Disclosure: We were guests of Ka'anapali Fresh for their inaugural event last year. All our travel expenses were covered. I was not paid to write this post, and all opinions are my own.
The apex of last year's inaugural Ka'anapali Fresh event was the grand tasting, held on the grounds of the Royal Kāʻanapali Golf Course. Think of it as being along the lines of SF Chefs or the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival, only far more intimate. And, in Hawaii, ergo not freezing.
Several of Maui's best chefs set up pavilions to dish up small bites of their most creative offerings.
But it was more than just a feast for attendees. The chefs' dishes were being judged, and a winner would be declared.
To us, the most memorable dishes came from Japengo restaurant, who served up some phenomenal poached abalone, as well as beautiful seared wagyu beef.
There were plenty of wineries represented, mostly Californian, but Joto Sake got our attention, particularly the Chikurin Fukamari "Depth" Junmai. Aromatic, fruity, yet light. Perfect for the balmy evening, and compatible with practically anything.
The winner was the Molokai sweet potato gnocchi from Chef Francois Milliet of the Westin Kaananapli Ocean Resort Villas. Don't get me wrong — they were delicious. But compared to abalone? Please. I guess they're more jaded on abalone than we are.
As dusk fell, the entertainment began. Spiro Gyra was the headliner, but it was Makana who really stole the show. This pic makes him look like a mild-mannered folk singer, but oh no. He tore it up. Trust.
Makana is returning as a performer this year. Come for the top-notch food and drink, but stick around to watch him command the stage and conjure magic from the slack-key guitar.
And then there was Spiro Gyra. Who sound just like you expect them to.
This year promises to be at least as good as last, and tickets are on sale now. I'd go in a heartbeat.