First photo! It’s always fascinating, in retrospect, to see what the first photo of a trip will be. What will be the thing that motivates me to haul out the camera from its snug, secure home? (Funny thing: it’s almost always food.) This time, it’s cookies and espresso! The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has a wonderful club room that overlooks the golf course. They have cookies and espresso all day long. How awesome is that?! © 2012 Sugar + ShakeAs I mentioned, this was a work trip for Shake, and therefore we had several obligatory (but so fun and delicious, it’s hard to classify them as an obligation) events to attend. In addition, Shake had taken a Maui trip recently, sans-Sugar, and had promised to take me to some of the spots that he’d particularly enjoyed (and tortured me with long-distance Twitter photos of). And—as if between the events and the promised-places we didn’t already have enough places to eat—there were old favorites we HAD to go visit, and a new place we were determined to hit. Oh, and upon checking in to the very swanky Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where we were being hosted, we discovered that we’d been given access to the “Club Lounge.” Where they serve “breakfast, light snacks, hors d’oeuvres, beverages and sweets” pretty much all day long. Yes, I could have a cookie and an espresso ANY TIME I WANTED. (OK, between, like, 6AM and 9PM, but, really, that’s practically any time.)

Sooooo…basically, we ate every two hours.

No food photos from our first 24 hours on Maui (except the cookie and espresso), although we definitely ate a lot. Lunch on Friday, at Lahaina’s Star Noodle, was definitely worth photographing.

Off to Lahaina to eat at Star Noodle, one of our faves! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Star Noodle logo on the glass partition in the entry. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Star Noodle is a wonderful contemporary Asian-Hawai‘i restaurant located all by its lonesome at the top of a hill above Lahaina town. I don’t know how else to describe the restaurant’s style of food—it’s Asian, with an emphasis on noodle dishes, but with a Hawai‘i influence. I hate calling food like this “fusion,” although that’s probably what many would call it. To me, it’s just food. This is how I grew up eating: a little of this, a little of that, combined together because it just tastes good.

So many yummy things! Love how they incorporate their logo. Since this is an artsy-fartsy photo that makes it hard to see the menu items, check out the real menu online: http://www.starnoodle.com. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Star Noodle’s chef, Sheldon Simeon, is phenomenal. He was recently nominated in Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef competition, Pacific & Northwest Region, and the restaurants he helms, Star Noodle and Leoda’s (more on them later!), racked up a slew of awards at Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi Magazine’s ‘Aipono Awards just after we left the island.

On our first-ever trip to Star Noodle two years ago, we ate there twice in two days, so we knew what we liked and exactly what we wanted to get:

Pohole salad—Hana Fiddle Head Fern (pohole, in Hawaiian), Maui Onion, Ebi (dried shrimp), Kombu. Shake adores this salad. “Everywhere else, they use the pohole like a garnish. This is awesome – it makes the pohole the main ingredient!”

Pohole Salad – Hana Fiddle Head Fern (pohole, in Hawaiian), Maui Onion, Ebi (dried shrimp), Kombu. Shake adores this salad. “Everywhere else, they use the pohole like a garnish. This is awesome – it makes the pohole the main ingredient!” © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Star Ramen – Pork Broth, Roast Pork, Poached Egg. It comes with bamboo shoots, but I’m not a fan, so I ask for it without. The pork broth is incredible here–the restaurant is owned by the same people who own the Old Lahaina Lū‘au, and they use the bones from the kalua pig to make the broth. Mmmm…

Star Ramen – Pork Broth, Roast Pork, Poached Egg. It comes with bamboo shoots, but we don’t care for those, so Sugar asks for it without. The pork broth is incredible here–the restaurant is owned by the same people who operate the Old Lahaina Lu‘au, and they use the bones from the kalua pig to make the broth. Mmmm... © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The other noodle dish we really like is their Garlic Noodles, which Shake got a half-size order of, but I didn’t photograph it. Too busy eating my ramen.

And here we have another Shake favorite: Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Kim Chee Purée.

This is another Shake favorite: Brussels Sprouts – Pan roasted, Bacon, Kim Chee Puree. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Finally, my favorite course: dessert! Star Noodle has several options, but this time, the “Star Screams”—a trio of house-made ice creams—called to us. The day’s flavors: Hawaiian vanilla, li hing mui and chocolate. At first, we were a little wary of the li hing mui—it’s such a powerful flavor, it’s easy to go overboard. But this was just perfect!

