THE COCONUT WIRELESS . . . Coconuts lined almost every bridge from Keanae to Hana earlier this week. It was a sign that juicy food gossip would spill forth from Maui's illustrious east end.
We were attending the Hana Harvest at Hotel Hana-Maui & Honua Spa and sure enough, we found true-blue foodies such as Maui attorney Paul Mancini and his wife, Judy, along with owner Michael Moore of Old Lahaina Luau out there, enjoying each and every bite.
The hotel's next culinary extravaganza is April 30 with nine winemakers from Rex Hill, Chehalem, Solena, A to Z, Adelsheim, Penner-Ash and more on hand - a pinot noir lover's dream come true.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Fresh jungle coconuts hacked open and ready for drinking led the way to juicy Hana food gossip.
"It will be a progressive 'wine hunt' event with winemakers and food stations around the property," says Director of Food and Beverage Keith Mallini.
At last weekend's event, acting Executive Chef Keoki McKee wowed the crowd with fresh, sustainable ingredients. Banana stalks hung in the lobby, fishermen laid their glistening catch at the door.
We also found fiery and exotic Thai food by Pranee near Hana Bay. She opens a few days a week for lunch with items such as beef with pumpkin in red curry. Hope you like it hot! . . . Jen's Thai Food is open near Hana school on the days when her friend Pranee takes a break.
In the morning at Pranee's spot, former Hotel Hana-Maui & Honua Spa's Executive Chef Barry Villliarimo does ono local fare such as saimin and loco moco. "But it's not every day," says a coconut-wireless insider. "As why hard keep track of who does what, which days."
Hotota Barbecue grills meats three or four days a week past the Buddhist temple in the remote town. . . Heavenly Hana Inn sets the stage for the Pizza Club Saturday nights and we hear they've done a tapas event one time. . . Happy's Lunch Wagon took over from Uncle Bill and serves plate lunches at Hana Bay.
In Kipahulu, Cafe Attitude is based upon its sister restaurant in San Francisco. Up to 100 people flock to get their fix Sundays and it's mostly vegan fare. But some guest chefs will cook say, venison.
How do you find it? Drive past Kipahulu toward Kaupo, and if you pass the mailbox that looks like a cow, you've gone a few driveways too far . . . Nearby Laulima Farm has a bicycle-powered blender you ride to make your own smoothies.
Hana Medical Center's farmer's market runs Monday to Thursdays in the afternoons. Besides certified organic produce grown on site, you may buy quiche, fresh fish, beef stew and salads.
Chuck Boerner of Kipahulu's Ono Farms does a fruit stand by Hana Gas Station weekdays except Fridays. He's the Robert Mondavi of tropical fruits with really unique products and you will also find him at the Swap Meet in Kahului Saturdays and at the upcoming Maui County Agricultural Festival March 14.
At Nahiku Marketplace, there's a little fruit stand with an etched-glass decanter full of fresh noni juice. Its medicinal properties are well known. Owners Wilford Poston and Bernadette Wining pour you little shots of it in shot glasses. They also sell the best dried coconut chips on the planet. Choose from Volcano, vanilla and Hana flavors. Buy, drive and munch away.
"It's so refreshing to have a job like this after a lifetime in the military," says Poston. "It's nice to serve and please people who are so happy for this experience." A few shops over is Nahiku Cafe, where Red Bottoms sells freshly roasted coffee from 6 to 10 a.m.
"The last time I left Nahiku was in '07," he says. "Before that it was '01 or '00. My last meal on that side was at A Saigon Cafe in Wailuku and it was fantastic. I also went to Kinko's and Longs Drugs and then came home."
BITS AND PIECES . . . The coconut wireless stretches all the way to the MACC in Kahului. The Steve Miller Band's mega show is Saturday, and we hear Serpico's will do chicken Francaise, pesto pasta and spinach salads. Brigit & Bernard's Garden Cafe will be on hand with Rockin' Me roast pork, The Joker's chicken Marsala, Jungle Love Caesars and Space Cowboy potatoes. ONO Gelato will cool you down and Maui Kazowie Kettlecorn will be popping hot and fresh kernels on-site.
Time for a Change benefit for Women Helping Women will be at Lahaina Civic Center Saturday. Penne Pasta has donated baked tomato and cheese pasta, and Santa Fe Cantina will do chicken fajita burritos and pork tamales.
Ka'anapali Beach Hotel will host Girl's Day all-you-can-eat buffet Sunday with live entertainment. . .
The film "Big Night" will be shown Friday in Pa'ina Food Court in conjunction with the "Key Ingredients: America by Food" exhibit at Maui Community College. It's the story of two Italian brothers whose superb restaurant is on the verge of bankruptcy. It's free, door open at 6 p.m. and there will be refreshments.
* Contact Carla Tracy at carlatracy @mauinews.com