Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

First Look: Eating House 1849

By
September 6th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Chef Roy Yamaguchi was tending to business at his newest Eating House 1849 early in the morning on Aug. 25, opening day of both the International Market Place and his restaurant at the market place's third-floor Grand Lanai.

Not wanting to miss any of the action on opening day, Aug. 25, of the International Market Place, media were among the first people on the property. And chef Roy Yamaguchi was another earlybird, hovering around his newest baby, Eating House 1849, which also opened that morning.

Yamaguchi has been on a roll this year, having opened Roy's Beach House Aug. 2 at Turtle Bay Resort, with two more Eating Houses set to open in Kapolei and Maui.

It's exciting to see him break from his original Roy's Asian fusion formula and explore new territory, even if what's new is inspired by the past. With Eating House 1849, Yamaguchi goes back to the roots of Hawaii's restaurant scene to pay homage to Peter Fernandez, who opened one of Hawaii’s first restaurants in the 19th century, and called it Eating House. Fernandez used ingredients available from local farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen, a practice our top chefs are trying to reclaim today, after decades of seeing our palates shaped and restaurants co-opted, by sellers of convenience.

The outdoor patio and bar.

The pork and shrimp gyoza with garlic aioli and spicy XO sauce were so good, we ended up ordering up a second serving because one per person just isn't enough.

Yamaguchi explained that the first food purveyors were likely the equivalent of today's bed and breakfasts, where people seeking room and board were fed simple meals. Entrepreneurs like Fernandez offered an alternative.

Of course, this being Roy, don't expect your great, great, great grandfather's chicken hekka or Porgtuguese bean soup. Though rooted in our plantation heritage and the chef's taste memories of his grandfather's cooking, dishes are thoroughly contemporary to suit today's more adventurous, sophisticated palate. Something like Eating House 1849's "Huli Huli" kim chee pork belly, with its combo of pork belly laced with go chu jang and miso aioli, and draped with kim chee would probably have made your ancestors' heads spin and their eyes pop out of their sockets. The audacity! The explosion of flavors! But for us descendants, it is oh so good.
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Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi is on the third floor Grand Lana at International Market Place, Waikiki. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Call 924-1849.

Most people don't think of vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as an adequate pupu, but these are fried with toasted pine nuts, Golden raisins and tossed with balsamic vinegar to become the appetizer of your dreams.

Hawaii's Portuguese heritage is celebrated with this dish of Manila clam and Hawaiian tako cataplana with housemade linguica. The mild tomato sauce left something to be desired, as did the sweet bread, though I get the connection. With more Italian restaurants out there, people just assume red sauce = garlic bread.

After doubling up on the gyoza, it was really tempting to do the same with "Huli Huli" pork belly. This dish with go chu jang, miso aioli, kim chee and green onions amounted to a party in the mouth, in a good way, without trashing the premises. Flavors were balanced and got on well together. So awesome!

Sometimes sequence is everything. After the pork belly, Lola's pork adobo lumpia seemed rather staid; served with a small green papaya salad and sambal tomato that wasn't particularly memorable.

Housemade corned beef reuben gets an assist from local Naked Cow Dairy Swiss cheese, Mul kim chi and the brightness of Thousand Island dressing.

It's not local without a loco moco, and the Hawaii Ranchers beef patty with Hawaiian mushroom gravy makes this one outstanding. So juicy!

Kiawe-smoked ribeye + chimichurri sauce. 'Nuff said.

Dessert of molten lava cake and vanilla bean ice cream will make you appreciate the evolution of restaurants since the days of the original Eating House.

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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.

Fanta-Sea Part I: Night at Azure

By
August 29th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

An ice display showcased fish from Kualoa Ranch's Moli'i Fishpond that was featured during the latest Fanta-Sea Table collaboration dinner at Azure restaurant in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

While at the Sheraton Waikiki, chef Colin Hazama's reverence for the work that farmers do to sustain us, led to the start of his Table to Farm dinner series. Now, as executive chef of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, he has introduced the combination dinner-farm tour concept via "Fanta-Sea," this time focusing on an epicurean journey by sea.

