What more can you ask for than an evening with wonderful friends, a table under the stars near the ocean at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and six courses of delicious dishes using local ingredients and wine pairings? I was lucky enough to have attended a similar dinner for the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival there on Maui two years before. It was quite memorable. This year, the dishes are Italian themed. Perfecto! As my other favorite place in the world, besides Maui, is Italy.
My guests that evening included my roommate, Kim, and what has been nicknamed my #Instafriend, Julia. Kim is well aware that I blog and lets me take photos of her food before she dives in. Her friend, Becci, asks if she “Bernadette It” yet before she dives into her meal. Amazing right? I believe they were in Amsterdam when that phrase came about. My tendencies cross oceans! Julia is also a lover of food and whiskey like I am, but she is also President of Le Donne women’s Italian club in San Francisco. I thought this event was perfect for her to attend with me. Both ladies have already committed to attending the HFWF in 2020. If you can join us, please let me know so we can sit at the same table.
While at the pool, we could see the chefs in gray jackets posing for photos on the circular balcony above and near the lawn where the dinner would take place. After some time at the pool, the three ladies dressed for a wonderful evening ahead. I wore a dress by Hot Miami Styles and high heels by Jessica Simpson. For those ladies wondering what to wear, your stilettos may get stuck in the lawn so walk lightly. The walkways of the Hyatt are not smooth for fancy heels. Be safe and wear wedges if you wish to add some height to your ensemble. It will also aid in walking back to your hotel room after the nice pours of wine throughout the evening.
Check-in was easy and you were given a wristband. I introduced myself to my media contacts and thanked them for the opportunity. We were sat at a table with other media folks and it was nice to meet people with similar passions. I was sat across from the owner of the ‘foodiswhyimbroke‘ Instagram account. Yen Kim Phan is also from the San Francisco Bay Area but she has a whopping 63.6K followers. Congratulations! Also at my table were ladies from Kaanapali Resort.
The festivities began and Chef Robert Irvine was the MC. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at the Spiked! event. He is quite the character. He had a beer chugging competition with the event’s Sommelier. Guess who won?
The first course was the most memorable. It was definitely unique and creative. The pasta was mozzarella. Kim has a tomato allergy. We waited for her plate to arrive and it was hand delivered by Chef Chiarello. How special! Then he kissed her on both cheeks. Julia and I asked “What about us?!” We got our wish.
Mozzarella and Cavaero Farms zucchini, spaghettini over tomato carpacio and rooftop tomato conserva, balsamic caviar and picolo fino basil, crispy calabrian chili flake gremolata
Wine: Ferrari Brut Rose, Trentodoc, NV
Chef Michael Chiarello – Bottega Napa Valley, Yountville, CA
The second course was bright, with structure and height and a medley of textures. Some diners do not like the head on the prawns but it didn’t bother this Pinay.
“From the Mountain to the Sea”
Malokai purple potato gnocchi, sauce of kabocha and grilled Kaua’i prawn
Wine: Capichera Lintori Vermentino di Sardegna 2017
Chef Gregory Grohowski – Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
The third course was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Since my last trip to Italy in 2016, I have been on the search for the best carbonara in the United States. This dish was heavenly and what I have been searching for for years! You had me at truffles.
Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Deconstructed carbonara with specialty sun noodle, waimana TKG poached egg, local guanciale, imported parmigiano-reggiano, cream, truffle butter and truffles
Wine: Champagne delamotte brut blanc de blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, N.V.
Chef Daisuke Hamamoto – Arancino at The Kahala, Honolulu, HI
The fourth course had another prawn from Kauai’i but it was our first fish of the evening. The squid ink gnocchi was different. I have had other squid ink pasta in Italy and at my favorite restaurant in San Francisco called Seven Hills.
Cacciucco with Gnocchetti Sardi al Nero
Tuscan seafood stew with squid ink sardinian gnocchi, Kaua’i prawns, Hawaiian snapper and clams
Wine: Marisa Cuomo, Cosa d’Amalfi Rosato 2017
Chef Marco Canora – Hearth Restaurant, New York, NY
And then there was meat! The fifth course was simple and full of flavor. The salsa verde was my choice for pairing the meat with every bite. Fantastic.
Makaweli Dry-Aged Prime Ribeye
Sicilian caponata, salda verde, black garlic
Wine: COS, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily 2014
Chef Celestino Drago – Drago Centro, Los Angeles, CA
And lastly, it was time for dessert. Layered with different textures and flavors from bitter to sweet, it was an interesting dessert and not too heavy after five courses.
A play on the Italian tiramisu using Manoa chocolate, coffee, coconut and Mauna Loa macadamia nuts.
Wine: Banfi, Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acquio, Piedmont 2018
Chef Johnny Iuzzini – Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini, New York, NY
Until next year! Save the date for October 2 – 25, 2020!