DREAM COMES TRUE . . . She's been gone from Maui for over two years as a Peace Corp volunteer in the Ukraine, and now Barbara Trecker is back on island. Many will remember her as the MACC's lively former director of marketing.
"I've been living on a diet of cabbage and dreaming about ahi cones at Spago," says Trecker, who dined with me at the restaurant last week. "And, they are just as delicious as they were in my dreams."
Wolfgang Puck's signature appetizer at Spago, spicy ahi tuna is packed inside sesame-miso cones and topped with chili aioli, tosa soy, bonito flakes, green onions, tobiko caviar and pickled ginger.
Spago’s new beverage manager, Kevin Travis, was recently imported from Innovative Dining Group’s Lazy Ox, voted by L.A. magazine as the “Best New Restaurant” in that food city. “I’m adding a lot more new gems to the wine list,” he says.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Trecker also indulged in Hawaiian-style seafood risotto, crab-stuffed line-caught local mahimahi, Thai seafood in a pineapple-coconut red curry and more while reminding me we saw Rod Stewart parade by on our last visit. This time, it was actor Richard Chamberlain.
"I was the ultimate Richard Chamberlain fan back in the day," says Chef Beverly Gannon, who dined there with him and his friend Martin Rabbit and Realtor Nancy Callahan of the Wailea Group, who just sold his house in Keawakapu. "He's going to return to the TV show, 'The 'Leverage' that stars Timothy Hutton," says Gannon. "He's the bad guy coming back for more."
General Manager Jacques Perwin says Spago just got a face-lift with new floors, furniture, chandeliers, carpets and bar stools. "It's seamless," he says. "We didn't want people to know the difference. It blends right into the private dining room, also completely remodeled and now available for your private parties."
Spago has a slew of new desserts, too, such as Upcountry white-peach tart with Hawaiian vanilla-bean ice cream and rich caramel sauce.
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BITS AND PIECES . . . Not to be confused with the quarterly Sunday drive series, a little music and food event will take place at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grille from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
"Larry Golis, who is a wonderful slack-key musician, will be performing once again," says store Manager Diane Azevedo. "Our lunch specials are elk tacos, slider combos of elk and beef, and fresh fish plates. And of course, as always, we will have our famous burgers, our steak chili, and all the other grill favorites. Also, mark your calendars for the next Sunday Drive on September 4th."
We hear Maui Kombucha is really doing a great job at the old Shishido Cannery in Haiku.
"My fave dessert is the coconut-lime cheesecake," says regular Becky Speere. "It's OMG to die for! Their healthful entrees are also wonderfully tasty and plated beautifully."
Kaanapali restaurants will be doing swimmingly with the state canoe championships this weekend. However, we hear Tia Juana's Beach Cantina, Donovan Frankenreiter's Margarita House, and Kaanapali Clubhouse - all at the entrance of the resort - have closed.
But rumor has it a top-name chef is looking into taking over the latter spot later this year. . . In addition, readers keep asking me, "what is happening with Ruby Tuesday that's targeted to open in the old Roy's Kihei spot?"
"We are really going full blast now with the remodel and hoping for an October or an early November opening," says owner Rick Nakashima.
The musical comedy "Damn Yankees" will run Friday to Aug. 21 under the stars at Maui Tropical Plantation's Field of Dreams in Waikapu.
"Bruddah Willy's Sticky Ribs will have the food ready for sale when the gates open at 6:15 p.m., so folks can have a picnic dinner before the show!" says Carolyn Wright, the director of programs for Maui Academy of Performing Arts, which is putting on the show.
"The show has baseball theme, so Will Bailey will also have roving servers selling hot dogs and caramel apples, and Maui Tropical Plantation will have a full bar with alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks."
Also in Waikapu, the Sunday brunch buffet is drawing in locals at Kahili Restaurant with prime rib carved to order, create-your-own omelet station and incredible views from coast to coast.
Last weekend, Sous Chef Alex Sol did tasty justice to the mac-nut crusted mahimahi in lemon-caper sauce and Belgian waffles and more as his chef boss, Eddie Munoz, was out golfing.
"We open at 9 a.m. and take the last brunch reservation at noon," says manager Terry Schellenberg. "We also offer our popular Friday night seafood buffet."
*You may reach Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.