Hawaii's longest-running wine and food event will put a new spin on an old favorite.
We're talking about the Grand Tasting that's part of the 30th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, to be uncorked June 9 to 12 at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
"This year, in conjunction with the Maui County Farm Bureau, the festival has retooled the Friday, June 10th, Grand Tasting into 'A Maui Grown Gala,' where top island chefs are paired with local farmers and growers to create specialized culinary creations," says Karin Sagar, consultant for the festival.
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
Farmer Noel Escobedo will provide eggplant for Chef Alex Stanislaw of Plantation House to go in his Mediterranean display.
STEVE BRINKMAN photo
"For the event at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua's open-air Aloha Garden Pavilion, we are working closely with all of the featured chefs and Maui County farmers to choose the perfect partner pairings."
For instance, Chef-partner Alex Stanislaw of Plantation House Restaurant will be partnered with Noel Escobedo of Escobedo Farms.
"Eggplant is one of the primary crops we grow on our farm in Kula, and I know Chef Alex's dish will showcase it to perfection." says Escobedo.
* What: The 30th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, June 9 to 12 at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
* Highlights and costs:? The Grand Tasting, $140; Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation Intro Class, $40; Three Decades of Reserve Cabs (sold out); Pinots Meet Cheese, $75; A Drive Up Hwy 101, $65; You say Shiraz, I say Syrah, $65; Farm Fresh luncheon with Chef Peter Merriman, $95; Maui Seafood Festival, $140.
* For more details and tickets:?Call 665-9160 or visit www.kapalua.com.
Stanislaw will present a chef's meze table (better known as Middle Eastern tapas) with baba ghanouj (eggplant with tahini), melitzanosalata (eggplant with walnut), as well as eggplant-sausage caponata, hummus, Mediterranean olives, peppers, cheeses, pitas and crostinis.
Chef de Cuisine Jojo Vasquez of the Ritz's Banyan Tree will be paired with Sylvestre Tumbaga of Syl's Produce in Kula, utilizing sweet corn from Upcountry. Vasquez will tempt you with house-made seafood sausage, pumpernickel and bearnaise sauce and smoked ono on Maui-style tortilla with crme fraiche and sweet corn foam.
Of course, since this is the Grand Tasting, more than 200 wines will be uncorked at various tents in the pavilion, to pair and to sip at your leisure.
Featured master sommelier selections and wine stations include a Tour of California with favorites by Festival Host Fred Dame; Southern Hemisphere Wines; Pacific Northwest Wines; Master Sommelier Selections by Jay Fletcher; European Wines; and the ever popular Sparkling Wines by Master Sommelier Larry Stone.
"I've really asked the boys to ramp it up this year. We'll be pouring some extraordinary wines," says Dame. "When we were planning this event, we already knew we'd have great wine and great food. But we needed another element and farmers came into the picture. It gives the chefs a chance to do some serious exploration."
Cilantro Mexican Grill will team with farmer Geoff Haines of d Pacific Produce to wow the crowds with fresh mahimahi ceviche tostada with citrus, watercress and jicama salad; and Mother Clucker flautas will be topped with fresh hibiscus jalapeno jelly on a bed of Kula greens, roasted corn and pomegranate vinaigrette.
Flatbread Co. of Paia will team with Hana Herbs and Flowers to create fresh pohole fern shoot flat breads and salads.
Ruth's Chris Steak House and J. Shishido Farm of Kula will do beef broccoli with house-cured bersola, with cilantro vinaigrette and wild mushroom fricassee with house-cured pancetta, parmigiano reggiano, red wine demi glaze and whole leaf parsley.
Monkeypod Kitchen will partner with Olowalu Nui Farm, famous for its plump and juicy tomatoes. They'll grill cheese sandwiches and add Olowalu Nui Farm tomato, served with pineapple and beet gazpacho.
An array of desserts will be baked fresh by Ritz Pastry Chef Ashley Nakano, who will team with Chauncy Monden of Kula Country Farms, renowned far and wide for his red Upcountry strawberries.
As always, a central focus of the Friday night event will be the hundreds of premium wines that will flow at various stations. Sip from Jordon, Silver Oak, Pisoni, Patz & Hall, Ramey, Justin and more.
Aaron Meyer, a violinist from the Mainland, will return for another stellar performance. Maui Brewing Co. will host its Draft Beer Bar, Maui Coffee Roasters will offer specialty brews and iced coffees, and water will come from Waiwera US. Maui County Farm Bureau will be there with a booth to educate you.
"Maui County Farm Bureau is proud to partner with the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival," says the bureau's executive director, Warren Watanabe. "The relationship between chefs and farmers is vital to the viability of agriculture. As always, we're happy to bring fresh, flavorful and local goods to Maui's tables."