LAST-MINUTE IDEAS. . . My husband annually suggests Valentine's Day is a "holiday for women" because the fairer sex is generally on the receiving end of gifts such as roses and chocolates.
Well, Kahului chocolate proprietor Tony Jones agrees. "At 4 o'clock on Valentine's Day, that's when the biggest rush happens," says Tony. "All the men come in last-minute to buy gifts."
Maui Specialty Chocolates is located on the corner of Hukilike Street and Wakea Avenue in the Kahului Industrial Area. Tony's wife, Valerie Jones, learned her pastry skills at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Mother, Ruth Jones, helps out by placing delectables in baskets and boxes.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Ruth Jones of Maui Specialty Chocolates is part of a local family that creates and packages sweet treats in Kahului.
Valerie even makes long-stemmed chocolate roses in a variety of colors, using lavender to enhance the purple buds. Her truffle mochi just debuted this week and it's full of rich, chocolate sauce.
Speaking of things for the "ladies," another Girls' Night Out is planned from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at The Melting Pot in Lahaina. Win prizes in the Best Dressed '80s costume contest and enjoy other door prizes, psychic readings and a four-course fondue dinner for $35.
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BITS AND PIECES. . .Sarento's on the Beach in Kihei just received its AAA Four Diamond Award plaque for the sixth consecutive year. It's the only free-standing restaurant on Maui to be honored. The other two Maui winners were The Banyan Tree at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and Ka'uiki restaurant at the Hotel Hana-Maui.
"I'm extremely proud of our team," says Sarento's owner Aaron Placourakis. "Receiving this award for the sixth consecutive year motivates us to strive to be even better. At the same time, it's a humbling experience to be considered on the same level as fabulous restaurants such as The Banyan Tree and Ka'uiki."
By the way, Hotel Hana-Maui will set the stage for the first Hana Harvest festival Saturday, Feb. 21 and Sunday, Feb. 22. "Basically, we want to showcase our Hana farmers and fisherman, and put our culinary program out there," says Director of Food & Beverage Keith Mallini. "We have a weekend of events planned. You may purchase them as a package or a la carte. We'll also offer special room rates." Events include farm tours, picnic lunches, food and wine tastings, dinners and entertainment. (Look for more details in next week's Dining Scene.)
It looks like Willie K is playing all over the island these days. He'll be at Charley's in Paia Monday and if you come early for dinner, check out the fall-off-the-bone meats smoked with kiawe wood.
Charley's Chef Debbie Beck is impressing diners with her kiawe-smoked pork baby back ribs, served with crisp French fries and tangy cole slaw; and barbecue pork stuffed baked potato (loaded) with petite garden salad.
"Debbie is doing a great job in the kitchen," says owner Jim Fuller. "She's the best chef we've had in a while." She also does mushroom-butter-garlic pasta, pizzas, meat loaf, fish and chicken Marsala.
Willie K also now plays at Rusty Harpoon in Kaanapali Tuesdays and it's a dinner-show featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Hawaiian and island fare.
"Our buffet menu features fresh locally grown produce, fresh fish and hand-cut meats," says Rusty's Chef-owner Suzzette Metcalfe.
The national Drink Wine Day is Wednesday and experts have suggested some of the most affordable yet yummy picks are Redwood Creek 2006 pinot noir, Barefoot Bubbly sparkling wine.
It appears south-of-the-border Mexican cuisine will soon appear at the Maui Mall in Kahului when Taco Del Mar opens its doors to the public.
* Contact Carla Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org.