The Tasting Panel magazine

JUNE 2011

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Page 42 of 132

SIPPED & SCENE Spirited Away A I attended a party at Maui’s Grand Wailea Hotel thrown by Don Julio’s Las Vegas– based Brand Ambassador, Kevin Venegas. OUR LADY ON THE MOVE, BLAINE ASHLEY, HEADS BACK TO HER HOME BASE IN HAWAII fter six spirited weeks in New York, it wasn’t easy for me to say goodbye. Not that it ever is, but this time was different. I had major mixed emotions about boarding the plane back to my home base of Honolulu, especially after aggressively scouring and successfully capturing the city’s best in cocktail culture. Why was I heading back to Oahu again? For R & R? Reflection? I hesitantly nestled into seat 17D, cracked open Dan Dunn’s Living Loaded to await the answers some ten hours later. Upon landing, the sweet smell of plumeria's fragrant air wafting around brought me back to my senses. It’s paradise! Who doesn’t want a trip to Hawaii? Answer: No one. After a handful of days filled with rest and relax- ation that I very much needed to come down from my speedy city pace, my cocktail-laden event coverage calendar began loading up. After a few days of down time, I was off to Maui and the luxurious Grand Napa Chef Cindy Pawlcyn teamed with the Kahala Resort for their Food & Wine Classic. Wailea Hotel to attend a Don Julio Tequila dinner that my great friend and Las Vegas–based Brand Ambassador Kevin Venegas was hosting. The event is part of a new monthly series the resort has recently launched called Toast!, a celebration of gourmet food paired with spirits or fine wine. The inaugural event was held at the hotel’s dining establishment Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (not a typo—it’s named for the Hawaiian trigger fish, Hawaii’s State Fish). The restaurant itself sits above a massive koi pond and serves up stellar Pacific Rim cuisine. Don Julio’s menu was done with a Spanish twist, dishing out Hawaiian lobster ceviche with Don Julio Blanco, Don Julio Reposado aside an ahi “Toast!-ada,” an intermezzo of Don Julio-blue agave- gingerale and lychee sorbet. Next up, was a Pulehu beef cheek carne asada, washed down with Don Julio Añejo, and the sweet celebration commenced poolside with a dessert tower of pas- sion lime pie, assorted truffles, cookies, cigars and the Don Julio of your choice. I could’ve camped out in Maui for a few more days but had to plane back to Oahu (only 30 minutes away) to have dinner with Mustards Grill’s own Cindy Pawlcyn. The Napa-bred chef de cuisine teamed up with Kahala Hotel and Resort for the semi- annual Food and Wine Classic. The five-course feast that Pawlcyn prepared for the few hundred guests was complemented with wines by Pride Vineyards, not to mention a decadent end with Davidoff cigars, desserts and ports à la Pride. So there I was, feeling nervous about leaving New York behind for a bit. But, in the end, New York, Napa and Las Vegas all came to me with spirited goodness in tow. Serendipitous, don’t you agree? 42 / the tasting panel / june 2011

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