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Category Archives: Review

The Day Pacific’O Saved us from Hurricane Lane, a Restaurant Review

You simply can’t go to Hawaii without attending a Luau. This past August, we were very excited to be heading to the 50th state for 10 days of sun, beaches, snorkeling, wine tasting (what, you missed our blog about MauiWine? You can fix that by clicking here), and of course, a proper Hawaiian Luau on the beach.

For weeks, we had read reviews of the various Luaus around Ka’anapali, Maui, where we would be staying. We finally selected The Feast at Lele. It promised authentic food, including a pit-roasted pig, music, dancers, and the all around romance of a sunset dinner on the beach. We were really looking forward to it!

Upon our arrival on Maui, we were alerted to the impending doom that would be Hurricane Lane. Honestly, we’d had no idea. Our three days on Oahu had been stunning, with brilliant sunshine, and warm tropical waters. Though apprehensive, we were committed to enjoy our stay no matter what the weather brought. Afterall, we were in Maui!

Hurricane Lane

Yea, that’s a pretty big deal.

As Hurricane Lane churned toward the Islands, it became apparent that, although she would not make landfall on Maui, the outer bands of the hurricane would affect the island. Hawaii, the Big Island, took the brunt of the damage, but the storm skirted Maui to the south. Nevertheless, all necessary precautions were taken. The staff at the Westin Ka’anapali were amazing in their diligence, keeping us updated several times a day with voicemail messages, and literally going door-to-door handing out flyers with the latest storm conditions, forecasts, and precautions. Our parasailing trip was cancelled. We dutifully filled our bathtub, and ventured out the the market to stock up on provisions for what could be several days without power.

The town of Lahaina pretty much shut down, including most of the restaurants. This is understandable, considering many of the people who work in the town commute some 45 minutes to and from the north side of the Island, on a sometimes narrow, twisting road. Still, the resort bars remained open, so we got our fair share of Mai Tai’s! And the Feast at Lele held out, determined to treat their guests to an experience of a lifetime, despite an approaching Hurricane.

The day of our scheduled Luau arrived. We called to confirm, and the Feast of Lele said the Luau will go on, unless we were otherwise notified. With winds increasing in intensity, we grabbed a Resort Shuttle into Lahaina. Our driver informed us that, depending on conditions, the shuttles may stop running before we were done for the evening, so we should be prepared to catch an Uber or Lyft back to the resort.

We arrived at the venue about a half hour before they were ready to receive guests. So, naturally, we set out to find somewhere to relax with a glass of wine before the Luau. As luck would have it, right across the walkway, we spotted Pacific’O restaurant. As we found two seats at the bar, we were greeted by Manager Cory Brownfield, who was manning the bar that evening. A very personable man, we enjoyed chatting with Cory as we sipped our wine and waited for the Luau. Cory gave us the inside scoop: don’t rush over right when they open the doors. We’d be crammed into a “holding pen” until they were ready for us to go down our tables on the beach. There would be plenty of complimentary Mai Tai’s and Pina Coladas to go around, so we sat and visited with Cory a bit longer.

Finally the time came. We left Pacific’O and walked across to the Luau. We could see the nervousness on the faces of some of the staff, as the winds continued to build, and rain clouds loomed overhead. We grabbed a Mai Tai and waited for our turn to walk down the ramp to the beach. Despite the tension of the impending Hurricane, the vibe was energetic. At last, we took our places in line and walked down the ramp. As we reached the bottom, literally at the moment we were adorned with our lei’s, the skies opened up! This was it! Hurricane Lane was upon us!

The staff hustled us back inside. For a few minutes there was confusion, and it was unclear if they would try to hold the Luau indoors. After a few passing moments, however, we saw one of the most horrific sights we’ve seen in our lives: the barbacks started dumping Mai Tai after Pina Colada down the drain! It was clear the Luau was cancelled. Kent tried to rush the bar in a quest for a to-go cup, but the staff held firm. Our money would be refunded, and the Luau was cancelled.

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Oh, the humanity!

As Kent waited a moment for the details on the refund (hey, he is an accountant) Robyn, always forward-thinking in times of crisis, made a dash back over to Pacific’O to secure us a table before the throngs of other disappointed cancelled-Luau guests got the same idea. Although there were no tables available, there was still room at the bar, so we took our seats and resumed our pleasant interaction with Cory.

Alas, the deluge was not the fearsome Hurricane itself; only a passing squall from an outer band. In fact, within 10 minutes, the rain had stopped, the clouds thinned, and we enjoyed one of the most spectacular sunsets we got the see during our trip!

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Cory continued to be the consummate host. He gave us recommendations, and we were treated to an exquisite meal. Of all the Mai Tai’s we had during our time on Maui, the one at Pacific’O was far and away the best!

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The one on the right was their Farm Cocktail of the Day. It was delicious, but I don’t remember what was in it; I didn’t think to bring my notebook.

The pictures really don’t do justice. The portions look small in the photos, but they were more than enough for the two of us! Exquisite ceviche – the fish can’t get any fresher! Buttery seared scallops and prawns with mushrooms and rice. Everything was delicious, and more than made up for our missed roast pig and poi. (Do they still serve that at Luaus?)

We survived the hurricane, obviously. There was some damage as you can see, but thankfully, Hurricane Lane wasn’t as destructive as early predictions suggested; at least on Maui. Hurricane Lane did put a damper on our vacation, but they way we see it, it’s hard to be disappointed when you’re in Maui. Besides, it gives us an opportunity for a mulligan!

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Hurricane Lane Damage! The Struggle was Real!

