Tuesday, December 30, 2014

RumFire Waikiki NYE ‘Reveal’ coming

Nadine Kam photos
The new cabanas at RumFire will have their public relaunch during the Sheraton Waikiki “New Year’s Eve Reveal” event.

RumFire hosted a grand opening celebration Dec. 29 with a sneak peek of its new oceanfront bar and VIP cabanas that will make their public debut during the Sheraton Waikiki’s “New Year’s Eve 2014 REVEAL” event, beginning at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow for 21 and older. Arrive dressed to impress.

The relaunch of RumFire will spread out over the Edge Bar and surrounding pool decks at the hotel and feature Vegas-based DJs Tina T and DJ Evil, as well as local aerialists, go-go dancers, DJ MIKED, DJ Technique, and more.

Tickets for the event is $85 presale (ending 11:59 p.m. today), $100 regular, and $50 for those partying after the midnight. No refunds. Order tickets here: http://bit.ly/1CSftHv

To book VIP space at the new oceanfront bar and cabanas, or bottle-service tables, call (808) 271-1728.

There’s plenty of fire in the decor.

During the preview we enjoyed small bites from the RumFire menu including pork belly pancakes, Korean chicken wings and this Kahuku shrimp bao.

Garlic steak, fried rice and crisp Parmesan-truffle oil-and sea salt “tatas” (tater tots) were also on the menu.

Before leaving we stopped by the dessert bar stocked with bite-size treats like this double chocolate confection.

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's Aloha Friday at Hula Grill Waikiki

Nadine Kam photos
Hula Grill’s new Aloha Friday Luau plate features a mouth-watering sampling of Hawaiian favorites with a twist.

Aloha Friday started in 1962, when the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote the idea of loosening up in the then-starchy workplace by adopting casual Fridays, making aloha shirts acceptable in place of suit and tie.

But the idea transcended fashion to become part of our daily lifestyle. Living every day as if it’s Aloha Friday, the idea of having one special day to celebrate our relaxed, laidback way of life, seemed to be disappearing from popular consciousness.

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Hula Grill Waikiki is bringing back the idea with the launch of its weekly Aloha Friday Luau plate, offering up a taste of the islands with one huge sampler, with a few twists on island favorites, such as kalua pork with a pinch of star anise—I thought it tasted a bit like boiled peanuts—and Maui Gold pineapple dusted with li hing powder.

Also on the plate are laulau (more fish please), Lomi Ho Farm’s tomato with Kahuku sea asparagus, ahi poke with He’eia ogo, juicy housemade pipikaula, haupia-purple sweet potato dessert, poi and furikake-topped rice.

It was a little “clean” for local tastes, which had us clamoring for chili pepper water. But it was sweet chili pepper water rather than the fiery Thai pepper water we were expecting, so just add salt.

As a special treat, emceeing the festive Dec. 19 launch event was Kimo Kahoano, one the musicians who wrote the song, “It’s Aloha Friday.” Kahoano’s son Kamuela also performed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hawaiian Pie Co. returns to Hori family roots

Nadine Kam photos
Baking together over the holidays rekindled the Hori family’s heritage and passion for pastry. Clockwise from right are Joel and wife Jan Hori, second-generation baker Richard Hori Sr., and Joel and Jan’s children Lindsey, Matthew and Andrew Chun-Hori.

It’s always sad to hear of another mom-and-pop kamaaina business closing its doors, often not for a lack of fans, but because of a lack of interest by succeeding generations.

There seemed to be no end to this rising tide of closures, but now comes some good news with the Dec. 18 opening of Hawaiian Pie Co., on Waiakamilo Road.

The Hori clan that owns the operation has roots on the Big Island, where patriarch Yoshio Hori opened the renowned Holy’s Bakery in the 1930s. His grandson Joel—who opened Hawaiian Pie Co., with wife Jan, and children Lindsey, Matt and Andrew Chun-Hori—said that the Holy’s name may have derived from a classic misunderstanding between the Japanese-speaking Yoshio and a Caucasian signmaker, who heard the rolled “r” of Hori as “l,” and created the sign accordingly.

Holy’s is still going on strong in Kapaau, where the family-run bakery sits on Holy Bakery Road.

Pies cooling after coming out of the oven.

Here on Oahu, Yoshio’s son Richard Sr., opened Holy’s Bakery Manoa in 1979, offering bread, cookies and other treats until it closed in the 1990s. Joel, who had grown up with the bakery took a job as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration, but as he came closer to retirement and watched scores of other kamaaina companies being lost to time, he started thinking more about his own bakery heritage.