Dessert!!!! The Star Screams trio of chef-selected flavors. The choices change; this day it was Hawaiian Vanilla Bean, Li Hing Mui and Chocolate. We were wary of the li hing mui (it’s so easy to go wrong with this strong flavor) but it was AMAZING! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

A very hyper-color shade of orange, true, but so tasty! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

It was quite a sweets-filled weekend. In addition to the Star Screams and the guri guri excursion you already heard about, the Ritz-Carlton had candy for breakfast. Check it out:

This is Easter breakfast. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Seriously, this candy wonderland was the dessert setup for the Ritz-Carlton’s Easter brunch, which was THE MOST AMAZING brunch we have ever encountered. They had a bouillabaisse station! But Sugar only took pictures of the dessert. As if you’re surprised. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

A candy wonderland! It made me stop in my tracks, go back to the table and grab my camera. It’s not actually a regular thing—it was a set up for their incredible Easter Brunch. The rest of the buffet brunch spread was fabulous (they even had a bouillabaisse station!) too, but it’s just not possible to balance all that food and a camera.

No, we didn’t eat enough. We really wanted a chance to get together with our friend Jay, so we tucked in our tummies and met him for lunch (a mere 90 minutes after brunch) at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop, a new spot from the Star Noodle team. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeJust 90 minutes after brunch, we were pulling into the parking lot at Leoda’s Kitchen & Pie Shop to meet our friend, @Chef_Jay. We’d been wanting to check out this place, and have a chance to visit with Jay, but the only time that would work for our schedule was just before leaving for the airport. Good thing Jay’s an accommodating guy and was willing to work with our crazy schedule and eat at Leoda’s for the second time in one weekend.

Check out Jay’s blog post on Leoda’s for a fuller description of more of the menu items. We, however, were a bit too full to try much, although that didn’t stop us from trying no fewer than four desserts, including three miniature versions of their famous pies. If I had been 100% sure that TSA wouldn’t confiscate my lovely desserts, I would’ve brought some home with me.

Yuzu lemon tart. Because Sugar didn't have enough sugar already. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

And more desserts! Clockwise from left: chocolate cream pie (very rich and dense), banana cream pie and coconut cream pie. All totally yum. If we had been sure that they would survive the plane ride home, Sugar would have bought half-a-dozen. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Shake and Jay convinced me to eat Brussels sprouts. I will admit: they were tasty, wonderfully charred, smoky and nutty. That’s the beauty of things that are fried! Shake tried a Chicken Pot Pie, which he said was good, but not as good as mine (awww, isn’t that sweet?) and Jay had a “Ham’n…” sandwich. It’s what it sounds like, and he reported that it was very good. I had a Mushroom Hand Pie (like a pot pie, but you can hold it in your hand), but it did not photograph well. I would have preferred it be less dry, but juicy filling would probably not be so wise for a hand-held item.

We did eat real food, too. This is a “fried salad”–a specialty of the restaurant, and formerly served at Star Noodle. Those charred looking things? Brussels sprouts. @Chef_Jay and Shake took great delight in the fact that ordering this (which tops their list of favorites) got Sugar to consume Brussels sprouts willingly...and even have seconds. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Shake got a chicken pot pie. He said it was delicious, but that Sugar’s was better. Awww, isn’t that sweet? © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Jay got a “Ham’n…” sandwich. It’s what it sounds like, and he reported that it was very good. Sugar had a Mushroom Hand Pie (like a pot pie, but you can hold it in your hand), but it did not photograph well. She would have preferred it be less dry, but juicy filling would probably not be so wise for a hand-held item. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Shirt models! This is Ian Cole of The Breadfruit Institute, and Jay Terauchi (@Chef_Jay), a blogger/food consultant/Twitter addict and all-around awesome guy. And we’re not just saying that because he bought us lunch the next day. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Thanks, Jay, for treating us to lunch! (That’s Jay in the “Friend” shirt with one of the farmers from the Maui Ag Fest.)

And that wraps up everything we stuffed into our stomachs on this trip! Well, everything I photographed, anyway. In case you were curious about what I didn’t snap: there was lunch at Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao; a reception at Ritz-Carlton; an amazing dinner at The Banyan Tree at the Ritz-Carlton; 12 Grand Tasting sample portions (for Shake) and a Maui Cattle Co. hamburger (for me) at the Ag Fest; an unbelievable lū‘au, also at the Ritz-Carlton—it’s done specially for their Celebration of the Arts Festival, and if you have a chance to attend, you shouldn’t miss it; and the above-mentioned Easter Brunch. Plus at least a half-dozen trips to the Club Lounge for snackies. Phew!

For the full gallery of the weekend’s photos, click here.

Disclosure: Sugar + Shake were hosted by the Maui Visitors Bureau and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hotel. Travel and accommodations were provided by the hosts, but no compensation was received for this post, and the opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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