Archive for the ‘Hawaii sustainability’ Category

Fanta-Sea Part II: Day trip

By
August 30th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

We are so far-removed from the source of our food that seeing a living Pacific white shrimp was a thrill to those on The Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Fanta-Sea Table farm tour to Kualoa Ranch's Moli'i Fishpond. A few wanted to hold them in the air to get a good look at them.

The introduction of oysters to Kualoa Ranch's Moli'i Fishpond started in 2008 as an experiment in controlling the excessive growth of invasive algae to create a healthier environment for its food fish. They had already tried adding more herbivore fish, but these were too easily cannibalized by the pond's carnivorous barracuda, ulua and toau.

The oysters not only did their job, they flourished and presented the opportunity to become another sustainable source of food for our isolated islands. The ranch was cerfified to sell shellfish two-and-a-half years ago, and today, visitors to the property can buy Miyagis or Kumamotos on site, or if we're lucky, we can spot them on the menus of Oahu's farm-to-table restaurants.

During Part II of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel's "Fanta-Sea Table" event initiated by executive chef Colin Hazama, that took place Aug. 21, participants who a night earlier had enjoyed feasting on the oysters and other products from Kualoa Ranch and its fishponds, took a bus ride to the country to visit the source of the sumptuous meal prepared by Hazama at Azure restaurant, with the help of Azure sous chef Colin Sato.

Pacific white shrimp fished out of Kualoa Ranch's shrimp ponds.

Pacific white shrimp fished out of Kualoa Ranch's shrimp ponds.

Oysters are removed from their cages and given a "spa day," where their shells are cleaned of algae and barnacles to keep them attractive for market.

Fishpond ki 'ai (guardians) Kui'ipo McCarty and Ikaika Velez took us out on the 153-acre fishpond to visit the oyster cages, placed on the water's surface, where they do nothing but get fat quickly feeding on algae drawn to the surface by sunlight. The ranch doesn't interfere with this natural balance—in place for 800 to 1,000 years according to carbon dating—putting no other food or additives into the water.

Due to the plentiful algae, the oysters grow to market size for dining on the half shell in about nine months, whereas this would take a year to two in Washington and Oregon, which still supply most of the oysters we eat in our restaurants. The flavor of the Kualoa oysters is mild and clean, due to the ranch's process of letting the oysters fast in nutrient-free water and poop days before going to market. Velez said that prior to using this state-mandated practice, the oysters had a more fishy flavor reflecting the pond environment.

Ikaika Velez shows oyster cages that are tied to posts in the fishpond, allowing the oysters to feed and grow in the natural environment. The tumbling action of gentle waves helps smooth the oyster shells so they don't have the sharp, jagged edges of bottom growers.

It was amazing to see the work being done, and learn about the interrelationships between all the flora and fauna that comprise the pond ecosystem. As a fisherman and outdoorsman, Hazama has been a longtime proponent of maintaining the balance between man and nature, and events such as this are a reminder that all of our actions have an impact on the planet.

Over the two days, I learned more about the invasive species we consider trash fish, a self-fulfilling prophecy in which we refuse to eat them just because we are told they are rubbish fish and assume they taste bad or are somehow unclean. Toau is one of them, but the blacktail snapper from Tahiti is as moist and delicious as any snapper, and they are plentiful in the fishpond, where they wreak havoc on native populations. We could keep them in check by eating them, but there is no demand because most people paying restaurant dollars will opt for the familiar rather than take a chance on the unknown. Events like this raise awareness and lead us to commercial realities, like the fish being cast as rubbish by commercial fishermen who can't make money off of catching them.

Following the boat ride on the fishpond and tour of the shrimp facilities, we sat down for another wonderful lunch by the two Colins, this time with a "Down by the Kualoa Bayou" theme inspired by Louisiana cuisine. Here's a look at the day:

Fanta-Sea Table creator chef Colin Hazama, right, with, from left, his chef collaborator Colin Sato, 6th generation Kualoa Ranch co-owner David Morgan and Ku‘uipo McCarty, who runs the seafood program on the ranch.

A view of the fishpond, where fry enter from the ocean through sluice gates, get fat on algae, and are unable to escape back to the ocean.