The family had always baked pies together over the holidays to give as gifts, and they knew the demand for the pies was there. But the real push came from his children, who acknowledged the difficulties of running a bakery, but still wanted to continue the family legacy.

In spite of its family heritage, Hawaiian Pie Co. is a startup that is not affiliated with the original Holy’s. Their recipes are unique, and taking input from friends, family, and now customers, the crust and pies have evolved into deep-dish, three pounders.

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The exterior of Hawaiian Pie Co. at 508 Waiakamilo Road.

Pies named in honor of “Grandpa Yoshio” include such classics as apple and coconut, but the family has come up with new combinations such as passion-pear and peach-pineapple, with a mix of expected classics and new flavors available daily.

Pies are available whole or by the slice, at $20 to $22 for whole pies. Other treats, such as shortbread cookies, turnovers and manju will also be available as time permits. Visit www.hawaiianpieco.com or www.facebook.com/HawaiianPieCo to stay up to date on daily offerings.
At 508 Wai­akamilo Road. Call 988-7828. They will be open until 3 p.m. today, Christmas Eve.

Human-scale mixer.

Pie samples help customers make decisions.

Lindsey Doi slices into a pie, available by the slice as well as whole.

Boxes waiting to be filled.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Naked Cow Dairy's got milk, and more

Nadine Kam photos
Pickles is the face of Naked Cow Dairy, with dairy owners, sisters Sabrina St. Martin, left, and Monique van der Stroom.

The Sheraton Waikiki hosted the second of its new “Table to Farm” wine dinner and farm tour series which began with a dinner at the resort’s Edge of Waikiki infinity pool on Dec. 5, and continued the next day with a luxury bus ride to Naked Cow Dairy for a peek into the workings of a boutique dairy and picnic lunch, with insight into how all the yogurt, cheese and milk we enjoyed, got made.

It’s a real hands-on effort that Sheraton Waikiki senior executive sous chef Colin Hazama, who initiated the project, wants more people to see to gain more appreciation of the work farmers do.

Hazama and executive sous chef Brett Villarmia collaborated on the dinner that included such Naked Cow Dairy products as halloumi, buttermilk, labne, honey butter, yogurt, Pika Moon havarti, white truffle morbier, coconut butter, and more. Spanish wines accompanied the meal.

Chefs Colin Hazama and Brett Villarmia down on the farm at Waianae’s Naked Cow Dairy & Creamery.

Here’s a look at both table and farm:

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Friday night’s meal started with brown butter-seared Naked Cow Dairy halloumi with blistered shishito peppers, toasted almond tahini, Ho Farms tomato jam and a winter salad.

Black cardamom-spiced scallops were topped with chicharrones on a platter dressed with lavender Naked Cow dairy buttermilk, compressed cucumber, and Naked Cow Dairy yogurt.

Garlic and herb-roasted Colorado lamb loin was served with micro-mint Naked Cow Dairy labne, hazelnut dukkah, and pomegranate-pink peppercorn Naked Cow Dairy honey butter.

The cheese course featured Naked Cow Dairy’s Waianae tomme, Pika Moon havarti and white truffle morbier, enhanced by lilikoi kumquat jam, pickled figs and hydroponic cress.

Dessert comprised two offerings: “Berries Wild,” marinated berries served in a Meyer lemon champagne gelee, accompanied by by Naked Cow Dairy Fromage Blanc panna cotta, and “Cookies & Milk,” spiced, toasted Naked Cow Dairy coconut butter shortbread for dipping in smoked Hawaiian sea salt caramel leche, plus raspberry pomegranate jam and mac-nut brittle.

On the farm:

The cows know the drill of heading down the path to and from the milking room.

A taste of Naked Cow Dairy products.

During a cooking demonstration on the farm, Brett Villarmia showed how to make tomato soup, finished with labne (strained yogurt) and gunpowder spice mixture including crushed pink peppercorns.

In addition to a delicious pipikaula muffaletta with un-holy Swiss cheese packed in a metal lunch tin, lunch comprised poutine with buttermilk country gravy over a base of cassava fries.

The Table to Farm Series will continue into 2015; each event will be held in partnership with a different farm, including a trek to the Big Island. Reservations are being taken for the next event, when Hazama will partner with Kai Market chef Darren Demaya for a collaboration dinner highlighting produce from Shinsato Farms and Nalo Farms.

