The Escape Plan – November 2011

2011 Precoa Incentive Travel Newsletter

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

-James Beard

With Thanksgiving in mind, The Escape Plan has dedicated this month’s newsletter to the cornucopia of unique and delicious food you’ll encounter during your visit to Maui in April. From the wildly popular kalua pork to off-the-wall creations like loco-moco, Hawaiian cuisine is a festival for the taste buds.

We’ll give you an overview of some of the local favorites you’re likely to see, give you a quick history of the luau, and point you in the right direction in your search for your favorite restaurants in West Maui.

Whatever your tastes, you’re going to be thoroughly satisfied during your Escape To Paradise - Maui experience. As they say on the islands – mai e ‘ai...come and eat!

Hawaiian food primer

Royal Playground Lahaina

If there’s one thing that defines modern Hawaii, it’s multicultural fusion. People from all over the world have come to the islands for a variety of reasons and combined to create a distinct culture. Hawaiian food is a perfect example of this as American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian, and Portuguese tastes have come together to form a truly unique cuisine.

Fish is obviously very popular on the islands, but Hawaii is also famous for its pork, tropical fruits, as well as a variety of dishes from the starchy taro plant. In the midst of all the international influence, perhaps no local staple is more beloved in Hawaii than the World War II-era canned meat product, Spam.

Hawaiians eat the most Spam per capita than any other state in the U.S. It’s served at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King, and can be prepared in a multitude of ways, including Spam musubi (aka Spam sushi), Spam stir fry, Spam omelettes, etc.

Here’s some more Hawaiian favorites you’re likely to see at a traditional luau and even on a restaurant menu during your visit:

  • Haupia (pronounced how-pee-ah) – Traditional coconut milk-based dessert…though technically a pudding, the consistency closely approximates gelatin desserts and is usually served in blocks. 
  • Kalua Pig (ka-loo-ah) – Usually the centerpiece of a Hawaiian luau, where it is traditionally cooked in an imu…the resulting flavor is smoky and salty, and the texture is tender and juicy.
  • Lau-Lau (rhymes with cow) – pork, salted butterfish, and spices are mixed and wrapped in taro leaves…the combination is then pressure cooked in an oven or imu (traditional underground oven).
  • Loco-Moco – Famous local dish that originated at the Café 100 on the Big Island of Hawaii…high-carb, high-protein dish that was originally invented to help cure the hunger of active surfers…consists of white steamed rice, a fried egg, a hamburger patty, topped with brown gravy.
  • Lomi Salmon (pronounced low-me) – Hawaiian seafood dish typically prepared by mixing salted, diced salmon with tomatoes, crushed ice, and green onions…ingredients are usually hand-mixed, giving the dish its name (lomi is the Hawaiian word for “to massage”).
  • Poi (rhymes with boy) – Primary Polynesian staple food made from the taro plant…has a paste-like texture and holds an important place in Hawaiian culture.
  • Poke (pronounced po-kay) – A raw fish salad made from Ahi tuna and usually flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil, kukui nut, and seaweed…over 100 varieties of the dish can be found throughout Hawaii. 
  • Saimin (pronounced sie-min) – Saimin noodles are Chinese in origin, thinner than ramen noodles, and often found throughout Hawaii, including fast food restaurants…may also contain green onion (scallion), kamaboko (fish cake), Spam, sliced char siu (Chinese roast pork), and dried or butterflied fresh shrimp.

what exactly is a luau ANYWAY?

One of the many perks our Escape to Paradise-Maui guests will receive during their trip is the honor of an exclusive luau at the Sheraton Maui Resort, just for incentive trip qualifiers. While most people have a general idea of what a luau is, the history and tradition of the ancient event is rooted in the nature of Hawaiian royalty and religion.

Hawaii’s King Kamehameha II gave the modern luau its shape in 1819. Before this famous feast, social and religious taboos forbade men and women from sharing meals together and restricted non-royals from eating certain foods. Kamehameha II symbolically banished these ancient customs by eating with women and commoners.

As time went on, this even grew into large celebratory feasts that flourished while maintaining many of the traditional Hawaiian customs. The hula dance became a regular spectacle of entertainment as well as the introduction of Polynesian fire knife dancing.

Today, Hawaiian luaus are virtually synonymous with “party” and are a celebration of life. They’re a time to share traditional foods, enjoy songs and dances of early Hawaii, and to give thanks to our family, friends and, guests from other cultures.

WHERE ELSE TO EAT?

On the west side of Maui, the question is not “where should we eat?” but “how will we ever decide?” Prepare to be spoiled. Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua restaurants offer casual fare to Hawaii Regional Cuisine, many showcasing views of Molokai and Lanai so spectacular you’ll be inclined to sip your drink and savor every bite.

Located on one of Maui’s most beloved beaches, Kaanapali restaurants are best known for their panoramic vistas. Set along this gorgeous coastline, you’ll find fresh seafood, open-air dining and choices for the whole family.

Lahaina’s past as a bustling whaling town gives it a unique flavor as Maui’s newest hot spot. Alongside bustling sidewalks, Lahaina restaurants boast a selection of rustic seafood restaurants, hearty pubs, cool “dives” and elegant hideaways.

Farther north, Kapalua restaurants cater to return guests or those “in the know” with a selection of eateries where you can find everything from fresh local seafood to enviable wine lists.

who’s qualified for escape to paradise - MAUI?

We’re coming down the stretch of the 2011 incentive qualifying period and the list of qualifiers for Escape To Paradise - Maui has surged to 43 all-star agents. Our qualifying group continues to grow by leaps and bounds as 13 more agents punched their vacation ticket last month.

We’d like to extend a BIG congratulations – or Ho'omaika'i 'ana as they say in Hawaii – to our October qualifiers: Mickey Van Curen, Steve Oren, Beth Steele, Tracy McCorkle, Seth Nettleton, Ginger Paul, Laurie Vanderberg, Amy Ervin, Lowell Ramsey, and Rebecca Ringler.