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If you happen to be in Lahaina, be sure to stop in at Pacific’O. They’re located on the beach, at 505 Front Street, Suite 114, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761. If Cory’s working, tell him Kent and Robyn from the night Hurricane Lane almost destroyed the Island, say “Aloha!”

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Canned Wine – A Review of Underwood Pinot Gris

Wine in a can? Seriously?  

Actually, there are many advantages. Portability is the most obvious. But also consider weight (aluminum weights less than glass, which reduces carbon footprint when shipping), durability (aluminum doesn’t break like glass could), and accessibility (No glass containers allowed at the pool? No problem.) Taking these factors into consideration, it’s definitely worth giving this latest wine trend a try.  

In addition to it’s traditional bottled wines, Union Wine Co., located near Portland, Oregon, produces and markets wine in a can under the Underwood label. You’ve probably seen it in Trader Joe’s, Target, Total Wine & More, or pretty much any other local supermarket. The can is 375 ml, half of a traditional 750 ml wine bottle, and about the same as a standard 12 ounce (355 ml) beer or soda cans. No corkscrew required, as the cans are equipped with the standard pull tab familiar to, well, everyone. Five different wines are produced: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rosé, Sparking, and Sparking Rosé. As best as I can determine, all are Non-Vintage.  

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Photo Credit: unionwinecompany.com

With reasoning similar to the recent upsurge in boxed wine, Union Wine Co.’s philosophy is that “it’s more important what goes into the glass than what type of glass it is“. That is, the quality of the wine in the vessel is more important than the vessel in which it comes. Concerned about metallic tasting wine? Don’t be. The cans have a liner that prevents the wine from contacting the aluminum.  

And let’s get real about this. If you were to swig your wine straight from the bottle, you’d get some serious side-eye from your neighbors. From a can? No problem. Half the folks around you probably wouldn’t even notice its wine, and not beer or soda. Slip on a Koozie, and you’re home free!  

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Hmm. I wonder what’s in that can.

But the all important question is…how’s the wine? On the day I shopped, only Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris were available at my local Trader Joe’s, for $4.99 per can. That makes them the equivalent of a $10 bottle. I picked up a can of Pinot Gris, and after adequate chilling, I gave it a try. Here’s what I thought:   

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Is it pretentious to pour canned wine into a glass?

Pale straw color. Aromas of green apple, pear, and lemon-lime. On the palate, bright acidity gives it a tangy profile with flavors of green apple, lemon, pineapple, and the slightest hint of stone fruit. Fairly short finish. Less fruity and higher acidity than many PG’s. All in all, pretty good, but not my regular go-to. However, for a picnic, camp out, or other outdoor event where one wants a light weight and portable container, and an easy drinking refresher, this is a nice choice. 

So, while I wouldn’t necessarily buy this to pair with a nice meal or take it to a restaurant (would they charge a “tabage fee?”), it is a solid, affordable wine, and an excellent choice for a day at the lake or pool, weekend camping trip, or “alcohol-permitted” concert in the park. Portable, recyclable, and lighter-weight for easy transport, give Underwood wine-in-a-can a try.  

Have you tried Underwood or any other canned wine? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments.  

Cheers!  

Review: Mutt Lynch Fou Fou le Blanc 2013

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“…she’s amazing, she’s eccentric, some might even say barking mad…” That’s the teaser on the label to describe this delightful Sauvignon Blanc.

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In my ongoing exploration of Sauvignon Blanc, I found this fun bottle. Mutt Lynch winery themes all their wines around dogs. And for good reason. Mutt Lynch donates a portion of the profits from each bottle they sell to animal rescue organizations. If that isn’t reason enough to support them, their wines are really good, too!

From the Fou Fou le Blanc info sheet:

Our 2013 Fou Fou Le Blanc White is a delicate blend of Sauvignon Blanc,
Chennin Blanc, and Verdelho — a grape varietal known for being crisp and
fruit-forward. This release clearly showcases the Sauvignon Blanc and con-
tinues to reflect Brenda’s rules for producing a great white —pick ripe fruit,
avoid herbaceous aromas and flavors, protect the wine’s natural acidity dur-
ing fermentation and no oak. The 2013 Fou Fou Le Blanc White is a wonder-
ful embodiment of this approach and delivers to you a delightfully fresh and
well-balanced wine. Fou Fou for you!

I found Fou Fou le Blanc to be a pleasant variation from many of the citrus-driven California Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted this summer. Fou Fou le Blanc has more tropical flavors, with citrus undertones. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bracing, citrusy SB in the heat of the summer, but now that we’re (finally) into the cooler, autumn weather here in Northern California, the soft, tropical notes were really enjoyable. Here’s what I thought about it, in my Vivino review:

Straw color with soft aromas of elderflower and white peach. There are flavors of gooseberry, honeysuckle, and pear, with mango and papaya on the finish. The fruit flavors drive this wine, giving it a sweet profile although it is not a sweet wine. The mouthfeel is soft, almost creamy, with very smooth acidity. This is a very easy-drinking, tropical Sauvignon Blanc.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 Stars
Purchased from Underground Cellar, $13.00.
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Fou Fou le Blanc is delicious on its own, but it really shined when we paired it with Coconut-Crusted Mahi Mahi with Horseradish-Orange Marmalade. Spectacular pairing!

If you get a chance to sample some Fou Fou le Blanc, or any of Mutt Lynch Winery’s other wines, don’t let it pass you by! You’ll enjoy the wine, while supporting animal rescue efforts. That’s a win-win!