Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wine down Wednesday @ town

This week's theme was "Ed's favorite wines that don't sell" - Ian Bishop was our wine expert:

Itsas Mendi, Txakoli '06 - Spain, Bizkaiko Txakolina paired w/
boquerones, braised cardoon, almond, mint

Luretta Boccadirosa, Malvasia '07 - Italy, Colli Piacentini paired w/
red curry steamed black mussels

Dow Vale do Bomfim, Douro '06 - Portugal, Douro Valley paired w/
grilled red veal paillard, chimmichurri

Tenuta le Querce "Il Viola", Aglianico '04 - Italy, Basilicata paired w/
kulana tri-tip spiedini, pine nut-raisin salsa, baby arugula

My favorite pairing was the last, the Aglianico's fruity earthiness went perfectly with the tri-tip's organic grassiness, the spicy arugula and the sweetness of the raisins - delicious.

It is the magic of a great marriage of wine and food that is ambrosia in the mouth....WOW!

The evening was really nice because I got to catch up with the gang from "Downtown".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's been an Espanol weekend!!!

This past long weekend has been a lazy one for me. I stayed home and cooked. I shared my results with my neighborhood friends.

On Sunday, I grilled some bread w/ Spanish olive oil, cut some garlic cloves, ripe tomatoes, Manchego cheese, thyme salt and more Spanish olive oil. This is the best community appetizer or maybe I should say tapas. Everyone had to rub their own garlic, tomato, sprinkle salt and more olive oil on their own piece of bread - pan con tomate!!! This was a hit.

Then at Bob's, I made a mussel ceviche, with lemon juice, fresh ginger, shallots, parsley, garlic, lemon thyme, and olive oil. It was very good and it actually gave "Olive Tree's" version some competition.

Monday night, I was brave and made 4 new tapa recipes:
  1. gambas ala plancha - grilled prawns w/ Spanish olive oil & salt
  2. fresh sweet peppers ala plancha - grilled shishito peppers w/ Spanish olive oil, thyme & salt
  3. chorizo stuffed calamari w/ grilled onions - the stuffing was a mixture of chorizo sausage, portobello mushrooms, onions and rice
  4. salted cod & patatas croquettas w/ aioli - fried mashed potato & salted cod mixture
I brought these tapas upstairs to Cliff & Tim's and they loved all four recipes.

This tapas thing is delicious, but it surely takes a lot of time to prepare. Specifically the last two recipes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Azure @ the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

It was another birthday celebration tonight @ the newly renovated Royal Hawaiian Hotel's restaurant AZURE.

A very interesting fact about the hotel's renovation - it costs them 90 million dollars to renovate the hotel. It has a new clean feel, but with the old Hawaiiana charm. I like it. It has a new sense of elegance and a great sense of place. Open airy, crisp and approachable.

I felt like I was vacationing in South Beach, Miami, Florida, but with better weather, cleaner ocean, and friendly people. And no planted beautiful people models in the lobby, imposing as hotel guests.

So, tonight at Azure we started with cocktails designed by Joey the famous Honolulu mixologist and wines from Carneros (the vintner was sitting right across from us). The night was beautiful and balmy and the restaurant buzzing with an international cast of guests.

We decided to order "family style", so we could taste a number of items off the menu. We started with a bowl of steamed sake clams w/ enoki mushrooms, baby back ribs, and a platter of sashimi over an avocado salad. The manila clams were my favorite - the broth was filled with ginger, green onions, sake, enoki mushrooms, and garlic. The presentation highlight was the waiter, at the table, poured the broth from a press and the area smelled of fresh ginger when he was pouring it...ummmm. The ribs were okay, it reminded me of Roy's ribs and my question is why ribs on a menu in Hawaii? That always puzzles me? I would take it off the menu. The sashimi was okay, fish was fresh, but just okay.

For dinner we had the shellfish bowl and the rack of lamb with 3 side dishes. Braised Big Island spinach, corn & hamakua mushroom confetti, and a bowl of smashed potatos. Everything was prepared perfectly, but nothing really WOWed me.

The service was wonderful, attentive, but not overpowering and the restaurant manager was on it and helpful. The whole staff was great.

Check out their website:

Overall rating - 4
Food - 3
Service - 5
Ambiance -4.5

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Black Garlic: A Whole New World of Flavor

Yesterday, I got my order of "Black Garlic" from Mondo Food. I've been reading that a large number of Bay Area chefs are using this new mysterious flavor, so I mail ordered it.

