Thursday, August 13, 2015

HFWF in house at Foodland Farms for Eat Local Tuesdays

Nadine Kam photos
Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival co-founder Roy Yamaguchi was among the chefs offering a preview of the fall foodie event during Foodland’s most recent “Eat Local Tuesdays” tasting.

BY NADINE KAM

In partnership with Foodland’s “Eat Local Tuesdays” tasting series, representatives from the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival were at Foodland Farms Aina Haina on Aug. 11 to whet shoppers’ appetites for the full-range of epicurean and wine-centric events starting Aug. 29 on the Big Island, before moving on to Maui and arriving back on Oahu on Sept. 9 through 13.

Chef and HFWF co-founder Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Restaurant), Keoni Chang (Foodland Supermarket), Mark Noguchi (Pili Group) and Colin Hazama (Royal Hawaiian Hotel) were paired with local farmers and food purveyors including MAʻO Organic Farms, Ho Farms, Hawaiian Crown, and Wow Farm, to offer up tasty bites, sips and curated wine pairings.

Just as in past years, the festival started by Yamaguchi and chef Alan Wong will welcome more than 100 internationally renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers. Funds raised will support local beneficiaries committed to sustainability and cultural and educational programs in Hawaii.
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Visit hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com for the full schedule and ticket information.


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Foodland launched its “Eat Local Tuesdays” tasting series to promote local produce and products, in line with HFWF’s mission to support Hawaii’s culinary scene, farmers, food products and promote sustainability.

Roy served up curry-coated New Zealand salmon topped with crunchy bubu arare, served with WOW Farm tomatoes and shallot sambal.

Shoppers had the opportunity to sample beer with flavors such as sweet potato and banana.

Colin Hazama, who recently made the move from the Sheraton Waikiki to executive chef position at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, shows his dish, also below, a Taste of Tuscan Twin Bridge Farms starting with ahi prosciutto, with tomato sorbet, Waialua asparagus ribbons and caponata.


Pili Group’s Mark Noguchi with HFWF development manager Aya Nishihara.

The Pili Group offered up refreshing lime and Waiola coconut water-pineapple shooters with Kohana Rum and a cloud of dry ice emanating from the blender before the pour.

OnoPops Josh Lanthier-Welch served up bites of his Kona coffee and butter mochi paletas, perfect on a very hot day. 12th Ave. Grill's Kevin Hanney was also there sharing his very popular Koko Head Foods smoked ahi spread.

Keoni Chang served up lettuce wraps, below, with grilled fish, Ho Farms tomatoes, shiso relish and cucumber dill sauce.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

$1 sandwiches at Morton’s on Filet Mignon Day

Photo courtesy Morton’s the Steakhouse
Mark National Filet Mignon Day with $1 sandwiches at Morton’s.

BY NADINE KAM

Are you hungry? Morton’s the Steakhouse will be celebrating National Filet Mignon Day Aug. 13 with $1 filet sandwiches all day in its bar area, open from 4:45 to 10 p.m.

No catch. Eat as many as you want for an indulgent experience without the steep price tag.

The restaurant company that began life in 1978 in Chicago is known for its USDA prime-aged beef, served at 73 locations worldwide.
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Morton’s the Steakhouse is at Ala Moana Center. Call (808) 949-1300.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Longhi's adds dozens of new dishes


Nadine Kam photos
Lobster served over creamy gnocchi is among a couple dozen new dishes on the menu at Longhi’s.

BY NADINE KAM

Longhi’s is celebrating its 12th year on Oahu with a refreshed menu, adding a couple dozen new dishes that have passed several blind taste tests with owner Charlie Longhi and staffers, to arrive at a vast range of crowd pleasers.

The refresh precedes what will be the biggest retail event in recent years when Ala Moana Center opens its new Ewa Wing in November.

Longhi said he anticipates a lot of traffic coming through the West end of the mall and he wants to be prepared with a taste tempters to draw a crowd.

The dinner-time loco moco gets luxe treatment, served atop risotto with onions, mushroom gravy and 5 ounces of filet mignon. At lunch time, a more traditional hamburger-style loco moco is made from prime cuts of beef.

