Archive for June, 2012

Hard Rock asks you to pick next Legendary Burger

June 13th, 2012

hvoteNadine Kam photos
Mark Marble, AccesSurf President and CEO and Heidi Putnam, Hard Rock Cafe sales manager, are encouraging people to vote on Facebook for the burger they want added to the cafe's Legendary Burger menu. Tuesday is the deadline to "Like" one of the four entries.

Yesterday marked the launch of Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu's charity burger promotion that gives burger fans a say as to which new burger—all starting with a 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef patty—will be added to the local cafe’s Legendary Burger menu.

Burger lovers can visit Hard Rock's Facebook fan page at to "Like" their favorite. The burger with the most “likes” will be added to the Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu menu on June 23, 2012, at the yearly AccesSurf fundraiser and will be featured on the menu for one year.

A dollar of every winning burger sold will benefit AccesSurf, an Oahu-based, non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the physically challenged and wounded veterans to enjoy the ocean through adaptive surf instruction and water recreational programs.

AccesSurf was started by Mark Marble, a therapeutic recreation specialist who saw the need for such a family-oriented program while working at Shriners Hospital for Children.

He said he'd worked with Hard Rock on smaller projects before, and the restaurant's move to its new location at 280 Beachwalk Ave., provided a good reason to team up again on a fundraiser to benefit families.

hburgersMalia Andrews delivers the Hawaiian Pizza Burgers, one of four vying to be the next Hard Rock Cafe Legendary Burger.

AccesSurf Fundraiser
Featuring a performance by Jake Shimabukuro
Where: Hard Rock Cafe, 280 Beachwalk Ave.
When: 4:30 to 7 p.m. June 23, 2012
Tickets: $60 general; $500 for VIP package for four; $3,000 for title sponsorship and seats for 10. RSVP by June 15.
Call: 744-0352 or email

During a media preview yesterday, we had a chance to meet the candidates. I don't want to influence the vote or anything, but the two favorites among the media group and AccesSurf members, family and friends, were the Spicy Mango Burger and the Loco Moco Burger.

There's nothing NOT to like about a juicy loco moco burger with the added flourish of Portuguese sausage. I liked the originality and novelty of the Spicy Mango Burger topped with banana pepper slices, mango cream cheese and jerk mayo, but it's one the average eater may not appreciate. I also thought it could have been more mango-ey, but considered it may be difficult to get good mangos throughout the year, so in the end I cast my vote for the more obvious, democratic Loco Moco Burger.

Meet the candidates:

hlocoLoco Moco Burger: The 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef patty is topped with Portuguese sausage, a fried egg over easy and brown gravy. This was the crowd pleaser. You won't be able to keep your hands clean with this one. Note that all these photos reflect half size tasting portions, not what the full burgers will be.

hmangoSpicy Mango Burger: I loved the concept of this burger topped with rings of banana peppers, mango cream cheese sauce and jerk mayo, for its creative combination of spice and sweetness. I think it could be more of a contender if the cream cheese were replaced by a mango chutney. The only problem is that while 50 percent of diners will be able to take the heat of the peppers, restaurateurs need to consider the other 50 percent who are wimps.

hpizzaHawaiian Pizza Burger: This burger is supposed to be topped with sliced ham, mozzarella, pineapple, tomato and marinara sauce. When I tasted it, it wasn't even in the running. But now that I'm reading the list of ingredients, I realize whoever was in the kitchen forgot to put in the ham and cheese. That might have made all the difference. The marinara needed more herbs to taste more like pizza sauce. It was rather bland.

hbaconHawaiian BBQ Burger: Ah yes, bacon makes everything better, and it sure worked here with a caramelized onion BBQ sauce and blue cheese crumbles. It's right up there with the Loco Moco Burger, but you could get a bacon burger anywhere.

hfriesAmanda Kiecker arrives with the fries.

hfries2I loved the seasoned fries with spicy aioli, so it's a good thing they were serving small portions. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to get to all the burgers.

hgroupAccesSurf President and CEO Mark Marble, left with one of the families participating in the organization's programs, including instruction in adaptive surfing, standup paddling, sea kayaking and swimming. From left are Nathan, Brendan, Hobie and Ashlyn Anderson.

hbrewsKona Brewing provided the brews for the burger tasting. Our options were Wailua Wheat Ale, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Longboard Lager.

hrWe were parked under a ceiling of guitars.