I have not cooked with it yet, but I did have a taste..... it has characteristics of fresh garlic with a savory, richness of earthiness & caramelized balsamic vinegar....WOW!!! Love it. It has a mochi texture, melts in your mouth, and is almost like a dried fig, but without the seeds. It's hard to explain, you must try it yourself.

I can't wait to try it in my wild mushroom risotto and pair it with a Turley Zinfindel. Who wants to come over for dinner?

Black Garlic is fermented garlic, which is aged for a month in a special fermentation process under high heat. For more information go to:

Third Tuesdays @ Tango

Last night was the first of many wine paired/themed prix fixe menus @ Tango. For appetizers we had a trio of smoked gravlax (the best in Honolulu), seared scallops w/ tapenade, and a cream shrimp w/ puff pastry. The smoked gravlax was my favorite - the salmon tasted fresh, perfectly smoked and tender in the mouth and it came with a crispy piece of salmon skin - oh my!!! This was paired with a Monkey Bar Sauvignon Blanc - not my favorite. The wine was a little too green and grassy for my taste.

The dinner entree was a duck confit with a wild mushroom risotto. The confit was delicioso, tender, falling off the bone and the skin crispy. The risotto was creamy and earthy at the same time, al dente, wonderfully cooked. This was paired with a Blackstone Reserve Merlot blend, full bodied, chocolatey & fruity and was great with the entree. I was really surprised with this wine, this is a new category for this winery and brand. Try it, it will surprise you.

The dessert was a cherry/pear crumble w/ ice cream and paired with an ice wine. Crumble & ice cream was okay and the ice wine was too sweet.

All in all the meal was good and what a deal for $35!!!! I would come back, it was a lot of food, great food and great for the pocket too.

Overall Rating - 4

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wine Down Wednesday @ town - May 20, 2009

This week's theme is the "forgotten French varietals".

Our wine expert will be Tyler Uehara of Grand Crew & Better Brands.
I will post the wine & food pairing menu tomorrow. Call 735-5900 for your reservations. Seats get filled pretty fast.
$25 - four wines, four food pairings & a great time with friends.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Closing of a Great Concept - INTO

This July, INTO will be closing their doors. A shop that helped in changing the face of Chinatown Honolulu four years ago.

INTO brought a sense of style, art, fashion, and the big city to downtown Honolulu. With it's high interior design lamps and fabrics to handbags and handmade jewelry to organic soy candles and telephone wire baskets made in Africa.

Alan will start his liquidation sale this week Wednesday, May 20th by cutting all items in the shop by 30%.

Please tell all your friends and let's help Alan clear his space out. We love you Alan!!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taste of Tribeca - this weekend (if you are in NYC)

This Saturday, 5/1611:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.Taste of Tribeca it's the season for neighborhood food & street fairs, and it's Tribeca's own walkabout tasting, which benefits the arts programs at P.S. 150 and P.S. 234. This tasting fair has been at the top of my list. This year, more than 60 restaurants--including Chanterelle, Duane Park and The Odeon--are participating, and a ticket ($40 advance; $45 day of) lets you sample six dishes of your choosing. There is also the American lamb cook-off between Wallsé chef Kurt Gutenbrunner and The Harrison's Amanda Freitag. Duane and Greenwich Sts. Check out the website:

My new favorite snack - "pan con tomate" or "pa am tomaquet"

I've been obsessive about absorbing myself with everything "Spanish"!!!! So I've been watching DVDs like "Made in Spain" w/ Jose Andres & the new show "Spain on the road" w/ Mario Batali & Gwyneth Paltrow. The one snack item, tapa, pinxtos, pupus, whatever you call it, I am crazy for it.

It is the easiest thing to make and I shouldn't be eating this because it is BREAD!!!

All you need is good artesian bread, garlic, Spanish olive oil, course sea salt and ripe local tomate.

Cut your bread in 1/2 inch slices, drizzle olive oil, grill on a grill pan or on the barbeque, rub a garlic clove, drizzle more olive oil (for your taste), half a tomate, rub the tomate roughly on the slice of bread, sprinkle with course sea salt and either eat or top with Spanish white anchovies.


"tengo muchisima hambre" - "i am very hungry"

Artists of Hawaii 2009

Tonight was the member's opening of the 58th "Artists of Hawaii" at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. It will be showing till August and please go and support our local Hawaii artists.

