Always a fan of Mike Isabella and his culinary pursuits, last night I dined at his Greek restaurant, Kapnos. When we arrived we were asked if we would like to sit at the chef’s counter and watch the action. Hello! Of course we want to sit front row for the show in the kitchen. As is ALWAYS the case, my foodie friend Jesica made sure that the chef was in house that night and we had the opportunity to chat with him. Mike is no stranger to Greek cuisine having worked for Jose Andres at Zatinya. Having eaten at both establishments I have to say Kapnos was incredible!
We started the meal with a couple of the spreads that come with the most wonderful flat bread. We started with the classic Tzatziki. This yogurt, cucumber, dill and citrus ice combo was delectible. The shaved ice citrus on top was a unique and flavorful addition to a classic Greek dish. The second spread we tried, Revithosalata, was a combination of chickpea, tahini and sultan chutney. The texture was like silk and the flavors kept you coming back for more and more.
I washed it all down with a drink called “little one.” The ingredients were absolut elyx vodka, aperol elderflower, lemon bitters and sparkling rose. It was refreshing and a great palate cleanser. I’ll visit again just to have this cocktail.
Kapnos, 2201 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. www.kapnosdc.com
Along the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree note, my mother and I simultaneously went to the 2014 Cayman Cookout website to have a look. We both had a spontaneous “maybe we can go this year” moment. Alas, financially we have other priorities. We do both agree however, that this year’s lineup is very similar to last year’s. They have re-named some of the events, but most of them are the same as 2013. We did the best we could to provide as much detail as possible in our 2013 blog entries. If you are wondering what the Cayman Cookout is all about, check out our previous posts.
If you are a serious foodie or just love to eat, The Cayman Cookout is the world’s premier culinary event!
We’ve just realized why we haven’t been able to put up our post on the dinner menu served at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival (see our original post here)…it’s just too final. We don’t want our Hawaii vacation to be over! We can still close our eyes and taste Iron Chef Sakai’s miso sauce or the final bite, Bev Gannon’s cross between a macaroon and an ice cream sandwich, a lavender short bread cookie with honey-macademia nut ice cream.
We’ve been savoring long enough so, without further ado, we present the menu for the event hosted by Roy Yamaguchi featuring chefs (in order of courses) Marcel Vigneron, Greg Grohowski, Rick Tramonto, Sheldon Simeon, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, and Bev Gannon. Each chef prepared one course featuring Maui-grown ingredients paired with a wine selection.
First course was Masago Fried North Shore Tilapia with Hearts of Palm Salad, Herbs, Hawaiian Chili Water, Citronella oil & Thom Kha. Marcel’s work with Jose Andres (we officially stalk Jose, read about it here) and Top Chef and Next Iron Chef appearances give him considerable street cred, and he proved why he deserves to be the next big thing with this dish. Plus, he’s just adorable and his bestie is Spike Mendelsohn, one of our favorites from the Cayman Cookout.
The second course was presented by Chef Greg Grohowski of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. His dish was Big Island Kampachi with Pickled Maui Onion Jasmine Risotto, Lavender Sea Urchin Cream, Poha Berry Gastrique & Hawaiian Ogo. Beautifully presented with lighter than air ogo garnish, we had fun chasing it around the table as the wind blew it around. The real fun started with the first taste of the perfectly cooked fish, the creamy risotto and the sauce that made us look at the menu to figure out what that flavor was. Wow. We did not know of Chef Greg before tonight but he’s got our full attention now.
Third course was presented by Chef Rick Tramonto (Tramonto Steak & Seafood in Wheeling Illinois), Hawaiian Shrimp and Corn Cappuccino with Mango Ceviche & Coconut Crema. I loved the sweet and spicy notes but overall this soup was so rich three sips satisfied. Sorry the photo is not good but the soup was! Each guest had a note from the chef tucked under the plate, a nice touch.
Next up was Chef Sheldon Simeon, fan favorite from Top Chef: Seattle and Lahaina local. Next to Iron Chef Sakai, we were looking forward tasting Sheldon’s dish the most. He could not have been nicer or more approachable. Sheldon is no longer with Star Noodle and is about to open a new restaurant.
Sheldon presented Chow Funn and Pork Belly with Pipinola & Achiote. If the concept of the dish was to make the noodles and the pork belly the same size and consistency then it was a success. Otherwise it was mostly inedible and only one person at our table took more than one bite. Oh Sheldon, how we wanted to love your food. So sorry.
For the fifth course, the big guns came out, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai presenting Roasted Beef with Fired Pate-Brick & wrapped Vegetables in Miso Sauce. This dish was a masterful combination and the sauce was to good for words.
