BLOWING SMOKE . . . The tiki's eyes glow red and smoke spews from its open, sharp-toothed mouth. At night, it lights up the bar scene, as people sip tiki drinks and DJs spin dance tunes.
Earlier in the day, the South Shore Tiki Lounge in Kihei is getting raves for its healthful menu, with items such as Tahitian ceviche, vegan chili and fresh Maui fish sandwiches with coconut-almond rice.
"We took this place over in September and we're trying to clean it up and put our stamp on it," says owner Mikhail Tassi. "We strive to buy local and use only the finest and the freshest ingredients."
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
South Shore Tiki Lounge owner Mikhail Tassi says he has a solid night crowd with dancing and serves healthful fare using local products.
Mikhail's wife, Alma Tassi, agrees. "Our bread products are made with wheat and malted barley flour. They contain no dairy and are cholesterol free. Pizzas are crafted from scratch and sauces are made from fresh Roma tomatoes and fresh herbs and spices."
AROUND THE TOWN . . . Many of you will make the trek to Hana this weekend for the 17th annual East Maui Taro Festival. But the best part of it, at least for me, is the Taro Pancake Breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday in Hana Ballpark.
"Breakfast will be buffet style, with seating in a large tent," says volunteer Carl Lindquist. "Musicians will be entertaining all morning. The pancakes (which always get rave reviews) are made from a combination of taro flour and buttermilk pancake mix."
The feast also includes scrambled eggs, link sausage, fresh pineapple, steamed rice, orange juice and coffee. Cost is $8.50 adults, $5 children 12 and younger.
"The volunteer cooks and servers are all Hana Business Council members," says Lindquist. "We have been doing this for more than 15 years and expect to serve some 750 breakfasts, rain or shine."
The fourth annual Diabetes Maui Style will appeal to lovers of Spam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 3 in Maui Community College's Pa'ina Building. That's because local comfort foods such as Spam, Portuguese sausage and corned beef will be demonstrated in manageable meals for local-food-loving diabetics.
Broke Da Mouth Cookie Company will also be at the college campus in Kahului, passing out samples of its sugar- free orange chiffon cake as well as chocolate chiffon cake and yummy cookies, too.
"We use Splenda, canola oil and eggs," says Pastry Chef- owner Lloyd Yokoyama. "I also hear that Grammy Award- winner George Kahanamoku will be there, talking about how he manages his diabetes."
Speaking of Spam, Hormel Foods will introduce 12-ounce packages of Spam Hot Dogs Saturday at this year's Waikiki Spam Jam Festival. Hawaii was handpicked as the exclusive launch market for the dogs as our residents have an "insatiable desire for Spam."
BITS AND PIECES. . . Instead of running from the defense as in the days of old, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana tackled a bunch of fresh and creative fish dishes at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Kihei with his family in tow the other day.
Speaking of celebrities, Willie Nelson memorabilia is starting to materialize at Charley's Woofer Saloon in Paia. All was destroyed in an unfortunate fire a while back and owner Jim Fuller is working hard to get all of the replicas of his good pal's items in place.
Let's Do Italy is the theme of the next five wines, five cheeses tasting hosted by Who Cut The Cheese store at its neighbor, Stella Blue's Cafe. It will be uncorked from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at a cost of $30 per person. Seating is limited. Call 874-3930.
* You may reach Carla Tracy at 242-6342 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.