The most recent two-day event started with a chef’s dinner on Aug. 26 at Azure restaurant, followed by an Aug. 27 excursion to Kualoa Ranch's Moli'i Fishpond for a tour and gourmet lunch. Both meals were presented by Hazama and Azure sous chef Colin Sato.

At the heart of the meal was Kualoa's farm-fresh oysters, Pacific white shrimp, toau, and 100 percent grass-fed beef.

The toau was a revelation on two levels. First, the blacktail snapper is delicious. The reason we don't hear more about it is because it's an invasive species deemed a rubbish fish because it doesn't have commercial value as long as people don't know about it.

A pre-dinner small bite of verjus glazed Kualoa oyster with Wailua tomato water, pickled Kunia watermelon rind and serrano pepper. Pairing: Nicolas Feuillate Brut NV.

Another small bite of Kualoa shrimp.

It also provides a cautionary tale about nature's delicate balance and how man's shortsighted ideas for improving on nature can yield unexpected results and wreak havoc on a fragile environment.

The species was introduced from Tahiti in 1956, with the idea that the tasty, delicate white fish could become a cash crop. But it is a carnivorous night-feeding fish that fed on the fishpond's day-feeding herbivores, including more popular eating fish such as the mullet, whose populations have plummeted.

Old timers would say that we should not try to improve on nature, but we must accept and adjust to what the land and sea give us. At the moment, it seems to be telling us to eat more of what we consider to be rubbish fish such as toau and ta'ape. But it is a hard sell. Because of the cost of going out to eat, no one wants to take a chance on the unknown. So we continue to order the fish we recognize: ahi, onaga, opakapaka, opah.

Educational cuisine programs such as Fanta-Sea go a long way in introducing new ways to think about the food we eat and the impact of our choices.

First course of charred Kualoa Shrimp with Ho Farms Market radish, 'Nalo Farms mizuna puree, yuzu kosho, and Naked Cow Dairy brown butter dashi. Pairing: Henriot Blanc de Blanc NV.

A dish of Hot & Cold Oio (Hawaiian bone fish) included lomi oio tartare, pickled Kualoa ogo, Wailea Ag garlic-ulu chips, Mari’s Garden ginger-watercress puree, and a crispy shiso wrapped oio tempura with local red onion preserve, Kualoa papaya mustard and young coconut-avocado mousse. Pairing: Veuve Clicqout Rose NV.

Crispy Toau was served with Ewa corn pudding, Ho Farms summer ragout, seared Samoan crab dumpling, and Mari’s Garden negi pistou. Pairing: Bouchard Beaune de Chateau Blanc Chardonnay, 2013.

Kualoa Ranch Slow Cooked Ribeye with prickly ash, Pacific oyster and Hamakua mushroom stuffing, spiced Ho Farms butternut squash purée, Mari's Garden smoked melted Tokyo negi and marjoram-cognac essence. Pairing: Red Schooner Voyage Malbec 2013 by the Wagner Family.

Dessert by executive pastry chef Carolyn Portuondo was Wailea Ag Vanilla Kaffir Lime Semifreddo with a mac nut feuilltine crust, Kualoa Sunrise papaya and candied hibiscus reduction. Pairing: Pattrick Bottex Bugey Cerdon NV.



Next: Day 2 field trip!

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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.

Vote HFWF in USA Today poll

By
August 12th, 2016



PHOTO COURTESY HAWAI'I FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

Among local chefs involved in the. Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival are co-founders Alan Wong, left, and Roy Yamaguchi, right, and between them, Mark Noguchi, Lee Anne Wong and George Mavrothalassitis. Now they're asking you to vote for the festival as best in the nation in a USA Today poll.


Sunshine. Beaches. Food and wine selections from an international roster of top chefs and sommeliers. What's not to love about the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival?

