Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mangoes at the Moana

Early this month, I was very fortunate to be part of the "Mangoes at the Moana" 2nd annual event - the best mango tasting contest.  I was one of four judges, we had to taste and evaluate 17 mango entrees.  These entrees were from home growers, mango botany specialists and local commercial farmers.

The "Best Mango Judging Criteria" had six categories:
  • Flavor
  • Texture
  • Skin Color
  • Aroma
  • Flesh Color
  • Proportion of flesh to seed
You would think that some of the mango entries would all be pretty similar, surprisingly they were not.  Each mango had their own specific characteristics, distinct flavor, texture & aroma.  Take for instance, texture - smooth, stringy, juicy, firm or creamy.

This experience was a lot of fun and very heartwarming for me.  I was in heaven - I was able to go back in time.  Growing up here in Hawaii, mangoes and "Mango Season" were very memorable and important to my childhood.  With a handful of these mangoes, with their different aromas, textures and flavor, I was able to go back to specific memories of my childhood.  Whether it was playing under my elementary friend's mango tree in Moiliili, baking mango bread in our Kanunu apartment, being on my friend's garage rooftop picking mangoes by the University Stream or making mango granita on Wilhelmina Rise....mangoes have a really warm spot in my heart.

Here are pictures of the 17 mango entries and the judging.  And some really awesome pictures of the mangoes that grow here in beautiful Hawaii.

 Which one do you think won the mango tasting contest?  Please submit your answers in the comment section....

Who ever thought there are so many varieties of mangoes - I never knew.

The winning mango was juicy, creamy, silky w/ no threads and had a hint of coconut - yummy!

All four judges picked the same mango!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My "Moussaka" Recipe

Moussaka tastes complicated to make, but it really isn't. It's three simple steps. The first step is to cook the eggplant. You can either fry, bake or grill the eggplant in olive oil. Do not season the eggplant until after it is cooked, because the salt will pull all of the moisture out of the eggplant while it is cooking and will become soggy.

Frying the eggplant with olive oil.  About 4 large Japanese eggplants.
Cook half a pound each of ground lamb, beef and pork with onions (1 lg), garlic (2 cloves), 1 can diced tomatoes, tomato paste (1 sm can) and 1 cup water.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, basil and fresh flat leaf parsley - all about 1 teaspoon taste.
Layer the eggplant first, meat mixture second and bechamel sauce third.  The bechamel sauce is 3 tablespoons butter, half cup of flour and 1 cup of soymilk - add pitch of salt & nutmeg.  Stir in half cup grated parmesan cheese and sprinkled a fourth cup of parmesan cheese on top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for half an hour, or until top is golden brown.
Perfect golden brown color.  My secret is to turn oven to broil for one minute until top of casserole bubbles.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting pieces.  Serve with a beautiful fresh salad.
Beautiful and delicious.  The best pairing for Moussaka is a wonderful Zinfandel.  My favorite is a 2007 Juvenile Turley.