Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Life of Bread explored at Cookspace Hawaii

August 14th, 2013


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.


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.

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

Find Breadshop online at


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

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.


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.
Reservations: Call 808.380.4400


The private dining room.


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


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


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.

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.

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.


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…)

Go Italian to feed a kid

September 30th, 2012

hungerRomano's Macaroni Grill photo / #macgrillgive

To counter all the effects of dining out for a living, I try to be kind to my body on "off" days, sparing myself from salt, sugar and fat overloading.

I could never do all the work involved in going as far as making the mac nut ricotta in the raw vegan Living Lasagna at Licious Dishes, but I really love Sylvia Thompson's lasagna and it inspired me to sub the usual layers of pasta with layers of sliced zucchini. To make the slicing task easier, you can use a mandoline, but I find it just as easy to use a knife for a small quantity.

My husband sounded leery about the idea and likes the pasta, so in a first pass, we compromised. I did the bottom layer with pasta, and middle and top tiers with zucchini, and neither of us missed a thing.

The beauty of any lasagna recipe is that they're quite forgiving, and this doesn't have to be vegetarian at all. You can muse a meat filling if you want, but you an feel a little better knowing you've included more vegetable than you would have otherwise.

I'm sharing this recipe after being invited by Romano's Macaroni Grill to share an Italian recipe toward a goal of ending childhood hunger.

The restaurant partnered with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to connect kids to 1 Million Meals, 500 meals per post. According to Share our Strength, one in five, or 16 million children, go hungry in America on a regular basis.

The long-term cost to society are:

>> Nationally: According to a report by the Center for American Progress and Brandeis University, “hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion due to the combination of lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed.”

>> Individually: The center also calculated that “the impact of being held back a grade or more in school resulting from hunger and its threat resulted in $6.9 billion in lost income for 2009 dropouts in 2010 and that high school absenteeism led to a loss of $5.8 billion, also in 2010. In total, food insecurity led to a loss of $19.2 billion in (lifetime) earnings in 2010.”

>> Your cost: “it cost every citizen $542 due to the far-reaching consequences of hunger in our nation.” If the number of hungry Americans remains constant, “each individual’s bill for hunger in our nation will amount to about $42,400” on a lifetime basis.

Readers can also visit the restaurant and donate $2 to receive $5 off their next meal. For more information, visit

Here's the recipe:

Spinach Lasagna with Zucchini and Ricotta
3 sheets lasagna pasta
1 large onion, small dice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, unfrozen
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound zucchini, sliced thin
15-ounce Ricotta
2 eggs
1 24-ounce jar Mario Batali vodka sauce (or your favorite tomato/spaghetti sauce)
Grated Parmesan to taste

Boil the pasta; remove to a plate. Spread about 2 tablespoons of sauce in a 13-by-9 Pyrex baking dish. Spread pasta on dish
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. When caramelized, add the spinach. Season to taste.
Layer one-half of filling over pasta. Beat eggs wih ricotta, and layer half of this mixture over vegetables, followed by a layer of one-third of the sauce.
Layer half of zucchini strips.
Create another layer of filling, ricotta, sauce and zucchini.
Cover zucchini with remaining sauce and sprinkle Parmesan over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.

First course: 53 By the Sea now open

September 14th, 2012

53oystersNadine Kam photos
Oysters that are part of the 53 Seafood Showcase platter. This was the grand opening selection. The actual $30 seafood platter will be portioned for two.

Now open on the site of the former John Dominis restaurant is 53 By the Sea, Honolulu's latest Italian restaurant helmed in the kitchen by a Japanese chef, Hiroshi Hayakawa.

No one who's ever been to John Dominis will see a trace of the former restaurant here. It's given way to a $16 million Mediterranean-style chapel-looking building that will also serve as a wedding venue marketed to Japanese lovebirds.

The 200-seat Italian restaurant is on the ground floor, and a ballroom staircase will lead to the Terrace by the Sea. The two-story, 18,825-square-foot building features two wedding chapels and six banquet rooms in an unbeatable setting right on the water's edge in Kakaako, with a straight-ahead view of Diamond Head.

