Archive for the ‘Drink’ Category

Tea Drops simplifies art of tea

By
July 25th, 2016



PHOTO COURTESY TEA DROPS

Tea Drops provide a convenient, portable way for tea lovers to enjoy a their favorite beverage whereever they go. In the cup is a tumeric tea drop. They come in a variety of shapes and flavors.

I love tea, but I'm also lazy, and that's a problem. Because, good tea requires a lot of implements, whether it's a bamboo whisk for your matcha powder or infuser for leaf teas. Then there's cleanup. There are a lot of times I'll pass in favor of an easy sugar-saturated juice instead.

Sashee Chandran also found it difficult to enjoy a fresh pot of tea while working in an office. But, unlike me, she was determined to do something about it, because tea is in her blood. She grew up steeped in tea culture east and west. Her mother is Chinese, and her father is Sri Lankan, raised in the British tea tradition.

"I realized how difficult it is for people to make tea, but there are a lot of people who would drink tea if the process could be simplified, so I spent 2-1/2 years experimenting in my kitchen," said Chandran, who was in town to share her creation at the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Food Service Expo that took place July 13 and 14 at the Blaisdell Center.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Sashee Chandran spent two-and-a-half years perfecting her recipes in her kitchen.

The result is Tea Drops, organic teas and spices ground fine compressed into a variety of shapes, that can simply be dropped into a cup of hot water any place, any time. The drop dissolves in hot water, and voilá, hot (or cold) tea in flavors such as Cardamom Spice, Chocolate Earl Grey, and Citrus Ginger, all with a touch of organic sugar. (Sugar-free options are coming in fall.)

I have to say I was confused when someone gave me a couple of drops with no instructions. I placed it in my cup, expecting it to dissolve into loose leaves. When it just disappeared, I was like, "What is this?" It all came clear when I was able to sit down with Chandran—how else?—Over cups of tea.

Although tea fanatics in Hawaii prefer their teas sugar-free, Chandran said she loves chai and the British tradition of adding milk to any tea, so her first impulse was to recreate that combination of sweetened milk tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.

"I'm the last person who should have been experimenting in the kitchen. I have no chemistry background, no food service background, but I did know how to make a good cup of tea because I've been drinking it all my life. The hardest part was finding the right proportion of tea vs. spices and organic cane sugar to make it balanced."

Tea Drops come in paper or reusable and gift ready wood boxes. When done, the boxes can be upcycled in myriad ways, including finding a second life as a desktop or windowsill planter for your cacti garden.

She made the first batches just for herself, which she dropped into cups of hot water while working at eBay. Co-workers who witnessed it started asking, "What's that?" Pretty soon, they wanted them for themselves and Chandran was in business. With her background in ecommerce, she launched an online shop and within a couple of months was able to leave her full-time job.

Tea has now become part of her philosophy toward promoting a happy, healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Tea Drops all-in-one recipes eliminate the need for teabags and sweetener packets. The boxes are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable. Paulownia wood boxes can be repurposed for storage or used as planters.

She has also been experimenting with adding tea drops to cookies, soups, and making tea-infused soaps.

"I feel like this is the right time for it. People are into organic, they're into tumeric and matcha. There's something for everyone. Each tea has its own medicinal properties."

Turmeric, for example, has been used for centuries to treat wounds and infections. Modern science has shown that its main ingredient, curcumin, has antibiotic and antioxidant properties. According to WebMD, other chemicals in turmeric are anti-inflammatory, considered beneficial for overall health.

Her teas are now available in 200 small boutiques across the nation, including Nic's Island Cafe in Kukui Plaza. They are offered in single-flavor boxes at $16.50 for 10 drops, or a giftable wood box that can be customized with eight drops, for $18. It has been a popular seller during holidays, for both individuals and corporate gift givers looking for something new that also happens to be thoughtful, healthful, time-saving and beautiful.
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Look for Tea Drops at Nic's Island Cafe at 50 S. Beretania St. Call 200-7416. Or visit myteadrop.com.

PHOTOS COURTESY TEA DROPS

Ground tea leaves are compressed into different shapes, in just the right amount to create an 8-ounce cup of tea when water is added. The heart shape represents Sweet Peppermint.

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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.

Boost your whiskey IQ at Avenue's

By
July 2nd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Avenue's Bar + Eatery bar manager Joseph Arakawa has a lineup of whiskeys, ryes and bourbons he wants you to try.

Whiskey was once man's domain. No more. One more sign women are taking over the world is that whiskey's resurgence is being fueled by females.

It's no coincidence the new face of Jim Beam is Mila Kunis, when over the past few years stars like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Christina Hendricks have also shared their affection for the spirit.