Added June 20: And the winner, announced today, is the Hawaiian BBQ Burger, dubbed the ”Surf Burger.” The 10-ounce patty topped with grilled onions, grilled pineapple chunks, a spicy BBQ sauce, bue cheese crumbles, and bacon on a Hawaiian Sweet Roll, will make its debut during the AccesSurf charity event Saturday night at Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu.

Backtracking to Manna Dew

June 13th, 2012

mconfitNadine Kam photos
Duck confit topped with a fried egg over easy, with arugula and pine nuts, at Manna Dew in Millerton, New York. So good! The egg was unnecessary.

The trouble with visiting small towns is that your timing has to be perfect when it comes to eating or not eating at their restaurants.

They tend not to open on weekdays and early in the week when their proprietors don't expect much traffic. Business is geared toward day trippers from NYC.

So, even though I passed by Manna Dew in Millerton, N.Y., several times during my Connecticut stay last summer, I never had the opportunity to eat there, although, reading the menus posted outside, dishes seemed amazing and I didn't want to miss it this time.

In spite of the restaurant's name, it's no hippie dippy haunt, but nevertheless offers soul-satisfying bistro fare.

manna dewThe exterior of Manna Dew in the early evening.

mchickenPan-seared free-range half chicken with pancetta, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, thyme, green beans and asparagus. I usually say I dislike chicken because I've never had chicken this good.

msalmonSalmon with soy-ginger glaze may still be exotic in these parts, but just a meh to someone from Hawaii who sees this combo far too often.

mdessertFor dessert, cinnamon-apple-pear crisp with vanilla bean ice cream. I would have preferred more crisp.

A second tour of Chelsea Market

June 13th, 2012

green porkNadine Kam photos
At The Green Table, a farm-to-table restaurant in Chelsea Market, I enjoyed melt-in-your-mouth candied pork belly with strawberry relish served over rhubarb and cress.

Every time I visit New York, I stay in a different hotel in a different part of the city as a way of getting intimate with each neighborhood.

This time around, I booked the Dream Downtown in Chelsea, close to the Meatpacking District and Chelsea Market, which gave me more time to explore the market's many casual eateries. It's also close to a crosstown metro line and crosstown bus that put me in a straight line toward Union Square, home to the four-day-a-week Union Square Greenmarket and Whole Foods Market.

beachLucky you live Hawaii. "The Beach" at Dream Downtown is a mere 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Even so, people will gravitate to any water.

hotelThe Dream lobby.


hotel3My little home away from home. The design isn't very calming and I find a lot of these more style than substance hotels to be impractical in their bathroom setups, especially shallow square sinks that splash back.

green beetAlso at The Green Table, a beet salad topped with shaved fennel.

chelsea 3D cakesIn the window at Ruthy's Bakery & Cafe were some of their 3D special occasion cakes, including examples for kids and fashionable adults.

chelsea cakes
ruthy'sHere's one example of a photo cake from Ruthy's web site:

lrollI can't leave New York without having a lobster roll. I wanted to return to Luke's Lobster, but settled for this one at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, which was just meh. I prefer Luke's minimalist approach with just a swipe of mayo on the buttered, toasted bun, or no mayo if you request it. Luke's lobster is also nice and bouncy, not chewy and overcooked. In the background is a root beer float from nearby Ronnybrook Dairy.

lobster lineI could have followed everyone else's lead and stood in line for a dinner of whole lobster.

lobster place

lobster shellD.I.Y. diners could also shop for fresh shellfish at The Lobster Place.

wfishAcross town, the fish displays were impressive at Whole Foods at Union Square.


greenmarketThe Union Square Greenmarket was up and running, even on Memorial Day.

green3At the market you could pick up honey, jams and jellies from the Berkshires, which I visited later, as well as greens, cheeses and cage-free duck eggs.


