ICING ON THE CAKE . . . Desserts are always a welcome hostess gift or treat at this time of year. If you're headed to Paia, Ono Gelato is the place to go for some of Maui's best.
"We are celebrating our second anniversary this month and have beefed up for the holidays with caramel chocolate- dipped organic green apples and other sweets," says owner Rachelle Kirton, who, with her husband, Bill Kirton, bought the business from the original Canadian owners. "Our company supports local farmers and uses wholesome, organic ingredients whenever possible. Our milk is organic from the Big Island."
Holiday flavors are eggnog, pumpkin spice, peppermint bark and after eight, and signature favorites include Sandy Beach with peanut butter swirled with coconut candy and Loco Coco with chocolate.
Photo courtesy of Ono Gelato
Christina Domerego and Kara Zerby at Ono Gelato enjoy the creamy, cold Italian treat outside the shop on Hana Highway.
"The recipes are third generation from Torino, Italy," says Rachelle. "We also offer non-dairy gelato made with fresh, organic fruit."
Ono Gelato sells Maui gifts such as specialty sugars, jams, jellies, organic coffees and jewelry. Cakes and brownies are part of the yummy menu.
"We are working with Heather Campbell, a pastry chef and artisan gelato maker who just moved here from Vail," says Rachelle.
BITS AND PIECES . . . The Stylistics will once again be stylin' Wednesday at the MACC's Castle Theater in Kahului.
"They're back with their awesome memorable hits! Also back with their awesome memorable hits will be Longhi's Catering," says Luana Argel, food and beverage co-director. "Their fruitta de mare with shrimp, scallops, and calamari marinated in olive oil with roasted peppers and fresh herbs is definitely a crowd favorite. They'll also be serving vegetarian lasagna and marinated grilled chicken on focaccia with roasted Mediterranean salsa and aioli. Have a nice glass of champagne or a Karma, our new sparkling wine in a bottle! F&B begins on the amphitheater lawn under the tent at 5:30 p.m."
The many elves of Merriman's Kapalua are now busy creating Christmas Eve fine-dining meals for the island bell ringers who volunteer for Salvation Army. Two Merriman teams will dress in chef whites and Santa hats and hand out meals today to remember.
"We're also cooking approximately nine hams and creating pineapple sauce presentation for the Salvation Army's Christmas dinner to be held Christmas Day for the homeless," says the restaurant's Beverage Manager / Sommelier Jason "Cass" Castle. "All of Merriman's staff is helping out in all phases of our contribution."
Looking for a fabulous French meal with a Maui twist? Gerard's at the Plantation Inn in Lahaina recently received the 4-star Forbes Travel Guide Award (formerly Mobil) for the sixth consecutive year. Inspectors come incognito and unannounced. Gerard's and Spago are the only two Maui restaurants to receive it. Kamaaina get 20 percent off food. And, Gerard's will do both an a la carte and prix-fixe menus New Year's Eve.
Speaking of Spago at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea, its owner-chef, the celebrated Wolfgang Puck, will be back on island soon for his annual visit with his family. Wolf loves to cruise around the tables and chat with guests. If you dine there, do check out his Chinois-style lamb chops with Hunan eggplant, expertly prepared by Chef de Cuisine Cameron Lewark.
While you don't have to tour the Maui Ocean Center to enjoy lunch at Seascape Ma'alaea restaurant, it does make for a fun combination. Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., they serve a special entree of baked ham with honey and mustard glaze and pineapple-raisin sauce with a medley of asparagus and French beans and honey-glazed yams and carrots for $15.95.
Those on the hunt for last-minute gift ideas for the foodie may think about purchasing cookbooks. "Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Water" by Victoria Allman is a delicious memoir of life aboard a yacht that sails around the world. "Entertaining With an Indian Flair" is a lavish hardback by the "Indian Martha Stewart," Komali Nunna. Many recipes are gluten-free and vegan, and the pictures show you how to do a Moghul banquet, an outdoor dinner by the fire and an exotic garden party.
Last, but not least, "250 True Italian Pasta Dishes" by John Coletta is inspiring and it takes the mystery out of how to prepare pasta favorites.
* You may reach Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342.