Monday, March 22, 2010

Scotch Mist II - sunset cruise Lahaina

Double Scotch and water

The Penn and Teller of the seafaring world, Tonyy* (yes, with two y’s) and Turk led our sunset sail out of Lahaina for a two hour excursion. Turk mutely twirled the wheel as Tonyy entertained us with tales from his youth as a fisherman up in Alaska and the crazy antics that followed in Vegas once he got paid, all the while making sure the champagne and beer were always flowing (booze included – yay!)

The Scotch Mist II held about 25 and there were only six of us, so it was like having a private charter, giving Bubba the opportunity to raise the sail and me a chance to steer the boat after an affirmative nod from Turk.

We listened to the hilarity that was Tonyy then made our way to the bow for a little alone time. We leaned into each other - salty, barefoot, fuzzy-headed – as the tangible definition of “honeymoon” wrapped around our shoulders...just another day in paradise.

*Tonyy was a highlight to our trip, not only in personality, but as a valuable resource for restaurant recommendations. Always listen to the locals.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mama's Fish House - Paia

Big Momma’s House

Cliffside views
Over sapphire swells
Wear choppy whitecaps

I couldn’t help it. Mama’s Fish House forced poetry to spew from my soul. A Fantasy Island of sorts, we wandered down the grassy knoll, where palm trees parted to reveal a majestic, plantation house. In direct contrast, the dining room was swaddled in Tiki-tastic comfort that would rival the Swiss Family Robinson for environmental ingenuity, complete with thatched walls and glassless windows.

We sipped on a couple of Longboard Ales (crisp, light, citrusy) and Kula vegetable shozu, a fragrant broth that opened the nose and palate.

NOTE: fish is so fresh here that the fishermen who caught it are listed on the menu.

Bubba continued his hunt for superior sashimi (tuna) and Mama’s proved to be the granddaddy of them all. With one bite he muttered, “This has ruined fish for me.” Nothing could compare - off the boat and onto your plate in a matter of hours.

The special of the day, Ehu (orange snapper), was done with a white wine, butter sauce and topped with macadamia nuts. This dish made me drunk…I guess intoxicated is a better word, but there seemed to be some type of aphrodisiac in Mama’s food that brought every olfactory sense to its knees (details like banana leaf-lined plates and warm hand towels only intensified the effect.)

Even the weird, coconut gelatin “after-dinner mint” was memorable. Mama's was nature at its finest. It's what Gilligan’s Island would be if the Howells had investors in the place. Oceanside views, nirvana-like serenity and a quality of food matched by no other. Mama said there’d be days like this, I just didn’t know they’d taste this good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'O restuarant - Lahaina

Beachfront Property
I’O drew a line in the sand (literally) between fine dining and beachcombing. My eyes adjusted to Maui’s Technicolor sky where Jackie Gleason winked from a moon larger than life, but somehow this natural spotlight still couldn't find our waitress. Luckily, an attentive manager noticed our neglected stares and stepped in with some warm bread and cocktails – the perfect solution to any problem.

Dinner: Crispy tuna- panko breadcrumbs framed magenta slices with a hue that reminded me more of a flower than fish. Sweet (green papaya salad) and salty (creamy soy vinaigrette) accessories were like placing diamonds on Grace Kelly’s neck – perfection squared. My eyes involuntarily closed as I was a private moment.

Short ribs: were disappointing after the edible epiphany of the tuna. They were slathered in a light cream sauce, but still remained dry and chewy. Plus, I wasn’t impressed with the lifeless sides of sautéed spinach and under-seasoned potatoes.

Dessert: Chocolate Pate – With the dense quality of a flourless chocolate cake, every bite overtook the mouth –teeth, tongue, roof. It was the consistency of a thick peanut butter, but lightened with the crunch of nuts, strawberry glaze and melted white chocolate. Good, not great.

Puppa Platter - there were some islanders selling (and engraving) wooden masks outside the private luau next door (the hip-nosis of hula and drum beats had lingered throughout our meal.) The woodwork was impressive, so we chose a grimacing figure and asked to have “Lauren and Bubba” carved on the back. It wasn’t until we returned to San Diego that we noticed they had written, “Lauren and Puppa" instead.

Go for: the crispy tuna and romantic, beachfront seating.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Plantation House - Kaanapali

Eggs Benedict Arnold
Our friends told us to check out the Plantation House for its stellar ocean views, so when we arrived at a pristine golf course I wondered if we were in the right place. But a few steps down a hushed hallway, there it was…our room with a view.

It only took 10 minutes to get a window seat - score! The host was a mustachioed master of ceremonies who seemed to delight in his work. After seating us, he said, “How do you like my screen-saver?” We liked! But unfortunately the food didn't live up to the landscape.

My hubby and I both ordered one of their specialty eggs benedict - he tried the crab cake version and I had Blackstone (sausage instead of Canadian bacon.) Two words for you: broken hollandaise.

This sauce was so broke it should be panhandling on a corner. I mean, I can understand it being a touch runny, but this was congealed and completely separated. I was surprised that any chef would let this leave the kitchen, especially at an elite golf club. Plus, my English muffin wasn’t even toasted- nothing like soggy, raw bread to soak up an utterly hopeless hollandaise. Besides the hollandaise mishap and the atmosphere being a bit stuffy, the service was impeccable and the view was worth a fee. Will I be back? All I can say is, if it’s broke, then fix it.