Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breakfast Buffet @ the Orchids Court

While on the Big Island, we ventured in the areas of Waikoloa and Mauna Lani. We did not have much luck yesterday, but this morning we were lucky to get a seat at The Orchids @ Mauna Lani's breakfast place. They serve breakfast until 10:30am everyday, we got there at 10:31am and they still took us. We were the last to be served and the last to leave.

First, I would like to say that The Orchids gave us the best customer service ever. No rushing us, always getting us want we needed, and always going above and beyond our expectations. And we expect alot, at least I do. The views breathtaking.

The buffet consisted of a smoked salmon benedict, perfectly executed. A choice of apple chicken sausage, link sausage and crispy bacon. A vegetarian quiche that was fluffy and tasty. Oatmeal bar, granola bar, smoked salmon, cured meats & cheeses, miso soup w/ garnishes, white & fried rice, poke & appetizer bar, fresh fruits & yogurt, a bread and pastry bar. Oh yeah and an omelet bar. Coffee & espresso drinks. Fresh squeezed orange juice.

Even though we were the last one's in the restaurant, they never made us feel like we were putting them out....they only serve breakfast in this restaurant....they were closing. But we never felt it, they even kept the buffet open, when we were done getting our stuff. We never went back, but they didn't close it because we were there.

All for $26.95 per person, but if you are from Hawaii, you get a 10% discount. We did not know that, but that's what they gave us. Aileen was the best server - nice, helpful and personable.

Rating 5

March 29 - Wine down Wednesdays @ town

"Spanish wines you can't pronounce"

Mark Lloyd of Chambers & Chambers did the tasting. We tasted the following wines:

Pirineos Mesache Blanco (Somontano Spain) a blend of Macabeo, Gewurtztraminer & Chardonnay
paired w/ blistered shishitos, sumida watercress tempura & tomato toasts
this pairing was a perfect marriage - the acidity in the wine brought out the sweetness of the peppers and the smokiness was a mellowing factor in the final flavor on your tongue. the Macabeo grapes are the grapes found in Spanish Cava - yum.

Protoccolo Rosado (Manchuela Spain) a blend of Bobal and Tempranillo - a Spanish Rose
paired w/ polenta stuffed mussels - the dryness of the wine complimented the tomato sauce in the mussels - OMG delicioso - another perfect pairing. another perfect pairing would have been a paella.

Finca Luzon Verde (Jumilla Spain) made with Monastrell grapes
paired w/ braised chicken, apricots and almonds - this organic wine is a great everyday red wine. This was a good dish, but not my favorite of the evening.

Sierra Cantabria (Rioja Spain) a blend of Tempranillo & Graciano - a fruity, full-body wine
paired w/ lamb sausage, Ma'o carrots and green onions - now this was my favorite for the evening. This wine's earthiness brought out the unique flavor of lamb - I don't want to use the word gamey, because it wasn't, but it brought me back to being in Greve, Tuscany in Italy - food and drink from the old world

this was one of my favorite pairings and tastings

Rating 5

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cream Pot for breakfast

My friends and I went to the KCC market for our produce shopping and are always stumped on where to go for breakfast. Because as you know I always choose Hau Tree Lanai, but they wanted something and someplace different.

We tried the Cream Pot on the block of Ala Wai, McCully and Kalakaua, facing the Ala Wai.

Okay, the decor is cute, in a Ross' kind of way, but very clean and in that kind of weird way - inviting. I know I am contradicting myself.

I ordered baked eggs with bacon, because the last time I had that dish was in Paris and I remember a wonderful cafe out on the sidewalk in the middle of these tiny streets - people laughing, drinking pastis and coffee and the food mesmerizing.

Awwww, this was not the place I was going to experience that scene again. Hey, but what do I expect, we are in Hawaii.

The potatoes and bacon under my baked eggs were drenched in bechamel, so the potatoes and bacon were soggy, but I have say tasty. My coffee was ........ okay. One of my friends order French toast with bananas - it was drenched in this thick caramel sauce - my teeth hurt after taking a bite. Not good. We should have ordered a crepe, but I was scared, just because. And the chairs were uncomfortable.

But I did have the best view in the whole place, it was overlooking palm trees and the Ala Wai Canal through sheer white curtains. I kept on telling myself to "use your imagination Natalie!"

I wish I was at Hau Tree Lanai. I would not come back to the Cream Pot and spend another $20 for breakfast. SORRY. You have been warned.

Ambiance - 2
Food - 2
Service - 3

Saturday, March 21, 2009

town @ the bar

Have you ever found yourself by yourself and hungry, but don't want to go home to eat and most especially eat by yourself - wait that's me most of the time. Not.

Well, the next time that happens to you - think town. In Kaimuki on 9th and Waialae.