Dinner is set for 6 p.m. March 6, 2015, at Edge of Waikiki, followed the farm tour the following day. The collaboration dinner will feature Nalo greens throughout, with main courses of Shinsato Farms head cheese pork tonkatsu, house-cured Shinsato Farms prosciutto, Shinsato Farms juniper-herb rabbit saddle and crispy rabbit leg, Shinsato Farms lechon kewali, and Nalo Farms country shortcake.

Dinner only is $103 per person ($133 with wine pairings); dinner and the farm tour is $170 per person ($200 with wine pairings). Prices include transportation to the farms, tax and gratuity. Call (808) 921-4600 or visit flavorsofhawaii.com for reservations.

The hotel offers a special room rate for Table to Farm guests. Call (808) 921-4610 and request the “FarmTour” rate.

Naked Cow Dairy also hosts its own tours, starting at a basic level for schools, to private parties with wine and cheese tasting (21 and older) for $50 per person, to deluxe butter- and cheese-making classes at $150 per person for a maximum of six. Visit nakedcowdairyhawaii.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

Agu — A Ramen Bistro celebrates one-year anniversary

Nadine Kam photos
Hisashi “Teddy” Uehara shows the Okinawan rafute that was on the menu celebrating AGU’s one-year anniversary.

Agu — A Ramen Bistro celebrated its first anniversary over two days, Dec. 5 and 6, with a glass of champagne to toast the restaurant, and a trio of complimentary appetizers to start meals.

The event started Okinawa shisa (lion-dog) dance, plus music and dance by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii.

The complimentary appetizers included Jidori chicken liver pate, a collaboration between Agu chef Hisashi Uehara and Thomas Jones, president of Agu’s parent company, Gyotaku Japanese Restaurants.

Jidori chicken liver påté, topped with a layer of lard to preserve moisture.

Next came Okinawan rafute, nine-hour stewed pork belly with brown sugar, and AGUcini, Uehara’s interpretation of the arancini, with rice and components of the restaurant’s signature “Innovative Hot Mess” rolled in panko and deep-fried.

The brown sugar-sweetened rafute.

The Innovative Hot Mess ramen was my pick for favorite food of the year in the Star-Advertiser and Diamond Head Theatre’s Ilima Awards because of the audacity of the decadent creation incorporating pork, se-abura (rendered pork back fat), fresh garlic, black garlic oil, garlic butter, Parmesan cheese, and more. The AGUcini was made a bit healthier with a persimmon salsa.

The AGUcini, served with persimmon salsa, combined some of chef Uehara’s favorite ingredients: rice, pork and Parmesan cheese.

I usually gravitate to heavier tonkotsu ramen, but given the heft of the complimentary appetizers, on this night sought out the lighter Jidori yuzu ramen.

Agu proved popular from Day 1, and coming in early 2015 will be a second location, in Waipahu. Uehara explained they needed a central kitchen big enough to keep up with the demand of making his various, laborious 18-hour ramen broths. In the restaurant’s earliest days, we could not always count on getting the ramen we wanted because if he wasn’t satisfied with the broth, he wouldn’t serve it.

A third location is also in the works.
Agu — A Ramen Bistro is at 925 Isenberg St. (in front of the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse). Call (808) 492-1637.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sweet treats await at Choco le'a at Manoa Square

Nadine Kam photos
Choco le'a milk chocolate-covered macadamia nuts made with a blend of Belgian, Swiss and Hawaiian Waialua Estate chocolate, plus chocolate-dipped strawberries and raspberries.

Choco le’a celebrated the grand opening of its first Manoa boutique with an open house and tasting of its artisan chocolates on Nov. 22nd at Manoa Square, 2909 Lowrey AVe.

Patrons filed through all day for a sample of some of their varied, handmade chocolate creations—made with a blend of fine European and Hawaiian chocolate—that whet the appetite for more!

The counter is stocked with such truffle creations as fresh mochi on ganache, caramel with Alae’a Hawaiian sea salt, and Guinness beer. There is also an assortment of chocolate-covered Oreos including mint, peanut butter, and peppermint flavors, and other treats such as fresh dipped strawberries.

Co-owners Erin Uehara and her uncle, chocolatier Colins Kawai.

With the opening perfectly timed for the the start of the holiday gift-giving season, some of the more festive options include specialty Dom Perignon champagne and Canadian ice wine truffles.

