Archive for May, 2012

Eataly: Now that's Italian!

May 31st, 2012

eataly2Nadine Kam photos
Cheese and Parma ham are among the ingredients that lure diners to Eataly, a wonderland of Italian drink and edibles.

The last time I was in Madison Square Park, last summer, my husband Chris and I were focused on getting to Shake Shack. "Oh look," he said, "Eataly's right there."

It was one of those situations where you don't even think of veering from track, while thinking there's always time to return. But in New York there are so many distractions that other destinations keep popping into your head and before you know it, trip's over and we totally missed this Italian phenomenon.

One of the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplaces in the world, Eataly is the work of Oscar Farinetti, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The 50,000 square foot space in the Flatiron District is a wonderland of cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pastas prepared on the spot, or packaged to take home with you to create your own Italian meal, without much fuss on your part. Most of the heavy labor has already be done!

In Hawaii terms, it's the equivalent of having a daily Italian festival of food and wine.

There was so much to see on the ground floor that I didn't venture upstairs. There, private dining awaits at the rooftop restaurant and brewery Birreria, offering unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated cask ales and an Italian menu influenced by Austria and Germany.

Eataly is at 200 5th Ave. Call (212) 229-2560 ‎ or visit Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays. Here's a quick tour of the marketplace:

eataly1At the Salumi i Formaggi bar, a platter of prosciutto di Parma and salumi with assorted cheeses, fig mustard and almonds in honey. The Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi i Formaggi is $22.

eataly crudoAt the crudo bar, I had this trio, a special of the day featuring sockeye salmon with its own crackling, diver scallop topped with Sorrento lemon oil and ume frost salt, and black bass with radish and what we know as sea asparagus (which they call sea beans). This was $18 and the fish wasn't as good as I've had at home in Hawaii which just reaffirms my philosophy of not eating raw fish anywhere else but at home or Japan. Though the scallop was delicious.

eataly wineCentral to Eataly is La Piazza, a place to meet friends in a standing table enoteca, with marble cornered facades reminiscent of Rome. Order a glass of wine and venture around to the various boutique food stations to pick up edibles here and there. It's pretty pricey, though.

eataly icecream lineThe longest line was for gelato.

eataly pistachioThe prize, a small cup of pistachio gelato, the equivalent of two scoops for $4.50.

eataly olivesPerfect olives, $9.

eataly produceAt the marketplace, you can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables.

eataly prosIf you like the prosciutto served at the Salumi i Formaggi counter, you can take home packaged meat as well.

eataly pastaGet an assist from Mario Batali if you're cooking an Italian dinner to impress friends.

eataly condimentsFig mustard and almond honey to enjoy with bread, cheese and cured meats.

eataly jamsProvenance is important, and shelves of fruit preserves, jams, syrups and honeys show where the jars come from.

eataly honey2Plants chosen by bees give their honey a distinct flavor.

eataly sausagesYou can also go home with sausages.

eataly mushroomsMushroom selection in the marketplace. (more…)

A trip to Amasia

May 10th, 2012

wong settingNadine Kam photos
Outside Amasia, Alan Wong's new restaurant in the Grand Wailea Resort

Timing was great for being on Maui for the recent Maui Onion Festival May 4 and 5. While there, I was staying at the Marriott Ocean Club Kaanapali Beach, near festival headquarters at Whalers Village, but made the evening drive to the Grand Wailea to visit Alan Wong's newly open Amasia restaurant.

The site is gorgeous, in the former Kincha restaurant, that makes it feel as if you've been transported to Japan. It's a teahouse built over a koi pond. Inside, shoji doors have been removed to make it appear more global in keeping with Wong's globe-trotting theme.

These days, with restaurants shrinking and becoming cramped, I really appreciated the spaciousness of it. I felt like I had room to relax, breathe and talk, which really added to the enjoyment of the experience. Our server said the environment makes it nice to come to work each day.

It's soft opening was April 24, and a grand opening celebration will take place May 25.

wong bridge

wong insideInside, walkways over the pond connect different areas of the restaurant, and tatami rooms offer semi-privacy for larger parties.