Both lunch and dinner menus have new additions, including two variations of the loco moco. By day, the loco moco features a prime beef patty ($18 breakfast and lunch). In the evening, an and “Italian” version of the local classic features 5 ounces of filet mignon, caramelized onions and peppercorn demi-glace over mushroom risotto, at $36.

One of my favorite dishes off the new menu is a simple yet decadent dinnertime side dish of Sicilian cauliflower ($8) rolled in breadcrumbs, crisp-fried and served with browned butter and garlic, capers and chili peppers.

Another highlight is a rich Maine lobster gnocchi ($36) with a lobster stock-sage-butter sauce.

Though entrée prices may sound steep, Longhi said that in his household, dining was always done family style, and he welcomes that. With a few side dishes and shared entrée, dining for two can be quite reasonable, and satisfying.

One of the foodie favorites is the fried cauliflower with a light crispy crust, simply served with browned butter and garlic, capers and red pepper. Swoonsville!

Finish with dessert of tiramisu pancakes ($16), the griddle cakes standing in for ladyfingers that often tend to be soggy. That’s not the case here, as the pancakes hold up well to the weight of espresso Kahlua mascarpone and chocolate sauce. Yum!

Longhi’s is a family affair, with the first restaurant opened by Charlie’s father Bob in Lahaina in 1976, when Maui was a culinary desert and friends thought he was crazy for doing so.

“He couldn’t get anything fresh on Maui so he went to farmers and asked them to grow tomatoes,” Charlie said.

To give you a better idea of how pioneering he was, all these things we take for granted today were not really being done on Oahu until 15 years later, in the early 1990s, when chefs like Roy Yamaguchi, Roger Dikon, Sam Choy, George Mavrothalassitis and Philippe Padovani banded together with like-minded neighbor island chefs to form the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, partnering with farmers to grow produce they wanted to put on their tables.
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Longhi’s is at Ala Moana Center. Valet parking entrance on Ala Moana Boulevard. Call (808) 947-9899.

Toppings of arugula and prosciutto de parma were great, but we adored the light, crispy housemade crust of Longhi’s Neapolitan pizza, made with Caputo “00” flour imported from Naples, and the crunch of cornmeal on the bottom. Their pizzas are also available to go.


Clams served over light risotto.

The grand finale was a dessert of pancake tiramisu, with the breakfast class a suitable substitute for the Italian dessert’s ladyfingers.
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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

b. patisserie pops in to MW restaurant

Nadine Kam photos
My friends and I are addicted to San Francisco’s b. patisserie maple-bacon kouign amann, and even with a change of venue and climate, Belinda Leong did not disappoint.

BY NADINE KAM

Not everyone has the good fortune to be able to travel to San Francisco for a taste of b. patisserie and the work of its James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef Belinda Leong, so MW restaurant brought a taste of b. patisserie to Honolulu.

Leong and her cafe/bakery business partner Michel Suas joined MW chef/owners Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka in the kitchen for their tea service brunch! Aug. 1 and 2, which never ceases to be a wonderful excuse to get together with friends or family.

MW was recently featured on Eater.com as one of “6 Killer Afternoon Tea Services From Around the World,” in the illustrious company of such institutions as the InterContinental Hong Kong, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto and Four Seasons Tea Lounge in Qatar. View the link here: http://www.eater.com/drinks/2015/8/5/9075797/notable-afternoon-tea-services-around-the-world

For my friends and I, the collaboration seemed like a mad experiment in baking. We always hear from pastry chefs that Hawaii’s high humidity is to blame for deflated, soggy pastry.

OK, we get it. They have simply set us up to have low expectations. But Belinda has proved otherwise. In skilled hands, we can have amazing puff pastry and bread here.

Photo courtesy Jason Kim
Belinda Leong, left, with business partner Michel Suas in back, next to MW’s Wade Ueoka, and far right, Michelle Karr-Ueoka.

Now, here’s the thing with Belinda’s pastry: One of my friends is obsessed with her kouign amann, a light, airy Breton cake comparable to puff pastry or a croissant, with a crunchy and buttery caramelized sugar crust. It is divine. So, when he heard I was going to San Francisco last year, he made me promise to bring some back.

