Who travels to Hawaii without attending the quintessential luau? Surely there is somebody out there, it just isn't me.
A luau is a Hawaiian feast that is traditionally held as a celebration for life events. Or to appease tourists.
After much research, deliberation and head wall banging, I selected the Feast at Lele for my West Maui luau experience instead of the more popular Old Lahaina Luau. Why? There were two reasons that Influenced my decision. No, one of them was not too much wine.
Firstly, the Feast at Lele is one of the few luaus in Maui that is not a buffet, it is a 5-course fully-serviced sit down meal. Buffets remind me of Circus Circus in Las Vegas.
Secondly, the chef, James McDonald has been featured on the Travel Channel, as well as in numerous magazines, talking about his Farm to Table approach to cooking. Sold.
Warning: Cliche jokes are not off limits on this blog.
We arrived at the feast and immediately got lei'd, that was quickly followed up with a Mai Tai. Would a cigarette may have been more appropriate?
Though I had always envisioned my first lei would be with fresh orchids, these were made of Kukui tree nuts. At least they would make for lasting souvenirs.
Our seats were fairly close to the stage, though with the stunning panoramic views every seat is a winner. The first order of business was to get cozy with our server, he brings the bottomless cocktails.
The Feast at Lele takes you through four Polynesian lands through dance, culture and food.
The show started, coordinating the feast dishes and dances with the Polynesian land it represented; Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti or Samoa.
The dance: The hula is the traditional dance of Hawaii and tells the story of traditions and culture. It is an elegant motion accompanied by chant and song.
The Hawaiian dishes: Kalu'a Pork, Poi, Seared Island Catch with Mango Sauce, Pehole Fern with Heart of Palm Salad
The dance: The men of New Zealand traditionally dance the Haka, an ancient Maori war dance. Meanwhile the the women perform using poi, tethered balls that are rhythmically swung.
The New Zealand dishes: Green Duck Salad with Poha Berry Dressing, Harore Kumara, Kuku Patties
The dance: Tahitian dance is a sensual swing of the hips and the traditional or'i chant.
The Tahitian dishes: E'iota, Scallops on a Shell, Fafa (steamed chicken in taro leaf with coconut milk)
The dance: The Sasa dance is a rhythmic clapping of the hands and slapping of parts of the body.
The Samoan dishes: Palusami (taro leaf and coconut milk with breadfruit), Supasui (grilled steak), Shrimp and Advocado with Passion Fruit
…and, for the ultimate finale, Samoa also performs the famed fire knife dance. I just thought of a third reason to choose Feast at Lele.
Shortly after seeing the incredible bodies of these passionate dancers, I decided that learning the hula was a must. But, not now. There was dessert.
Have you been to a luau? Have you ever done the hula?