CO-IN-KI-DINK-IES. . . It feels so right, so wonderful to be hard at work on the computer after a monthlong vacation . . . NOT!
Seriously, Saturday I had the warmest of greetings in Wailea when attending Noble Grape, the signature fundraiser for Maui Culinary Academy. It was held at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, and Regional Vice President and General Manager Chris Luedi performed a Hawaiian welcoming chant for all of us in the packed ballroom.
What's so special about a chant in Hawaii? you say. Well, this one was perfected by Luedi, who is originally from Switzerland. His haunting inflections started chicken skin running rampant in the room. Kumu Keli'i Taua taught him very well.
Acclaimed Maui Chef Mark Ellman of Mala Wailea and his wife, Judy, enjoy the bounties of Bali over cool drinks at Amandari Resort along the majestic Ayung River Gorge in Ubud.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Maui Culinary Academy also debuted its "Taste of Maui" cookbook at Noble Grape. You may meet the chefs at the various book signings to be held in November, or purchase a copy at MCA's newly named The Leis Family Class Act restaurant upstairs at the college.
But getting back to that vacation, Chef Mark Ellman and his family coincidentally were in Bali at the same time as we were. Mark and I both took the Bumbu Bali Cooking School (on different days) and I topped it off with another cooking class at Amandari in Ubud. Then we all met for dinner at Amandari to compare notes. (This is the resort where Mick Jagger married Jerry Hall).
The good news for Mauians is Mark, who owns Mala, Maui Tacos and Penne Pasta restaurants, is open to teaching his newly honed Balinese skills at Maui Culinary Academy next semester. It will be part of a series of one-shot celebrity chef cooking demo / luncheons.
"The food in Bali is very simple," says Mark. "Great fruits and vegetables. Indian food meets Chinese food. Lots of rice and noodles and chiles (sambal mata).
Other fun Bali food-worthy happenings included riding a Sumatran elephant to dinner in Taro; and enjoying Six on the Beach at sunset at PJ's in Jimbaran Bay with thousands of candles lit on the sand, artwork on easels and canopy beds to lounge on while we sipped drinks and watched the big Bali moon rise.
Mark and family were also on our flight to Tokyo. They did their thing after deplaning and we did ours. We headed to the Tsukiji Fish Auction, the largest in the world, where we dined on sushi and sake at 6:30 a.m. We hopped on the complicated Metro to the ultra-chic ekki in Marunouchi to wolf down $100 Kobe beef burgers with foie gras, caviar coleslaw and truffled French fries.
Then it was off to Las Vegas to my husband's annual boat show, where we checked out the new Hawaiian Tropic Zone (waitresses all wear designer bikinis), and Wing Lei (the only Michelin-star Chinese restaurant in America). We ended up in Northern California, where we savored fish and chips at Riva's on Santa Cruz Pier with the sea lions barking below us and then enjoyed a fabulous last dinner in San Francisco at Maxfield's in the Palace Hotel. A landmark since 1875, the Palace houses a 16-foot-long original painting by Maxfield Parrish as well featuring an opulent atrium restaurant called the Garden Court.
Before departing for Maui, I asked our concierge where to go for a fun last breakfast after a monthlong vacation and she said Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Skirting the Tenderloin on Jones Street, we ran into none other than Jason Chau of Asian Star and Jennifer Nguyen of A Saigon Cafe walking along. They had stopped off for a few days in S.F. en route to Maui from a safari in South Africa.
It's such a small world and every day I was reminded of it by people connected to our paradise in some way or another. Speaking of Maui, next week's Side Orders will be all about this island. But does it feel good to be back at work?. . . YES! Maui really is "no ka oi" and it's international, too. I'm ready for a repeat chant by Mr. Luedi.
* Contact Carla Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org.