Side Orders • January 24, 2019

Ahi Nicoise Tataki is as fresh as it gets at the new Vana, located at Paia Inn on Maui’s north shore. Drinks are made by a mixologist. VANA photo

ISLAND HAPPENINGS . . . The north shore is pumping with way more than just big waves these days. The former Paia Inn Cafe at the Paia Inn on Hana Highway was just rebranded as Vana with a main garden dining area, chef’s table and Jade Bar.

“The inspiration behind Vana comes from our appreciation of Japanese cuisine and the distinct flavors of Hawaii,” says Paia Inn owner Michael Baskin.

“The new menu has been a big hit with our Paia Inn guests as well as with local residents who crave a fun and flavorful dining experience.”

Vana is open for brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and dinner starting at 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays. Chefs Nick Gerstmar and Sean Ikeda draw in diners with salads, gnocchi, hanger steak, sandwiches, local seafood, vegan items, sushi and desserts.

Vana’s mixologist crafts Prohibition-inspired cocktails such as the Shiso Lovely. Sommelier Vanessa Lampson curates the wine list and serves as F&B manager. For more details, call 579-6002.

People are still buzzing about the partial lunar eclipse on Sunday and how the moon took on a blood-orange hue. Are you craving more wondrous sights from Maui’s beautiful night sky?

Pacific Whale Foundation recently launched the Sunset Celestial Cruise from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturdays out of Maalaea Harbor. Astronomer Harriett Witt leads the cruise and adds knowledge of ancient Hawaiian navigation techniques to delight guests. The cruises includes hot and cold pupu and three drinks.

Speaking of drinks, The Lounge at Hotel Wailea rocks with live music from 5 to 8 p.m. daily. It’s situated next to The Restaurant, and the hotel’s executive Chef Zach Sato focuses on the pre-dinner crowd with share plates that will get you tapping your feet.

In addition, Hotel Wailea is offering cooking classes on an ongoing basis called Flavors of Hawaii. Former French Laundry chef as well as former pastry chef instructor at UH-Maui College, Krista Garcia leads the classes and also creates special dinners in Hotel Wailea’s intimate Tree House that attracts newlyweds.

“We are rolling out a foraging tour as well,” says Hotel Wailea’s Director of Marketing Christy Stesky. “You go with Krista to a farm and everyone selects ingredients and then comes back and cooks. These classes are now open to non-hotel guests. Call 850-5139.

On Sunday, Grandpa Joe’s Candy Company will pay tribute to its company founder during the Maui Sunday Market at Kahului Shopping Center.

Founder Joe Miller passed away on Maui earlier this month, and in celebration of his life, his ohana will give away complimentary cotton candy on a stick from 4 to 8 p.m. during the market event.

“When my father was five years old and his brothers much older, their parents lost two farms in Iowa, so the kids ended up making and selling confections at the carnival for a living,” says his son Chad Miller. “They sold caramel corn, cotton candy and caramel apples. When our family moved to Hawaii, my dad used to make his caramel corn once or twice a year for friends and family. People absolutely loved it and couldn’t put it down.”

West Maui’s local favorite Italian bistro, Sale Pepe, is now selling its pastas and pesto and marinara sauces at Foodland Farms in the R. Fields gourmet foods section at Lahaina Gateway. Yum!

* Got restaurant/dining-event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email carlatracy@mauinews.com.