Move over mai tai, the cool kids of Maui are drinking pineapple wine and beer
Discovering fresh local fare – on your plate and in your glass – is a delicious highlight of visiting Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island. From Upcountry produce to pineapple wines and brews, to fresh seafood with regional Hawaiian flair, here are a few ideas to help fuel your itinerary.
HARVEST YOUR OWN SALAD
For an immersive farm-to-table experience, head Upcountry (the higher elevations surrounding 3055m Haleakala) to O’o Farm in the Kula district, about 1066m above sea level on Haleakala’s northwestern-facing slopes. Restaurateurs Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert bought the land in 2000 to supply their Pacific’O restaurant in Lahaina with organic produce; today, the 3.4ha farm roasts 100 per cent Maui-grown Arabica coffee and serves meals onsite, a few steps from its crops.
The three-hour tour and gourmet lunch includes a peek at the farm’s coffee trees and roasting facilities; the chance to pick field greens and edible herbs and flowers for a salad; and, finally, a multi-course, family-style, BYO-wine outdoor lunch.
Mains might include coffee cherryglazed tofu with sprouted legumes, broccolini, and aubergine-celeriac puree; locally caught fish with beets, daikon, chayote and arugula puree; and Maui-raised chicken with fireroasted parsnips and rutabaga.
A cup of French-press Aina coffee paired with Maui Gold pineapple slices and a sliver of dark chocolate decadence provides a sweet finish.
OOFARM.COM TASTE PINEAPPLE WINE
Also Upcountry is 8093ha Ulupalakua Ranch, home to Maui Wine and a 9.3ha vineyard. The winery began growing grapes in 1974; while waiting for the grapes to mature, they developed wine made from Maui Gold pineapples. The pineapple wine was such a hit that they now produce three types: off-dry Maui Blanc, sweet Maui Splash, and sparkling Hula O Maui.
Taste all three in circa-1870s King’s Cottage, built for the visits of Hawaii’s last reigning king, or sample small production estate wines in the Old Jail, once a basement jailhouse.
MAUIWINE.COM DRINK FRUITY BREWS
Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii’s largest craft brewery, uses the famous fruit in a wheat beer called Pineapple Mana, available throughout the island in stores, some restaurants and the company’s Kihei tasting room and Kahana restaurant in Lahaina. The tasting room has a 32-tap draft system featuring other flagship beers such as Coconut Hiwa Porter, made with hand-toasted coconut, as well as limited release drops such as Mango Hefeweizen, a Bavarian-style wheat ale brewed with local mango.
MAUIBREWINGCO.COM SIP MAUI’S BEST MAI TAI
Peter Merriman is one of 12 Hawaii chefs who, in 1991, established Hawaii regional cuisine. One of Merriman’s restaurants is the lively and casual Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea (also soon to open in Whalers Village, Ka’anapali), where the menu includes Kauai shrimp and Hamakua mushroom potstickers; handmade gnocchi with pork sausage, ricotta, vine-ripened tomatoes and organic kale; and kiawe (a mesquite tree) wood-oven pizzas. The tart and Monkeypod Mai Tai – made with Old Lahaina silver and dark rums, lime juice, macadamia nut orgeat, orange curacao, and a thick layer of housemade honey liliko’i (passionfruit) foam – is reason enough to visit.
MONKEYPODKITCHEN.COM A MOUTHFUL OF FISH
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the Grand Wailea’s Polynesian thatchroof restaurant, is named for Hawaii’s state fish, the Hawaiian triggerfish – and attempting to say its name correctly is a fun challenge as you peruse chef Mike Lofaro’s menu.
Small plate contenders include seared Hokkaido scallops with radish, truffle vinaigrette, and “canoe plants” such as breadfruit and sweet potato; Hamachi Carpaccio with chilli, celery, and ginger shave ice; a rich “risotto” made from breadfruit instead of rice; and marinated tomatoes, molasses, Surfing Goat cheese and smoked Kula strawberry. Main choices are simpler: opt for the catch of the day – which could be the Opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper) – served with ginger rice, dark soy and scallion vinaigrette, and sunomono (cucumber salad).
GRANDWAILEA.COM/ EXPERIENCE/ DINE SAMPLE ORGANIC VODKA
Distilled from Maui-grown organic sugar cane and blended with deep ocean mineral water sourced from the Big Island’s Kona Coast, OCEAN Organic Vodka features in cocktails throughout the island, and tours of its Kula farm and distillery are available.
OCEANVODKA.COM ORDER PUPUS FOR DINNER
A pupu is a Hawaiian-style appetiser or hors d’oeuvre. At the Westin Maui’s Relish Oceanside restaurant in Ka’anapali, try the spicy Ahi poke tostadas, a combination of avocado, Ahi poke (raw yellowfin tuna salad), and Hawaiian chilli pepper aioli served atop a crispy wonton chip;
Award-winning Dragonberry Bomb is a refreshing cocktail.
WESTINMAUI.COM/ DINING/ RELISHOCEANSIDE.COM
THE WRITER WAS A GUEST OF HAWAII TOURISM OCEANIA
In Maui, the pineapple is gold in wine-making and beer-brewing.