At Friday night’s Grand Tasting event, the festival’s 7 master sommeliers selected over 200 wines from around the world, while Executive Chef John Zaner and the culinary team of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua prepared dishes highlighting the island’s freshest ingredients.
Wine Stations for the evening included:
- Tour of California wines
- Wines from the Southern Hemisphere
- Wines of the Pacific Northwest
- Wines of Europe
- Sparkling wines from around the world
The menu featured local flavors like sweet Haiku tomatoes, Makawao corn, Maui Cattle Company beef, Kalua Pork, Hawaiian Moi, Kula Lavender, Maui Gold Pineapples, Lehua Honey, Macadamia nuts, and Coconut.
Our two favorite dishes of the evening were…
1) Wasabi Vinaigrette Smoked BBQ Brisket over Pineapple Polenta, topped with ringlets of fried Maui onions.
The slab of slow-smoked brisket was falling-apart tender, and paired with a surprising pineapple polenta, had the perfect, savory-sweet combo.
2) Lavender & Coconut Sorbet, served with Pineapple Caramel Cake.
The golden caramel and sweet Maui Gold pineapples made for a classic island dessert, but the real show-stopper here was the lavender & coconut sorbet! Rich, creamy, decadent, and amazingly, made with zero dairy! The coconut milk in this provides all the luxurious creaminess. The sorbet was refreshing and not too sweet, and scented with the subtle perfume of lavender from Ali’i Kula Lavender Farms (more to come on this magical place later on). I usually take issue with florals in my dessert…they can be tricky — too much and it ends up tasting like you’re eating potpourri. But this sorbet was done just right. Just enough lavender coat your palate with a pretty fragrance, and paired with coconut, it was delightful.
Sated and well-watered with flowing vino, the party carried into the balmy night…