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Peek in soon-to-open BLT Market

June 21st, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

BLT Steak's Johan Svensson has moved over to sister restaurant BLT Market as exedutive chef.< The restaurant will open in the Ritz Carlton Residences in Waikiki on June 28.

BLT Market executive chef Johan Svensson says he laughs a little bit whenever he hears people talk about farm-to-table dining as a trend.

"I think it's hilarious. From medieval times (5th to 15th centuries), people have gone to small markets or to their back yards for food."

Corporate farming that arose only in the last century completely changed our relationship with food, such that many children have never eaten a fruit or vegetable fresh from a tree or vine, nor plucked out of the ground.

Svensson said he, too, had forgotten the sweetness and texture of a freshly harvested baby carrot until being on the grounds at Mari's Gardens in Mililani.

"It hasn't been until 2013 or so that we've gone back to recreating these markets. People say it's a trend, but I don't think it's a trend anymore. I think it's the way to go."

The kitchen staff was testing out equipment and recipes, including this seared ahi with edamame purée, lotus root and sea asparagus.

Also in the kitchen with Svensson was celebrity chef, restaurateur and Esquared restaurant consultant David Burke.

There's been some confusion among food vendors since Svensson made the move from BLT Steak in the Trump International Hotel up the street to the Ritz Carlton Residences, where BLT Market is slated to open June 28. Deliveries have been going to his old digs instead of his new one, where the chef has been training staff, testing equipment and recipes.

Where BLT Steak's focus was on steak and a raw bar, BLT Market's focus is on local farm-to-table dining.

A video I made of Svensson in action back in 2011 showed he was already committed to local produce and food products, but the commitment will be even greater at BLT Market. Here's the video:

"What people will need to understand is that it's not like a regular BLT Steak menu, where you can get exactly the same thing, prepared the same way any time. Here, it'll be a menu that's very much alive and completely changing depending on what I can get my hands on," Svensson said. "It's taking me to a new level because I want to be challenged all the time. I never want to be bored."

Svensson, who was born and raised on Torsö (Thor's Island), off Sweden's West Coast, said he grew up with Europe's back yard and market traditions, and moving to New York in 1997 was an eye-opening experience regarding the acceptance of factory farm and global networks necessary to feed American appetites for food on demand.

"I worked 13 years in New York City with a lot of chefs who told me I could get anything, anywhere at all times, and I just thought, 'This doesn't make sense. I don't get this when you can't find this fruit or vegetable anywhere on this continent. It's not a natural thing."

But, he adapted to the American way, and now that he's been running his own kitchens, is able to act on his passion and beliefs.

"All chefs create their own environment," he said.

Referring in part to molecular gastronomy, he said, "It seems that technique has been taking priority. We've gotten to a point where something tastes like food, but it doesn't look like food anymore. We're not taking the time to ask, is it good food? If the answer is no, we should not be putting it on a plate."
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BLT Market will open June 28 in the Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki, 383 Kalaimoku St.

Sous chef Kevin Corriere puts one of the dishes through the taste test.

Josh Cornatt unpacks the Riedel stemware.

A glimpse of the open-air dining area.

Svensson's duties at BLT Market will extend to providing room and poolside food service for the Ritz Carlton residences, as well as to-go items for Dean & DeLuca, also housed on the property.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Pressed Juicery's Freeze makes it easy to get all your fruit & veggies

June 20th, 2016
By



PHOTOS COURTESY PRESSED JUICERY

Pressed Juicery's all-greens "Green 1" cold-pressed juice is turned into an all-natural, guilt-free frozen dessert that is delicious, sweetened with apple, dates and with coconut meat for added texture.

In the evolution of healthful drinking, there was a time we carried around plastic water bottles, soon replaced by Hydro Flasks and bkrs once we learned the hazards and toll of plastics.

These days, you're likely to see the return of plastic. Only the contents have changed from clear to hues of bright reds to dark green, even cream and black.

Yes, our cups runneth over ... with juice, and the juice bars, they keep a-comin'. The latest is California-based Pressed Juicery, which opened its doors June 12 in Ala Moana Centers Ewa Wing, street level, makai side next to the Bloomingdale's entrance.

In an email interview, co-founder and CEO Hayden Slater said, “Growing up in Los Angeles, I was educated about health and wellness trends, but I rarely practiced them in my own life. In the early days of my career, I constantly felt lethargic and stressed and was living on a diet of fast food.

"It wasn’t until I traveled to Southeast Asia that I tried a juice cleanse—it began as five days and ended up lasting for 30 days. I was amazed at how energized I felt, and after returning home I realized I wanted to share this experience with others.

