An Exceptional Epicurean Experience
I am not easily impressed and my level of expectation is high, so I was skeptic of another cliché “food and wine festival. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
D. Keola Lloyd is the creator of several food and wine productions including the Taste at Kapolei, Kapolei Uncorked, and Kapolei Chef Showcase. A Big Island native, Lloyd started seven years ago designing premium festivals showcasing the best of Hawaii’s culinary talents. With tickets costing $250, these events are targeted to an affluent audience, yet Lloyd gives back to the community by partnering with and benefiting local nonprofits including the Leeward Community College’s Culinary Arts Program, the Kapolei Foundation which secures scholarships for Leeward Oahu youth, and the Hawaii Nature Center, assuring guests they can indulge guilt free as proceeds go to worthwhile programs. This weekend I was lucky enough to attend Lloyd’s 3rd Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Paradise.
Pau Vodka from Maui
With my foodie friend Andrea in toe, we headed to the VIP reception which was held at the historic Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki. There we were greeted with fine wines from Napa Valley, ultra- premium Pau Hawaiian Vodka from Maui, and Casa Noble Tequila. A Tequila lover myself, I was very impressed with Casa Noble. At the reception, I learned from Enrico Caruso and Rob Boyd of Infinium Spirits that their tequila is 100% organic and USDA approved. It was also a fabulous opportunity for wine enthusiasts to speak with the wine makers and owners from Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars, Levendi, Rombauer, Delectus, Emeritus, Reynolds, Flora Springs, and Jarvis Wineries. There was even Hawaii Nui Brewing from Hilo showcasing their premium island style lagers and ales.
Event Chair Mr. D. Keola Lloyd and Guests
We were then lead to the ball room to enjoy a five-course culinary extravaganza from Hawaii’s top chefs. The master of ceremonies was John Heckathorn, editor of Hawaii Magazine. Much to our delight, Andrea and I were seated at table one along with the ever charming Heckathorn. I learned that he is a culinary critic and received national recognition with a CRMA bronze award for his dining perspectives.
Chef Colin Hazama's Lobster Delight
The chefs and winemakers joined the stage to share the stories behind the preparation of the dishes and wine pairings. Our first course was presented by Chef Ryan Loo, Chef de Cuisine at Twist at Hanohano in the Sheraton Waikiki. It was mouthful of heavenly abalone with truffled white soy broth. The tasty morsel was paired with a Reynolds Family Winery 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay. Winemaker and owner, Steve Reynolds graciously asked all to raise a glass to the people who work in the vineyard allowing us to enjoy the fruit of their efforts. Interesting to note, Reynolds is a retired dentist. Cheers to whoever suggested his career change!
Our second course was presented by Chef Jon
Guests Enjoying the Martini Bar
Matsubara, Chef de Cuisine at Azure in the Royal Hawaiian. He created a Hawaiian Swordfish poached in aromatic duck fat stating, that Swordfish is the most underutilized fish in Hawaii. This was complemented with an Emeritus Vineyards 2007 Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Nior. Winemaker and owner, Brice Cutter Jones came to the stage dressed in a snappy blue and white suit, a purple shirt, and fancy sneakers. Jones shared that the Emeritus winery was started on an old apple farm ten years ago. You know what they say; glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away!
Tasting with Flora Springs
The third course was my favorite. Presented by Chef Colin Hazama, Chef de Cuisine at the St. Regis Princeville Resort’s Kauai Grill, was a Keahole lobster slow roasted with Tahitian vanilla. Originally from New England, I have devoured my fair share of lobsters, however I have never enjoyed one with the unexpected flavor of vanilla and it works! The lobster was paired with a Twomey Cellars Napa Valley 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Director of National Sales, Charlie Campbell discussed how the crisp minerality of the wine perfectly complemented the Big Island lobster and the local Hamakua cocktail tomatoes.
The final protein of the fourth course was
Mr. Kimo Alama Keaulana Entertained
presented by, Chef Rodney Uyehara, Chef de Cuisine at the Beach House at the Moana. It was a perfectly packaged mignon of beef, with Molokai sweet potato galette, Kahuhu corn, and Waialua asparagus. Chef Uyehara stated that he tries to support the local farmers as much as he can, and it was aptly reflected in his dish. The accompaniment was from the Delectus Winery, a 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Mutti’s Pride. Gerhard Reisacher, an eighth-generation winemaker originally from Austria, came to the stage and stated that he had
Mrs. Suzie Reynolds Tasting Jarvis Wine
lived in Spain and all over Europe, but nothing compared to Honolulu traffic!
The final course was presented by Chef Richard Lancaster, Chef de Cuisine at the Moana Surfrider. It was a beautiful arrangement of Kula lavender and cacao nib cannoli, mango iced parfait, and a delightful Kona coffee pot de crème trilogy. It was accompanied with a selection from the Levendi Winery, 2008 Alexander Valley Late Harvest Viognier. Owner and winemaker, David Gianulias shared that late harvest grapes are often more similar to raisins but have been naturally dehydrated while on the vine.
Designer Ms. Anne Namba
Expecting it to be a very sweet, I was delighted by the taste and finish which complemented the desert course.
And just when we thought the night was over, world-class Honolulu designer, Anne Namba took the stage and delighted guests with a preview of her summer 2010 collection. Recently returned from a fashion event with actor and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in New York, Namaba delighted guests
Guests Enjoying the Music
with a medley of her most exciting pieces. As the event concluded John, Andrea, and I discussed our epicurean experience and the outstanding service at the Moana (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PHOTO GALLERY). Much to our delight we realized we still had tomorrow to look forward to and another gastronomic adventure with “Pairings in Paradise” at the Marriott’s Ko Olina Resort. Stay tuned for part two…