Archive for the ‘Food hero’ Category

‘Eat the Street’ marks 1st anniversary

January 30th, 2012
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Nadine Kam photos
“Eat the Street” founder Poni Askew shows a plate of swordfish and another of enchiladas from the Cooking Fresh for You truck at the event’s one-year anniversary luau.

Eat this street held its first anniversary at the Kakaako waterfront, from 4 to 9 p.m. Jan. 27, where the truck count is up to 32, and founder Poni Askew said she regularly turns away 25 to 30 vendors for lack of space, although she said it breaks her heart to do so.

They include people who are starting up specifically to be a part of the monthly communal food event. Picking which newbies get in is difficult, she said, and is a matter of finding those with something new or novel to offer. For instance, one to look forward to in coming months is the Sweet Revenge pie truck that’ll offer sweet and savory selections.

In the beginning, Poni was working as a district manager for Starbucks when she started her Street Grindz blog and website just to bring the food truck community together and offer a convenient place to share sightings and locations of trucks. But with the popularity of the trucks affordable fare, the whole project took on a life of its own.

Now, it’s become political as well, with the city moving to enforce a 1978 law that requires street vendors to move at least 300 feet after being in one spot for 15 minutes.  Violators face a petty misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 30 days in jail and  a fine up to $1,000 fine.

After police began citing lunch wagons and other street vendors several months ago, Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill that would allow the vendors to stay in place two hours, to get them through a typical lunch period, although final testimony is pending.

Poni said it’s a shame that the city is doing this at the height of the trucks’ popularity, and I think attendance at the monthly events also speaks to consumers’ wishes.

“It would be a shame if they turn away a legacy that’s been here for so long, for so many generations of Hawaii families,” she said.

Shortly after arriving at the event, I stopped by the Eat the Street booth, where food writer Mari Taketa said she’d just been asked if she were me. The late John Heckathorn also told me in the past that people asked him the same question!

This city is not without precedent of the mystery writer with the fake name and fake gender. The Honolulu Weekly once had a male restaurant reviewer writing under a  woman’s name. But I started writing about food a decade before that, when I was 22, too young to consider the consequences. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have used a pseudonym and just walked away from any grief.

One of the attractions of the waterfront setting was a huge warehouse with seating for the tired and hungry.

Getting fancy. An $8 lobster roll made with Maine lobster was one of the specials at the Why’z truck. Andy Hope was prepping lobster outside and I had to do a doubletake when I saw his doppelganger inside the truck. His twin.

The lobster roll: Not as much lobster as I’d like like, but fair for $8. I paid double for awesome lobster rolls in New York, but don’t think most people would spring for that here.

Also offered by Why’z, ribs dubbed “dinosaur bones.”

Former newsperson-turned-foodtrepreneur Kawehi Haug, shared her latest venture, Street Frites.

A closeup of the frites.

Some of the sauce selections accompanying the Street Frites. Offered are savory and sweet flavors, and sometimes a combination of the two, as with the bacon jam.

A suggestion from The Curb truck.

I got it. If you love Godiva’s Chocolixirs, you’ll love this. It’s topped with mini chocolate chips and strawberry slices. (more…)

Academy and EAT Honolulu create El Bulli experience

August 30th, 2011
By




Nadine Kam photos

The Honolulu Academy of Arts and EAT Honolulu presented an “El Bulli” Bento during a food and film pairing to mark the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress,” capturing the work that went on in Ferran Adrià’s famed restaurant before he shut it down last month. A map below describes the dishes.

In the spirit of Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s revolutionary restaurant El Bulli, those who attended the screening of the documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress”Aug. 27 at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts had the option of partaking in a food and wine pairing featuring the molecular gastronomy techniques that brought Adrià international renown.

Diners were presented with a “bento box” comprising nine tasting portions of dishes prepared by EAT Catering & Cafe’s executive chef David Passanisi and sous chef Dirk Thomas. These ranged from the local (Spam musubi terrine and seared Kulana Farms Big Island sirloin with Asian pear and shoyu pudding) to Mediterranean inspired (prosciutto San Danielle with organic olive oil spread and melon caviar).

It’s always interesting to taste food prepared in new ways, such as tzatziki delivered in sphere form to accompany a lamb gyro, and a Kahuku corn panna cotta accompanied by bacon crumbs and Parmesan “air.”

Alive Mind Cinema
El Bulli’s “Disappearing Ravioli” of pine nut essence. When dipped into liquid, the potato starch wrap dissolves before the pine nut liquid hits the tongue.

Although the merging of science and culinary art is what brought the restaurant international attention since 1987, the film shed light on Adrià’s process, that begins with shuttering his restaurant half the year so that he and his staff can devote their hours to experimentation.

Their work space looks more like a science lab than kitchen. It is as if they are willing to go back to infancy and abandon all the technique cataloged in Larousse Gastronomique, and all their knowledge of ingredients, to relearn everything from scratch. Each ingredient is chopped, dissected and examined anew, as if they had never been seen, tasted or used it before. Therefore they are able to appreciate that, when separated, the gills of mushrooms resemble individual leaves.

Led by chef de cuisine Oriol Castro, ingredients are then boiled, baked, sauteed, fried, pressure-cooked, etc., with oil, without, with water only, etc., to determine the best ways to coax out their flavor, and to develop alternative forms—liquids, gels, foam, air and spheres—of serving them.

Alive Mind CinemaFerran Adrià tastes an oil-and-water cocktail.

The trailer: Like art, the El Bulli experience transcends food to create an experience that evokes emotional response.

Deconstruction was one aspect of the kitchen’s work, and one that Adrià—determined to never repeat himself—had abandoned by the time the documentarians arrived. The key theme of the meal in progess in the film is water, and at one point, Adrià marveled at the irony of guests relaying their once-in-lifetime dining experience to friends by telling them, “I went to El Bulli and had water.”

Each step in the process is carefully documented and photographed, and assigned stars. Adriá sniffs and tastes his staff’s work, and by the time the crew reassembles in the restaurant, the menu is still a work in progress, but somehow, a theme arises, and the dishes—a merging of the best of flavors and techniques arising from the six months of experimentation—begin to take form.

The meal and movie added up to a perfect marriage and I regret never having made it to Spain to experience firsthand the work of the man who reshaped the way we think about food in the 21st century.

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EAT Catering & Café is planning a fall equinox El Bulli-inspired 24-course menu in late September.

The Bento Box map.

Gina Caruso, film curator at the Doris Duke Theatre, introduced EAT Honolulu executive chef David Passanisi prior to the screening of “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress.”

The tzatziki sphere was a novel accompaniment to a mini gyro.

I liked the Kahuku corn panna cotta, left, but the Parmesan air, not so much.

You can spot the pearls of melon caviar under the proscuitto.