WINING IT DOWN? . . . No way! Maui events are picking up even more steam after the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, which The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua uncorked with a bang last weekend.
But first, let's address the speculation swirling through the crowds, running rampant, that, after 30 years, it was the last festival. Again, no way!
"We just completed one of the most successful and well-attended festivals in years and are currently working with the event supporters on planning the 31st annual KWFF for 2012," says Ryan Churchill, president and COO?of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. "We expect to announce dates and other details soon."
Mark “Taco Man” Weiss will celebrate the grand opening of his Taco del Mar in Kahului with Fiesta Week specials next week.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
We also hear the historic Honolua Store in Kapalua will be taken over by an entity owned by ABC Stores on July 1, but it will retain the laid-back plantation ambience, its original name and local food favorites such as loco moco, saimin and chicken katsu.
Other Kapalua Wine & Food Festival news is Japengo won "Best of the Best" at the Maui Seafood Festival on Sunday with its hamachi and watermelon cocktail with Emperor's ponzu, abalone, tomato water and tobiko. The dish will now be the amuse bouche or "complimentary small taste" at Japengo at the Hyatt in Kaanapali.
The "Best Seafood" award went to the Ritz's Kai Sushi with its crispy mahimahi kai-style wrapped in shiso and nori sheet with miso edamame sauce. Yum!
The festival's golf tourney tees off every year, and we hear the 2011 winning team was under Plantation House restaurant's banner. "They shot a 59 or 13-under-par score in a scramble format at Kapalua's Bay Course Friday," says Chris Noda of the Kapalua Golf Academy.
"The team included Norm Schuhardt, John Boer, Jeff Carmichael and David Braxton. There were 124 players who participated in this year's tourney.
As usual at these festival events, people love to talk about new restaurants. Getting rave reviews for its milkshakes, tater tots and more is Teddy's Bigger Burgers in Lahaina Gateway.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Other rumors are swirling, wrongly, that legendary seafood restaurant, the Waterfront in Maalaea, has closed.
"Not to worry, we are just doing a major renovation on the kitchen as well as the dining room," says owner Gary Smith about the 30-year-old establishment. "I want everyone to know, we'll be up and running in two to three months, better than ever before."
It's great to see Taco del Mar in the Maui Mall thriving again after a year's closure. The new owner is Mark Weiss, and he'll celebrate the grand opening with Fiesta Week from Sunday through June 26.
"During Fiesta Week, we will be offering special pricing for our Mondo Burritos," says Weiss. "Maui residents are encouraged to stop by and fill out a sweepstakes form for a chance to win prizes, including overnight accommodations at Grand Wailea!"
In addition, check out daily specials such as kids-eat-free Sundays, double punch Mondays, two-for-one tacos on Tuesdays and more.
Sheldon Simeon, a James Beard Award semifinalist for "Rising Star Chef of the Year" in 2011, will be showcased on Pacific Whale Foundation's upcoming Celebrity Chef Dinner Cruise on Friday.
The chef of Star Noodle in Lahaina, Simeon will feature a three-course dinner on the two-hour cruise that will depart Lahaina Harbor at sunset. You also get guaranteed outdoor seating, live entertainment and three alcoholic beverages from the onboard bar. Call 249-8811, ext. 1.
Wine rep and Maui boy Dean Frampton will bring his clients to the Grand Wailea's signature Toast Series for a dinner at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The reception will kick it off in the resort's grand Humu restaurant, followed by a five-course sit-down dinner by Chef de Cuisine Isaac Bancaco. Flanagan Winery owners Eric and Kit Flanagan will be on hand to chat up guests. "The dinner will pair nicely with the Maui Film Festival because of the early seating," says Frampton.
Is Maui "wining it down" after the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival? No way!