For any of you who know my family (and particularly our daughter), you will know that the last few months for her have been filled with the excitement of hula as she and halau partake in the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaii. Hula has been an incredible part of her life for the past 22 years and this being the first time in several that she is returning to competition with her kumus and hula sisters for the 50th Anniversary of the festival is something that we are all so proud of .
If any of you are avid hula lovers or those of you who are new to hula, this is one weekend you won't want to miss. Starting this evening on KFVE, their Backstage at The Merrie Monarch will be aired sharing incredible wonderful Ho'ike performances (of which our beloved Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka will be performing as well). Tomorrow night (Thursday) is the coveted Miss Aloha Hula solo competition (we will be cheering on the halau's beautiful soloist Manalani English, #4), Friday is the men and women's group Kahiko performances (Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is #13 this night and the last) and Saturday is the group Auana performances and awards ceremony. We are excited to support the halau as they embark on their journey to competition and share the beauty and pride so prevalent here on Maui, and of course to us as their family who are so proud of the dedication of our children.
And fear not, for those of you not currently in Hawaii to watch the competition locally, as it is livestreamed over the internet as well. For more details, check out the official Merrie Monarch website or the KFVE website for information on the livestream. Wishing the halau the best of luck as well as their fellow Maui halau who will no doubt represent the island with pride, we will surely be enjoying a full weekend of incredible hula!
For those of you familiar with our beloved Maui Film Festival that takes place every summer and is truly one of our family's favorite events, you will enjoy the new round of films being showcased by the film festival in their FirstLight Film Screenings.
Starting the end of November throughout the holidays, an incredible variety of films for every moviegoer will be shown at the MACC. Starting this Thursday in fact, will be 3 wonderful films...Alan Cummings in "Any Day Now", documentary surf film "Cowboys & Aerials" and Kung Fu film "Tai Chi 0".
So make sure you check out the list of films and pick your favorites for the next few weeks. What a great early Christmas present for the movie buff in your life, including a 4 film pass! Hope to see you there!
We wanted to post the fantastic article published in Maui Time last month featuring some of the top bartenders and mixologists on Maui. It was a wonderful, informative feature showcasing the best Happy Hour spots from every part of the island. We love the fact that each individual takes great pride in the cocktails they masterfully prepare and serve their guests...because who doesn't love a delicious cocktail while in Maui? We know we do! And since we are sharing some of the beloved favorites from Maui Time, we thought we'd also share a few of our own personal favorites as well!
First, is our newly discovered favorite from Alan Wong's delicious new restaurant at The Grand Wailea, Amasia. Small plates make for a unique evening of Asian fusion flavors, some of our favorites included the tomato salad with li hing mui dressing (a must! the dressing is to die for) as well as the mouthwatering, tender short ribs. And the perfect cocktail to pair with an evening out at Amasia is their spicy cucumber martini-subtle, sweet, spicy, and a truly unexpected but delicious drink!
One of our family's favorite Upcountry restaurant features a refreshing island cocktail we should all know well-a fresh lilikoi margarita! We love enjoying their weekly happy hour tapas and drinks, and can never deny our love for their incredible crepes (sweet or savory, we can never choose one), hummus and pita appetizer, and our favorite shrimp curry! This yummy passionfruit margarita is the perfect way to enjoy the incredible Mediterranean & Indian cuisine of Cafe Des Amis in Paia.
This is one of our favorite new happy hour spots to share with visitors not only for the delicious Merriman's menu but also for the relaxing, chic atmosphere at Monkeypod as well. We love their Ocean Breeze cocktail which is an effortless fusion of local ocean vodka, St. Germain, lime and simple syrup. With their crispy rock shrimp and calamari, garlic truffle fries and one of their amazing wood fired pizzas, its a fantastic way to enjoy great food, drinks and laughter with friends. Not to mention their convenient location at The Wailea Gateway center, if you happen to be staying at our Grand Champions condo it is literally right up the street, so make sure to check it out!
This last cocktail is a very recent family favorite, coming directly to you from our very own kitchen! Since our starfruit tree has been bursting at the seams with beautiful fruit, my husband, daughter and I have been busy harvesting (nearly 50 lbs yesterday!) and juicing them so as not to waste this incredible, seasonal fruit! We paired the sweet starfruit juice with pinnacle whipped vodka for a delicious cocktail that is uniquely our own-we love it!
So without further adieu, here is an excerpt from last month's fantastic Bar Guide feature in Maui Time...check out their website here for the full article and for more information on wonderful happy hour specials and bars to check out in every corner of the island!
2012 MauiTime Bar Guide
by Jen Russo
October 10, 2012
"The hard part about being a bartender," said the writer Richard Braunstein, "is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid."
Bartending is, without a doubt, the toughest of all service industry jobs. Especially on one of the most popular tourist islands in the world.
Part chemist and part psychologist, a bartender has to managed both the often contradictory wishes of the customer with the physical science of alcohol. There's a good reason why the words "balance" and "patience" appear often in the document that follows.
