Monday, August 10, 2009

Maui: Part 1

We're back from our week-long Maui vacation!

First of all, Maui is stunning. The ocean seems to go on forever, and you can pretty much pull your car over anywhere and jump into the clear, beautiful water. The skies are blue and the trees are green and blowing in the tropical breeze- basically, it's everything you've heard Hawaii is supposed to be.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and were warmly greeted upon our arrival. We didn't get "lei'd" but we got black kukui nut necklace'd, ha. The Ritz greets guests with a necklace made from these nuts and I actually thought it was better than a regular flower lei since we could take them home as keepsakes, which we did. The hotel itself was gorgeous………beautiful golf course, three large swimming pools and an inviting lobby area which had a massive view of the ocean. Our room had dark wooden floors and was decorated with an understated Hawaiian vibe - a nice mix of bright whites and light green touches here and there.

The service at the Rtiz was impeccable but the only thing lacking was the food. And you know this here is a food blog, so I have to say we were both really disappointed with all of the food we had at this hotel. I mean, it's the Ritz right? I wasn't expecting haute cuisine but more like a display of fresh, local ingredients prepared skillfully. I don't want to turn this into a complaint-fest but I'll tell you that I was presented with the ugliest, messiest sushi roll I've ever seen, and that capped off about three previous mediocre meals we'd had at the various dining establishments at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. I didn't have my camera but HAD to document this Insult To Japanese Cuisine, so I snapped a photo with my cell phone. I know the image is dark, but do you see what I mean? This was untouched- I took the photo after it was set down in front of me. I looked behind the sushi bar to see which 6 year-old rolled this and then cut it with their Hello Kitty scissors but I only saw two, grown sushi chefs. For shame! Sorry folks, but sushi and sashimi HAVE to be appetizing since it's raw fish. Look, I can live with some not-so-well-presented fried chicken, but messy sushi? Nope.

The offending sushi.........I mean, c'mon.

Oy…….I hadn't meant for this first Maui post to go in such a negative direction but I have to continue with our first night's meal at the much-lauded Plantation House. Maybe we'll get all of the bad out of the way in this post and focus on the good in the upcoming posts- deal? Deal! We were thrilled to find out that the entire little "town" of Kapalua has a free public shuttle which we jumped aboard for the short ride to this restaurant. I had reserved a table weeks earlier and we were seated at one of the best tables in the house- one on the balcony overlooking a golf course and the ocean behind it. It was incredibly gorgeous and we felt so excited to be there, looking at the sun go down, hungry and eager to try some local seafood and produce:

View from our table at Plantation House

We ordered a half bottle of our favorite champagne which the waitress tried in vain for about 4 minutes to open; finally J offered and, after a lot of struggling, managed to pop open. The minute I sniffed the bubbly I knew it wasn't going to be good- the wine had gone bad so we had to send it back. Our waitress was totally cool about it and said she'd suspected something was wrong when she couldn't open the bottle. We switched to an albarino (our favorite white of late) and ordered our supper.

Our appetizer of Bacon Wrapped Scallops arrived and we dug in since we were starving, but I realized that inside the layers of soft bacon (never good, bacon must be crispy!) were small, bay scallops. I mean, they tasted fine (sans the soggy pig) but is it wrong of me to assume that bacon wrapped scallops means one, giant scallop wrapped in bacon?

Our second appetizer looked gorgeous- tuna sashimi drizzled with hot peanut oil and finished off with a bit of soy sauce a la Nobu Matushisa's technique of sprinkling raw fish with blazing hot oil which I normally love……unfortunately the "drizzle" was more like a "wave" and a wave of peanut oil is never good. The poor tuna was swimming around in an ocean of grease and it just left my mouth coated with oil. Bah.

J's Maui onion mustard-encrusted rack of lamb was quite good, and my Maui onion mustard encrusted mahi mahi was overcooked, although the sautéed Maui onions underneath the fish were sweet and delicious. Come to think of it, Maui onions saved the culinary part of this entire trip…..those, plus pineapple. But more on that later.

Since this has now turned into the whiny post I hadn't meant for, let's continue down that path. We went snorkeling with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Oh- the trip and the guys working for this awesome non-profit were amazing. We saw dolphins swimming along the boat and a bunch of large turtles paddling in the sea- they were so cute! Unfortunately it was while we were on the boat returning from a fun-filled snorkel at Molokini that my sister called from Los Angeles and informed us that someone had broken into our house. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. We were lucky in that the perps didn't take much, but it's still strange and icky to think of some stranger cruising around your house. Anyway, if you are in Maui and want to take any sort of snorkeling trip, I highly recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation, plus all of the proceeds go to a good cause.

Our awesome guide, Blake, on the right!

Inside the boat...........

More Maui posts to come………..and I promise, they'll be more positive!



allison said...

That's disappointing, I think the food is a huge part of what makes a vacation, so its too bad you had so many misses. The pictures are beautiful though, I can't wait to see more!

KirkK said...

I feel your pain....we stayed at the condo's in Kapalua. Ended up eating at Honolua Store twice, with one pretty good meal at Sansei. Or best meals were purchsed from the Poke counter at Safeway.

Daily Gluttony said...

That sushi roll is unacceptable!!!

You already know how I feel about Maui's food. There were a few gems for us but I think that the tourist traps outnumbered them.