Imagine standing beneath colored parasols as live music floats through the air, two hundred wines at your fingertips and gourmet food made with locally grown ingredients being served all around you.
This was the scene at The Grand Tasting, part of the 29th Annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival “Summer Soiree.”
It was the first year the festival paired up with the Maui Country Farm Bureau to feature local ingredients in dishes prepared by Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef John Zaner and his team.
Upon entering the Aloha Garden Pavilion, my first choice was the Tomato & Housemade Mozzarella Caprese – rich tomatoes stacked with mozzarella, topped with microgreens and drizzled with balsamic. It was a perfect way to start the evening and the first of sixteen dishes.
Although all the food was delicious, I had three favorites:
The freshly caught Moi (a fish formerly reserved for Hawaiian Royalty) was divine. The white flaky layers were delicately seasoned and moist from the ti leaves, enhanced by Hamakua mushrooms with small bursts of flavor.
The breaded circle of warm Surfing Goat Dairy goat cheese had a crisp outer layer, served on top of a roasted beet salad and Waipoli greens.
And my personal favorite, the Makawao corn and shrimp risotto topped with crispy prosciutto and microgreens. The risotto was creamy with subtle flavors and went perfectly with the corn, shrimp and prosciutto. I relished every single bite.
I was trying to decide which wine to try next when Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier, pointed to the Magicale Brachetto Piemonte DOC. “This wine is like eating chocolate covered strawberries with your lover.”
The wine was magnificent – a deep red color and a delicate taste with fruity undertones. When my glass was finished, I immediately wanted another but the wine’s reputation had spread throughout the tent and guests had lined up.
Musicians kept the mood festive the entire evening and over my shoulder I heard someone say, “Is this heaven? No, it’s the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival.”
* All photos courtesy of Matthew Semerau