Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Chefs on stage at Kapalua festival

June 14th, 2016
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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.

Arancino at The Kahala makes 3

May 26th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Arancino at The Kahala adds a charcuterie platter, Affetato Misto, to its new menu marking its third anniversary at The Kahala Hotel, to be offered beginning June 1. The platter features bresaola, coppa, prosciutto di Parma, salamino piccante, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggianno and coccoli, or bread dough fritters.

Arancino at The Kahala is entering its third year with the introduction of a new menu beginning June 1. The menu includes new dishes and three degustation menus, priced at $60, $90 and $120. Prices with wine pairings are $84, $123 and $160.

The $60 Menu Selezione starts with a lobster bisque, followed by a choice of Caesar or caprese salad, then a choice of one of three primi dishes: Tagliolini al Ricci di Mare, uni pasta with a white wine-garlic-tomato cream sauce; wagyu Bolognese with housemade pappardelle; or housemade orecchiette with sun-dried tomatoes, broccolini and garlic olive oil.

On the high end, the menu features caviar, followed by crudités and bagna cauda, carpaccio di manzo of A5 Miyazaki wagyu, and delectable raviolone alla fonduta con tartufo fresco, a decadent ravioli with fontina and a center of creamy egg yolk, topped with truffles and a light butter sauce. These dishes are followed by grilled branzino and sous vide beef tenderloin with foie gras and truffle mashed potatoes, fried maitake and truffle sauce.

I swoon over chef Hamamoto's ravioli with creamy egg yolk center, fontina, truffles and butter sauce. Heaven on a plate!

I swoon over chef Hamamoto's ravioli with creamy egg yolk center, fontina, truffles and butter sauce. Heaven on a plate!

The restaurant had its soft opening at The Kahala Hotel in 2013, followed by official opening date June 18. It initially offered a luxury tasting menu experience that evolved to include several a la carte dishes to give guests much more variety over repeat visits.

In addition to the set menus, the menu now features 34 a la carte selections ranging from pastas to pizzas, plus satisfying entrées ranging from the seafood stew caciucco, to sous vide beef tenderloin, Colorado lamb, A5 Miyazaki wagyu sirloin and pork loin.

The wagyu as served here is exceptional, but I've always had it cooked, never as carpaccio, and during a media tasting I basically inhaled the carpaccio di manzo. Buttery soft, the raw wagyu nearly melts on the tongue. A must for any visit.

Among the stars of the new offerings is the salt-crusted whole branzino for two. For $58, the fish is presented in its salt crust at the table, where it is cut open and the fish served in the form of two fillets accompanied by rosemary potatoes, lemon and herb topping.

And a charcuterie platter of Affetato Misto (at top of page) manages to be a picture- and palate-perfect intro for any meal.
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Arancino at The Kahala is at The Kahala Hotel, 5000 Kahala Ave. Call 380-4400.

Here's a look at more dishes on the new menu:

Carpaccio di Manzo comprises thin-sliced raw Miyazaki wagyu topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, arugula and olive oil-lemon dressing.

Trofie al Pesto Genovese combines the housemade twisted pasta with slices of potato, haricots verts and Nalo Farms basil pesto.

Baked Pesce al Sale, a salt-crusted whole branzino, is presented at the table before being opened and individually plated.

Chef Daisuke Hamamoto presents a serving of the moist and tender branzino, served with rosemary potatoes, herb topping and lemon.

Dessert of a passionfruit-mascarpone cheesecake is topped with citrus sorbetto and candy brittle with accents of silver leaf.

Another view of dessert that reminded me of a kokeshi doll.


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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.

Taste of Tuscany at Halekulani

February 23rd, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Osteria Di Passignano executive chef Nicola Damiani, right, and sous chef Nearco Boninsegni enjoy conversing with guests following their "Evening with Osteria di Passignano" dinner at the Halekulani.

Halekulani welcomed Osteria Di Passignano’s Michelin-star executive chef Nicola Damiani and sous chef Nearco Boninsegni for a taste of Tuscany at the Hau Terrace on Feb. 19.

Osteria di Passignano is housed in the Abbey of Passignano within the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. The monastery dates back to 395, when it was established by the archbishop of Florence, and it is still inhabited by monks of the Vallombrosian Order.

The restaurant is relatively young, founded in 2000 by Marcello Crini, a connoisseur of Tuscan cuisine and wine culture; and Allegra Antinori, whose family owns the vineyards around the Abbey, from which the Chianti Classico Reserve wine “Badia a Passignano” is produced, and which is aged in the cellars beneath the monastery.

"An Evening with Osteria di Passignano" highlighted Damiani's cuisine paired with Antinori wines.

PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO MOGGI A long way from home, this is a look at the interior of Osteria Di Passignano, housed in a more than 1,600-year-old Tuscan abbey.

PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO MOGGI

A long way from home, this is a look at the interior of Osteria Di Passignano, housed in a 1,600-year-old Tuscan abbey.