"I think that juicing was a catalyst for healthier behaviors. I began to start my day with a green juice, and that motivated me to make better decisions every day, ultimately leading me to get in better shape and feel great again.”

Juice delivered by the numbers, allowing people to gauge their flavor compatibility. In the case of Greens and Roots, the No. 1s are the most unadulterated flavors. Higher numbers will have fruit juices blended in for sweetness, and lemon for a bright touch of citrus.

With Pressed Juicery, Slater said, "Our main priority is making high nutrition a realistic option for everyone. To that end, we’re focused on creating blends that appeal to a wide range of customers—whether they’ve been drinking cold-pressed juice for years or are trying it for the very first time. We also love to experiment with unique flavors and ancient ingredients; for example, our Greens 5 is a tropical take on green juice that includes pineapple and fennel, and our charcoal lemonade can provide detoxifying effects."

Pressed Juicery's blends have been tested over time in 40 markets nationwide, and they're all delicious, from the all-greens "Green 1," to unique signature blend of Brazil Nut, with the nuts, kale, spinach, romaine, vanilla bean, dates and sea salt.

Well, actually, I'd probably stay away from Greens 4 just because it contains watercress, and that's the flavor that stands out most because I'm not a big fan of watercress.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

A flight of greens. Greens 1 on the left has the highest concentration of greens. Next to it, Greens 1.5 has sea salt added. Greens 4, counting toward right, tastes greenest, with the bitterness of watercress. Most people will gravitate to Nos. 2 and 3, with the sweetness of apple and a touch of lemon.

Juices are divided into citrus, roots, greens and fruit categories. Each category has three to five different blends. I'm a fan of the greens and roots. Of course I love citrus and fruits as well, but I'm cautious about taking in too much sugar. Prices range from $7.50 to $9 for 16 ounces.

One thing Pressed Juicery has that no other local juice bar is offering is their juice-based Freeze soft-serve that may change the way we enjoy dessert and offers a palatable way for even the most fruit-and-vegetable averse to get their five a day. The six flavors offered are Greens, Roots, Citrus, Fruits, Chocolate and Vanilla. Each starts with the juicery's standard juice sweetened with dates and with coconut meat added for body.

The Freeze is offered in $5 and $6 cups; add $1.75 for your choice of toppings such as fresh fruit, chia seeds, granola, shaved almonds, shredded coconut, cacao drizzle, almond butter, dark chocolate chips and pink Himalayan sea salt.

With the Freeze, it would be nice to have a place to sit down and enjoy dessert with friends. The company is growing fast, and that's something they'll need to consider in planning future stores as today's juice bars have the potential to become tomorrow's soft-serve parlors.
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Pressed Juicery is open 9 a.m.to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Call (808) 949-5272.

Midweek's Rasa Fournier looks forward to her Greens Freeze, which she had topped with cacao drizzle, raspberries, pineapple and shaved almonds.

A diverse line of tourists and locals, young and old, flowed through the juicery all afternoon, four days after its Sunday opening.

The setting, makai side street level next to the lower level of Bloomingdale's in Ala Moana Center's Ewa Wing, around the corner from Shirokiya's soon-to-open Japan Village Walk.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

On the menu for Father's Day

June 16th, 2016
By



PHOTO COURTESY EQUARED HOSPITALITY

A5 wagyu carpaccio will be on the BLT Steak menu for Father's Day.

For all the times dad cut the food on your plate into manageable, bite-size morsels, time to return the favor. Here are a few restaurants running specials that will help you honor dad on Father's Day:

BLT STEAK WAIKIKI
A5 wagyu is aging and awaiting day 25, when it will be ready to serve at BLT Steak Waikiki, where the well-marbled wagyu will be available as carpaccio, one of the Father’s Day specials June 17 through 19. The wagyu will be served with confit heirloom tomatoes, pickled shiitakes, Maldon Sea salt and Parmesan tuile.
BLT Steak Waikiki is in the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, 223 Saratoga Road. Call (808) 683-7440. Complimentary validated parking available. More information: www.bltrestaurants.com

CHEF MAVRO
Long live dad, at Chef Mavro, where guests will be able to enjoy Chartreuse, known as the elixir of long life, in cocktails and dessert.
But before you get to that point, the restaurant is offering a four-course barbecue menu June 18 and 19 in honor of dad, with each dish taking its turn on a charcoal grill.
The four-course meal is $105 and will feature a veggie course of charred asparagus, leeks, heart of palm and fennel with avocado-lemon purée dressing; grilled opah with bean-potato ragout; Niman Ranch pork and Hobbs Shore bacon skewer with Hamakua mushrooms, confit shallots and poha berry barbecue sauce; and dessert of BBQ peaches with chartreuse semi-freddo and white peach shave ice.
Chef Mavro is at 1969 S. King St. Call (808) 944-4714 or email chef@chefmavro.com. Reservations from 6 p.m.

