Have you had a touch of the post-holiday blues lately? Is it because you’re not eating carbs, or sugar, or gluten right now? Is it because you’re 4 days into Insanity and well, you’re starting to feel a little insane?
Well, let me take you away to a better place for a brief respite. A place full of blue skies and palm trees and secret beaches. Throw off that winter cranky coat, you’re going to Maui!
When the good people at the Wailea Wine and Food Festival invited us out to check out the inaugural event, we obviously jumped at the chance. The festival spanned four glorious days of indulging in award-winning cuisine from Wailea’s acclaimed chefs, and an incredible selection of wines curated by master sommeliers.
The festival events were hosted at different resorts within Wailea, which was great because we got to get a taste of each of the posh hotels in the area. Our condo at Destination Resorts was centrally located near all of them. It was homey and had the conveniences of a fully stocked kitchen, brand new grill, and washer/dryer right in the unit. A great option especially if you’re visiting with a family.
The Opening Reception was held at The Fairmont Kea Lani. We sampled some signature pupu (appetizers). Our favorite was this sweet Molokai Shrimp with Kula Alii Lavender honey and candied macadamia nuts from Ko. They said you could eat the heads and all…but I opted for seconds of the de-shelled portion.
The following night was the big tasting event of the weekend, the DaVine Experience at the Grand Wailea. With an oceanfront sunset as the postcard-perfect backdrop to our evening, it was hard not to love life at that very moment.
We tasted dishes from renowned chefs like Alan Wong and Bev Gannon – both of whom are among the 12 founding chefs of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine. Chef Wong served up a Star Anise & Cinnamon Soy Duck with Rice from his latest restaurant, Amasia. Chef Gannon had a tasty bruschetta duo of Shrimp & Chorizo and Short Rib. Another favorite bite to accompany the 60+ wines on hand was a crispy skin-on Island Snapper with Surfing Goat Cheese Gnocchi, Kula corn, edamame, Hamakua mushrooms, and prosciutto in a sherry vinegar sauce from Nick’s Fishmarket.
It was unanimous though, the best bite of the evening was a sweet one. Dessert from DUO Steak & Seafood was swoon-inducing. A warm Ono Farm Banana Toffee Pudding with Salted Caramel Fudge and Coconut Ice Cream. It took more than a little willpower not to double down on that one.
The final tasting event of the festival was the Grillin’ and Chillin’ cookout on the oceanfront lawn at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. It was the perfect, relaxing end to a fun-filled, wine-induced weekend.
We grabbed a picnic table under some shade and hit up the grill. Monkeypod Kitchen nailed it 2 for 2 with their Bulgogi Pork Tacos with pickled carrots, handcrafted kimchee, jalapeno, and Asian pear aioli, and their signature Kale and Macadamia Nut Salad with Maui onions, golden raisins, oranges, and miso-sesame vinaigrette.
Wailea Beach Marriot also brought their A-game to the home court with their Lobster, Shrimp, Crab Cakes on sweet rolls with chunky tartar sauce and toppings of sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and Asian slaw.
And then of course, there was all that wine that had to be finished. Someone has to do the heavy lifting around here.
Stick a fork in me, this Kalua Piggy is done.
Wailea Wine and Food Festival
December 6-9, 2012