If you love wine, then you'll really love these winemaker dinners. The creme de la creme of the industry will be on island to attend the 30th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival from June 9 to 12 at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua - and restaurants in the resort are ready to uncork their own dinners surrounding this prestigious event.
For starters, Ted Lemon of Littorai Winery will appear at both Merriman's Kapalua on Wednesday and the Plantation House on June 11.
"Ted Lemon, named 'Winemaker of the Year' by the San Francisco Chronicle for 2010, is very old world in his wine-making," says Plantation House's Executive Chef /partner Alex Stanislaw.
Join Ted Lemon, 2010 California Winemaker of the Year, at your choice of two Littorai Winery dinners next week in Kapalua.
Littorai Winery photo
"His wine is not overly extracted and big, but rather character driven, with minerality, terroir and a sense of place. It's best to say with feminine descriptives sexy, satiny, sleek, soft; and not with descriptives like big, massive, muscular. It's great wine, and it's a real bonus to have the chance to taste with the creative mind that made the wine, and surely an opportunity not to be missed!"
The highly regarded "Come Join our Table" series of wine dinners will flow in the Plantation House's Grille Room. But take note, it's a sellout every year, so make reservations fast.
For the first course, 2007 Savoy Vineyard, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir will be paired with rare ahi tuna with bacon-spinach-mushroom salad and pinot-noir syrup. Then diners will go to second course heaven with 2007 Cerise Vineyard, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir paired with roasted kurobuta pork and carrots - pan roasted and then caramelized.
* Pineapple Grill: Evening Land Winery with master sommelier Larry Stone on June 9. Cost is $60, including tax and tip. Wind Gap winemaker dinner with Pax Mahle on June 11 costs $100, including tax and tip. Call 669-9400.
* Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar: Gastro Pub beer pairing dinner with five courses June 8. Cost is $52. Kaiseki feast with 10 courses is $62. Evening Land Winery dinner with Larry Stone and eight courses; cost is $72. Add tax and tip on all. Call 669-6286.
* Plantation House: Meet Ted Lemon of Littorai and savor four paired courses at the Come Join Our Table series June 11. Cost is $115, plus tax and tip. Call 669-6299.
* Merriman's Kapalua: Littorai Winery dinner will flow with winemaker Wednesday for $150, plus tax and tip. Join Allen Methven of Methven Winery on June 11 for five courses for $95, plus tax and tip. Call 669-6400.
For the entree course, the 2007 BA Thieriot Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir will hold its own with the duck breast and duck confit with lentil-farro risotto; and dessert of flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel and crema.
"Pineapple Grill at Kapalua will host two winemaker dinners. First up will be an Evening Land Winery from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 9, to be held under the stars in the restaurant's Bar Lanai.
"Enjoy a casual gathering with friends and wine lovers as we introduce the exciting wines of Evening Land Winery," says Chris Kaiwi, vice president and managing partner of Pineapple Grill. "Meet Mr. Larry Stone, master sommelier and president of Evening Land Wines, who will introduce his favorites to our guests."
The outdoor bar lanai will set the stage for Executive Chef Ryan Luckey's Pacific Island Cuisine. Mingle with wine lovers and guests as you enjoy another Maui sunset.
The menu includes a chef's grazing menu of confit of duck tacos; pistachio and wasabi-pea-crusted sashimi with coconut-scented black rice and wasabi-soy butter; Asian braised short ribs with truffle smashed potatoes; kalua pork and goat-cheese quesadilla; truffle ahi tartare on Chinese spoons; and imported cheese, exotic island fruit and vegetable meze table.
In addition, Pineapple Grill will present the Wind Gap Wine Dinner on Saturday, June 11. A winemaker reception with Pax Mahle will be at 5:30 p.m., followed by the wine dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Passed hors d' oeuvres include chilled Kushi oyster with yuzu caviar; wild scallop ceviche with kaffir lime, Kona Maine lobster with poha berry - all paired with 2009 Wind Gap "James Berry Vineyard" Chardonnay, Paso Robles.
Other courses are pan-roasted Hawaiian monchong with 2008 Wind Gap "Yuen" James Berry & Brosseau Vineyards Chardonnay, Central Coast; followed by black and pink pepper-crusted roasted quail, with 2009 "Gaps Crown & Griffins Lair Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast.
For the entree, sink your teeth into pulled braised lamb shank with Manchego cheese and potato gnocchi, served with 2008 Wind Gap Grenache-Mourvedre-Syrah. The finale will be a Surfing Goat Dairy cheese sampler with 2008 Wind Gap "Griffins Lair Vineyard" Syrah, Sonoma Coast.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Kapalua will host three fun bashes - a Gastro Pub beer dinner Wednesday; a Kaiseki Japanese feast June 9; and the Evening Land Winery dinner June 11.
"Kapalua is always just buzzing during the festival with foodies and cork dorks!" says Sansei's General Manager Aaron Trujillo. "It would be hard to hold us back from being a part of it all. The kitchen and the sushi bar both get their creative juices going, and the floor is so proud to offer the chef's special food to our guests."
When Sansei presents the Evening Land Wine Dinner on June 11, you may savor eight dishes by Chef Ivan Pahk and wines by Master Sommelier Larry Stone, who also happens to be president of the winery. Reservations are available after 6:30 p.m. Three various amuse bouches (tiny tastes) will shake up your palate between courses. Other courses include pan-roasted mekajiki, Jerusalem artichokes and spiced chicken broth with 2008 Celebration, Beaujoulais. Then follow it with seared day boat scallops with mild jalepeno relish, chimichurri and uni emulsion and sip 2008 Celebration, Bourgogne Blanc.
Continue with a duo of braised veal cheek with rainbow chard and pickled bing cherries and 2009 Evening Land Vineyards, Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir; and tempura sweetbreads with mashed hearts of palm, and pinot noir gastrique with 2009 Evening Land Vineyards, Oregon Estate Pinot Noir.
The piece de resistance is brie cheese in puff pastry, Ali'i lavender honey, walnuts and Kula strawberry balsamic vinegar.
Since Merriman's Littorai dinner is limited to only 14 people, we'll talk about the Methven Wine Dinner at 5:30 p.m. June 11 instead. Meet Allen Methven of the Willamette Valley, Ore., wine region and sip his wines while savoring ahi carpaccio with hearts of palm and local citrus, cavatelli pasta with smoked bacon and mushrooms; braised short ribs with clams, prawns and pineapple red pepper jam; peppered Colorado lamb chops with sweet corn pudding; and dessert of chocolate panna cotta.
"It's a gas to have all the master sommeliers and various prestigious members of the wine world hangin' at Merriman's for the week. These guys are fun!" says owner Peter Merriman, who will be the featured chef at the festival.