Saturday night we were invited by our friends John and Ginny to an Evening in Paradise at The Mauna Lani Resort, raising funds for The United Way. Gary and I love a good raiser grazer, espcially with John and Ginny, our local friends from the Big Island who we adore.
This one proved to be especially pleasant as many times when we attend these events chef specialties are either heavy beef dishes or rich pastas, not my typical flavor profile. This one, however, was filled with the freshest local catches the chefs could find, all paired with tasty local beers, a great Grey Goose cocktail and a variety of wine selections.
After we met up with our hosts we ventured into the large ball room at The Mauna Lani and immediately found our favorite table, the wine selections from Southern Wine and Spirits with options ranging from a crisp Fume Blanc from Ferrari-Carano to one of our favorites, the Arthur Pinot Noir from Domaine Drouhin. And then the tasting began…..
Fresh Ahi tuna tacos filled with chunks of Ahi, green cabbage and cilantro in a feather light, flash fried shell with the texture of a savory waffle cone from the bar at Tommy Bahama (yep, buy a shirt downstairs or a taco upstairs); a beautiful Ohno Ceviche from The Orchid (if you read my previous article, the Orchid did redeem themselves a bit with this bite as it may have been my favorite thing of the night); an Uni Martini with tomato water and a splash of vodka from the Waikoloa Beach Marriot ; beautiful crab and mango lettuce cups with a spicy chili sauce from Mauna Kea; and seared spiced Ahi on a bed of wild greens and edible flowers from Seaside in Hilo. (There was lots of Ahi…it is Hawaii.)Gary’s favorites included a huge fried oyster on top of tri-tip from Hualalai, not a common pairing but the perfectly fried, juicy oyster paired with a succulent piece of beef was delicious; and a braised short rib on top of super creamy potatoes from a restaurant we have always wanted to try and now, after the delicious bite, have a reservation later in the week called Daniel Thiebaut. Turns out Chef/Owner Daniel was a chef in Dallas for a while, working at the Westin back in the day when Dean and Stephan were just getting started.
In between bites we sipped more wine, finding a Sainstbury Chardonnay and a few other reds, along with one of the best fruity cocktail I have had recently from Grey Goose called the Mauna Lani Tiny Bubbles. Usually preferring more of a savory rather than sweet (I am a Bloody Mary girl) I was surprised at how much I loved this. Absolutely refreshing and incredibly smooth, a blend of Grey Goose Vodka, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, fresh mint and a splash of sparkling wine. WOW! Delicious.
We also found a local Golden Ale beer from Kaua’i that cooled us off at the end of the night after non-stop dancing to the great band, Ol School, that can best be described as a mix of traditional luau music and 1970’s and 80’s cover band.
For as many of these as we attend in a given year this was sure to be one of the best, topped off with a stroll home along the beach.