Transported across both Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and in an environment of coconut trees and sand instead of 1,600-year-old stone, we experienced the delicacy of the chefs' work, and assumed they brought some of their own specially ground flour for pillowy gnocchi and other dishes. But no, they used only ingredients sourced from here, once again dashing the myth that some Hawaii chefs try to perpetuate, that they are limited by climate (baking) and ingredients available to them. Oh no, no. After savoring beautiful, light tomato sauces made from local tomatoes that the chefs say are sweeter than ones back home, no one can use that excuse with me anymore.

I was particularly captivated by cacciucco accented with thin ribbons of cuttlefish, or ika, noodles, and asked Boninsegni how they're made. It turns out to be an eight hour process that starts with a good cleaning, sous vide cooking, freezing and shaving the frozen ika with a mandoline. The seafood "pasta" is then rolled up to prevent curling of the edges. The texture was amazing.

Here's what was on the menu:

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Redfish cacciucco with cuttlefish tagliatelle and crispy quinoa. Paired with Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Vermentino Bolgheri D.O.C. 2014.

Heavenly lemon-scented potato gnocchi with fennel, squid and clams. Pairing: Castello Della Sala, Cervaro Della Sala 2012.

Wine and roses. The Cervara. Look at them legs!

Fresh pasta tortelli stuffed with pappa al pomodoro over basil sauce. Pairing: Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. "Gran Selezione" 2009.

By the time the breaded veal sirloin arrived, over red pepper fondant with eggplant and zucchini, I was full, but really didn't want the meal to end. Pairing: Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri 2010 and Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2012. I liked the Solaia best in this matchup.

By the time the breaded veal sirloin arrived, over red pepper fondant with eggplant and zucchini, I was full, but really didn't want the meal to end. Pairing: Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri 2010 and Marchesi Antinori Solaia 2012. I liked the Solaia best in this matchup.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Dessert of chocolate clafoutis was paired with Tenuta Marchesi Antinori, Vinsanto del Chianti Classico D.O.C. 2010.

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When the mignardises arrived, a tablemate said he knew which one I would pick. I was like, "You don't know." So he said he would write it down and darn he was right! I'm not telling you so you can guess too and I might fill you in on a later date.

After dinner, the empties.

Life of Bread explored at Cookspace Hawaii

August 14th, 2013
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Chris Sy's breads included dark pumpernickel, clockwise from top right, country, city and semolina loaves, served with Plugra and Organic Valley cultured butters and white and red Kauai salt.Nadine Kam photos

Cook Space Hawaii was host to chef Lance Kosaka and Chris Sy for a combination demo/dinner exploring the life of bread. That is, how to enjoy bread as it runs its course from hot-out-of-the-oven fresh-baked form, to slightly stale to hard as rock state, the idea being that while in Asian cultures every grain of rice is considered precious, in bread-eating cultures diners would never dream of wasting a single crumb.

The event was part of the new demonstration space's summer cooking series "Get Fresh LIVE," demonstrating the alchemy that takes place when chefs and food producers are able to work together and inspire one another. The chefs are allowed to pick their collaborator. While other chefs in the series have chosen to partner with the farmers, Kosaka, executive chef of the Skybar, coming next spring, chose Breadshop's Sy, because he's found that most people don't know what to do with bread beyond making sandwiches or buttering it up as a pre-dinner ritual. Throughout Europe, bread is enjoyed throughout the meal.

Sy, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago, said he was inspired to start experimenting with baking bread after reading an essay on bread in "The Man Who Ate Everything," by Vogue magazine food critic Jeffrey Steingarten.

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Chris Sy with a loaf of his pumpernickel. He's worked in kitchens from the Chicago Area's Trio, to New York's Cru, Aux Vieux Four in France, and The French Laundry. He returned home and worked at Chef Mavro and Town before starting his craft bakery Breadshop.

Throughout the meal, I kept thinking about how my late husband would have loved every minute of this dinner.
His mother was from Belgium so he was raised in the Old World European tradition of setting the table with French loaves, cheeses, crêpes, leek quiches and savory stews. In all the time I knew him, he was never without the basic pleasures of the table, and life—a baguette, bottle of wine and cheese.

Sadly for him, until Sy came along, Oahu never had decent bread. Sy talked about the high temperature and moisture needed to achieve the combination of chewy, toothy interior and crackly crust. He uses a pizza oven and said that to produce such bread takes eight to 16 hours, a commitment most restaurants cannot afford, which is why we get lifeless generic table bread and why so many connoisseurs line up at the Pig & the Lady at Farmer's Markets for Sy's creations.

The last event in the Fresh LIVE series will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 23, featuring Wade Ueoka and Ho Farms. The cos is $85.

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The Cookspace Hawaii classroom is in Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., above T&C. Call 808.695.2205. Visit www.cookspacehawaii.com for more classes and information.