The juror that selected the artists for this show was from the New York City's New Museum. See what an outsite curator perceives what is Hawaii's best artists for 2009.

Image - Sally French "Fumiko"

San Francisco - Island Earth Farmer's Market & Community Exchange

For all you San Francisco fans - this month, San Francisco unveils its next holistic, healthy, and harmonious lifestyle destination: The Island Earth Farmer’s Market and Community Exchange. Located on the ground floor of the Metreon Mall, the market will house more than 160 vendors. Comprised of local farmers and artisan craftsmen known for their natural growing processes and unique regional taste, the produce is guaranteed to be fresh and delicious. And not only is the food home-grown, but the proceeds will also benefit the community. The Market believes that “what is spent locally stays local,” and actively supports social and community programs that promote higher standards of living. Its opening day was on May 8th and there was a Grand Opening Harvest Bash, complete with food and wine tasting, games, music, and a fresh oyster bar! Check out their website:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remembering my time in Italy

Not being able to sleep tonight, because of my thoughts of Italy. Have you ever experienced a place that moved you through the connection you made through the people you met, the food you ate, the wine you drank, that came from the earth and hands of the people that currently live and lived there for many years before you were even born. My heart hurts when I think of places like that. Italy was one of those places for me.

The little town of Greve makes my heart yearn, because I can't get that exact experience unless I go back there. Even pictures and memories aren't enough.

From the farmhouse we lived in for two weeks, the vineyards that surrounded the house, the wine and food we bought from the little market in the little town of Greve and the couple we got to know at the market, that sold us the wonderful produce, wine, cheese, bread, truffles, etc.

I guess I will need to start saving money.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

KCC Students take the ACF Western Championships

Six students from Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Program won the Gold in Seattle last month in the ACF Western Competition - American Culinary Federation. Winning the Gold says alot of our culinary program here in Hawaii and also about the talents coming from Hawaii. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

They will be going to Florida in July to compete in the finals and they need your help to get there. This is like the Final Four of college basketball. Please look out for little fundraiser lunches and dinners they will be doing to raise money for the trip and also for practice sessions to get constructive feedback from the public.

Here is a link of their experience in Seattle:

TTT - third Tuesday @ Tango

Hey Friends and Followers,

Tango is starting a new wine tasting on the third Tuesday of every month. Here is a sneak preview of May 19th's menu:



“ T T T “

Third Tuesday at Tango

Chef Goran’s Wine Pairing Dinner

Tuesday, May 19th 6:30pm


Trio of Swedish Gravlax with Crispy Skin

Garlic Shrimp with Lemon and Caper Berries

Seared Scallops with Tapenade

Monkey Bay, Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ( New Zealand ) 6 oz.


Duck Confit with Hamakua Mushroom Risotto

Blackstone “ Rubric “ 2006

Sonoma Reserve

(Cabernet Blend) 6 oz.


Strawberry Mango Crumble with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Inniskillin Ice Wine ( Canada) 2 oz.


$35.00 plus Tax and Tip

Limited Seating- Reservations confirmed by Credit Card (593-7288)

What is a purslane?

Purslane is a vegetable.

With a mild, sweet-sour flavor and a chewy texture. Its reddish brown stem, creeps along the ground. The stalkless leaves are paddle shaped and as large as a pinky. It is a succulent, sprawling plant of lawns and a great ground cover.

Town has been serving purslane since their opening 4 years ago, as a great salad addition. Town gets their purslane from Ma'o farms and also from their own garden.

Let us persuade you to taste purslane.

Wine Down Wednesday @ town - May 6, 2009

"Sauvignon Blanc & Zinfandel"
with John Behler of Johnson Bros.

Whitehaven 2008 Sauvignon Blanc - Marlborough, New Zealand - A classic loaded with citrus yet nicely balanced with plenty of fruit. (Natalie's view - grassy, bittermelony, but not bitter, green)
paired with cardoon gratin (see my "what's a cardoon blog?")

Peju 2008 Sauvignon Blanc - Napa Valley, California - A perfect example of a warmer growing climate wine, richer fruit tones yet also well balanced acidity, because of excellent vineyard conditions. (Natalie's opinion - citrusy, light, bright, piquant - I would purchase for a hot summer night dinner)
paired with MA'O purslane, feta, mint (see my "what's a purslane blog?")

