It was the second night of the Ka’anapali Fresh Culinary Experience and the venue had shifted to the third hole of the golf course just opposite the Sheraton.
A funky little mini-town has been made within a classy enclosure with reserved tables and couches for the VIPs, hi top tables for the regular crowd and it’s another sellout.
You’re handed a special holding plate to stack treats on from the chef stands and also a wine glass to insert in a notch to carry your rotating lineup of beverages. I’m driving so drinking light and take the plunge with a breezy concoction utilising the excellent homegrown and organic Ocean Vodka.
The K’anapali Sunset ingredients were Ocean Vodka, Organic Lemonade, Elixir G Ginger, Panini Puree, Candied Ginger and a cube of Feta Cheese. What a combo and YUMM!
Starting off the food stakes was Miso glazed Kauai Giant Shrimp with Pancit Noodles by Joey Macadangdang of Roy’s and boy was it crunchy. And the noodles were the perfect bed while the prawns were superb.
A Chipotle Rotisserie Chicken Tostada with a Vegetable Ceviche was the Sangrita Grill contribution with an explosion of flavours and the crackle of the chip imploding underneath.
Australian Lamb was the centerpiece of Tom Muromoto of Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in the Koala Lamb Chop with Seasonal Fruit Relish combined wioth the Won Bok Cabbage Bisque with Fried Okra and White Truffle Oil for the Vegans.
My favourite for the night were the Asian BBQ Hangar Steak Mini-Tacos with Pickled Carrots, Asian Pear Relish and Hoisin BBQ Sauce—a true Hawaii Regional combo. This was by Sheraton chef Raymond Nicasia.
For the Vegetarians there was the accompanying Ti Leaf Wrapped Corn Tamale with Corn Truffle Salsa and Smoked Tomato Emulsion also by Chef Nicasia.
My fave chef from the night before, Bernado Salazar of Royal Lahaina Resort came up with another winner in the Fried Clams in Tortilla Powder with Tomato Slaw and a Trio of Sauces.
He also had roasted Pasilla Peppers & Hamakua Mushroom Tacos with Fresh Cabbage and Mango-Chili Drizzle. Perfect for a pepperhead like me.
I had seconds of this one. Scallops perfectly sizzled and caramelised in Togarashi with Smoked Cumin Creamed Corn and Kaffir Lime Oil. Bobby Masters of Hula Grill made this one up and it was one of the two finalists, the other also featuring corn.
The other corny contender was Smoked Ahi Bacon with a Corn Grits Polenta and Salted Crispy Leek by Chef Ikaika Manaku of The Westin.
Dessert was a chore to choose from, but being a diabetic, it was like soft core food porn—I looked but didn’t lick. Suffice to say the plastic plates were groaning at this point.
But the best came last. I’d met up with an Aussie here and we commandeered an outlying couch that was given to us by their VIP owners as they left. We moved it up a few rows behind the stage and had an unobstructed view of the reigning kings of Hawaiian music, HAPA.
Guitarist Barry Flanagan has led the two to three piece band since the 80s and with his newer guitarist Ron Kuala’au theirs is the sound of Maui with gorgeous fingerpicking and singing. You can experience them at http://hapa.com.
A short ride home, a long sleep and another day of activity until the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival starts at the end of Ka’anapali Fresh. It’s my fourth year for the former and third for the latter but I can assure you I’ve already penciled in the dates for 2015 to return.
Our Top Chefs for the night.