ISLE HAPPENINGS. . . Everyone insists Maui is crawling along in snail mode, but we do like to have fun here. For starters, I'o Wine Club will present Making Magic With Mushrooms and Wines from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at I'o on the beach in Lahaina.
Longhi's Wailea will pour five fine Spanish wines from sparkling bruts to tempranillos and pair them with a tapas platter at 5:45 p.m. Friday. Jim Powlan of Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants will pour.
As for gossip, Chef George Gomes Jr., has jumped ship from Merriman's Kapalua to go back to his roots at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island.
The new chef at Merriman's Kapalua is Philip Wang, who has worked with stars Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud and Traci Des Jardins, among others. His most recent jobs have been at the acclaimed Carneros in Napa Valley and Mason's in Sacramento. "There is an inherent beauty in the ingredients themselves," he says. "Food should be authentic and approachable, not too foofy."
Music icon Willie Nelson was spotted on stage in Atlantic City recently in a Charley's Woofer Saloon T-shirt from his friend's bar in Paia. . . Famous San Franciscan author Shirley Fong-Torres, whose latest book is "The Woman Who Ate Chinatown," was spotted dining around Wailea and dancing at Mulligan's on the Blue.
There is a brand new nightclub in Lahaina at the former basement bar, Paradice Bluz in the 700 block of Front Street, called The Cellar 744. After a renovation, it's like Vegas and LA rolled into one.
"We've got big couches with leopard-skin prints, a giant stiletto-heel chair, purple-and-red water features, and we ripped out the carpet and acid-stained the concrete a deep red color," says partner Kevin Hughes, who many will remember from his days at the former Mulberry Street in Kihei. "We even have vintage posters on the walls, including a Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol."
As for dining in The Cellar, options coming up are dinner shows and meals available for private parties. For now, it's specialty drinks only on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights that it's open.
Kevin's partner in the business is Keoni Baines and this evening, they'll present the band Ekolu and Off Tomorrow along with DJ Boomshot.
Cafe La Plage at Dolphin Plaza in Kihei is celebrating its first anniversary Sunday to Nov. 15 with prize drawings for its customers. Come in for a nice bowl of French onion soup or breakfast bagels and sign up with partners Christophe Benoit or Christopher Saulnier.
Executive Chef Roger Stettler of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has called on his pals to bring in the goods for his continental breakfast Saturday following the 19th annual Day of Hope race.
Paradise Beverages, Meadow Gold Dairy, VIP Food Services and Kula Produce all donated the goods for the breakfast, which will be held at the resort's oceanfront lawn after the 5K/10K charity run. Howard Dashefsky of KHNL-8 will be master of ceremonies.
Nick's Fishmarket at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui in Wailea will present the party of the decade from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday as a benefit for Ka Lima O Maui. This nonprofit agency puts people with disabilities to work and provides them with paychecks.
There will be hand-passed appetizers from ahi tiger-eye sushi to heirloom tomato bruschetta. Dig into grilled lamb chops, ahi prime rib, Greek Maui Wowie salads, pasta, iced seafood, snapper picatta, tiger shrimp scampi and desserts such as bananas Foster. Owner Aaron Placourakis has spared no expense. Enjoy the Ocean Vodka martini bar, wine, live music and auctions, too.
Talk about a must-attend party, mark your calendars for Nov. 29, the 20th anniversary bash of Hali'imaile General Store. It will be a walk-about affair with food stations spilling out into the parking lot and the adjacent lawns. Bring along a jacket, as it's Upcountry. Called Art & Soul, it benefits the Hui Noe'au Visual Art Center (art) and the Maui Food Bank (soul). Kenny Rankin will be among the performers and a late-night DJ will get people on the dance floor.
There will be a slider bar with lobster, duck and Kobe beef burgers, a shooter bar, carving and pasta stations, sushi and lots of fun desserts. Grey Goose vodka will flow at the icy martini bar. Topping it off will be an auction - and couples will take home gifts.
Does it ever stop? Taste of Italy on Maui fundraiser will be held Sunday at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa's oceanfront luau grounds. Part-time Maui resident Bob Trinchero will donate his Trinchero Family Estates of Wineries vintages for the cause. Food will be provided by Longhi's, Capische, Matteo's and Gian Don's. Kihei Rotary Club is sponsoring this function. Auction items include a week's stay in Portugal. Grammy-winner George Kahumoku Jr. will be the performer.
Last, but not least, there will be a fundraiser for Oahu publicist Lisa Josephsohn, who represents many top restaurants across the state. The event is for her medical and living expenses as she fights cancer. It will be held Saturday at Ruth's Chris Steak House at Restaurant Row on Oahu. Some of the top musicians in the state will perform and the food will be divine. The suggested donation is $100. For more details, call (808) 342-3329 or visit www.friendsoflisa.com.
* Contact Dining Editor Carla Tracy at carlatracy @maui news.com.