In addition, they launched their European-style sipping chocolate that was served with a handful of potato chips. Delicious, but so rich a little goes a long way.

The kama’aina company started with experimentation by Colins Kawai, marketing director for the University of Hawaii Press, who merely wanted to try to wow friends and family by making truffles as a dinner dessert. People liked it, so he tried new flavors, and before long, dinner guests were requesting to buy them.

Soon he was offering his signature chocolate truffle bar for catered corporate events, parties and weddings, and Kawai now co-owns the business with wife Joan, niece Erin Uehara and her husband Chris.

With a mission of “Bringing peace to our world, one chocolate at a time,” a portion of every sale is donated to charitable organizations.
Choco le’a is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call (808) 371-2234, visit www.chocolea.com or follow @chocoleahawaii on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Choco le’a makes holiday gift-giving easier with your custom picks of such delectables as milk, white or dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, chocolate-dipped fruit including mango, pictured, mochi-centered truffles and sea salt caramel truffles.

The chocolates appear like jewels, ready to be custom packed into gift boxes.

Closer look at the chocolate-dipped fruit.

A tempting array of chocolates awaits at the Chocole’a counter.

The source: the cacao pod.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cocktails, shaken and stirred at CookSpace Hawaii

Nadine Kam photos
Bitters and absinthe that went into sazeracs on the menu during Jennifer Fiedler’s demo at CookSpace Hawaii.

CookSpace Hawaii put students in a holiday frame of mind during a Nov. 21 class presented by Jennifer Fiedler, author of “The Essential Bar Book: An A-to-Z Guide to Spirits, Cocktails, and Wine, with 115 Recipes for the World’s Great Drinks” (Ten Speed Press, $19.99).

Yup, that’s the full title, and the book lives up to its promise as a valuable compendium that will help anyone shake or stir up cocktails like a pro.

My late husband loved a great bar. Me, not so much, but I’d humor him and go along. So it was that we once headed to New Orleans to sample sazeracs in the place of their origin. He was an avid reader and romanticized the louche lives of some of his favorite authors and poets, always seeking out the same experiences, the sum of which I credit for his early demise.

He would have loved to know that thanks to Fiedler, I now know how to make a sazerac, one of the recipes on the menu during the session entitled “Shaken, Stirred and Something Different.” With a lighthearted approach to the bar, Fiedler, a former editor at Wine Spectator magazine, made it all accessible and fun, throwing in some history for good measure, so that I now see the beauty of this creative alchemy.

Jennifer Fiedler shakes a French 75. See recipe at the bottom of this post.

As we sipped gimlets, she launched into her French 75 that she describes as “basically a Tom Collins with the soda water swapped out for champagne,” giving it a festive touch perfect for holidays.

And she pointed out the misguided logic of James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” martini, which she said defeats the beauty of the drink, for which she said the aim is “to keep clarity and viscosity.”

Shaken cockails would include such “cloud”-causing ingredients as juice, cream or egg whites that when shaken, change the drink’s texture, adding froth and air bubbles.

The class had the opportunity to shake and stir their own cocktails after the demos, and let’s just say as the evening wore on there were a lot of happy, giggly campers.

What, me measure? After measuring in the proper amount of gin, some students skipped the jigger and poured a little extra to make their own version of the French 75, named after a World War I gun as a reference to the drink’s metaphoric lethalness.

Fiedler lights a lemon peel to add drama to garnishing a sazerac.

Presentation of crudite and antipasti platters offered a few ideas for dressing a holiday table.

Make it:

French 75
2 ounces cognac or gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
3 ounces sparkling wine, preferably dry champagne

Add first 3 ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a long curling peel of lemon.

Note: Most of us students thought it was too much sparkling wine. A thinner layer would give the drink the festive, bubbly effect without losing the rest of the cocktail.

1 splash absinthe
1 sugar cube
1 splash soda water
2 ounces rye
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

In a rocks glass, add a dash of absinthe and swirl to coat. Discard. In another rocks or mixing glass, muddle sugar cube (or teaspoon of sugar or 1/4 ounce of simple syrup) with soda water. Once dissolved, add rye, bitters and ice, and stir well.

Strain rye and bitters mixture into the absinthe-coated rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Also, a taste of the holidays:

Hot buttered rum
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vanilla ice cream
1-1/2 tablespoons EACH ground cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Dark rum
Black tea, hot

Add first 10 ingredients to a mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use, warm mugs by filling with hot water. Let stand a minute or two then discard water.