Di Aire 2008 Primitivo - Shenadoah, California - Primitivo and Zinfandel have nearly the identical genes, but there are some subtle differences. Primitivo tends to have smaller clusters and berries, which translate to more intense flavors. (Natalie's opinion - dark black/blue berries, juicy, grapey - my favorite for the evening. Reminded me of an Amarone wine.)
paired with pappardelle bolognese (made with Kulana beef, veal, and pork

Storrs Rusty Ridge Zinfandel - Santa Cruz, California - due to the rugged terrain of the Santa Cruz Mountains, these zin vines yield very little fruit per plant, which results in very intense, concentrated flavors. (Natalie's opinion - very tanniny, dark berries, not as juicy as Di Aire, my second favorite tonight)
paired with 5 spice duck buns

Next week's wine expert will be Mark Lloyd - old vines vs. new vines - Molnar Vineyards.

What is a cardoon?

Is it a vegetable or a weed? It is both.

At "wine down wednesdays" @ town we had a food pairing with a Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, that was a cardoon gratin as our first tasting of 4 wines and 4 food pairings.

A thistle plant grown in town's garden, looks like a celery stock (without it's leaves), but tastes like an artichoke heart. This preparation style was very tasty and paired perfectly with the earthy grassy green tasting wine.

The chefs at town made the cardoon in the gratin style, layers of cardoon with butter and cream, topped with an herbed crumbed mixture.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Dinner @ Chai's Island Bistro

A couple of friends and I wanted to stay away from the crowds of tequila drinking and Cinco de Mayo celebrating crazy people, so we had dinner at Chai's Island Bistro. I had not been there since they opened several years ago, so it was like being there for the first time.

Tuesday nights entertainment is Robert Cazimero, my good friend, and my pet name for him is "Ring". I am "Ning". That is a whole other story. So that is great in it self.

I always thought it was Thai cuisine, but I was corrected, it is Asian Fusion - same thing!!! I started my meal with a Margarita on the rocks with no salt - okay I had to have something Mexican because of the day. It was very good and our waiter was very attentive.

For a starter, we all shared a combo appetizer platter - shrimp with kataifi, crab cakes and seared ahi. All good, but your usual island flare. Nothing really tickled my taste buds. Then I had the Smoked Duck Breast Carpaccio Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette, which I enjoyed because of the fresh island greens and vinaigrette - very light and refreshing.

For my entree, I had the Chilean Sea Bass w/ Lobster Cream Sauce on a bed of butternut squash & zucchini linguine and listed on the menu as a good low carb selection. The bass was seared crispy with little seasoning on a bed of the shredded squash mixture (like spaghetti) in a bath of lobster sauce with coconut milk and butter (it listed it as cream, but it tasted like coconut milk and butter). It was so light and decedent at the same time. Oh my, it was delicious. I am going to try to recreate it at home. The lobster was not that evident, but that was okay because the combination of the fresh bass, crispy bass and the sauce and vegetables, was perfectly matched. I believe there was some red curry in that sauce. I would go back to have it again.

I went on their website and they have daily coupons for you to use on your need to check it out.

Overall Rating - 4

What is a chayote?

Is it a squash or is it a fruit? It might be both!!!!

Monday night, May 4th, my friend Bill cooked dinner. He made a Filipino stew, similar to Pork Gisantes in taste, but with boneless chicken and chayote (Bill calls it Portuguese Squash). It grows on his lattice as a vine and bares fruit like it was going out of style. Chayote tastes like a cross between a cooked green papaya and a long green squash - I love it. On the vine, it looks like the flower plant in "little shop of horrors", with lips and all.

Bill had strips of fresh garlic, ginger and strips of yellow sweet peppers, fresh diced tomatoes, cubes of chicken and chayote. And all he used for seasoning is salt and pepper. It tasted like there was pimenton in it, but Bill said that the peppers give it that taste.

What comfort food - the combination of peppers, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, chicken and chayote was heavenly and mouth watering. I could not stop eating the stew, so i had to finally walk away from the table.

I took some chayote home and I will let you know what I do with it. Check out this website -

Sunday, May 3, 2009

JJ Dolans - great place for a beer and pizza

I was invited to my friends birthday party and it was at JJ Dolan's in Chinatown. I never heard of this bar before and had to ask a couple of friends. JJ Dolan's opened their doors in November and located on Bethel Street, across the street from Bethel Street Gallery, with the cross street being Pauahi Street.