THE COUNTER CUSTOM BUILT BURGERS
On June 19, any guest who announces to his/her server, “My Dad is a BFD” (with dad present, of course) will receive the restaurant's signature 1/3-pound burger.
Premium proteins and premium toppings are extra. The offer is for one burger per dad with paying guest. Dine-in only.
The counter is at Kahala Mall, 4211 Waialae Ave. Call (808) 739-5100.

HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE WAIKIKI BEACH RESORT
The hotel is presenting the ultimate Father's Day barbecue, welcoming pitmaster Myron Mixon to a Honolulu BBQ Festival Weekend.
Mixon, known as “The Winningest Man in Barbecue," will reveal the secrets of great barbecue during a 5 to 8 p.m. June 17 cooking class that will have participates preparing a full barbecue spread from the ground up, from rubs to a rack of ribs, BBQ chicken, sides and more, in classic Southern style.
Mixon is a three-time world barbecue champion and chief cook of the Jack’s Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team. He's the executive producer and host of “BBQ Rules” and star of two other hit television shows “BBQ Pitmasters” and “BBQ Pitwars” (a competition show that Mixon has won in each of its two seasons) on Discovery’s Destination America. He is also the host of the new show “Smoked,” airing summer 2016.
The cost for the class is $149 per person, that includes two tickets to Saturday's Honolulu BBQ Festival, and a goody bag.
For those who just want to eat, the festival will take place 3 to 9 p.m. June 18 on the Hilton's Great Lawn, where guests can indulge in a barbecue feast prepared by Mixon. The for-purchase menu items will include smoked Southern-style hog, smoked turkey, chicken, dry-rub ribs, brisket, sausage, Hawaiian imu-style hog, a variety of southern BBQ sides and a Georgia-inspired dessert station. There will also be entertainment by Kahulanui, Kalapana and other special guests.
Admission to the fest is $20 per adult in advance, $10 for military with valid I.D., and free for keiki younger than 15. Tickets at the door are $30. (Note that food and beverages is available for individual purchase.)
Self-parking is $8; valet is $13.
For more information, visit www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com/bbq or call (808) 947-7955.

12th AVE GRILL
The Kaimuki restaurant is offering a Father's Day special entrée of Duroc pork porterhouse ($36) with house bacon, smashed new potatoes, crispy Brussels sprouts, Maui brewing Co. Pueo pale ale and manchego mornay, and a dessert special of a Manoa dark chocolate s'mores tart ($9) with Graham cracker crust, Crown Etates dark chocolate, and housemade bourbon marshmallow.
The Sunday Supper special will be Hawaiian sea salt-crusted Hawaii Ranchers prime rib with twice-baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, horseradish crème fraîche rosemary au jus, and sea salt caramel apple tart; at $38 per person.
12th Ave Grill is at 1120 12th Ave. Call (808) 732-9469.

ON MAUI

KA'ANAPALI BEACH HOTEL
Take dad out to a Father’s Day champagne brunch that will run 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 19, with many stations set up to offer soup, salad, a selection of local favorite entrées and dessert, a cold seafood bar and a carving station.
Among dishes on the buffet are a California crab and avocado salad, several types of poke, oysters and mussels on the half shell, kiawe slow-roasted prime rib, char siu-glazed pork, made-to-order omelets, shrimp scampi, kalua pig and cabbage, Korean-style chicken, BBQ beef brisket, seafood jambalaya, and more.
The cost is $46.95 for adults, $25 for children 12 and younger; and free for children younger than 5 accompanied by a paying adult.
The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is at 2525 Kaanapali Parkway in Lahaina. Reservations are required. Call (808) 667-0124.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Brasa cooking the highlight at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38

June 15th, 2016
By



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The view from Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38.

Here's a look at what's on the table at the newly open Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38, built around the concept of brasa cookery.

Its centerpiece is two charcoal- and wood-burning brasa ovens that allow chefs to achieve the flavor of the summer grill, therefore opening with perfect timing.

My full review is in today's paper.
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Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 is at 1129 N. Nimitz Highway (above Nico’s restaurant). Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. daily. Copper Top Bar open 3 to 6 p.m. daily. Call (808) 550-3740.

TOP 3 DISHES
From those I've tried so far:

Cracked papper chicken wings are like crack. Smoky, crisp-skinned, juicy inside, with a nice sprinkling of salt and pepper. Yums.