Of all the chefs presenting at this event, we were looking forward to Iron Chef Sakai the most and even a bit apprehensive about what he may present. Would it be a dish so out of the box that us picky eaters, pledged to at least TRY everything, could find our palates stretched to the limit? Iron Chef sounds scary but he was a sweetheart and what he put on the plate was certainly worthy of that title.
The desert course was presented by Chef Bev Gannon, three treats on one plate: Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Fresh Roasted Figs (left), Honey-Macadamia Nut Ice Cream in Lavender Shortbread Cookie (top right), and Hawaiian Chili Pepper-Chocolate Tart with Sea Salt (bottom right). Somehow Chef Gannon didn’t think this was quite enough oomph so she decided to add bacon to the tart.
The panna cotta was light and creamy and I loved the lightly caramelized fresh figs, but one bite of the ice-cream sandwich and I knew no other would ever compare, ever. Bev, we bow down to you!
The guest chefs worked as a team plating the courses assisted by Hyatt Regency staff and Maui culinary students. Pretty good start on a career working along side Iron Chef Sakai and the other fantastic talents. Many of these students were participating in their first large-scale event and they all did great jobs! The proceeds from this event will benefit the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Leeward Community College Culinary Program, Paepae o He’eia, Papahana Kuaola, Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, Maui Culinary Academy, and Maui Farm Bureau.
Co-Founders Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, guest chefs, and the bounty from Maui combined with the beautiful setting at the Hyatt Regency Maui produced a magical evening. Mahalo nui loa. We WILL be back next year!!
To see photos of all 2013 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival events go to http://www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com.
The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, in it’s third year, presented Malama Maui on Sunday, September 1st at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali, Maui. We just so happen to be in Maui so we jumped at the chance to attend. Six world-class chefs presenting dishes created for the occasion paired with incredible wines…this is our kind of foodie adventure!
Under the stars, a central stage was set with a long table running along the front. The chefs worked as a team to plate each course right before our eyes in assembly-line fashion. We had arrived a bit early and were thrilled to get to meet Roy Yamaguchi who, along with Alan Wong founded this event. We chatted with Spike Mendelson who was not officially on the agenda but came to Maui to help out his buddy Marcel Vigneron, bless his heart! Then along came Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai with a smile that just lit up the night. We found our way to our table which we shared with the Boyds from Mauigrown Coffee in Lahaina (www.mauigrowncoffee.com). A staggering number of wine glasses were set before us and service got underway just as the sun set over the ocean.
Each course of this dinner deserves its owns post….more to come!
Long time coming….we are in Hawaii! We hit Waikiki beach like zombies trying to adjust to a six hour time change. The locals are apparently used to this state and are very helpful and welcoming. A friendly passerby hooked us up and pointed us to Duke’s where were very thoroughly Mai Tai’d and revived. A must do stop for all Honolulu visitors, Duke’s is at 2335 Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu http://www.dukeswaikiki.com/waikikibeach. When we arrived on Friday night, the place was packed yet we managed to get a great table right on the beach. The service was excellent.
We catch our second wind (Ha) and have our first poke, a fresh tuna salad along some Korean street tacos. Fresh raw ahi with Maui onions and sesame soy sauce.
The Korean street tacos featured Kal-bi marinated steak, salsa verda, cabbage, Maui onions, and cilantro. The two taco plate came with a side of pickled veggies, a perfect counterpoint to the savory beef. The salsa verde and crunchy cabbage married it all together in a soft tortilla.
First prepare the martini glass by rubbing a lemon around the lip and coating the lip of the glass with powdered Country Time Lemonade.
Into a cocktail shaker squeeze a couple of fresh lemons
Add 1 1/2 ounces of Absolut Citron Vodka
Add 1 ounce of Midori Liquer
Add 1 ounce of lime juice
Add 1 ounce of simple syrup
Add 1/2 a scoop of powdered Country Time Lemonade
Add ice, shake well, and pour into martini glass
Ahhh Sunday mornings! We slept in, visited with neighbors Phyllis and Dun, then took off for todays adventure; the National Gallery of Art. We had to walk right past Jaleo (www.jaleo.com), and it didn’t take much arm twisting to talk Emily into lunch at one of her fave spots.
We started off with a trio of cheeses (shown at right) and a brilliant bottle of Avinyo Cava Reserva, a perfect match. Since our destination was the National Gallery we wanted something light and refreshing that wouldn’t weight us down and this was the perfect choice.