Here are some photos of dishes covered in my review of May 9:

wongspong"Spong" (Spam + Wong), prepared Vietnamese-style in a dish of "Spong Mi," with tortilla in place of baguette. ($9 as of 5.5.12)

wongfish2In the foreground is Kona kampachi tiradito with Hanaoka Farms lilikoi sauce, dotted with fresh corn kernels and roasted corn, and cubes of Okinawan sweet potato, with hot pepper and cilantro atop the fish. This dish was on the raw menu, at $15. (more…)

Sweet victory for Maui Onion Festival Recipe Contest champ

May 8th, 2012

orecipejojoNadine Kam photos
Chef Jojo Vasquez of Banyan Tree Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton Kapalua claims his glass onion trophy from Ramsay Wharton as the winner of the Maui Onion Festival Recipe Contest, the final contest of the event on May 5. His recipe is at the end of this post.

The 23rd Maui Onion Festival with a recipe contest involving seven of the festival's featured chefs. The dishes prepared by Maui chefs Joey Macadangdang of Roy's Kaʻanapali, David Paul Johnson of David Paul's Island Grill, Jojo Vasquez and Oahu chefs Russell Siu of 3660 on the Rise and Kevin Hanney of 12th Avenue Grill and SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar was amazing.

Siu took time off from his busy schedule that has included a spate of fundraisers, and L'ulu, the Leeward Culinary Arts Gala that was taking place the same evening as this competition. He had to prep 150 pounds of Shinsato Farms pork for 650 portions of Southwest-style dish his restaurant was serving up at L'ulu. Who says you can't be in two places at once!

In the end, Vasquez was the winner, beating Macadangdang by a mere point, and as one of five judges, it really could have gone either way. Vasquez wowed us with the silkiness of his liver (foie gras), onion and egg combination, while Macadangdang's Vietnamese-style lemongrass chicken bao with Maui onion curry also wowed us with the well-considered precision, complexity and layering of flavors and textures. His recipe appears at the end of this post.

orecipeOnion fans could get up close to judges and the food up for top honors. To pace ourselves, we could take only a few bites, so we offered attendees a bite of the delicious leftovers. There were many a dish I wanted to finish, but alas, I had reservations at Alan Wong's new restaurant Amasia that evening, to maximize my stay on Maui.

orecipe9From left, chefs participating in the Maui Onion Festival recipe contest were Joey Macadangdang of Roy's Kaʻanapali, David Paul Johnson, Kevin Hanney of 12th Avenue Grill and SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar on Oahu, Jojo Vasquez, Russell Siu of Oahu's 3660 on the Rise, and James McDonald, with Whalers Village marketing manager Lisa Donlon, and at right, host Cutty Cutler.

orecipe2Chef Jojo Vasquez's winning dish of rich chawanmushi-style liver (foie gras) and onions presented in an eggshell cup.

Chef Kevin Hanney of 12 Avenue Grill  and SALT Kitchen presented savory Maui onion French toast with Waimanalo crimini, frisee salad, local fried egg, Maui onion and housemade pancetta.

orecipe3Russell Siu offered up caramelized Maui onion horseradish-crusted Kurobuta pork belly.

orecipe4Chef Ivan Pahk of Cane & Taro's dish was pan-roasted opakapaka served over housemade linguine, with Hamakua mushrooms, Kahuku corn, red radish, pickled red chili and Maui onion demiglace.

orecipe5I'o and Pacific'O Chef James McDonald's offering was an inspired Maui onion tart tatin as sweet as apple pie, served with Irish whiskey onion Anglaise sauce.

orecipe6Fellow judge Ayngelina Brogan, the blogger behind Bacon is Magic, was eager to polish off David Paul Johnson's grilled island beef and Maui onion sliders. Me too, but I had to rush off to dinner at Amasia in the Grand Wailea.

orecipe7Chef Joey Macadangdang of Royʻs Kaʻanapali added the adjective "Inspired" to the name of his lemongrass chicken bao with Maui onion curry, topped with crisp onion rings, pickled carrots and daikon, and the combined flavors were truly inspired. His recipe follows. (more…)

A sip of Maui onions

May 8th, 2012

onionNadine Kam photos
Fans of the Maui Onion Festival found many of the dishes being created on stage t be finger-lickin' good! This is the aftermath of their getting a taste of chef David Paul Johnson's sweet Maui onion fritters with caramelized Maui onion aioli. Yum! His recipe is at the bottom of this post.

In the afternoon at Maui Onion Festival 2012, fans of the Maui Kula® onion could watch demonstrations or line up for a taste of onion rings being cooked up by Hula Grill Kaanapali executive chef Chris Schobel and his team. People were in line all day for a taste of the 1,000 pounds of onions that went into the deep fryer.

They were so good, crisp on the outside and soft and melty on the inside, without the stringiness that usually has you pulling them out of the bready ring at most, if not all, restaurants. His recipe is at the end of this post.

