Archive for the ‘Slow food’ Category

Abuzz at Alan Wong’s

July 22nd, 2010

Alan Wong photo

Nadine Kam photos
Chef Alan Wong with his classmate and now professor of entomology at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, Lorna Tsutsumi. The two are working on plans to create an adopt-a-beehive program in partnership with Hawaii farmers and the school’s beekeeper training program. In his visit to the hives, Wong took many photographs which now line the elevator to his restaurant, including the top photo, which he turned into notecards that were given as gifts to guests of his “Bee Sustainable” Farmers Series Dinner.

Alan Wong’s restaurant was buzzing with energy July 14, when the chef hosted the latest in his Farmer Series Dinners. The subject: “Bee Sustainable.” The special guests: A handful of members of the Hawaiian Honey Bee Co-op, whose honey was present in every dish served.

Dinner guests were first welcomed with a drink menu, which included ice tea and about four cocktails made with honey. Then before the meal was served, guests were able to compare a honey trio in a side-by-side tasting of Kam Highway A5 and Tropical Blossom honey from John Dalire and Linda Kawamoto’s All Hawaiian Honey, and Enchanted Lake honey from Rhea McWilliams Jr.’s Rhea’s Hawaiian Honey.

They really put people on the spot by asking, “Which is your favorite?”

The honey sampling included two from Kaneohe, and Rhea’s Hawaiian Honey, from honeybees that feed on the nectar of blossoming fruit trees.

They thought I was being politic when I said I liked all three, but I pretty much speak my mind, so I don’t think anyone who knows me would ever call me politic. I meant what I said. They were all very different, with the Kam Highway A5 and Enchanted Lake honey being mild, and the Tropical Blossom honey being heavy and intense. But as with a lot of ingredients, you pick different ones for different reasons, whether for different interplay with other ingredients or your mood on a certain day. The one thing most clear, they were superior to general supermarket brands.

The guests of honor, from left, John Dalire (All Hawaiian Honey), Rhea McWilliams Jr. (Rhea’s Hawaiian Honey) and Linda Kawamoto (All Hawaiian Honey).

For those who haven’t been following the plight of our honeybees, whose colonies have been in a state of collapse due to the attack of varoa mites and other pathogens, it was an opportunity to learn more about the bees and their importance to agriculture as pollinators. Wong asked diners to imagine a time when our grandchildren might grow up without tasting lychee, longan, macadamia nuts or Hawaii avocadoes, all as a result of bees’ disappearance. So we should be grateful for the care offered by the beekeepers, that allows them to survive. The benefits are mutual.

One thing I did not know, that Alan Wong pointed out, was that Oahu’s wild honeybee population has vanished. He asks, “When was the last time you saw a honeybee?”

I thought back and realized that two of the last rare times I saw honeybees, they were on the ground, dying. On a happier note, I did see a couple buzzing around my arugula flowers a while back, after I had let the plants go to seed to get a new crop.

The purpose of the dinner, like all the farmers dinners, is to raise awareness of the work our farmers do, and the spotlight wasn’t limited to honey. Also receiving their due were greens from Hamakua Springs Country Farms, Kuahiwi Ranch beef, Sumida Farms watercress, Kona Cold Lobster, Wailea Agricultural Group’s  Hilo Hearts of Palm, Troutlodge Marine Farms’ Big Island butterfish, Naked Cow Dairy and Menehune Gardens vanilla.

Appetizers included Kauai shrimp with long squash, green papaya salad and chili honey vinaigrette (top), yellowfin ahi tartare with avocado mousse (right), and Kona Farm-raised butterfish sashimi topped with ume shiso gelee.

Another appetizer of Hudson Valley foie gras with li hing mui honey chutney. One appetizer not pictured is the chicken-fried Okinawan sweet potato with honey-mustard sauce.

Following a course of Kona Cold lobster drizzled with Hawaiian vanilla oil, served with a curry Hawaiian Hearts of Palm puree; came this chili-honey glazed Hudson Valley Duck roulade served with a Chinese style pork hash-stuffed lotus root, steamed kai choi and lychee salsa. It’s topped with crispy duck taegu.

Kuahiwi Ranch beef rib eye was served two ways, poached with olive oil, and braised, then served with a honey-and-ulu flan, Sumida Farms watercress, and roasted Hamakua Springs cocktail tomato.

Dessert was a pineapple-honey castella cake topped with pineapple granite, honey-yogurt sorbet and Hawaiian vanilla kanten.

Town marks 5 years

April 20th, 2010

Nadine Kam photos

Town’s David Caldiero, left, and Ed Kenney deliver their thanks to guests and contributors to the restaurant’s five-year success.

Town’s David Caldiero and Ed Kenney celebrated the restaurant’s fifth anniversary with a back-yard ohana style bash in the parking lot behind the restaurant on April 18, 2010. I had to come straight from a fashion show at Halekulani so was a skosh overdressed for the occasion, but it was an all-embracing, anything goes kind of afternoon.

I didn’t realize it was going to be set up festival style, so the first thing I saw, beyond the keiki bounce house, was Sean Priester’s Soul Patrol lunchwagon, where Sean was serving up his black-eyed pea chili, collard greens and cornbread. He’s on the brink of opening a permanent site for his soul food with local flair, near Sabrina’s at the base of Waialae. But the truck will also remain in service.

Then there was the tireless Henry “Hank” Adaniya serving up his Chicago dog, turned Townie dog for the occasion.

People thought I was nuts when I went for the Boston’s Pizza, because pizza is something most people can get anytime, but for me it was different becuase I’ve actually been hitting up the Soul Patrol truck quite a bit. It’s almost in our back yard, parked Tuesdays to Thursdays behind the Honolulu Advertiser building. And I’ve run into Hank quite a bit lately at events as well. And, of course, Hank’s Haute Dogs is another of our Kakaako neighbors.

Then there was cooling off time with Josh Lanthier-Welch and Joseph Welch of OnoPops, a new frozen pop treat, with savory as well as sweet flavors, like P to the O to the G (what’s that spell?) and Ume-Thai Basil. Yum! If you want to check them out firsthand, they’ll be at the Farm Bureau Market at Blaisdell Center from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

But where was Town’s contribution, I wondered, and Ed pointed me to the pork on a spit just behind the restaurant, with a few hours to go until perfect doneness. The party started at noon and I got there at 2 p.m., but I also had to be home by 6 for a phone interview so I missed the roast pork, which I learned from a tweeting Nathan Kam (no relation I believe) was “the best ever!” And my interview never materialized because the guy had his phone somewhere on vibrate so never checked it. I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again, Grrrr!

Happy 5th Ed and Dave!


Musicians Makana and Taimane goofed off away from the stage.


“Lost’s” Michael Emerson is surrounded by fans, from left, Debra Rego, Sonda Danko and Luana Kuhns. He says he has no post-”Lost” plans save for finale promo appearances and catching up on friendships put on hold for the last five years, and at some point returning to stage.


The Town ohana gathers for a group photo.


Sean Priester takes a break from Soul Patrol duties while talking to Tiffany Sato-Holt.