As in year's past, we went to a wide variety of establishments around the island–locals only dives, touristy restaurants, fine dining establishments in luxurious resorts–and talked with the men and women behind the bar about what made their jobs wonderful, and wonderfully difficult. What follows is a fascinating series of snapshots into the exacting work that goes into the seemingly simple act of making someone a drink.
Going out for an evening that includes an alcoholic beverage should be a fun and enjoyable experience, and everyone we spoke with does his or her best to make that happen. But please remember to drink safely. Bartenders can do outstanding and incredible things with the simplest of ingredients, but it's up to us customers to behave responsibly.
Jeff Groh: Merriman's Kapalua
What spirit do you like to work with the most?
As spirits go I would have to say Bourbon, but if you ask my bartenders they'll laugh and tell you I can't make a cocktail without bitters. The last drink I made with bourbon was Elijah Craig: homemade ginger beer, lime juice and Fee's Old fashioned bitters.
What would you change about the liquor business on Maui?
Less sugar, better spirits, and a controlled use of tropical fruit. Also, I might ban blenders.
What's your bar's signature drink?
Any response other than a Mai Tai is probably wishful thinking. I'd like to think that our bar's signature is using great spirits and keeping them prominent in our cocktails. Yeah there are tropical elements–mango in the tequila drink or pineapple with the vodka but you can taste the spirits. It's a cocktail, damn it–not fruit punch! We also make more ingredients in our bar than in any other I know of but that's another story.
What's your signature drink?
Bourbon and Hibiscus with Peychauds bitters. It's a slant rhyme off a Manhattan but made "island-style" and not too sweet.
What are your influences?
My children are huge influences. My youngest daughter Madeline will ask me, "Dad did you do wine today?" and I'll be like, "Oh yeah, Daddy totally did wine today" and then my oldest wants to help me make cocktails, which I know is trouble. I tried teaching them about fermentation this summer. We made a Kula strawberry ginger soda and lost two-thirds of the batch to bottles violently exploding, which was a pity because it was easily the best soda I'd ever tasted. It was just kind of dangerous to drink. I think it's important to make science fun and half of drinking is science.
What's your ultimate dream bar like?
I think my ultimate bar would be a tiki bar in Indo that was built palapa-style right on the beach, complete with thatch roof and sand floor. There'd be a perfect point break in front and I'd surf half the day and start work in the afternoon when the winds came up. There'd be hammocks as well as tables and all the fruits and juices would be sourced locally. We'd distill our own rum from cane juice and have a reserve bottling that was 30 years old. Our clientele would be ex-pats, supermodels, surf pros, unpretentious artists and philosophers. Half the people are drinking cocktails, and the other half champagne–champagne sales are very important to my ultimate bar. We'd have a rad house band. Then one day Sally Fitzgibbons comes in to surf and we fall madly in love and get married out in the lineup, then party back at the bar.
What's interesting about being a bartender on Maui?
There's a new plane arriving every hour and you never know who's going to walk into your bar.
What makes a good bartender?
The best bartenders are always still learning and looking for something new, whether it be technique or an ingredient that's going to make a drink better. I'm curious by nature and I'd like to think I stay true to this goal, but I'm not a bartender day-in and day-out. I wear a lot of hats in our restaurant.
What's the newest drink you have created?
Big Island Honey, tamarind and a Cognac "Sidecar." It's a combination of the sweet and sour that you get from tamarind rounded out by honey and then enlivened with the woodsy spice of Hennessy Cognac. It reminds me of biting into the perfect apple, but the apple bites back! Oh yeah, it has bitters–all my cocktails tend to have bitters...
Click here for the full feature at Maui Time
One of our favorite things to do as a family is watch movies-we have always been avid movie lovers and if you and your family are, this is the perfect event for you! Bringing back their beloved Starry Night Cinema event, The Maui Arts & Cultural Center is hosting another great film event under a clear Maui sky. And this one is sure to be a crowd pleaser, as they are celebrating the cinematic 80s classic E.T. Extra Terrestrial, an undeniably great family favorite...and its FREE!
So come down to the MACC tomorrow Sunday, November 11th with your warmest, comfiest lawn chairs and blankets to curl up under the stars...doors open at 5pm and offer several delicious dinner options from Whole Foods, Maui Vegan Soups, Sumo Dogs, Maui Kazowie Kettle Corn & Ono Gelato. Check out the MACC website for more information and enjoy the film!
For those of you currently here on island enjoying the sun and ocean, this coming weekend is an extraordinary opportunity for you to experience some incredible Hawaiian culture...not to mention an event that is particularly close to home for me. If any of you are staying on the West side of the island (Lahaina, Ka'anapali, Napili, etc) you may have heard of the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, proudly boasting the title of "Hawai'i's most Hawaiian hotel" due to their great attention to cultural detail. Well, this weekend they take it to the next level as they host the 20th Anniversary of their Hula O Na Keiki Competition. This is a wonderful opportunity for those of you who love our islands, Hawaiian music, hula, and Hawaiian culture at large to sit back and enjoy truly fantastic hula and music by some of the most talented kumu hula, musicians, and competing children, ages 5-17.
