Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Academy and EAT Honolulu create El Bulli experience

Nadine Kam photos
The Honolulu Academy of Arts and EAT Honolulu presented an “El Bulli” Bento during a food and film pairing to mark the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress,” capturing the work that went on in Ferran Adrià’s famed restaurant before he shut it down last month. A map below describes the dishes.

In the spirit of Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s revolutionary restaurant El Bulli, those who attended the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress”Aug. 27 at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts had the option of partaking in a food and wine pairing featuring the molecular gastronomy techniques that brought Adrià international renown.

Diners were presented with a “bento box” comprising nine tasting portions of dishes prepared by EAT Catering & Cafe’s executive chef David Passanisi and sous chef Dirk Thomas. These ranged from the local (Spam musubi terrine and seared Kulana Farms Big Island sirloin with Asian pear and shoyu pudding) to Mediterranean inspired (prosciutto San Danielle with organic olive oil spread and melon caviar).

It’s always interesting to taste food prepared in new ways, such as tzatziki delivered in sphere form to accompany a lamb gyro, and a Kahuku corn panna cotta accompanied by bacon crumbs and Parmesan “air.”
Alive Mind Cinema
El Bulli’s “Disappearing Ravioli” of pine nut essence. When dipped into liquid, the potato starch wrap dissolves before the pine nut liquid hits the tongue.

Although the merging of science and culinary art is what brought the restaurant international attention since 1987, the film shed light on Adrià’s process, that begins with shuttering his restaurant half the year so that he and his staff can devote their hours to experimentation.

Their work space looks more like a science lab than kitchen. It is as if they are willing to go back to infancy and abandon all the technique cataloged in Larousse Gastronomique, and all their knowledge of ingredients, to relearn everything from scratch. Each ingredient is chopped, dissected and examined anew, as if they had never been seen, tasted or used it before. Therefore they are able to appreciate that, when separated, the gills of mushrooms resemble individual leaves.

Led by chef de cuisine Oriol Castro, ingredients are then boiled, baked, sauteed, fried, pressure-cooked, etc., with oil, without, with water only, etc., to determine the best ways to coax out their flavor, and to develop alternative forms—liquids, gels, foam, air and spheres—of serving them.

Alive Mind Cinema
Ferran Adrià tastes an oil-and-water cocktail.

The trailer: Like art, the El Bulli experience transcends food to create an experience that evokes emotional response.

Deconstruction was one aspect of the kitchen’s work, and one that Adrià—determined to never repeat himself—had abandoned by the time the documentarians arrived. The key theme of the meal in progess in the film is water, and at one point, Adrià marveled at the irony of guests relaying their once-in-lifetime dining experience to friends by telling them, “I went to El Bulli and had water.”

Each step in the process is carefully documented and photographed, and assigned stars. Adriá sniffs and tastes his staff’s work, and by the time the crew reassembles in the restaurant, the menu is still a work in progress, but somehow, a theme arises, and the dishes—a merging of the best of flavors and techniques arising from the six months of experimentation—begin to take form.

The meal and movie added up to a perfect marriage and I regret never having made it to Spain to experience firsthand the work of the man who reshaped the way we think about food in the 21st century.
EAT Catering & Café is planning a fall equinox El Bulli-inspired 24-course menu in late September.

The Bento Box map.

Gina Caruso, film curator at the Doris Duke Theatre, introduced EAT Honolulu executive chef David Passanisi prior to the screening of "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress."

The tzatziki sphere was a novel accompaniment to a mini gyro.

I liked the Kahuku corn panna cotta, left, but the Parmesan air, not so much.

You can spot the pearls of melon caviar under the proscuitto.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nuuanu's small but feisty Farmer's Market

Nadine Kam photos
Greens from The Hawaiian Chef at the Nuuanu Farmer's Market that takes place every Tuesday evening at the Honolulu Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

When I moved to the Liliha-Nuuanu area, I liked the fact that it's a quiet, old community, but I'm afraid I got spoiled living in Kailua, where there was a variety of good, contemporary restaurants within a mile radius from my house.

Where I live now, there's only a few old-school, fast-food restaurants, which at times just makes me want to pick up and move to Kaimuki.

But at least now there's one sign of new life, with market manager Carol Rose hopping on the Farmers Market bandwagon with a Tuesday Farmer's Market that takes place 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Honolulu Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 2313 Nuuanu St.

It's very small, with only about nine vendors right now, but even so, you can still go home with a plate lunch from Kibu Cafe, Gourmet Island Bread or Ebisu Catering, flowers from Nuuanu Orchid, crepes from Pt. Suisse Crepe, malassadas from The Bread of Life, and all the vegetables you can cook.

