Monday, April 12, 2010

Penguini - Best Gourmet Gelato & Sorbet in Paia, Maui

Penguini is the best kept secret in Paia. I like revealing hidden finds and supporting local start ups, and mark my’s just a matter of time before this place gets hoppin'.

Melissa, the chef-entrepeneur, makes fresh gelato and sorbets daily. You never know what flavor will be offered until you get there. She herself doesn't know what she will create until she wakes up in the morning, sees what fresh ingredients are around, and embarks on the process of exploring a new creative combination. Kula Strawberry and White Chocolate is her most popular sell. I enjoyed her Ruby Red Grapefruit with Mint sorbet, Goat Cheese Gelato, Coconut Kifer Lime Sorbet, Chocolate Hazelnut Rum gelato, and Green Tea gelato. As you can tell, her culinary training inspires her to work with flavor combinations, and use ingredients you'd not usually associate with frozen desserts (the goat cheese was fabulous, btw).

The texture of her gelato is smooth, creamy and rich. Her sorbets are light and filled with flavor. She uses local and natural ingredients when possible. And check out the unbeatable price: 2 scoops with your choice of flavors for only $3.00! Now that's a real treat!

Melissa McKelvy left her post as pastry chef at Wolf Gang Puck's Spago and opened up her own little joint in Paia. This sweet 30-something entrepenuerial chef kicked the fast paced beat of the glizy restaurant world to put her tastebuds to work under her own direction and whim. I was inspired by her courage to leave her post at a nationally reknown restaurant to start something small yet authentic to her soul. Her shop opened just six months before I stumbled upon it, and chatting with her was an inspirational delight.

Her shop front is a cozy little room in the back of Paia Inn. The location is pretty hidden and one would easily miss it were it not for a little "A" shaped sign perched on the sidewalk. Currently, the store is simple--it's just a wide window opening where customers order their treats (they have homemade cupcakes, petite pastries, Chai tea, and coffee too.) If you peek inside, the wall of her kitchen is painted a bright hot-peony pink, with a side door dressed in French inspired black and white toile window curtains. Her decor taste is whimsical and fun, and I can't wait until she's able to expand her business into a bigger space. For now, customers can enjoy her treates outside in the shade of a wooden bench.
See you there!

93 Hana Hwy #3 (look in the far back of the building)

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday - 12:30p.m. to 8:30pm

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