We've always known Hawaii is epicenter of world-class culinary events and word is getting out about the festival that, since 2011, has raised $1.3 million for local culinary and agricultural programs. HFWF is in the running for a USA Today poll looking for the Best Wine Festival in the USA Today 10 Best Poll.

HFWF has a good head start, currently in 2nd place out of 20 candidates and is hoping fans will push the festival into the top spot over the next two days.

Voting is open through 5:59 a.m. Aug. 15, Hawaii time. Here's the link to vote: 10best.com/awards/travel/best-wine-festival/hawaii-food-wine-festival-honolulu.

No need to enter email or personal information. Just click on "Vote."

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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.

Stage popup at Mari's Gardens

By
August 2nd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Following a tour of Mari's Gardens, guests at Stage restaurant's Fresh Pop-up Dinner got to try freshly harvested vegetables from the farm grounds, such as roasted beets.

When I think of Mililani, I think "suburbia." The last thing I would expect to find there is a sprawling farm. Mari's Gardens is such a hidden gem that neighbors don't even know they exist, as I learned after getting lost en route. For townies, it might as well be another world, and during a Fresh Pop-up Dinner hosted by Stage restaurant at Mari's Gardens, I did feel like I was in another world, more Napa than Hawaii.

Before dinner, we were welcome to stroll the grounds, where baby lettuces were farming and beets were ready for harvest. Because I got there a bit late, I missed the aquaponic tanks where tilapia and Chinese catfish are raised as much for food as for their contributions to the nutrient-rich water that feed the farm's organic produce.

Dinner under a canopy that kept us dry during a sudden downpour.

The dinner showcased produce from Mari's Garden beautifully, as a demonstration of what farm-to-table dining could look like at Stage restaurant, whose owner Thomas Sorensen, is considering a rooftop aquaponic system to someday fill some of the restaurant's produce needs. Sorensen, owner of the Hawaii Design Center, where Stage is housed, has already been a longtime supporter of green, sustainable initiatives, and his building utilizes many energy efficient systems to serve as examples of what customers might want to do at home to reduce their carbon footprint.

That said, he's also a businessman, and knows the "ideal" is not always practical. Calculating the number of days it takes to grow a head of Manoa lettuce, and the volume that his rooftop can contain, he estimates that every 52 days, he will have enough to last through a single lunch service. But, where there's a will there's a way, and an herb garden might be one way to make such a system work from a green, and a business, perspective.

It's something I have had to think about while trying to raise greens at home. For the amount of water I used on tomatoes—only to see birds attack them at the first sign of ripening—it was barely worth the effort. When they did survive the odds, I had enough to make salads for a couple of days, hardly life sustaining.

Baby lettuce protected from hungry insects.

Baby lettuce protected from hungry insects.

It is amazing work that Fred Lau and his family and staff do, and Stage executive chef Ron De Guzman, pastry chef Cainan Sabey and their staff also did an excellent job. I also appreciated all their effort at delivering 40 meals when it started raining heavily and they had to make multiple trips under cover of umbrella!

I also learned a little bit more about the difficulties of farming during the downpour, because I never realized how fragile a farm ecosystem can be. All I know is, you stick a seed in the ground, it grows, and weeks later, you have food. So when I suggested that the rain will be good for the plants, I was wrong. Here, soil and water pH is constantly monitored for optimal conditions. Rain can introduce too much heavy metal in the atmosphere or make water too alkaline, impeding plants' uptake of nutrients.

Fish are also susceptible to the same conditions, and as much as we often believe that nature takes care of itself, the fish are fragile creatures that require a certain balance in their environmental conditions. Think about that, because so do we. Events like this are a first step toward opening eyes toward the balance between man and nature, and how much work we have to do to prevent excess waste and pollution.

The dinner also turned out to be a post-birthday celebration for Thomas Sorensen, owner of Hawaii Design Center and its in-store restaurant, Stage. He celebrated the occasion with his wife Michele Conan Sorensen.

