight at 6:30, Makena Beach & Golf Resort will bring in Banfi and pair its wines with a five-course feast.

The resort’s Chef De Cuisine Kurt Lesmerises will make cognac-braised escargot and roast venison tenderloin; and creme fraiche panna cotta will take it over the top. Banfi’s fine Italian wines will flow.

Fly to California with Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival’s cochair Roy Yamaguchi April 10 to 13. He’s teamed up with Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival for packages with round-trip airfare, luxury accommodations and special festival pricing you won’t find anywhere else. More than 100 prominent chefs and 250 wineries from around the world will be on hand.