Smoky brasa-grilled Pacific swordfish is served on a Nicoise-style salad; recently $17. I'm usually not a fan of swordfish, but this was delicious.

The bourbon bacon cheddar burger gets extra points for those golden, crispy waffle chips.

The banquet space above Nico's has been transformed, the room expanded to swallow up what had been an outside patio deck.

A seafood paella has the potential to rise to the ranks of top dishes if the seafood weren't so dry and flavorless. The rice itself, with soccarat!, is terrific.

Entrée salads are great for lunch. This one combines shrimp, avocado and cucumbers over a bed of arugula; recently $18.

A delicious appetizer of grilled eggplant topped with garlic and shaved Parmesan.

Spanish grilled octopus is sliced and served over arugula as an appetizer. It's a better option than the Spanish-style poke here.

Breaking into the egg served over brasa-roasted mushrooms with garlic and Parmesan.

Prime rib was as drab as its gray color. This one was cut up pupu style in the kitchen for sharing. Others had a much better experience. Chalk it up to the restaurant's newness. I'm sure they'll get it right consistently in time.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Chefs on stage at Kapalua festival

June 14th, 2016
By



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sautéed Kona lobster with wild mushroom brodetto was one of the dishes prepared by chef Michele Mazza at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival June 11 at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. This dish was paired with 2011 Il Fauno di Arcanum Super Tuscan.

Chefs and wine experts at the four-day, 35th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival that ended June 12, have a strong message for aspiring young chefs: less is more.

Chef Hugh Acheson, the Ottawa, Canada, born chef hailed as the James Beard Awards' 2012 Best Chef, Southeast, said during his June 12 cooking demo that much of the hubris in restaurants today is the result of the rise of molecular gastronomy that set thousands of young chefs on a mission to emulate culinary geniuses like Ferran Adría and Grant Achatz. The problem is, he said, that most of them will never get there because they don't even know how to cook the perfect roast chicken.

"You have to walk before you can run," he said.

Mazza gamely got up from his own meal to pose for photos after his demonstration.

A deconstructed seafood lasagna was another dish presented by Mazza.

A deconstructed seafood lasagna was another dish presented by Mazza. It was paired with 2013 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico from Tuscany, Italy.

Panna cotta with blood orange granita was dessert, paired with an intense golden and raisony 2013 Tenuta di Castellaro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Italy.

To the audience of culinary geeks, he cautioned, "Be wary of chefs who want to cook for themselves. I want to cook for you. I want to make people happy, not threaten them with the idea that they may not get what I'm doing."

He added that he's noticed young chefs tend to cook on high heat. "I'm like, you guys don't need to do that. It has a dial."

Sharing his knowledge a day earlier, chef Michele Mazza of New York's Il Mulino and Trattoria Il Mulino, also said the biggest mistake home chefs make is to cook on high heat. He believes in roasting over low heat for a long time, and he prefers a wood-burning oven instead of an electric or gas range.

He, too, had a word for young chefs whose penchant is for excess. The tomato sauce for his lasagna was very simple, seasoned only with salt, basil and oregano. Mushrooms accompanying his lobster dish were seasoned only with rosemary and oregano.

He said use of specific herbs for particular dishes is what defines the dish. Echoing his sentiments, host Master Sommelier Michael Jordan said, "Wherever you go in the world, that is what the better chefs are doing."

Both chefs shared some tips for demystifying their craft to get people cooking again, and part of what they had to share included breaking down the process into simple math, such as the vinaigrette ratio of three parts oil to one part acid, and revealing a family secret, Mazza said the perfect pasta involves using six eggs plus six yolks for every pound of flour. "The rest is elbow grease."

When sautéing fish to achieve the perfect crisp, Acheson said most people, including his wife, have a tendency to be impatient and push food around in the pan. "Don't push it around, let it sit."

Acheson will be back in fall for the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival.

Chef Hugh Acheson served up his new Southern cooking with a hefty dose of humor.

The first of his dishes was a simple grilled corn salad of tender romaine also with chilies, basil and lime.

His second dish was crispy kampachi topped with a field pea ragout and herb salad. The dish was apired with 2014 Heron Chardonnay.

Acheson's seafood stew with fennel-topped crouton, and farro. Paired with 2014 Heron Pinot Noir.

Dessert was an unusual pairing of pepper and strawberries served with vanilla bean ice cream and paired with 2012 Eroica Gold Riesling from Columbia Valley.

Fans lined up for an audience with the chef after his demonstration.


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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.