SNAP, CRACKLE AND POP . . . I couldn't resist sneaking into the brand new Alan Wong's Amasia at the Grand Wailea last week on just its second day of operation.
Instead of taking the elevator from the lobby, we strolled down the elaborate ohia-wood staircase to the front, where tons of rocks from Mount Fuji were brought in when it was the former Kincha.
Chef-owner Alan Wong was in the Big Apple at the James Beard Awards, where his new book, "Blue Tomato" was nominated for the country's top honors.
Executive Chef John Zaner, left, and General Manager Tom Donovan of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua are gearing up for their 31st annual Wine & Food Festival June 8 to 10.
CARLA TRACY / photo
But we found Sous Chef Dee Ann Tsurumaki making robatayaki such as Hamakua Alii mushrooms on the grill; Sushi Chef Jeff Ramsey on a roll; and Chef de Cuisine Chris Dammskey impressing diners with whole chili garlic dungeness crab.
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CINCO DE MAYO . . . Looking to par-tay Saturday on Cinco de Mayo? Then come to Kaanapali and enjoy food, drinks and games poolside the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa's Umalu.
Got restaurant / dining event scoop? Call Dining Editor Carla Tracy at 242-6342; or email email@example.com.
"Maui's favorite local disk jockey DJ Bud will provide musical entertainment while the ladies of Avion, Malibu and Bud Light will be leading guests in festive games on the pool deck. A floating ping-pong table also will be available as the featured pool activity," says Peter Donnelly, the resort's director of food and beverage.
Specials include drinks such as Mojito Red and Mexican Coke, and menu specials include carne asada burrito and Landshark draft beer combo for $18.
Amigo's Authentic Mexican Food at Akaku Shopping Center in Kahului is expanding with a new dining room and a sit-in bar.
"Our signature dishes are chile verde, housemade tamales and chile rellenos," says owner Jesus Ortega, who hopes to have the new room open by Saturday. "We already have a full bar and we're excited!"
This year, the 5th of May offers two reasons to party -Cinco de Mayo and the 138th Kentucky Derby. Both of Ruth's Chris Steak House locations on Maui will celebrate with vintage cocktails such as the Derby Peach Tea and La Paloma, a south-of-the-border classic. . . At the Wailuku First Friday event on Cinco de Quattro, check out the new salsa band, Blingo, at the Banyan Tree stage and eat a taco at the Mexican food truck.
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BITS AND PIECES . . . Love onions? Hula Grill Ka'anapali will flow with its Maui Onion Pairing Dinner Friday on the eve of the Maui Onion Festival (see related story, on page 18).
We hear it will be a splendid three-course meal and, of course, Maui Kula Onions are key. Dishes will be paired with handcrafted beer of Maui Brewing Co. Call Hula Grill for tickets.
Speaking of Maui Brewing Co., it's the sponsor of the fourth annual Maui Brewers Festival, set for Saturday, May 19 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News, the oldest and most respect craft-beer journal in the U.S., will be the special guest. Over 32 craft breweries from Delaware, Colorado, Oregon and California and Hawaii will pour 68 beers for sampling and pairing with food.
Buzz's Wharf in Maalaea will be smokin' with its first July 4th Red, White & Blue BBQ Bash and Amateur BBQ Contest. Deadline to enter is Monday and you have a chance to win $500, plus your dish will be featured on Buzz's lunch menu for a year.
"We are super excited about this event and are still looking for contestants," says Buzz's Emily Koenig. "You may visit www.buzzswharf.com/contests.
Tickets are now on sale for the 31st annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, which will be uncorked June 8 to 10 at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
"It's coming along very nicely," says the hotel's General Manager Tom Donovan. "We've secured winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett of Screaming Eagle fame, and Chef Ron Siegel of San Francisco, who was the first American on "Iron Chef."
Merriman's Kapalua has donated their restaurant for an evening of festivities and both the Grand Tasting and the Seafood Festival will be held oceanfront on the Beach House Lawn.
The seminars will include the Kings of Cabernet, Pinot Superstars, and Organic Vines, to name a few. You may visit www.kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com for tickets.