Friday, June 26, 2009

dinner with Miss Hawaii

June 26

Dinner last Friday was at Orchids, one of the restaurants at the Halekulani, and my companion was the hotel's public relations director, Erika Kauffman.
Erika looks like a California blonde, but in fact she was born in Hawaii and grew up on the Big Island (in the Kona area), where she says they didn’t bother to pack lunch for school but simply plucked whatever produce was available from nearby trees.
I later learned that Erika is a former Miss Hawaii, but she didn’t discuss it herself. I mean, how could she?
“Hi, nice to meet you. I was a Miss Hawaii."
You just sound like an idiot if you do that.
Her colleague, food & beverage dirctor Sabine Glissmann, could have mentioned it, but why would she?
Before dinner, Sabine joined Erika and me for drinks at the House without a Key, which is what they call their mostly-outdoor beachside lounge. A band of ukuleles and a standing bass played surprisingly mellow music as a hula dancer performed and I drank a cocktail of gin and guava and snacked on big-eye tuna poke sliders (with nori, Japanese pickles and wasabi mayonnaise).
Erika was big on promoting Orchids’ newest feature, Table 1. It hasn’t been launched yet, but it will basically be a chef’s table in the middle of the restaurant. The hotel’s new executive chef, Vikram Garg, will come out and chat with guests at the table, determine their likes, dislikes and mood and prepare a tasting menu for them.
Vik came out after the meal and we chatted about trends (we think pork belly’s about done) and tropical fruit. I mentioned snake fruit, an obscure and completely unappetizing sounding thing that I had in Sumatra. Vik had never heard of it, which we agreed was weird. It’s kind of an uneven oblong about the size of a small plum, with a brown, scaly skin (hence the name). At first bite it’s completely unappetizing. It looks and has the texture of garlic. It tastes a little sweet, but mostly acrid, with a tendency to dry out the mouth, but it’s addictive on some level and actually a lot of fun to eat.

What I ate (chased down with glasses of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc):

Pacific oyster and caviar shooters served in a ginger and mango cocktail
Kona crab cappuccino topped with truffle and coconut cream
Steamed onaga sizzled with sesame oil and garnished with shiitake mushrooms, green onions, ginger, cilantro and soy
Berries and sorbet

To view all the blog entries about my trip to O‘ahu, click here.


Alisa@Foodista said...

I had so much fun reading your posts Bret.You lucky you!

Michael said...

A. I agree with Alisa
B. Bret, I tried snakefruit a couple of times, once with you, and could never get the hang of it. Nor durian.

Bret Thorn said...

Ah, durian. Yeah, given all the things to put in your mouth, I don’t know why people choose to put durian there, but there must be nuances to it that I don't appreciate, because some people are addicted to it. I hear stories of people, Malaysians in particular, eating themselves sick on it, like a young Western child might do on chocolate.
Did we really have snake fruit together? I don't remember it being available in Thailand.