I picked it up en route to the airport at 3 p.m., flew home, went straight to a dinner party of about 30 people to meet him, but we couldn’t enjoy it until 11 p.m., when the dinner party disbanded. We were not about to share this edible “gold” with mere acquaintances.

With the time difference between California and Hawaii, about 11 hours had elapsed since I walked out of b. patisserie. But, in the worst of conditions, bumped around with my luggage and airport security, in the frosty air-conditioning of the plane, in a taxi and finally, the trunk of my car, the texture and flavor was still amazing as four of us gobbled them up in the darkness of a dingy underground parking lot.

But again, those low expectations are hard to retire. When I saw the kouign amann here in petite form, a quarter of their full size in keeping with the meal’s petite proportions—the only way we could enjoy all 16 courses—I had my reservations. I thought that with the change in venue and recipe adjustment they might be dry. I braced myself for the worst. But, they were just as good as I remembered. It was one of those Oliver Twist, “May I have some more,” moments.

My friends were able to purchase a few extras. As for me, I plan to be in San Francisco very soon, and you know where I’m heading.

Nadine Kam photos
The morning feast started with b. patisserie’s light, crunchy granola, served over yogurt and strawberries.

MW Kauai shrimp cocktail.

Lovely spicy ahi tartare.

b. patisserie’s lilikoi bostock with seasonal berries and noyau cream. Some of my easily confused tablemates were bothered by the pacing of the meal, which had sweets interspersed with the savory. They prefer to finish all the savories before moving on to sweets. You learn a lot about people at the table.

Pint-size won ton soup.

Chawanmushi.

Seafood cake Benedict.

This was one of my favorite dishes of bacon, eggs and crispy rice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Satori Hawaii brings Buddhist cuisine to Soto Mission

Nadine Kam photos
Before anyone else is served, the Buddha receives the first offering of vegan cuisine from Satori Hawaii.

BY NADINE KAM

Some people achieve nirvana, described as a state of bliss or peace, through meditation. Others find it through music, or food.

The latter group might want to head to Soto Mission of Hawaii, at 1708 Nuuanu Ave., where Satori Hawaii offers Shojin Ryori, or contemporary Buddhist cuisine, for lunchtime bliss from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

For $18 per person, former Peace Cafe owner Megumi Odin and her crew prepare an elegant vegan, gluten-free lunch comprising six to seven dishes.

If you think your parents had a lot of rules for the table, imagine the life of a Buddhist monk.

It all started with Buddha’s dilemma over eating vs. the sanctity of life. He taught peace and compassion, so was troubled that sustaining our own lives comes at the cost of ending the precious lives of animals and plants.

Sesame kale, Brussels sprouts and beans.

So Buddha took a serious view of eating, adopting a philosophy and rituals for cooking food in order to make the most of fresh seasonal ingredients, their preparation and the manner of receiving it.

All this came clear last fall when Satori Hawaii broughtto Soto Mission of Hawaii.

At that time, those who wished to enjoy Odin’s food worked their way up to mealtime with a lengthy and elaborate zazen, or seated, guided meditation session.

After that, we were released into the mission’s social hall for what my friends and I believed would be a vegan meal in a typically social session.

Instead, diners were seated about 6 feet apart, with no one seated across from us for a traditional Zen meal taken in silence, so as to concentrate all focus and energy into the bowls of food set before us on a beautiful lacquer tray.

I laughed on the inside as I heard two of my friends being chided for their quick eating habits, rapidly pecking at each bowl’s contents with their chopsticks.

“No,” said the monk, who proceeded to introduce all to the etiquette of picking up only one bowl at a time, appreciating its contents and all the preparation and labor that brought it before your eyes, before partaking. When you have eaten a few bites, or all of its contents, you must set down the bowl and follow the same protocol with each of the five to six bowls in front of you.

The ritual is intended to foster a sense of gratitude for the source and blessing of receiving such a meal, and asking yourself whether you are even worthy of this food. All these things most of us take for granted because of the repetitive, somewhat tedious nature of feeding ourselves every day.

