Archive for February, 2013

Sweet treat for Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2013


Let Them Eat Cupcakes is giving out free passes to see the film "Beautiful Creatures," for anyone who stops in and says "Beautiful Creatures" when they purchase a cupcake today for their sweetheart, or BFF, or whatever.

The offer is good while tickets or supplies last. You might want to check out @LTEatCupcakes to see if there are any left.


Grand Cafe marks grand reopening

February 12th, 2013

grandcafeNadine Kam photos
Celebrating the grand opening of Grand Cafe & Bakery at the Hawaii State Art Museum were, from left, chef Anthony Kui Sin Vierra, Mona Chang-Vierra, Patsy Izumo, and one of their many fans, Nery Heenan, who attended with her husband David.

The Year of the Snake is said to symbolize a progressive year with fruitful results, so Feb. 11, the start of the Year of the Snake, seemed an auspicious time to celebrate a grand opening, and that was the date chosen to mark Grand Cafe & Bakery's move and reopening at HiSAM.

Chef Anthony Kui Sin Vierra was in the kitchen, cooking up Chinese specialties for the occasion, while his mom Mona Chang-Vierra and Patsy Izumo, co-owners in the venture, made prune mui for guests to take home.

The gathering of friends and family included many a businessman and politician from the neighboring State Capitol building, plus a familiar face in the newsroom, political columnist Richard Borreca, who echoed the sentiment that the cafe is a great place for breakfast and early morning meetings and interviews.

He plans to meet up here with Colleen Hanabusa the next time she's in town, when he says it'll be her turn to pay.

gcmenGuests lined up for food could study the menu en route.

gclionNina Wu photo
The Chinese lion got fed after the people.

gcbaoKalua pork bao.

gcspringrollSpring rolls.

gcchickenHoisin-honey chicken wings.

gcsaladA luxe take on Chinese chicken salad, with the common bird replaced by turkey.

gcriceGrand Cafe fried rice.

gcorangesDessert of oranges, symbolic of luck, wealth and prosperity, surrounded by take-home prune mui made by Mona and Patsy.

gccharsiuFor future reference: Anthony's char siu is selling for $10 per pound, available by calling 531-0001 or emailing (more…)

First Course: Monkeypod Kitchen open at Ko Olina

February 6th, 2013

monkeypod merrimanNadine Kam photos
Chef Peter Merriman, right, with Aloha United Way marketing director Jay Park, and Monkeypod Kitchen manager Erica Dunn.

Chef Peter Merriman and his business partner Bill Terry celebrated the opening of Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina, with a blessing and benefit party on Feb. 1.

Guests could help themselves to all the food they wanted while their drink purchases throughout the evening benefited Aloha United Way.

Although it's never easy to get townies to drive out to Ko Olina at rush hour, the room was packed with foodies, restaurateurs and farmers eager to see Merriman's newest project. I believe that he and Roy Yamaguchi are now the only big name Hawaii chefs with restaurants on four islands.

The first Monkeypod Kitchen opened in Wailea, Maui, so named, Peter explained when addressing the crowd, because the monkeypod tree is a non-native that has nevertheless thrived in Hawaii, just as he has, as a transplant from Pennsylvania who arrived on Hawaii Island in 1983 and went on to become a leader in the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement. Monkeypod also fixes nitrogen in the soil so is good for the land and sustainability, and is versatile as a wood used prominently for craft. As an artisan in the kitchen, Merriman said he could identify with that as well.

The restaurant covers two stories at Ko Olina Station, 92-1046 Olani St., in Kapolei, and is a welcome addition to the resort community, where there are few stylish places to simply hang out. (Is this a no-brainer or what?) The Monkeypod Kitchen bar is huge, no doubt in anticipation of great happy hour business, when drink specials include $6 Ocean Vodka cocktails, $6 white and red wines by the glass and $4.75 drafts for beers originally $9 or less, and $7 for those more than $9, and food specials include 50 percent off most appetizers, and $9 pizzas (except the lobster-topped Bourgeois).