Chris said the secret is steam that from the water in the onion when the rings hit the oil. Unfortunately, you won't find these rings at the restaurant, because frying them this way is a messy task and he said those onions would take up too much space. So, if you want great onion rings, you'll just have to fly over to the festival next year.

With the festival falling on Cinco de Mayo this year, there had to be a cocktail and margarita contest to commemorate the occasion, and I was called upon to judge six drinks created by Dennis Day of Leilani's, Aloha Dave of Hula Grill, who came up with an avocado-lime margarita, and Sean King of Cane & Taro.

All of their creations were great, and Sean King took home the glass onion trophy for his Maui Wowie Maui Gold pineapple and strawberry margarita and Volcano cocktail, both with a strawberry and Maui onion muddle. His recipes are at the end of the post, minus the onions though.

onion1Hawaii News Now's Ramsay Wharton with chef David Paul Johnson of David Paul's Island Grill after his demonstration. Ramsay did a great job on stage from about 10 a.m. until the last competition ended at about 5:30 p.m., talking and tasting her way through the events. I could never talk that long!

onionlineLined up for Hula Grill Maui onion rings.

onionringsMaui resident Derek Takahashi with his rings, also shown below.


onionagMae Nakahata was manning the Maui Farm Bureau booth, showcasing the bounty of six of the island's farms.

Sean King of d.k. Kodama's Cane & Taro restaurant was one of three Whalers Village mixologists competing in the Cinco de Mayo mix drink contest in the afternoon.

onionsipLisa Donlon takes a sip of Sean's showy cocktail creation, with its strawberry and Maui onion muddle. (more…)

Maui onion tortellini en brodo wins Kaanapali competition

May 8th, 2012

aonion8Nadine Kam photos
Chef Wesley Holder of Pulehu, an Italian grill at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villa was the winner of the Kaanapali Restaurant Recipe Challenge on May 5, part of Maui Onion Festival 2012.

It's a good thing I like onions, because Maui onions were the star, morning, noon and night at the 23rd annual Maui Onion Fest that took place May 4 and 5 at Whalers Village Kaanapali. I was one of six judges for three events that took place May 5.

The first contest started at 10:30 a.m., with six Kaanapali resort chefs vying for the glass onion trophy in the Kaanapali Restaurant Recipe Challenge taking place in the center of Whalers Village.

While we tasted, I'O and Pacific'O chef James McDonald was on stage, entertaining guests with his sense of humor while preparing smoked pork and Maui onion jam panini. It paid to be in the audience as chefs provided tasting portions for all under the tents.

After all had been tasted, chef Wesley Holder of Pulehu, an Italian grill at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, for his
Maui onion tortellini en brodo, with a potent double onion whammy of Maui Cattle beef and onion broth and ricotta-onion tortellini.

Whenever I do a judging like this, there are always dishes that come so close to winning, but considering the festival's theme, Holder's dish showcased the nuances of the Maui onion in all its glory.

aonion6Chef Wesley Holder pours his Maui onion and beef broth over his tortellini featuring his homemade ricotta. The finished dish, below:


aonionChef Bernardo Salazar of the Royal Ocean Terrace at Royal Lahaina Resort offered a Maui caramelized onion sweet potato cake, while explaining his love of "simple foods with real flavors."

aonion2It was good to see a woman competing against the guys, and chef Jennifer Evetushick of Tropica Restaurant & Bar at Westin Maui Resort & Spa offered up seared hamachi with Maui onion pad Thai. The nori crusted hamachi was amazing, as was the onion pad Thai, but I needed a little more to tie the two together. The combination was a bit random for me.

aonion3Chef Ivan Pahlavi of d.k. Kodama's Cane & Taro restaurant in Whalers Village served up an ono dish of pan-roasted opakapaka over mafalde pasta with onion jus and local farm-fresh veggies.

aonion4Chef Christopher Napoleon of Tiki Terrace at Kaanapali Beach Hotel put a lot of thought into his creation, and designed his dish to look like layers of onion being peeled away, with flavors revealed in each layer. His dish comprised pan-seared opakapaka sprinkled with onion dust and spices, served atop caramelized onion gnocchi, with asparagus tips, oyster mushrooms, Kula sweet corn and Maine lobster meat. It'sfinished with butternut onion butter sauce and touch of mixed onion marmalade and Tahitian vanilla bean sauce.


aonion9Hula Grill Kaanapali chef Chris Schobel went back to basics with a Maui onion grilled cheese sandwich accompanied by refreshing Thai-style gazpacho.

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