WAILUKU, Maui — I never want to eat again. Well, until the Kula strawberries are properly chilled for dessert.
I’ve spent two days on Maui. Eating. Seeing family. Eating. Seeing friends. Eating.
Besides Saturday morning at the Swap Meet:
Bistro Casanova. Friday, lunch with Mom, Kahului — an outpost of venerable Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli (casanovamaui.com). Prosciutto panini: not a true panini but a grilled ham-and-mozzarella sandwich with arugula on a French roll. Crisp outside, rich with fat inside, balanced by the biting greens. Linguine and meatballs in meat sauce: Again, not quite as promised — the pasta was papardelle, not linguine. The meatballs were delicious and tender but Mom wasn’t crazy about the sauce, over-herbed with what I think was thyme and rosemary.
We fixed that: took the leftovers home, fished out the meatballs, rinsed the sauce off the pasta and pout our own sauce on. We finished this lavish lunch for dinner. Tip: Friend who recently did side-by-side tastings of seven pizza joints on Maui, recommends Casanova Makawao, where there’s a state-of-the-art Italian woodburning stove. (about $37, two dishes plus coffee and soft drink)
Surfing Goat Dairy. Saturday, lunch alone, up meandering ‘Omaopi’o Road from Hana Highway. (surfinggoatdairy.com). Delightful: young goats surfed for me and there was something old/something new for lunch. Old: a Tahitian lime relish we discovered last year. New: yet another non-panini panini. The exotic-sounding Indian Panini was a split croissant stuffed with Tahitian Lime relish and goat cheese, smashed and grilled in the panini press. Spicy, tangy, creamy, buttery, oh, yes!
Eaten in a trelissed outdoor dining area with the pet-worthy farm cat, a friendly Persian Blue. Dessert: cloud-light lilikoi cheesecake, also made with soft, mild goat cheese and espresso. (Ran a recipe for this relish here a few weeks ago; it’s a version of a very common Indian citrus peel condiment. I’m going to make some from my Meyer lemons, but they’re not ripe yet). (about $12, two dishes plus espresso)
Market Fresh Bistro. Saturday, second lunch with girlfriend, Makawao. When the bistro opened, Upcountry Maui lined up for the locavore menu served in a charming indoor-outdoor setting in a courtyard shopping mall. Highly recommended: tomato salad with goat cheese fritters (though they weren’t fritters but breaded knobs of soft cheese, deep fried — everything, it seems, is made with goat cheese on Maui).
Skip: blue crab cake. My friend remembered it as packed with large chunks of crab only lightly held together by fillers. But this: watery, very little crab, disappointing. The accompaniment of grilled enoki mushrooms, fresh local corn kernels and bits of broccoli was so delicious I’d have been happy with that alone. Better, if crab has become too costly, to substitute something affordable (grilled tofu?) than to make a substandard dish. (about $29, two dishes plus limeade).
Colleen’s at the Cannery. Saturday dinner, uphill Pa’ia/lower Ha’iku, colleensinhaiku.com. Outside says boring family restaurant, inside said New York neighborhood food-pub: dark wood tables and chairs, a bar serving well-made drinks and microbrewery beers, casual and comfy. Don’t dress up. Menu: pizza and burgers to fresh fish with beaurre blanc and portobello mushroom ravioli. Our first courses: the night’s special of pear and (yes) goat cheese with sunflower sprouts and greens and beef lettuce cups (chunks of filet mignon, tender baby romaine, lime) — immense! With the addition of grilled fish or chicken, these are often served as entree.
Main courses: Girlfriend talked reluctant me into roast chicken; she chose the night’s special of opakapaka with scallops and beaurre blanc. Roast chicken is on most menus because it has to be, a fallback for timid eaters; a chef’s throwaway. Not so with Colleen’s half roasted chicken on a bed of stir-friend vegetables and organic greens with roasted jalapeno vinaigrette. While the vinaigrette did nothing for me, the chicken earned my hushed respect — crisp skin, moist flesh, full flavor. My friend’s fish was equally well prepared and the beurre blanc married rich butter with some form of sprightly acid, just as it’s supposed to. Highly recommended: the hamburgers, for pizza, there are better options. (Two first courses, two entrees, a cocktail and a soft drink; $70)
La Provence. Sunday first breakfast, quirky little French bakery-restaurant, Kula. (laprovencekula.com) A bit hard to find with ever-changing hours and menu items, this restaurant is nevertheless beloved of its neighbors for the best French pastries on the island and amazingly good variations on the Eggs Benedict theme and other breakfast items. There’s a woodburning stove in the courtyard not in use now, but they expect to resume doing pizzas soon. The almond-marzipan cake, sticky buns and apricot puff pastry tart lived up to the promise; skip the scones.
Grandma’s Coffee House. Sunday second breakfast, funky old-house restaurant with veranda, quiet live music, bountiful breakfasts, Keokea (on the road from Kula to Ulupalakua; grandma’scoffee.com). Highly recommended: Eggs benedict over cornmeal waffles with poached eggs, choice of meats, half an acre of grilled potatoes (about $20 with a latte). Also known for large, well-stuffed crepes, also served with grilled potatoes.