The next Fanta-Sea Table events will take place Oct. 21 and 22; and Dec. 16 and 17. Following the weekend's dinner, people were signing up on the spot for the Oct. 21 dinner featuring Kahuku sea asparagus and Kona Cold lobsters. Hazama will team with chef Nathan Tasato to present a meal at Azure restaurant featuring chilled Kona mussels and clam brushchetta, Hawaii kampachi carpaccio, white bouillabaisse with tea-smoked Kualoa shrimp and Kona Cold shellfish, fricasee of Kona Cold lobster, Moroccan-spiced Niihau lamb loin and Kona Abalone brulée, and dessert of a local citrus bar.

The next-day excursion will be to Kahuku Sea Asparagus, followed by lunch. The cost is $150 or dinner; $180 with wine pairing; $250 for dinner (no wine) and farm tour; and $280 for dinner with wine pairing and tour.
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For reservations for the next event, call the Starwood Waikiki Dining Desk at (808) 921-4600.

After hours in the sun on a boat and touring the shrimp ponds, we were happy to enjoy refreshments including this Kula strawberry and lavender lemonade. Those so inclined could add a splash of Pau Maui vodka.

Before lunch, Azure sous chef Colin Sato presented a demonstration on how to make a Kualoa shrimp salad with Ho Farms smoked tomato medley, charred Ewa sweet corn, and Wailea heart of palm remoulade.

Ku'uipo McCarty with a portrait of longtime Moli'i Fishpond caretaker, the late George Uyemura. You can learn more about this remarkable man at oceanicinstitute.org/pdfs/Keeper_Molii_Pond_a25705.pdf

Hazama also presented a demonstration on how to shuck an oyster. He's able to shuck 150 in 25 minutes. Don't try to break his record, at risk of injuring yourself.

Being on the water inspired the chefs to take their cue from Louisiana bayou fare, so one of the lunch dishes we enjoyed was Kualoa Ranch oyster po' boys with 'Nalo Farms herbs, yuzu kosho mustard aioli, and Maui onion fennel.

Sato also created an outstanding Jidori chicken gumbo with Ho Farms okra, housemade Portuguese sausage, grilled shishito peppers and optional crispy chicken cracklings.

Hazama's Forbidden Dirty Rice with blackened spice, lup cheong and Mari's Garden Tokyo Negi.

Jasmine rice dusted fried green tomatoes with charred Maui onion ranch and crispy pipikaula.

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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.

Roy's Beach House now open

By
August 4th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Roy's Beach House has opened its doors at the Turtle Bay Resort.

Roy Yamaguchi is a busy man on a roll this year, slated to open four Hawaii restaurants. First to debut is Roy's Beach House at Turtle Bay Resort, which opened its doors Aug. 2.

During a preview dinner a day ahead of the opening, I was able to sample some of the resort menu at the beachfront restaurant and bar that replaced Ola restaurant.

Given the beachfront setting, surprisingly the first in Roy's 28-year history in the islands, the chef offers fare worthy of Hawaii's royals who once swam and relaxed at Kuilima Cove, and honors Hawaii's hotelier history with dishes like pineapple upside-down cake and Surf & Turf, that attempted to introduce a little bit of Hawaii's culinary fare to westbound visitors. We've come a long way since then, but those dishes do stir a pleasant sense of nostalgia.

Next up will be his Eating House 1849 restaurant, which pays homage to Hawaii's plantation past, set to open in the revamped International Market Place, followed by openings in Kapolei and on Maui. Can't wait for all of International Market Place to open, but for now, photos below show little of what you can expect from a visit to Roy's Beach House.
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Roy's Beach House at Turtle Bay Resort is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (808) 293-7697.

A glorious beach setting is always a welcome sight.

Another welcome sight after a long drive, Beach House sangria and Just Because cocktail of rum, passionfruit and lilikoi purée and mint, topped with coconut flakes. So ono!

I love that Kualoa Ranch is able to produce oysters, served here with wasabi cocktail sauce, Tabasco-tequila mignonette and jalapeño ponzu.

Island-style poke over your choice of brown or white rice is $20.

TOP 3 DISHES

Here are my dinner picks to date, though I need to go back and reaccess before a formal review.

Maybe because it's summer, and it's so hot outside, this Hau'ula tomato salad ($16) was light and fresh, just what I needed.

Again, because there was so much meat on the table, silky misoyaki butterfish ($38) with sizzled Ho Farms tomato sauce offered respite from heavier dishes.

I loved the idea of retro pineapple upside-down cake and the mellow sweetness of the caramelized pineapple. Not a sour note here.

MORE DISHES

This photo doesn't begin to show how large this Tuscan braised lamb shank is. Let's just say it was shared by eight people and I had enough leftovers for two meals. Beans could have had less salt.