Today, you can simply enjoy the Saturday lunch-time meal without the meditation and with full-volume socializing, although Odin hopes people will take to heart her message of bringing balance, harmony and simplicity to life by starting with the food we eat.


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Her food is vegan and gluten-free, made without onions or garlic and minimal condiments in order to maximize nutrition and the natural flavor of produce used. She was inspired to expand the vegan community in Hawaii after moving here seven years ago and finding no vegan restaurants here. Her aim is to eventually open a vegan cafe or noodle shop, which can’t happen soon enough for her fans.

Diners on a recent Saturday had varied familiarity with vegan and Buddhist cuisine, from Karen Wong, a first timer referred by her physician Dr. Lorrin Lau, who was also there, and several members of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii. All loved the food.

 Tofu with macadamia nuts and sesame sauce.

“When I went to Japan, this is how they ate,” Lau said. “Very artistic, very colorful. No meat, no dairy. You can have as many helpings as you want and you won’t gain weight.”

VSH president Lorraine Sakaguchi, said she made the transition to a vegan diet over a 23-year period, saying, “I did it for health at first, realizing along the way that we don’t need to eat any animal protein for health.

“I felt so much better and started volunteering with the vegetarian society. I had so much energy I wanted to help people feel better,” she said. “A lot of people in this state and elsewhere getting unnecessarily ill, and a lot has to do with diet.”

Satori Hawaii is offering lunch noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays at Soto Mission of Hawaii, 1708 Nuuanu Ave. The cost is $18 per person; limited to 40 meals, first come first serve. No reservations taken. Members of Vegetarian Society of Hawaii receive a 5 percent discount.

“Ganmodoke” refers to a deep-fried tofu fritter, but Satori Hawaii’s version is baked with a crunchy texture derived from diced veggies in the mix.
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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Cafe Grace celebrates 1st anniversary with new dishes

Nadine Kam photos
A smoked duck sandwich with satay dipping sauce is a new addition to the menu at Cafe Grace.

BY NADINE KAM

Cafe Grace marked its first anniversary on July 29 by rolling out new dishes created by chef Jay Kaya.

The cafe’s deli-style bagel sandwiches and salads have been joined by more weighty, savory fusion offerings such as a smoked pulled pork bagel sandwich on a taro bagel and smoked duck sandwich with satay sauce.

Owner Terumi Drake insists on quality control by making everything in-house, including the cafe’s full range of sauces.

More dishes are coming, and a gluten-free bagel will also debut soon.
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Café Grace by Lox of Bagels is in the Imperial Plaza, 725 Kapiolani Blvd. Open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Parking is available in the building with validation. Visit www.cafegracehi.com, or call (808) 492-1470.


Smoked pulled pork sandwich with homemade BBQ sauce and bacon cole slaw on a taro bagel, with new sides of ratatouille and quinoa salad.

Tofu watercress salad with onions, tomatoes, tofu and homemade ginger-miso vinaigrette.

Prosciutto pizza topped with arugula, red onions and housemade sun-dried tomato aioli in place of cheese for a lighter texture.

Chicken Caesar with bagel croutons.

Dome cake with peanut butter-ganache center was inspired by pastry chef Don Gilo’s fondness for peanut butter-Nutella sandwiches. It’s $5.95.

Funds raised by sales of artwork by owner Terumi Drake’s daughter Grace and her friends will go to the Hawaii Art Alliance.
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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Finale of 'Farm to Chef' season marks new beginning for Hazama

Nadine Kam photos
Chef Colin Hazama, center, and chef Darren Demaya, far left, presented the finale of the “From Farm to Chef” dinner series at the Sheraton Waikiki’s Edge of Waikiki July 31.

BY NADINE KAM

Colin Hazama chose the finale of the Sheraton Waikiki’s “Flavors of Hawaii: From Farm to Chef” dinner series to make the announcement of a new beginning as he makes the leap from senior executive sous chef at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort to executive chef at sister property the Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort.