Add 1 tablespoon batter to each mug. Top with 2 ounces hot tea and stir to mix. Add 1 ounce of rum to each mug, then top with 2 more ounces of tea. Rum will form a 1/4-inch cream over top of drink. Garnish with whole star anise if desired.

Note: The pumpkin pie spice flavors and the heat of the cayenne are strong and not for anyone with a milquetoast palate.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A busy Restaurant Week for MW

Nadine Kam photos
Washugyu ribeye with potato beignets, balsamic foie gras balsamic sauce and truffle grated at the table. I die. Served with 2009 Kenzo Estate “Ai (Indigo)” cabernet sauvignon, which was my favorite of the evening.

As if restaurant week is not busy enough at MW restaurant, Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka—one of the hardest-working, over-achieving couples in the business—also hosted Kenzo wine dinners on Tuesday and Wednesday, which meant coming up with a completely different menu for the Kenzo Estate wine pairings.

Ok, so they didn’t exactly plan on serving three—if you count regular meal service—completely different menus over the two nights. Wade said the Kenzo Estate collaborative dinner had been planned long before they learned Restaurant Week would take place at the same time.

From left, Kenzo Estate’s Ai, Murasaki and Rindo.

On top of that, there was the stress of making sure their special events dining room was completed for the occasion. I peeked in over the weekend and it still looked like a shell. But hey, I’ve seen many a miracle happen overnight in the retail world, and this was no different.

When this space was explained to me months ago, it sounded like it would be Wade’s own man cave allowing male patrons to enjoy ball games on big screens with manly food on the side. As a versatile special events room, it is perfect for intimate wine dinners and private parties, and no doubt its uses will continue to evolve as the couple sees fit. Watch this space!

And one more piece of news before launching into the dinner recap. They’re bringing back Baker Faire 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 23, at Kakaako Agora, 441 Cooke St. (My post on the inaugural event is here: http://eatinhawaii.blogspot.com/2014/08/mw-part-i-bake-sale-seriously-upgraded.html )

Joining Michelle this month for the all-star bake sale are Jennifer Hee, Jackie Lau and Chris Sablayn (Roy’s Restaurant), Chani Maunakea-Forth (Town), Alison Yokouchi (The Pig and the Lady), Kimberly Oi (Pili Group) and Lee Anne Wong (Koko Head Cafe), plus coffee by The Curb.

They’ll also be introducing Collab Pie! One pie. Eight slices. One from each of the Baker Faire participants. These are in limited supply, so email marthac@gmail.com to reserve your $45 pie. Flavors are subject to change, but as of today the plan is: Canistel cheesecake pie, lilikoi chiffon, pumpkin, mac nut Koloa Rum, chocolate cream pie, ulu sweet potato, starfruit.

Back to the wine dinner. The menu was fabulous, showing another dimension to Wade’s talent in the kitchen. Where MW’s main menu tends to aim for a crowd-pleasing reinterpretation of tried and true local flavors, the dishes he came up with to pair with Kenzo Estate’s Asatsuyu, Rindo, Murasaki, Ai (“Indigo”) and Yui “Unity of all things”) wines were far more refined, with influences from Japan and beyond. A truly world-class meal.

Kenzo Estate was started by Kenzo Tsujimoto, whose claim to fame before becoming a vintner was founding Capcom, which developed such video games as “Mega Man,” “Street Fighter” and other hit game series.

Canapes of ahi tartare and truffle-capped risotto beignets.

A starter of silky, seasonal matsutake chawanmushi.

Seafood salad of one piece each of Kona lobster, Kauai shrimp and Dungeness crab with vegetables, served with 2013 Kenzo Estate “Asatsuyu (Morning Dew)” sauvignon blanc.

Seared peppered ahi over mushroom tsukudani, served with 2009 Kenzo Estate “Rindo” red blend.

Grilled quail with balsamic foie gras sauce and baby green salad with mini brioche croutons. Paired with 2009 Kenzo Estate “Murasaki (Purple)” red blend.

 Intermezzo of lemon sorbet.

Michelle’s dessert of “Strawberry 5-ways,” which she said was really nine ways. But I couldn’t keep up beyond her compressed, frozen, aerated, shaved and pearl treatments. This was paired with 2013 Kenzo Estate “Yui (Unity in all Things)” rosé.

Of course the couple could not let people leave without a sweet finale of mignardises and take-home chocolate chip cookies.

Chef Wade Ueoka thanked his staff and diners after the meal, but we were probably the more grateful.