It stands to reason that a festival dedicated to the emerging food scene of an area would have plenty to eat. Even so, I don't think we were prepared for the barrage of food that awaited us.
We kicked off the weekend with a media lunch event at the Ali'i, where we were staying. We were greeted with leis, and mixed and mingled until Fred Torres, cultural director of the Ali'i, announced the commencement of the lunch by blowing the traditional pu shell horn to the four directions and offering a blessing.
The lunch was prepared by the Hyatt Regency's Chef Greg Grohowski, with each course paired with a beer from Maui Brewing Company. To enhance the pairing, Chef Grohowski incorporated the beers into the dishes. We started with a salad of Kula greens and strawberries, with a macadamia brie crouton and Maui Brewing Co. Golden Ale vinaigrette.
With this dish we were privileged to get a sneak preview at Maui Brewing's Golden Ale, which they would release officially on the final night of the festival. It's a full-bodied ale made with fresh lilikoi and guava, which only came to rise on the finish, adding freshness to the brew.
Next up: Maui Cattle Co. tenderloin, sweet potato hash, edamame and hamakua mushrooms, Maui Brewing Co. Scotch Ale demiglace.
Maui Cattle's beef is extraordinairily lean, so they used papaya to tenderize the beef. It was positively fall-apart tender. The Scotch ale, a higher-ABV and heavily malty ale, added sweetness to the demiglace. Delicious.
Finally, Kula strawberry shortcake on a lavender scone with whipped sour cream.
The chef joked that this was his least photogenic dish, but i'm inclined to disagree. This was paired with Maui Brewing Co.'s CoCoNut Porter, the beer that put them on the map.
Brewer Garret Marrero is passionate about his craft, affable and loquacious on the matter. He's also easy on the eyes.
The hardest part was trying, and failing, to show some restraint. After all, this was a substantial meal, and we had to save room for the evening's kickoff event, the progressive dinner spanning three Ka'anapali resorts.