Macadamia nut mahimahi is a stock dish that gets an upgrade from an accompaniment of lobster Pernod essence, like a concentrated lobster bisque.

When the mahi reappeared with braised shortribs on a Surf & Turf plate ($37), we didn't know the sauce was the lobster essence for the fish, so dipped the beef in it. The shellfish-beef combo was a winner with the men at the table.

Thai chicken was layered with curry sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts. Served with pineapple chutney and jasmine rice.

Chocolate souffle cake is always a favorite of chocoholics.

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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.

'Ai Love Nalo feeds body & soul

By
May 11th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The Medi Bowl, a Mediterranean combo comprising kalo falafel, roasted baba ganoush, beet hummus, millet tabouleh and greens with an herb tahini sauce, is one of my favorite dishes on the menu at 'Ai Love Nalo. The colors are a feast for the eyes.

Because my foodie diet is so rich in protein and fat, I'm happy for those occasions when I can escape to such basics as fresh veggies and hummus, staples in every food writer's/blogger's kitchen for those detoxing down times when we're not at a restaurant.

I once suggested we feed hummus to the hungry instead of stocking up on salt-, sugar- and preservative-laden canned goods during food drives, only to be told the hungry wouldn't eat it. Critics of my plan had a point. As much as I love hummus and a good salad, I don't crave them the way I crave fried chicken, pork ribs, or lately, Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.

Humans have a natural affinity for fats, sweets and carbs. You can read up on some of the science here: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53528/

Yet, immediately after visiting 'Ai Love Nalo, I found myself craving the casual vegan restaurant's tofu poke bowl, with limu providing all the ocean essence I needed, and avocado providing body and richness, so I didn't miss the fattiness and texture of fish at all.

I also crave the Medi Bowl ($11), a Mediterranean-inspired combo of kalo falafel served over greens with an herb tahini sauce, millet tabouleh, and small portions of local eggplant baba ganoush and beet hummus with all the flavor of chickpea hummus with a tinge of beet.

It's no wonder the restaurant tends to be packed on the weekends, when people are most likely to have the time to make the drive to Waimanalo. It's well worth the trip.

Dishes here are fresh and delicious, and there will be many a dessert lover who will rejoice over its non-dairy, all-natural dessert of Outta This Swirled soft-serve sundae. Replacing the ice cream is a mixture of coconut milk and bananas, coated with a no-added sugar "Cacao Magic" shell.

A meal here is a treat for the body, soul and senses from beginning to end.
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'Ai Love Nalo is at 41-1025 Kalanianaole Highway. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. Online at ailovenalo.com. There's no phone.

You can opt to sit indoors, or, if you don't like being confined by four walls, bring a mat to sit outside in the "Garden of Eatin'," pictured below.

ai garden

The tofu poke is delicious, available in a generous poke bowl that starts with a choice of brown rice, millet or a half/half combination, with limu, onion, avocado, green onion, furikake and greens. Recently, $11.

The Kaukau Lu'au plate is 'Ai Love Nalo's healthier remake of the Hawaiian plate lunch. Local Okinawan potato and an assortment of local veggies are baked in creamy coconut lu’au, and served with your choice of poi, brown rice or millet, with a sampling of tofu poke and a side salad. Recently $11.

Roasted veggies and avocado are piled onto a veggie sandwich, but the whole-wheat vegan bun didn't hold up well to the ingredients and became mushy quickly.

Dessert lovers will rejoice over 'Ai Love Nalo's vegan, guilt-free soft serve, made with bananas and coconut milk, with cocoa powder shell that mimics chocolate. It's presented here with sliced bananas, papaya and housemade granola.

There are several smoothies on the menu. This is the Lime in Da Coconut, made with coconut milk, key limes, avocado, honey and bananas, and topped with coconut flakes.

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Before leaving, head next door to visit the Waimanalo Market Co-op. There, you'll find fresh produce, 'Nalo-related merchandise including jewelry, clothing and tote bags, and a couple of food purveyors.

The co-op is at 41-1029 Kalanianaole Highway, open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays to Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 690-7607.

Produce at the Waimanalo Market Co-op is sourced from the area ahupua'a.

If you think you've found the island's best poke, better remake your list if you haven't tried poke from Hale I‘a Hawaii. Lance and Lucie Kaanoi's poke is exceptionally fresh and delicious, making both their Korean-style, and ogo and ahi poke must-trys on your next visit to Waimanalo. They also serve poke hoagies.

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