Since the 1990s, the number of female whiskey drinkers has increased from 15 to 37 percent, due in part to its sweet character, and in part to the allure of crashing the old boys' club, where whiskey has enjoyed a long-standing association with power as the drink of presidents, diplomats, the rich and the mighty.

Full-bodied whiskies are a match for pork.

At Avenue's Bar + Eatery, where chef Robert Paik and bar manager Joseph Arakawa are preparing to host "Whiskey Wednesday" beginning 5:30 p.m. July 13, Arakawa said, "Men love women who love whiskey," and it's no longer unusual to see men at the bar with a fruity drink while women imbibe heavier distilled spirits.

Arakawa will be offering a lineup of 18 American bourbons, whiskeys and ryes, detailing the differences among them while guests enjoy samples with tasting bites Paik created to accentuate the various grain content of the spirits.

Flights will start at $28 for 1/2-ounce pours of bourbon or rye, and $40 for six side-by-side tastings of both. An aged flight, "The Decades," will feature 10-year-old whiskeys.
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Avenue's Bar + Eatery is at 3605 Waialae Ave. Call 744-7567.

Taking his cue from the corn mash-based whiskey, Chef Paik will be baking up some fantastic cakey, griddle cornbread with a light bruléed crust.

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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.

Pastries hot out of the oven

By
July 1st, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Neko pan is one of the delightful new pastry selections at the new BRUG Bakery at Ala Moana Center.

Pastry lovers can get more than their share of daily bread now that BRUG Bakery and Kai Coffee have opened new locations.

First up, since the closing of the Shirokiya store on the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Center, BRUG is now a solo act, moving into the lower level mauka side of the center between Lupicia and the Sanrio store.

It opened its doors June 25, offering a range of sweet and savory options, including fruit danishes, ratatouille cake, sausage rolls and adorable neko pan, complete with bread tails.

The bakery also has plans to open at Pearlridge in November, followed by the addition of a downtown branch.
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BRUG Bakery is on the mauka side street level of Ala Moana Center, next to Lupicia. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Call 945-2200 or visit brugbakery.com.

The Japanese name for this pastry translates as "North Country," in honor of BRUG's Hokkaido roots. The foccaccia is topped with fresh local produce that BRUG Bakery Hawaii president Miho Choi said is evocative of the fresh produce Hokkaido is also known for.

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SECOND SITE FOR KAI COFFEE

Bing cherry and honey ricotta soustenir from Kai Coffee.

Bing cherry and honey ricotta soustenir from Kai Coffee.

Once downtown, the bakery will find company. On the same day of Brug's opening, Kai Coffee opened the doors to its second location in downtown Honolulu's Arcade Building.

In addition to serving craft-brewed coffees ranging from cortados to lattes, the new café also marks the debut of a menu featuring Kai Coffee's own in-house baked goods, which produces dozens of savory and sweet pastries.

In addition to cafe basics such as croissants, scones and cakes, those hungry for a quick breakfast or lunch bite will find items such as banana bread and soustenirs—ciabatta and focaccia breads baked with toppings such as pastrami and onion, Black Forest ham and cheddar cheese, or baked fruit. A few salads and stew selections will round out the menu.

A sampling of peanut butter, honey and chocolate croissants.

Responsible for producing all these baked goods is Antonio Domingo who spent 26 years as executive pastry chef at the Hawaii Prince Hotel, while simultaneously working as a pastry chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village 24 years, learning on the job after moving here from the Philippines.

"I always liked cooking and baking," he said, knowing it was unusual in the macho culture of the Philippines for a little boy to prefer helping his mom in the kitchen than playing outside.

Coffee love, inside the new Kai Coffee in downtown Honolulu.

Samples of Domingo's work were in abundance during a grand opening celebration ahead June 24, where it looked like a wedding day when local founders Samuel and Natalie Suiter cut into a congratulatory cake baked for the occasion. Only this time, it wasn't Natalie who got splattered by cake. Frosting flew around the room as Sam hacked away, saying, "I always wanted to do that."

Sam and Natalier Suiter made the grand opening celebration look like a wedding day as they cut the celebratory cake.

The couple opened the first Kai Coffee in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa two years ago to showcase the best Hawaii regional and international coffee.

Now with its own in-house bakery, what started as a coffee bar is well on it's way to becoming a full-fledged dining café.
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Kai Coffee's new location, at 207 S. King St., will be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Call 537-3415 or visit kaicoffeehawaii.com.

A view of Kai Coffee from the street.


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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

By
June 20th, 2016



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.

Brasa cooking the highlight at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38

By
June 15th, 2016



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.

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