It was a bittersweet evening for the chef who started the ambitious dinner series last year, and he had a choked up moment as he thanked his crew for all the support they have shown him during his tenure at the Sheraton.

Not to worry, this won’t be the end of the events that aim to showcase the farmers that make it possible to sustain a culinary scene that is as inviting to sophisticated travelers as it is to us. Hazama has always been an advocate for local farming and other sustainable practices, and is envisioning a Fanta-sea table for the Royal Hawaiian, highlighting aquaponic farming and aquaculture, tentatively beginning 2016.

Ever so humble, as soon as I got there, Hazama goes, “Sorry, you probably wanted to be at Joy of Sake tonight.”

Uh, let’s see. Hazama’s food, table side at the beautiful oceanfront vs. long lines and standing and eating from disposable plates? There was no place else I wanted to be.

The setting.


 A display by the Wailea Agricultural Group featured fruit and spices grown on the Big Island, including cloves, mace, nutmeg, bay leaves, limequats and calamondins, a Mandarin orange and kumquat hybrid.

I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of finger limes around town, easy to serve and accent food and drinks as a sort of fruit caviar.

In the meantime, the finale dinner brought back farmers and their produce highlighted through the course of the series including Ho Farms, Nalo Farms, Twin Bridge Farms, Naked Cow Diary, Shinsato Farms and Wailea Agricultural Group. Chateau St. Michelle and Stags leap provided the wine pairings.

Wailea Ag presented a display table stocked with some of its Big Island produce, including hearts of palm, and an array of citrus fruits and whole spices: nutmeg, cloves, mace and bay leaves. A look at their web site shows cinnamon is coming soon. I was particularly taken by the finger lime, which I’d never seen except for those sensationalistic ads connected to weird Facebook stories that people share. Of course now that I’m looking for one I can’t find it, but the ads usually read, “Eat this and never diet again,” or something along those lines. Clicking on it just sends you to some infomercial.

But the finger lime is a relatively new Hawaii experiment, imported from Australia. As the name implies, it is about the length of a finger or gherkin, in a smooth casing that opens to reveal juicy, citrusy pearls that explode like caviar or ikura on your tongue, which is why it’s often referred to as lime caviar or citrus pop rocks.

I can always count on finding something new at Hazama’s table, and for now I’ll say thank you and see you across the lawn. Congratulations!

Guests started with a small bite of sweet Lanai amaebi dressed with Nalo Farms yuzu, Ho Farms chili, Twin Bridge basil oil, Wailea Ag finger lime 3-caviar relish and Naked Cow Dairy yogurt. Paired with Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Cold Creek, Columbia Valley 2004, California.

 Next up was tender Shinsato Farms head cheese tonkatsu with Nalo Farms baby spicy greens, pickled persimmon mustard, Ho Farms smoked tomato marmalade and yuzukosho chimichurri. I could eat buckets of that sauce. This dish was paired with Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011.
The Taste of Ho Farms salad featured a centerpiece of golden Kahuku and currant tomato gelee, butternut squash, gherkins, purple long beans, pearl onions, and deep-fried okra. Served with Penner Ash Viognier, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2012.

Deconstructed Hawaiian cioppino featured nutmeg- and clove-smoked Hawaiian abalone, Wailea Ag hearts of palm and roasted ulu, Kona Cold mussels and lobster, and Ho Farms tomato-chardonnay coulis. Paired with Joel Gott Pinot Noir, Willamette Valle, Oregon, 2012.

Slow-cooked Molokai venison was served with, below, Waialua tomato fennel compote, Twin Bridge charred red cabbage kraut, melted cabbage butter, drunken sour cherry gastrique and “The Works” twice-baked potato. Accompanied by Stags Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2012.

The baked potato was based on one of chef Colin’s favorite childhood treats.   

Dessert of Berries Wild marinated berries, Nalo Farms lemon verbena, champagne gelée, and Naked Cow Dairy fromage blanc panna cotta was accompanied by Cookies & Milk, spiced toasted Naked Cow Dairy coconut butter shortbread, raspberry-pomegranate jam, mac nut brittle and smoked Hawaiian sea salt caramel leche.


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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.