The adventure begins! Coming in over Ka‘anapali, heading in to the Kapalua airport. In a teeny little plane. A whole new meaning to turbulence. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeWell, hello again, Kapalua! (OK, technically, that is a photo of Ka‘anapali, but it was shot as we were coming in for our landing at Kapalua airport.)

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.

The Grand Tasting and Seafood Festival are the signature big-ticket events of the weekend-long Wine & Food Festival. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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.

Spicy Kauai Prawns, Sweet Corn, Quinoa Salad, Jalapeno Basil Vinaigrette from Merriman’s Kapalua (Executive Chef Neil Murphy). © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Deep Fried Tofu & Crab Dumplings from Kai Sushi Bar (Chef de Cuisine Tadashi Yoshino). © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The Seafood Festival! They changed the lanterns from orange to pink. This made Sugar happy because her dress matched. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

A sea of glasses waiting for wine at the Seafood Festival. Actually, you pick up a glass as you enter, and it’s yours for the evening. © 2012 Sugar + Shake And more wine. The set up for both food events has the food booths around the perimeter of the lawn, and giant tents in the center with bins and bins of wines. Additional wine booths are also intermingled with the food around the lawn. © 2012 Sugar + Shake
Curried Shrimp Bao Bun from Roy’s Kahana Bar & Grill. © 2012 Sugar + Shake And this one was definitely from Makena Resort, but it wasn’t written on the menu. It was basically a ceviche with avocado, soybeans, tomatoes and crispy onion curls on top. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

See, we could definitely fit more food on the table. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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.

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. Bags all around for the table, please! Our end of the table devoured two bags. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Inside the magical bags. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Crunchy Waialua Molten Chocolate Purse. Honestly, this didn’t sound terribly exciting, but after one bite....oooh! Like fudgy, fudgy brownie batter! In case you are wondering why only photos of desserts...well, our intrepid photographer was so engrossed in eating her (very delicious) appetizer and dinner, she did not pay much attention to the photography. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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’s 12 tasting portions from the “Pinot Superstars” seminar he attended. His favorites? Nos. 5 & 6 — selections from Pisoni Vineyards. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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.)

Sunset over the bay. It looks very serene, but this is a VERY windy part of Maui. Sugar spent part of the afternoon getting sandblasted on this beach. After getting a complete skin polish on the right side, she gave up and got off the beach. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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.)

The fancy pool at night. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

And went to see the adorable piggies. (I made Shake come with me for that.) You can read about them here. But I can’t resist posting the cute piggies again.

Posh piglets. The Ritz-Carlton adopted these teensy guys (gals?) and are raising them in their Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment Center. Not to eat, or anything. Just to look cute. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Bye-bye, Kapalua. We loved you so. (Again, if you want to see more photos from the weekend, check out the gallery.)

Last night of turn down service. Sigh... © 2012 Sugar + Shake Bye-bye, Kapalua. We hope we come back soon! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

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.