Whereas the former restaurant was built close to the water, with waves splashing against glass walls, the new restaurant is raised, with glass doors and outdoor seating for those who want to actually feel the ocean breeze and take unobstructed photos.

The restaurant is open for dinner, and lunch service is set to begin around Sept. 26. During a media reception this morning, the restaurant offered a sampling of its menu, with entree prices ranging from $18 for spaghetti Bolgonese, to $42 for grilled Maine lobster with fried island vegetables.

*Note that the dishes below were presented in group portions, and not the actual individual portions.

Non-flash video link

53exteriorThe exterior of the new 53 By the Sea restaurant built on the site of the former John Dominis restaurant.

53staircaseThe ballroom staircase leading to the wedding chapels.

53chefChef Hiroshi Hayakawa.

53ppProsciutto and Pecorino.

53steakAmong the beef offerings is grilled Black Angus filet mignon.

53pesto scampiBow-tie pasta and pesto scampi.

53penneSeafood penne.

53escargotEscargot-stuffed mushrooms. (more…)

Eataly: Now that's Italian!

May 31st, 2012

eataly2Nadine Kam photos
Cheese and Parma ham are among the ingredients that lure diners to Eataly, a wonderland of Italian drink and edibles.

The last time I was in Madison Square Park, last summer, my husband Chris and I were focused on getting to Shake Shack. "Oh look," he said, "Eataly's right there."

It was one of those situations where you don't even think of veering from track, while thinking there's always time to return. But in New York there are so many distractions that other destinations keep popping into your head and before you know it, trip's over and we totally missed this Italian phenomenon.

One of the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplaces in the world, Eataly is the work of Oscar Farinetti, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The 50,000 square foot space in the Flatiron District is a wonderland of cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pastas prepared on the spot, or packaged to take home with you to create your own Italian meal, without much fuss on your part. Most of the heavy labor has already be done!

In Hawaii terms, it's the equivalent of having a daily Italian festival of food and wine.

There was so much to see on the ground floor that I didn't venture upstairs. There, private dining awaits at the rooftop restaurant and brewery Birreria, offering unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated cask ales and an Italian menu influenced by Austria and Germany.

Eataly is at 200 5th Ave. Call (212) 229-2560 ‎ or visit Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays. Here's a quick tour of the marketplace:

eataly1At the Salumi i Formaggi bar, a platter of prosciutto di Parma and salumi with assorted cheeses, fig mustard and almonds in honey. The Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi i Formaggi is $22.

eataly crudoAt the crudo bar, I had this trio, a special of the day featuring sockeye salmon with its own crackling, diver scallop topped with Sorrento lemon oil and ume frost salt, and black bass with radish and what we know as sea asparagus (which they call sea beans). This was $18 and the fish wasn't as good as I've had at home in Hawaii which just reaffirms my philosophy of not eating raw fish anywhere else but at home or Japan. Though the scallop was delicious.

eataly wineCentral to Eataly is La Piazza, a place to meet friends in a standing table enoteca, with marble cornered facades reminiscent of Rome. Order a glass of wine and venture around to the various boutique food stations to pick up edibles here and there. It's pretty pricey, though.

eataly icecream lineThe longest line was for gelato.

eataly pistachioThe prize, a small cup of pistachio gelato, the equivalent of two scoops for $4.50.

eataly olivesPerfect olives, $9.

eataly produceAt the marketplace, you can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables.

eataly prosIf you like the prosciutto served at the Salumi i Formaggi counter, you can take home packaged meat as well.

eataly pastaGet an assist from Mario Batali if you're cooking an Italian dinner to impress friends.

eataly condimentsFig mustard and almond honey to enjoy with bread, cheese and cured meats.

eataly jamsProvenance is important, and shelves of fruit preserves, jams, syrups and honeys show where the jars come from.

eataly honey2Plants chosen by bees give their honey a distinct flavor.

eataly sausagesYou can also go home with sausages.

eataly mushroomsMushroom selection in the marketplace. (more…)