"Act 1" was Mari's Garden Salad, comprising the farm's Manoa lettuce and roasted baby beets, with garlic croutons and wasabi-lilikoi dressing. The salad also included smoked goat cheese from nearby Sweetland Farms. Wine pairing: Galerie Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Calif., 2014.

Act II comprised beef carpaccio topped with Pecorino Romano, black pepper crème fraîche, crispy garlic, baby arugula, slices of sweet onion and watercress. Wine pairing: Barrymore Pinot Grigio, Monterey County, Calif., 2013.

Act III was seared ahi, accompanied by Mari's Garden eggplant puree, caramelized Mari's Garden negi onions and chimichurri. Wine pairing: Nielson Pinot Noir, Santa Maria, Calif., 2013.

Act IV was a duck duo of roasted breast and confit leg, accompanied by Mari's Garden carrots, Brussels sprout leaves, smoked maple gel and whole grain mustard jus. Wine pairing: Hartford Court Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Calif., 2013.

Embracing the garden theme, the finale was a "Flower Pot" dessert of crunchy chocolate "soil" covering mango ice cream and lychee sorbet, garnished with edible nasturtium, shiso and lavender, and slivers of dried mango. Pairing: Warre's Otima 10-year Tawny Port, Portugal.

Wine pairings were by Jackson Family Wines.

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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.

First course: Mahina & Sun's

By
May 18th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Deep-fried whole snapper, and salads of root vegetables and pohole ferns are part of the Family Feast at Mahina & Sun's.

Following a zombie apocalypse and cut off from the rest of the world, what would we eat?

If you envision such a future, sustainability makes perfect sense. I'm not saying Ed Kenney and Dave Caldiero are thinking in those bleak terms, but with their latest restaurant, Mahina & Sun's, I think they have the opposite in mind—a bright sunny future in which people awaken to caring for the planet and nurturing their bodies in a single move, by choosing foods both healthful and sustainable.

The two have been preaching this concept for about a decade, but takes it even further with Mahina & Sun's, making sustainable seem more palatable than ever.

A "snack" of Sweet Land Farms goat cheese beignets with beet ketchup and arugula.

It all starts with teaching us to love such basics as 'ulu and ugly root vegetables, hairy roots, green tops and all. There was a time I would have lopped off these unsightly ends, but here, they're a joy to pop whole into the mouth, and I was surprised to see my meat-loving friends reaching continuously for the bowls of vegetables and 'ulu.

Kenney would be the first to tell you he could do more, noting that it is still difficult to go without imported oils, beans, grains, Japanese products, pastas and spices, as well as most bar content.

Satisfying kahala (amberjack) crudo with preserved lemon, toasted inamona, purslane and brown butter vinaigrette.

But moreso than most outlets, I see a commitment, not only to the locally grown, but foods basic to the earliest Hawaii settlers. Most chefs, and diners, would find that limiting, but Mahina & Sun's is doing its best to win over a 21st century audience accustomed to getting any foodstuff they want, sourced from all parts of the planet.

It won't be an easy feat bringing diners back to the homestead, but they're committed to trying.

The setting, poolside at the equally new Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club.


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Mahina & Sun's is in the new Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club at 412 Lewers St. Call 924-5810.

Mild, clean-tasting Kualoa Ranch oysters are simply graced with chili pepper water, succulents and slices of kalamansi.

It doesn't get much more local than pa'i 'ai topped with akule. Not for those who don't like fishy fish.

Usually, I would love the Shinsato pork paté, but having so many other good things to eat made it seem less interesting than the alternatives.

The grilled he'e is my favorite dish.

Rigatoni with local wild boar ragu. I don't know how they are able to secure a steady supply of local boar for making this dish.

A pour of smoky bacon broth over swordfish and savoy cabbage. The restaurant is committed to using sustainable seafood based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, but swordfish has a tendency to be dry and is still not one of my favorites. A dish of monchong, however, was perfection.

A pan-roasted half chicken is tasty, but has been inconsistent, moist one day, dry the next. But I love the coriander chutney on top.

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

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