If you sit at the bar, you are never by yourself. You notice I will never say the word "alone", I refuse, because you may think I mean lonely.....never.

You will be helped by Jenn, Ian or Dave at the bar, depends on what day it is. But whoever is at the bar, you will be treated like their best friend or even better - family. It is the best neighborhood joint a neighborhood could have. I really don't have to talk about the food there, because it is the best sustainable, organic, local, handmade, clean, delicious, flavorful, creative, traditional, eclectic, comfortable food you will have.

I fell in love with Ed & Dave's food over 4 years ago....and love it even more today.

Their wine selection, extensive for such a small establishment, a wine for everyone is there. And their cocktail creations are so innovative and tasty.

town is celebrating their 4th year anniversary next week. You guys did it. Love you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mariposa @ Neiman Marcus for lunch

I think Mariposa might be the best place for a long lunch with a good friend. Today, I had an opportunity to have a lunch filled with catching up with a best friend, that I have not seen for months and visiting from New York City, endless fluffy and tasty popovers with Kula Strawberry butter, delicious clear consomme and mouthwatering wild rice risotto.

Service was very attentive, but not obnoxious. The popover boy was the best, he knew we loved them and right before we left our table, he brought both of us 2 popovers to take home for a snack - love that young cute man.

The weather was not cooperative, but still beautiful and inviting. Prices a bit high for the current economy, but for a special friend and impeccable service, why not.

Rating 4.5+

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Wine down Wednesday @ town"

Northern Italy - wine expert Mark Lloyd

Since we loved the Italian wines from last week, we decided to stay in Italy - Northern Italy to be exact, way north of Venice - in Veneto.

Here is the line up of wines and food pairings:

Vignalta "Sirio", Dry Muscat
MA'O farms vegetables, bagna cauda

Allegrini, Soave
grilled walu, preserved lemon butter

Allegrini, Valpolicella
hawaiian wild boar sausage, smashed ena potato

Vignalta "Venda", Merlot/Cab Franc
kulana beef tenderloin, alii oyster mushroom

I felt that all of these wines were wines that were meant for food. They did not have much character and flavor on their own, but with food - magnificent. I liked the Valpolicella the best with the wild boar sausage...fruit forward, black berries and butter. So with the wild boar sausage & Italian spices, it rounded the wine off to a full balanced feel and taste in your mouth. Yummy!

After all of these wine tastings on Wednesdays, since August, I am finally understanding what and how wine & food compliment each other and also when they don't.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hau Tree Lanai - Sunday, March 15, 2009

I have to say that breakfast on Saturdays and especially Sundays is my favorite meal of the week. And my favorite breakfast place is the Hau Tree Lanai at the New Otani Hotel.

The eggs benedict w/ sauteed spinach (my special order) is OMG, the best on the island of Oahu.

Today, my friends and I had breakfast here. First, the weather was the best, blue skys, cool breezes and warm sun peeking through the Hau Tree branches. The best. The people watching here is also the best - paddle boarders, swimmers, sun worshipers, paddlers, families, beautiful bodies, breath taking Kaimana beach. I could go on and on.

My eggs benedict with sauteed spinach never disappointments me - the eggs are poached perfectly, the ham & turkey are tender and juicy and hollandaise creamy and tasty. Perfect every time.

Today some of my friends broke from the usual. Bob had the Hawaiian Special a vegetable omelet with a choice of different fried rice mixtures - kim chee, chicken adobo or regular. I will have to try that next time. Charles had the half benedict with corned beef hash.

Honolulu does not have a great selection of breakfast places and Hau Tree Lanai is always the one I recommend to visitor and kamaaina.

Atmosphere - 5
Food - 5
Service 4.5

The service is usually very timely and attentive, but today was a little off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pae Thai - The Best Thai Food in Honolulu (King St./Piikoi)

I have to say I've been eating Thai food in Honolulu since I was 16 years old and had some good dishes. But I have to say that since 2006, after a friend brought me to Pae Thai for the first time, I have not tasted Thai food that is as good and consistent.

A 20 table restaurant with the most eclectic fun Thai decor, makes the best fried chicken in town. The most authentic and unique flavors of lemongrass, kaffir lime, coconut milk and thai basil. The dishes that I would recommend that you "must try" are the warm wing bean salad, fried tofu tod and of course fried chicken. The lamb curry is also a must for your meat eating friends and the ong choy with tofu for your vegetarian friends.

So tonight I visited Pae Thai for dinner on my way home and remembered that I had not been there for as least 6 months. I had my vegetarian favorites tonight - wing bean salad, tofu tod and ong choy tofu with thai brown rice. Yum yum. Still the best and so consistent.

They are open for lunch and dinner, tuesday through sunday.