It is an event close to my heart considering the fact that my daughter Jade has been a longtime hula dancer for the past 21 years, and she had the privilege of competing as a soloist in this very competition her senior year of high school. It was her very first solo competition, after years of competitive hula with her hula sisters and kumu hula, but this was truly a life changing experience for her as it challenged her to rise to a level of independence we had never known before...it was an overwhelming experience as her parents to sit in the audience and watch the culmination of so many years of hard work come to fruition while she took the stage by herself at the age of 17. It was an emotional, beautiful, unforgettable moment for me as her mom that I will always be grateful to her kumu hula for. I encourage any and everyone to check out this wonderful children's hula competition and enjoy our incredible local talents! For more information check the KBH website.
No post could be more important than a friendly reminder to everyone no matter where they are to get to the polls and vote, vote, VOTE! No matter what your views, lets all remember to be respectful and honor one another's voices and opinions while also exercising your incredible right as an American to vote!
I am so excited to share this event with all of you, as I am thrilled to be attending it myself. I have missed watching my daughter dance hula for the past 2 years while she has been on a break, but this year she will grace the stage once again with her wonderful halau for their annual Mohala Mai fundraiser concert. The funds raised from the concert as well as the Silent Auction support the halau in their competitive endeavors, as they have received honors from the most prestigious hula competitions in the world. Please come support Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka for a night of truly incredible Hawaiian music featuring the brilliant voices of Napua Makua, Aaron Sala, Hi'ikua and Weldon Kekauoha as they inspire the dancers with their music. It will surely be an unforgettable event you wont want to miss!
Mohala Mai 2012 - Fundraiser for Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka
Saturday, October 27, 5:30 PM
Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of nā kumu hula, Nāpua Makua and Kahulu Maluo, will perform their annual hō‘ike and fundraiser in an evening filled with inspiring traditional and contemporary hula, oli (chant) and mele (song). The award winning hālau shares the stage with Hawai‘i’s finest musical groups and solo artists, such as Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners, Hi‘ikua and Weldon Kekauoha, as they meld melodic voices, graceful hula and the imagery of Hawai‘i into a production that promises to be moving and memorable. A silent auction will open at 4 pm in the Yokouchi Pavilion Courtyard. Check out the MACC website for more details.
For those of you currently visiting Maui and who are true music lovers, this is the perfect week for you! Our beloved Maui Arts & Cultural Center will play host to not one but two wonderful musical performances by the incredible local talents from our islands!
Lovers of slack key guitar are in for a treat this Thursday, July 19th at the McCoy Theater when Hawai'i island guitarist John Keawe takes the stage for an unforgettable night of music. And for those who are unfamiliar with this style of music, check out the soundtrack to The Descendants which featured a plethora of brilliant slack key masters. For more information, click here for a direct link to the MACC website to purchase tickets!
On a very different end of the musical spectrum, Saturday July 21 will host the 7th annual Reggae in the Valley concert here on Maui, which is sure to be an event for reggae lovers. Also celebrating Fiji's 20th Anniversary, this year will feature island music by the likes of Ekolu, Kalama, Positive Motions, Mana'o Company, Common Kings, Maoli, Siaosi/Kiwini, Vaita/Laga Savea, J Boog and of course Fiji. Tickets are sure to be a hot commodity on the island so if you happen to be here on our beautiful island and want to check out one (or both) nights of incredible music by our island talents, be sure to visit the Maui Arts & Cultural Center website here for more information.
Sorry for the brief blogging hiatus, we have been having an amazing summer here on Maui with all three of our kids home. It has been wonderful welcoming guests into our condos and hope that they have all been enjoying the sun, beaches and breaks from school! But back on the blogging front, I wanted to share a few pictures from the last month that has kept our family busy...hope yours has been full of sun and fun as well!
The month of June is always an exciting one for our family, because with it not only comes summertime and the completion of our family as my kids return home from the summer, but the Maui Film Festival as well! It has long been an event we look forward to each year as we are all film lovers, and those featured at the Film Festival are never short of amazing. This year looks to be no different, as we picked up the list of festival films being screened this year and are narrowing down which of our favorites to see!
We are so fortunate to not only have the Maui Arts & Cultural Center play host to many of the films featured at their Castle Theater, but our absolute favorite of course is the Celestial Cinema that features films each evening under the stars for a truly magical film experience. You can bring your own lawn chairs and blankets to make it an extra cozy event for yourself and your loved ones, which under a Maui sky at sunset and later in the evening as the stars come out, is a truly unforgettable experience. So make sure to check it out online and reserve your tickets ASAP, as this is an event you will absolutely not want to miss and its approaching quickly! The Maui Film Festival begins this coming Wednesday 6/13 and ends on Sunday, 6/17. Click here for more details