From left, Yuko, Debra and Sandra Makishi, formerly of Ebisu Catering on King Street, who call their new stripped-down endeavor Ebisu-ish, because it's like Ebisu, but not as big.

Carol Rose is the market manager for the Farmer's Market.

Sample Kona Gold Delight's coconut peanut butter before you buy.

Plate lunches available at Gourmet Island Bread last week were BBQ chicken, penne with basil and tomato, and boneless kalbi.

More produce from The Hawaiian Chef. Those tomatoes had one thing most supermarket tomatoes don't have: flavor.

Malassadas from The Bread of Life.

Drive up any way you can.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Man vs. sub at Storto's

Storto’s Deli will be hosting a "Man vs. 6 Pounds of Sub" contest from 12:45 p.m. Aug. 13, in which Ben Akiu will attempt to consume three full-size Storto's subs (approximately 15 inches each) in 15 minutes.

Each two-pound sub contains three kinds of deli meat; lettuce; tomatoes; onions; bell peppers; sprouts; mayo; mustard; Italian, French, Thousand Island, papaya seed or honey mustard dressing.

Others have tried and failed. If he succeeds, he'll win $250, plus a 10-inch Tablet PC and an Official Pro Bowl Game Jersey.

If he loses, at least he earned a free meal.

If you want to cheer him on, Storto’s is at 3184 Waialae Ave.


Followup Aug. 16, 2011: Ben didn't win, leaving one whole sub to tackle. Here's the before and aftermath:

Storto's photos

Past lives at the table


There are some who still question the value of documentation a la blogs, Facebook, Foodspotting, etc., but I, for one, enjoy being a voyeur to history, learning how others—of high and low station and every point in between—lived their lives. I imagine people a hundred years from now would enjoy doing the same, although they would have to sift through many more mountains of information.

Artist Mary Mitstuda turned me on to the website www.howtobearetronaut.com for art reasons, but I found these menus for the coronation of Tsar Alexander III. Wish I could read the Russian; the French is easier to comprehend because the recipes may have changed but the ingredients and styles of dishes remain standards on menus today.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

RHC welcomes Five-0 Bar & Lounge

Nadine Kam photos
Five-O Bar & Lounge owner Ted Davenport, with general manager Al Souza. Just don't go adding "Hawaii" in front of the name. That's a different creation.

The new Five-O Bar & Lounge at Royal Hawaiian Center hosted a grand opening event Aug. 6, and continues the celebration throughout the month with happy hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and $5
Five-O drink specials including the Five-O Mai Tai, Five-O Martini and Five-O Bloody Mary, house wine for $4; and select draft beer (16 ounces) for $3.

A portion of grand opening sales will benefit the Waikiki Community Center.

The new bar owned by Ted Davenport replaces the more generic former Grove Bar, bringing in a more lively, local vibe, including the addition of a stage for hosting live music performances.

The open-air patio also overlooks the center's ground-floor Royal Grove, offering a bird's-eye view of performances there as well.

The bar and lounge is open from 1 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The center is offering one hour of free parking with validation and $1 per hour for the next three hours. No minimum purchase is required for validation.

'Ohia partitions separate the bar and lounge from the rest of the Paina Lanai area, with see-through spacing between posts to connect it to the food court.

A large Beer Tower holds 100 ounces for $27.

Seating at the bar.

Ted greets guests, from left, Maria Finazzo, Russell Shimooka and Christy Vicari-Coito.

Sharon Neiber came up with drinks like "The 5-Oh!" she's holding, which is a cranberry-ginger cosmo, and "The White Hawaiian" (haole) version of a White Russian, with Kona coffee liqueur and Stoli.

From pita to politics

There are already too few places serving Mediterranean fare on Oahu, and Kafe Europa been a bright spot in downtown Honolulu for seven years.

Alas, proprietor Frank Lavoie has closed up shop, having accepted a position with the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.

You could say being a restaurateur involves a certain amount of diplomacy in dealing with finicky patrons, but now he’ll channel those instincts into working as a diplomat for the United States at a trying period in international politics.

In his last blog post on behalf of the cafe, which closed July 27, he thanked “the best customers around,” adding, “Our new diplomatic lifestyle will no doubt create many new memories, but Kafe Europa will always have a special place in our hearts.”

He started a new blog at http://alohafso.blogspot.com/ to keep friends and fans updated in this journey. Congratulations, Frank!

Who knows. So many restaurateurs have multiple talents that others, fed up with current state of government, may enter the political arena. Food supply and agriculture are such politically charged topics anyway and land decisions and regulations enacted today will touch everyone’s lives tomorrow.