We followed with a beet salad featuring citrus, blue cheese, pistachio nuts all in a light vinegar-based dressing.
Just for fun we ordered the Patatas Bravas since we had selected this recipe from Made in Spain by Jose Andres for our special dinner on the 4th of July. I’ve never met a fried potato I didn’t like, and these crispy chunks are served with Brava Sauce and garlic allioli so what’s not to love? We got two out of three of these components spot on, and perhaps our version of the Brava sauce was just a tad better!
We finished with the day’s special desert, lime sherbet. We expected a tapas-sized portion however we were surprised by three full scoops, more than we could finish.
Jaleo is located just a couple of blocks north of the National Gallery and between the crisp Cava and the hearty brunch, we were properly fortified for almost three miles of gallery walking!
Saturday morning we got up early (too early!) to take the train to Philadelphia. We took a taxi directly to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The east entrance is the famous Rocky Stairs, packed with people exercising in painful ways. The west entrance leads to a beautiful flower garden with paths leading down to the river.
The museum has a good collection of impressionist art (our fave) but we both agreed the highlight was the display of armor and weapons (surprisingly fascinating) which took us back to our trip to Germany when Emily was 10.
We toured until time for lunch at Granite Hill, the museum’s upscale restaurant. We ordered a bottle of wine from their somewhat limited wine list, the Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009. Very fruit forward with black cherry, a full-body wine that paired wonderfully with our tuna nicoise salad. Fortified and refreshed, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring every gallery. The gift shop here is great too!
It’s been six long months since we had a mother-daughter adventure so it’s time for Mom to travel to DC for some fun and of course good food and wine with Emily. I’ve always wanted to take the train from Florida to DC so, this trip I am aboard the AmTrak Silver Star that runs from Miami to New York. One of the best things about train travel is you can BYOB, and the first things packed were the bottles of wine I’ll be bringing.
It’s the 4th of July holiday and we’ve got a packed schedule including the National Gallery, a day trip to Philadelphia to visit the art museum, and a day hike in the Shenandoah National Forest. Instead of pairing wines with food, I’ll be paring our wines with activities!
Friday morning we loaded up a picnic and headed for the Shenandoah National Forest. Barrel Oak Winery is along the way providing the perfect spot for lunch and a few sips.
Located on I 66 about 60 miles west of DC, the winery sits on a beautiful hillside. We sampled several wines, purchased three bottles (2011 Petit Verdot, 2011 Syrah, and Peanut’s Petit Cuvee) before we headed on our adventure.
For our hike in the forest we had packed a bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, a 2009 Reserve from Argyle.
Tomorrow we hop a train to Philadelphia for a day trip. Wine to be determined. Too bad The Drunken Cyclist is out of the country; we’ll have a toast to you, and the monthly wine challenge!
In what was yet another fantastic foodie adventure with my friend Jesica visiting town, we had an incredible dinner at Oyamel (www.oyamel.com). Jose Andres’ mexican venture promises not to disappoint. The food is traditional, but not what one would expect. The dishes are creative and imaginative and packed with explosive flavors.
We started the evening with a couple of margarita’s and some table side, fresh-made guacamole.Sounds perfectly average for Mexican fare until I describe the margarita. Dubbed the “Margarita del dia Durazno Blanco-Jazmin,” it was the house specialty that night. A scrumptious combination of Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, triple sec, white peach, jasmine and lime. It had just the right amount of sweetness and citrus to elevate it from typical margarita to a tasty treat. For an appetizer we ordered the “Ceviche de Atun Pacifico.” This tuna ceviche consisted of tuna with maggi-lime marinade, scallions, avocado, toasted pecans, jalapenos, and crispy amaranth. Each one of the components contributed to or changed the flavor of the tuna entirely. It was quite interesting to taste the individual components seperately and then all combined. The amaranth gave it a nutty, earthy flavor that I had never tasted before. When you added a piece of the avocado the whole flavor profile was different. What else can I say, but DELICIOUS! For our main entrees (all small plates-Jose style) I had the “Bistec Con Mole Amarillo y Hongos” and Jesica opted for the “Tamal Verde.” My dish was grilled hangar steak with a Oaxacan mole of ancho, guajillo and costeno chiles with wild mushrooms. The sauce was so good I pondered actually licking my plate clean. Jesica seemed to really enjoy her tamale made from shredded chicken tamal with green sauce of tomatillo, chile, garlic and cilantro.
What could be better than a fantastic meal at Oyamel? How about turning around and realizing that Jose Andres is actually in house that night. He was very gracious to chat with us for a couple of minutes and let us take pictures with him. All in all it is a meal I will never forget.