PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef Colin Hazama, center, and chef Darren Demaya, far left, presented the finale of the Chef's Table and Farm Tour dinner series at the Sheraton Waikiki's Edge of Waikiki July 31.
Colin Hazama chose the finale of the Sheraton Waikiki's Chef's Table and Farm Tour dinner series to make the announcement of a new beginning as he makes the leap from senior executive sous chef at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort to executive chef at sister property the Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort.
It was a bittersweet evening for the chef who started the ambitious dinner series last year, and he had a choked up moment as he thanked his crew for all the support they have shown him during his tenure at the Sheraton.
Not to worry, this won't be the end of the events that aim to showcase the farmers that make it possible to sustain a culinary scene that is as inviting to sophisticated travelers as it is to residents. Hazama has always been an advocate for local farming and other sustainable practices, and is envisioning a Fanta-sea table for the Royal Hawaiian, highlighting aquaponic farming and aquaculture, tentatively beginning in 2016.
Ever so humble, as soon as I got there, Hazama said, "Sorry, you probably wanted to be at Joy of Sake tonight."
Uh, let's see. Hazama's food, table side at the beautiful oceanfront vs. long lines and standing and eating from disposable plates? There was no place else I wanted to be.
A display by the Wailea Agricultural Group featured fruit and spices grown on the Big Island, including cloves, mace, nutmeg, bay leaves, limequats and calamondins, a Mandarin orange and kumquat hybrid.
I think you'll be seeing a lot more of finger limes around town, easy to serve and accent food and drinks as a sort of fruit caviar.
In the meantime, the finale dinner brought back farmers and their produce highlighted through the course of the series including Ho Farms, Nalo Farms, Twin Bridge Farms, Naked Cow Diary, Shinsato Farms and Wailea Agricultural Group. Chateau St. Michelle and Stags leap provided the wine pairings.
Guests started with a small bite of sweet Lanai amaebi dressed with Nalo Farms yuzu, Ho Farms chili, Twin Bridge basil oil, Wailea Ag finger lime 3-caviar relish and Naked Cow Dairy yogurt. Paired with Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, Cold Creek, Columbia Valley 2004, California.
Next up was tender Shinsato Farms head cheese tonkatsu with Nalo Farms baby spicy greens, pickled persimmon mustard, Ho Farms smoked tomato marmalade and yuzukosho chimichurri. I could eat buckets of that sauce. This dish was paired with Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011.
The Taste of Ho Farms salad featured a centerpiece of golden Kahuku and currant tomato gelee, butternut squash, gherkins, purple long beans, pearl onions, and deep-fried okra. Served with Penner Ash Viognier, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2012.
Deconstructed Hawaiian cioppino featured nutmeg- and clove-smoked Hawaiian abalone, Wailea Ag hearts of palm and roasted ulu, Kona Cold mussels and lobster, and Ho Farms tomato-chardonnay coulis. Paired with Joel Gott Pinot Noir, Willamette Valle, Oregon, 2012.
Wailea Ag presented a display table stocked with some of its Big Island produce, including hearts of palm, and an array of citrus fruits and whole spices: nutmeg, cloves, mace and bay leaves. A look at their web site shows cinnamon is coming soon.
Slow-cooked Molokai venison was served with, below, Waialua tomato fennel compote, Twin Bridge charred red cabbage kraut, melted cabbage butter, drunken sour cherry gastrique and "The Works" twice-baked potato. Accompanied by Stags Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2012.
The baked potato, left, was based on one of chef Colin's favorite childhood treats.
Dessert of Berries Wild marinated berries, Nalo Farms lemon verbena, champagne gelée, and Naked Cow Dairy fromage blanc panna cotta was accompanied by Cookies & Milk, spiced toasted Naked Cow Dairy coconut butter shortbread, raspberry-pomegranate jam, mac nut brittle and smoked Hawaiian sea salt caramel leche.
I was particularly taken by the finger lime, which I'd never seen except for those sensationalistic ads connected to weird Facebook stories that people share.
(Of course, now that I'm looking for one I can't find it, but the ads usually read, "Eat this and never diet again," or something along those lines. Clicking on it just sends you to some infomercial.)
But the finger lime is a relatively new Hawaii experiment, imported from Australia. As the name implies, it is about the length of a finger or gherkin, in a smooth casing that opens to reveal juicy, citrusy pearls that explode like caviar or ikura on your tongue, which is why it's often referred to as lime caviar or citrus pop rocks.
I can always count on finding something new at Hazama's table, and for now I'll say thank you and see you across the lawn. Congratulations!
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.