What a great find. They are the people from Murphy's Bar and Grill on Nuuanu Avenue. It's a local Irish bar with tasty thin crust pizzas and televisions. The pizza menu has predesigned pizzas or build your own. Their red and white pizzas have very tasty seasoned sauces. We had several different ones, but my favorite one had three types of cheeses and anchovies on olive oil with Italian herbs. I am not a beer drinker, but my Guinness was the best pairing for the pizza. Their hours are late, so this is a great place for a late night dinner or snack.

The one thing missing from this meal was a fresh green salad and they do not have any on the menu. The only solution for that is add spinach to your pizza combination.

I'll be back very soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tango contemporary cafe - May 2, 2009

The weekend is my breakfast indulgence part of the week, so today was Tango. They started a new menu yesterday and I wanted to be one of the first ones for the new breakfast menu.

I had the Florentine Benedict with a side order of turkey sausage. Yes, I wanted my favorite items together - eggs, spinach and turkey. It was lovely and tasty. I think they have the best hollandaise sauce in town, fluffy and not overpowering.

But I wished I had ordered what someone else was eating, the "Loco Moco" Benedict. Please read my press release below for a better description of it and other new menu items.

I am putting Tango as one of my favorite breakfast places! It will come after Hau Tree Lanai and Kahala Hotel's Plumeria Cafe buffet.

New menu at
Tango contemporary cafe
Starts May 1st

HONOLULU, HAWAII (May 1, 2009)—Chef Görnan adds new menu items and favorite recipes from his past repertoire at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Tango’s menu is a wonderful mixture of European delights, local faire, and culinary brilliance with a very affordable price tag.

Some of the new menu items include:
• For breakfast – “Loco Moco” Eggs Benedict. It’s not what you think, it’s tender and glazed juicy braised beef on two formed circles of fried rice, perfectly poached eggs stacked on top with hollandaise sauce. That’s what you call “broke da mouth” with Finnish style for $9.50.
• For lunch – a new menu of daily specials Monday through Friday – the Wednesday daily special is Scallops and Shrimp in Lobster Cream – “this was a huge hit when he used to make it at the Prince”, says owner Tami Orozco, and it’s only $12.50.
• For dinner – Mustard Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with roasted garlic thyme jus and onion mashed potato – the lamb melts in your mouth with crusted flavors of herbs for $23.50.

Tango contemporary café takes a minimalist approach in both it’s décor and menu. Large Marimekko Unikko panels — which are classic Finnish floral fabrics, a tribute to Streng’s heritage — line one side of the wall; whimsical globular pendant lights draw attention to the vertical height of the room; and faux birch trees and reeds divide the dining area down the middle. Stained picnic tables and upholstered benches can be found on one side and a long banquette with two-top tables on the other. The space and decor work harmoniously.

Streng takes the same less-is- better approach with the menu. He keeps it simple. Nothing complicated. Nothing intimidating. And all of it understandable.

As a member of the elite Hawaiian Island Chefs, Streng understands the importance of using fresh local ingredients and having the flavors stand for themselves.

Tango will have your taste buds dancing and your wallet singing.

Tango contemporary café
at the Hokua
1288 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 120
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Phone: 593-7288

Breakfast : Monday - Friday, 7 am - 10 am;
Sat & Sun, 8 am - 10:30 am
Lunch : Daily, 11 am - 4:30 pm
Dinner : Daily, 5 pm - 9:30 pm

Nordstrom Cafe for Lunch - May 1, 2009

I had to drop something off at Ala Moana Shopping Center for work and decided to grab a bite for lunch at the Nordstrom Cafe.

I had the tomato basil soup and a turkey and avocado panini sandwich. Yes, a larger than usual lunch, but I was hungry. I took my lunch back to my desk at work and opened my cup of soup. The fragrance of basil and roasted tomatoes lifted from my paper cup - WOW. Delicioso tomato soup, not thickened with heavy cream but tomatoes. The parmesan crisp bread that comes with the soup is like a thick potato chip with cheese on it - yummy. Simple, but oh so good.

My panini sandwich was made with thin sour dough bread filled with generous amounts of avocado, slices of roasted turkey, tomatoes, swiss cheese and a seasoned dressing, grilled on a panini grill. That was ono and it so hit the spot. It came with potato chips, which I ate, but wish it was a green salad instead. Nordstrom Cafe will be a new addition to my current lunch place list. So whenever you are at the Ala Moana Center for lunch to to Nordstrom.