Make No. 9 your No. 1 stop in Millerton

June 5th, 2012

simmons2Nadine Kam photos
No. 9 restaurant is located in the back of the B&B Simmons' Way Village Inn.

It's very quiet in the Berkshires, which drives me crazy. I need a certain amount of noise because countryside and nature scare me. They always make me think of serial killers lurking in the woods and every news story about strangers rolling into town and killing families in their homes.

Here in the solitude of the northeast countryside, I can understand where Stephen King gets the inspiration for his horror stories. Yet, many people who long for peace and quiet are willing to spend millions of $$$ to live here and drive hundreds of miles from New York to vacation here in the land of gentleman farms and movie star/artist/interior designer hideaways.

Of course, with the thriving farm-fresh market, the food is incredible everywhere I go.

One of the places I missed last summer when I was here was the highly rated No. 9 restaurant in the back of Simmons' Way Village Inn, a nine-guestroom bed & breakfast in the heart of Millerton, New York.

simmonsSebastian, with innkeeper Martha Reynolds.

The inn is run by Jay and Martha Reynolds, who were just hanging out on the porch after we had dinner there, and coincidentally are heading for a monthlong stay in Hawaii in fall.

The inn is named after Edward W. Simmons, a businessman, educator, statesman and lawyer who built the original manse in 1854. The modest home was transformed into an elegant Victorian residence in 1892 by Edward H. Thompson, who was president of Millerton National Bank.

From 1903 to 1983, the house served as doctors' offices and residences. It was transformed into an inn by Carol and Robert Sadlon in 1984, and the Reynolds purchased the estate in 2003. Learn more at

The restaurant is run as a separate venture by chef Tim Cocheo and his wife Taryn, with a farm-to-table philosophy. Here's a look at what was on the table:

fishCrispy black sea bass that was among dishes enjoyed at No. 9.

soup duo

Fresh pea soup with mint and ricotta, and white truffle soup with Parmesan crisps and mushrooms.


Quark spätzle with wild mushrooms, black truffle, asparagus and tomatoes.


22-ounce bone-in ribeye with wild mushrooms and onion crisps. OK, this one was overly salty. (more…)

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Return to Smorgasburg

June 2nd, 2012

smorg porchettaNadine Kam photos
Porchetta sandwich at Brooklyn Flea & Smorgasburg at the East River Waterfront.

On May 28, returned for a quick tour of Brooklyn Flea & Smorgasburg that takes place Saturdays and Sundays at the East River Waterfront in Williamsburg, at 27 N. 6th St.

I came to New York for a couple days with a specific agenda that included seeing the Prada-Schiaparelli:Impossible Conversations exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, returning for Luke's Lobster roll, visiting Momofuku Ssäm Bar, checking out the sales at Century 21 and possibly checking out Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen in the unlikely site of ABC Carpet and Home. I peeked in at the latter, and was hoping to find Luke's Lobster at Smorgasburg, but alas, the food truck wasn't there.

What was there was porchetta that I had the last time I was there, as well as Japanese and Korean tacos, sausage sandwiches and a lot of heavy, fatty food, too much so for a hot day. Yet, the porchetta sandwiches aren't so big, at about baseball size, so I ended up getting another one. Along with watermelon lemonade, and something new, deep-fried anchovies from Bon Chovie. Now those were awesome! You can get them with heads on or off, and being sometimes squeamish, I decided to go with the headless option.

smorg bon

These Bon Chovies were crisp and delicious!

menuThe menu.

brook bon2

Didn't try the Sambora, virgin sangria.

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