IN COWBOY COUNTRY . . . A family reunion in Hamoa was cause for a trip around the back side of Maui. We decided to stop at Ulupalakua Ranch Store for lunch, to wait for the lagging caravan, and it was worth every bite.
We heard Ulupalakua elk burgers are grilled outside on the lanai 11 a.m. to 2:30 daily and that this is the only place on Maui you can find them. You may order them with bacon, pickles, grilled onions or whatever your heart desires. Sides include chips and salads.
In addition, the steak chili made with Maui Cattle Co. beef, infused with Maui Brewing Co.'s Coconut Porter, is a real treat in the cool, Upcountry air. Ample picnic tables are spread about on the lawn.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Daniel Youlin of Ulupalakua Ranch Store leans on a statue of cowboy hall-of-famer Ikua Purdy as he holds an elk burger, grilled outdoors.
"The Suzy Q teriyaki steak sandwich is popular and so are the Cobb salads and veggie wraps," says sales associate Roger Gazmen. "We just started making blueberry muffins and banana bread. Both are a big hit."
And, mark your calendars for Sept. 17, when the next Sunday Drive will be held.
"We do this event quarterly. It's small and not crazy like the old Ulupalakua Thing," says the store manager, Diane Azevedo. "We partner with artists and farmers, have music and do lunch specials. It's a peaceful, beautiful, country-style experience with free admission and it's a good way to enjoy the grounds."
She's talking about the Tedeschi Vineyards site across the street, complete with tasting room and historic buildings. Mele syrah is available there now with ripe berry notes and hints of chocolate.
AS MAUI TURNS . . . Readers keep e-mailing and calling, asking when Bistro Casanova will open in the old Manana Garage in Kahului.
"The opening time is still undefined," says Giovanni Cappelli, who also owns Casanova in Makawao. "We'll probably have a soft opening (maybe only for lunch and BYOW), beginning of September. Full scale mid October, when we should get our liquor license. I'm doing my best to open and open right."
Another often asked question is, "When will Whole Foods Market open?" The 26,366-square-foot store is targeted to open next spring at Maui Mall in Kahului, creating 144 new jobs on island.
"I look forward to working with the Maui community and introducing them to our natural and organic selections and variety of great local products," says Ray Stockton, store team leader.
As it turns out, Duke's is coming to Maui after all. It will open later this year as a free-standing oceanfront restaurant at Honua Kai Resort in Kaanapali. If it's like the one on Oahu, it should be a ton of fun.
You can't tip a few at Tip Ups in Kihei anymore. It's now called Diamonds Ice Bar & Grille.
FOR WINE LOVERS . . . Argentinean wines will meet gourmet local cuisine at a special sit-down dinner at Ko Plantation Inspired Cuisine outdoors at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui in Wailea.
"Guests will enjoy six courses paired with an Argentinean wines, selected to complement and enhance the flavors of each dish," says Chef de Cuisine Jake Belmonte. "It's a great value at $100 plus tax and gratuity with $25 of the proceeds going to Maui Culinary Academy."
There is one seating at 6 p.m. and guests will be grouped into tables of eight in order to meet the wine representatives and others.
Highlights include steamed farm fresh moi with ginger, Chinese sausage, shiitake, cilantro and Oriental glaze; Big Island red veal jun Korean style with ko chu jang sauce; and Wailua Estate chocolate baked custard with praline crust and Kula strawberry sorbet.
* You may reach Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342.