Two trips to stay at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua in three months…a girl could easily get spoiled beyond all reason. Turn down service…can’t tell you how much I love it!
Our last trip to Kapalua was for The Ritz-Carlton’s Celebration of the Arts event at Easter. This time, we were invited to return to the lovely property for the annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. The event is, according to their website, the longest running food and wine event in the country.
The Festival features two big signature events—the Grand Tasting and the Seafood Festival—several wine seminars spread throughout the weekend, and “Winemaker Dinners” which pair festival winemakers with Kapalua chefs (there are several different resorts and restaurants in the Kapalua Resort area). Oh, I think there’s also a golf tournament, but…yeah, golf. Whatever.
I’m only including a very small selection of the food photos from the Grand Tasting and Seafood Festival here. Hover over the photos for descriptions. Check out the gallery for additional dishes and other shots from the rest of our weekend.
Sadly, my favorite dishes of the weekend, all of which came from the Grand Tasting, did not photograph well. (Actually, it’s not the food’s fault…it’s mine.) Those faves: Keahole Lobster Shumai from Pineapple Grill at Kapalua (Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco); Kona Kampachi Tataki Sashimi; and Hawai‘i Ranchers New York Strip Loin with Roasted Ho Farm’s Tomato Chutney, Hamakua Mushroom and Kula Corn Succotash, both from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar (Executive Chef Kaipo Nakata).
I did photograph my favorite desserts of the weekend, which we had at a private dinner hosted by Merriman’s Kapalua. I might have skipped past both of these in favor of something that sounded more out-of-the-ordinary, but we were urged by the PR manager to try the White Chocolate Filled Malasadas. “They come in a paper bag so you can shake ‘em up with sugar, and coffee caramel dipping sauce on the side.” OK. Sold. The Crunchy Waialua Molten Chocolate Purse just miraculously showed up on the table. It was like fudgy, fudgy brownie batter! Sometimes the “house favorite” really is the best option, even if it doesn’t sound super exciting.
Shake is much more of a wine aficionado than I am, and attended most of the wine seminars, whereas my participation in the Festival was limited to the big tasting events. He reports that if you truly appreciate wine, these are well worth the price, if you’re interested in the particular seminar topic. For example, one of this year’s seminars focused on pinot noirs, and he had the opportunity to sample a dozen different ones. Here are Shake’s 12 “Pinot Superstars” samples. His favorites? Nos. 5 & 6 — selections from Pisoni Vineyards.
Shake also notes that the wines offered at the seminars are the “real good stuff”—not that the plethora of wines available for tasting at the two signature events aren’t good—but because these are smaller audiences, the winemakers tend to bust out the truly special vintages. Not that you can get it (or afford it), but it’s a great opportunity to try excellent wines you might not otherwise discover or be able to sample. The seminars are also a lot of fun, Shake says. The winemakers are a hoot, for the most part, and he’s made friends with people he’s met at seminars the two years he’s attended.
And what did I do while Shake was drinking scads of…oh, excuse me, learning about wine? Enjoying the posh hotel. I tried the beach, but West Maui’s a wee bit too windy for me. Beautiful bay, but I got sand blasted. (It was too windy while I was there to take a photo, so I took this one later in the evening when we went down for the Grand Tasting.)
Spent the rest of my free time at the pool. Well, not at night. But this just looks prettier. (I took this one on our last trip.)
Disclosure: Sugar + Shake were hosted by the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hotel and the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Travel for Shake, accommodations and access to festival events were provided by the hosts, but no compensation was received for this post, and the opinions expressed are strictly our own.