Find Breadshop online at breadsbybreadshop.com

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Sy and chef Lance Kosaka work on the bread and tomato salad.

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Open-faced grilled cheese canapes start with grilled cheese of compté and gruyère over Sy's pumpernickel, topped with arugula and prosciutto for a tasty appetizer that's easy to duplicate the next time you entertain.

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Kosaka explained the Tuscan panzanella salad is no more than deconstructed bruschetta, with the a couple days-old bread softened by the blend of olive oil and tomato juices, and tossed with basil and Italian parsley. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and allow them to sit for a while to coax the juices out.

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Bread is broken into bite-size "crumbs" and stirred with pasta, anchovy, cauliflower, broccoli, olive oil, garlic, chili flake, mint and cheese in this pasta dish.

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Olive-oil pan-fried bread topped with Madre chocolate for dessert, with a light sprinkling of salt. So wonderful!

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Lance and Chris toss the pasta. In the foreground are some of the fresh greens that went into the meal.

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Guests were greeted with a choice of mango or calamansi coolers from Cheryl To of PacifiKool, known for its ginger libations.

First course: Arancino at the Kahala

June 26th, 2013
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aranbagna
Nadine Kam photos

Arancino at the Kahala's bagna cauda comprised orange and purple carrots, potato, okra, tomato and other greens beautifully "potted" and served with a warm anchovy and oil dip. I've seen children enjoy their vegetables when presented this way. A non-fish eating companion was offered a melted cheese dip instead.

I was wondering what Arancino's owners would do to differentiate the new Kahala Hotel & Resort branch of the restaurant from its popular Waikiki restaurants.

The answer was to go more upscale in keeping with the resort ambience. I see a bit of the Vintage Cave here in terms of plating and the focus on every detail of the ingredients that comprise each dish. The presentation is beautiful.

They've also gone with a prix fixe concept, following the Italian progression of five-course dinners, for $100, or four-course dinners for $85. Only lunch will be available a la carte.

During a media preview that took place June 17, the Inamura family, CEO Ichiro, wife Fumie and daughter Aya Inamura, vice president of Arancino Restaurants, introduced chef Daisuke Hamamoto and grand master sommelier Shinya Tasaki of Tokyo—named the World's Best Sommelier 1995 by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale—who created the wine list for the restaurant, comprising 100 selections from Italian and Pacific Rim countries, at a cost of $7 to $12 per glass.

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From left, Arancino at the Kahala's Fumie Inamura, CEO Ichiro Inamura, Vice President Aya Inamura and grand master sommelier Shinya Tasaki.

The Arancino restaurants started with Ichiro's love of food, and upon moving to Hawaii, he opened a beer bar on Beachwalk Avenue, a few steps from the original Arancino at 255 Beachwalk. Arancino di Mare opened at the other end of Waikiki, in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, in the fall of 2010.

The Kahala venue, Aya said, presents the perfect opportunity to bring the cuisine up a notch and "serve the perfect upscale Italian."

The setting is the site of the former Tokyo Tokyo, and Arancino at the Kahala now features al fresco dining for about 60, outdoor bar, and a private dining area for up to 12 guests.

It'll be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 to 10:30 p.m. daily. The dress code for lunch is casual resort with shoes or dressy sandals. For dinner, it's evening resort wear and aloha wear with shoes of dressy sandals. Swimwear, sleeveless T-shirts, athletic apparel and hats will not be permitted.
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Reservations: Call 808.380.4400

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The private dining room.

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During a media preview event, the amuse bouche was a lovely Kahuku sweet corn foam with proscuitto di Parma.

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The bread selection included housemade whole wheat roll, foccaccia and grissini al formaggio (cheese breadsticks), served with unsalted butter and black salt.

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The antipasti course comprised Crostacei di Mare, abalone and amaebi (sweet shrimp) lightly drizzled with herb oil. Rolled cucumber served as "planters" for sprigs of basil, parsley and other greens. Thin-sliced cauliflower added to the arrangement. Paired with 900 grapes sauvignon blanc Marlborough, New Zealand.

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Chitarra alla Pescatora was one of the primi courses, featuring al dente housemade squid ink chitarra pasta, topped with a small dice of lobster, scallops and shrimp tossed with a garlic tomato sauce, and topped with two slices of grilled calamari. It was paired with Dog Point pinot noir, Marlborough, New Zealand.

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General manager Matt Stancato shows the stringed chitarra used to cut sheets of pasta, inviting the "guitar" reference that gives the pasta dish, above, its name.

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The secondi course was Bistecca alla Lavanda, or lavender-infused sous vide Tajima beef, surrouned by petite potatoes and onion petals, a spring of lavender, arugula, Dijon mustard, pepper and salt. This was so wonderful and the beef may look startlingly rare, but it's fully cooked and oh-so-tender. Paired with Bookwalter Foreshadow cabernet sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Wash. (more…)