You can take a look at some of the dishes here, as presented at the opening:

monkeypod blessingPeter is blessed by kahu Neddy Tiffany, with his business partner Bill Terry looking on after his own blessing.

monkeypod pizzaWood-fired Hamakua wild mushroom pizza with white sauce, truffle oil, Parmesan and thyme. It's $17.95. Add chunks of Big Island lobster and it becomes the Bourgeois, at $24.95.

monkeypod friesGarlic truffle oil fries with a quarter burger in the background.

monkeypod bulgogi tacoBulgogi pork tacos were really spicy, and not just because of the jalapeños, so you couldn't just pull them out and leave unscathed.

monkeypod saiminA different kind of saimin, with dashi soy broth, kalua pig, broccoli, green beans, bean srouts, red onion, cilantro, mint, peanuts and tofu over Iwamoto family noodles.

monkeypod dumplingOne of my favorite dishes of the evening: Pumpkin Patch Ravioli with kiawe-roasted squash, chevre, spinach and sage brown butter. Butter good!

monkeypod gnocchiGnocchi with Swiss chard, sauteed mushrooms, tomato coulis and chevre.

HFWF gives back with $200,000 check presentations

February 5th, 2013

hfwf checkNadine Kam photos
In the front row, from left, Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts associate professor Alan Tsuchiyama, Culinary Institute of the Pacific director Conrad Nonaka, University of Hawaii Vice President of Community Colleges John Morton, and chef Roy Yamaguchi, show the $80,000 check presented by the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific.

Now that we've cleared all of winter's major holidays, the founders and directors of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival took time out to host a Mahalo Reception for festival partners and participants, and a check presentation of more than $200,000 at Kapiolani Community College's Ka Ikena restaurant on Feb. 4.

During the September 2012 festival, 4,000 visitors and residents from around the world enjoyed 50,000 portions of food served up at 15 events at six venues on Oahu featuring 61 chefs, four master sommeliers, 25 winemakers and 31 local farmers, artisan food producers and innovators. More than 200 culinary students from Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui College, and Kauai Community College put in 23,000 hours working side-by-side with some of the most respected names in the industry.

As promised during the fall event, funds raised from a week of HFWF events will benefit culinary education in the islands, as well as organizations working toward long-term sustainability and agricultural integrity. The 2012 beneficiaries were: Hawai'i Agricultural Foundation ($80,000), Culinary Institute of the Pacific ($80,000), Leeward Community College Culinary ($30,000), Paepae o He'eia ($10,000), and Papahana Kuaola ($10,000).

hfwf chefsHawaii Food & Wine Festival co-founders and co-chairs Alan Wong, left, and Roy Yamaguchi, with executive director Denise Hayashi.

With all but $1 million left to be raised for the construction of the new Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head, University of Hawaii Vice President of Community Colleges John Morton announced that the school system will put Phase I of construction of classes and labs out for bid in the next two to three week.

The great thing about the association with the culinary program is that students were tasked with coming up with pupu for the event, so guests could gauge the return on those dollars. The food was amazing, certainly equal to the best restaurants in the state and I could see and taste the improvement from just a few years ago, when a chop suey, throw everything in the pan mentality reigned. Our food may not "suck," as Scott Caan so eloquently put it, but could at times be viewed as muddled. I can see where students' direction is now more thoughtful and considered.

After speaking about HFWF, co-founder chef Roy Yamaguchi humbly introduced his co-conspirator and co-chair chef Alan Wong as, "The man who made it all happen," while Wong refused the honor, assuring that it was Roy who did all the work.

Wong reiterated the aim of the festival, which they saw as a way of putting the spotlight on Hawaii, bringing in international media to focus on farmers and "get people thinking and talking about Hawaii," and most importantly, to make the kind of sustainable decisions today so our grandchildren's children can also enjoy the pleasures we enjoy today.

Considering Hawaii's geography and relationship to the ocean and limited land, it would be crazy to ignore the specters of global warming and development. We can see the effects on fish stocks and easily predict a future in which fish is no longer edible and the consequences going up the food chain.

HFWF is continually working to ensure people keep thinking and talking about ways to preserve this culinary paradise. This year, the festival will add a stop on Maui to its calendar, timed to the tail end of Ka'anapali Fresh.

hfwf greensOne of the problems of putting out such a beautiful display of greens is that no one wanted to disturb the arrangement.

hfwf fruitCheese and fruit spread.

hfwf abaloneBraised baby abalone on daikon with miso mustard sauce and micro greens. Loved it!

hfwf springrollSpicy kim chee snapper springroll with edamame and wasabi puree, saute of Ho Farm tomato, Ewa sweet corn, sea asparagus and kochujang aioli.

hfwf ahiSeared nori ahi on shiso noodles with Hamakua mushroom, crispy taro threads, kabayaki, hot mustard aioli and ginger scallion oil.

hfwf mouseSomeone took a humorous approach to dessert, serving up cheesecake over green tea cake, to the delight of a marzipan mouse. (more…)

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