Archive for October, 2009

Filipino flavors shine in inaugural event

October 29th, 2009

Nadine Kam photos

Cecilia Villafuerte, co-chair of the Filipino Flavors event, with chef Elmer Guzman of The Poke Stop, who created a dish of deconstructed pinakbet for the event. Elmer’s everywhere these days, serving food at various  community events, posting specials to Twitter, and soon to appear on a Food Network segment of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

The Filipino Community Center in Waipahu was the venue for the first Filipino Flavors event Oct. 24, 2009, highlighting Filipino fusion cuisine as cooked up by Filipino celebrity chefs: Elmer Guzman of Poke Stop, Rhodel Ibay of Sergio’s Italian Restaurant, Aurelio Garcia of Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab, Michael Rabe of Creations in Catering, and Greg Nicolas and Anabel Cabebe of Mang Gorio’s Lechon and Catering, with wine pairings by master sommelier Roberto Viernes.

Roberto’s selections were a 2007 Leitz Dragonstone Reisling, 2007 Champalou Vouvray Cuvee Fondraux chenin blanc from the Loire Valley and fabulous 2007 Marquis Philips Sarah’s Blend, of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot intended to enhance adobo risotto but delicious solo as well.

The idea behind the event was to encourage people to revisit Filipino cuisine in a new light, with familiar flavors of adobo and sarciado presented in an upscale style with small portions and eye-catching presentations. You can read more about it in Gary Chun’s story preceding the event:

I like Filipino food but I can’t tell you how many people tell me they don’t like it, not that they’ve even sampled much of it. They simply don’t like the aesthetic of a stew-y mass. Talk about culinary bigotry.

This event attempts to challenge and change that perception, and hopefully this is the start of an annual event that will have many more sampling new flavors.

The funny thing is that most patrons enjoyed dinner … twice. Food stations were set up outdoors, so naturally, people started picking up plates and eating immediately, only to find dinner service awaited at formal tables inside the Filcom Center! The waitstaff worked hard to bring the nine courses to the table, only to have half the dishes waved off because we had tried them outside. By then we were all so stuffed that all anyone could think of was dessert of halo halo. I overheard one woman say she just came for the halo halo, which isn’t likely true given that ticket prices were $100, but that just goes to show how those two words are so magical.

In addition to the food, there was plenty of music and dance, and you can get a samping of the evening in the video:


Fish sarciado was accompanied by a salad that included chewy sweet potato leaves that I never tried before the event.


Joelle of Creations in Catering poured a glass of wine forHPD chaplain Alex R. Vergara. The wine recommendations came from master sommelier Roberto Viernes.

tagalog beefTagalog beef from Filipino Express was a special request of event co-chair Cecilia Villafuerte. I was so full when the dish arrived, but after a small nibble I wanted more. Beef can look unappetizing in photos, but this was so tender and I loved the flavors of soy sauce and lime, the latter a substitution for calamansi, which was unavailable.


Macadamia-crusted tilapia presented by Aurelio Garcia of Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab, was a crowd pleaser. The fish itself tasted like catfish.

mayorMayor Mufi Hannemann was there, as was prolific L&L restaurateur Eddie Flores.

dessert3Many people thought that halo halo marked the end of the meal, so had seconds, only to find more desserts awaited. Waiters delivered plates full of, from left, tupig (rice flour and coconut in banana leaves) and linapet (cassava wrapped in banana leaves), casava cake, cascaron (mochi ball with coconut) and banana turon (bananas and jack fruit deep fried in lumpia wrapper).

take home

After the meal, guests jokingly asked, “Where’s the Ziploc bags?” Tess Guemado, an administrative assistant at the Filcom Center, improvised with plastic plates.

Alex Vergara said the typical Filipino party has so much food that guests bring their own Tupperware and plastic bags to collect the leftovers. This time, they improvised take-home containers, stacking the plastic plates to savor uneaten desserts later.

chefsThe chefs were applauded on stage toward the end of the evening, from left, Rodhel Ibay, Aurelio Garcia, Elmer Guzman and Michael Rabe.


October 26th, 2009

First, you take a small bite and let the extra-dark chocolate square melt in your mouth, revealing a velvety texture, and overtones of deep cocoa and berry (like a chocolate forest).

Waialua Estate Chocolate, made from 70 percent Cacao grown at the old Waialua sugar mill on Oahu’s North Shore, isn’t incredibly well-known yet, but the word is spreading.

Waialua Estate chocolate

The dark chocolate is sold at Dole Plantation and Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall for about $22.99 a pound – 10 squares of 25-gram squares will cost you a little more than $12.

And it’s actually processed by Guittard of San Francisco, which only puts its signature on select chocolates.

If you like milk chocolate, you can also get those for about half the price.

Waialua Estate, a part of Dole Food Co., was launched in 1996 as sugarcane was dying out. Dole was looking to diversify, and did so in two ways – by planting coffee and cacao trees. Coffee is grown on 165 acres on the slops of Waialua. The Cacao is grown on 20 acres.

Ever seen a Cacao pod? They’re colorful pods that come in various shades of reds and oranges — with seeds inside.

Basket of Cacao

Here’s a great photo gallery from Waialua Estate that takes you on a journey from Cacao tree to pod, seeds and chocolate. The seeds are what get roasted and removed from their outer shells, revealing the nib which is melted and mixed into chocolate.

Waialua Estate Chocolate is available at Whole Foods Market at Kahala Mall, Sweet Paradise Chocolatier in Kailua, and Dole Plantation — and you may find it in the desserts at various restaurants (think flourless chocolate cake, mmm), including Alan Wong’s. You might also want to check out Malie Kai North Shore Chocolates.