Hawaii Part Six

Mar 02, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here

 

Touring around The Big Island

Back in Kona we were eagerly anticipating the tour that Hector had been planning over the past 7 years awaiting our visit.

We had been hearing about Ken Love and were greatly looking forward to meeting him. Ken Love is a larger than life person and it would take a book to do him justice. In a macadamia nut shell, he travels around the world researching and giving lectures.

Love wears many hats. He is president of Love Family Farms on the Big Island and has been growing pineapple, and numerous other tropical fruit for nearly 30 years. He is vice president of the Kona Kohala Chefs Association ACF. As president of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers he is instrumental in the development of prototype sustainable agriculture systems for farmers in Hawaii. He assists growers with market development for unusual tropical fruit by establishing farmer chef relations and agtourism options. Most recently Love has recently performed a feasibility study on marketing Kona coffee in South India and is currently assisting with avocado market research and managing fig variety trials. He has just completed filming a documentary with Bill Pullman, called “The Fruit Hunter.”
So you can imagine how at lunch with him at the Nasturtium Café, over bison burger, chicken with mango chutney, and fish quesadillas, we were all spellbound by his contributions and accomplishments.

After lunch Ken invited us for a tour of his amazing farm. In the front yard we got to taste an orange from a tree that is the oldest orange tree in the United States, planted in 1792 by botanist Archibold Menzies.

We followed Ken through the gardens tasting all manor of exotic tropical fruits including mangosteens, noni (a South American cure-all fruit), dragon fruit, white fruit with black seeds, huge ugli fruit, Tahitian gooseberries, bilimbi (used for salad oils and pestos), guava, bread fruit (sought after in the story of Mutiny on the Bounty), and rambutan.

Next on the tour was a fascinating visit to the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Plantation and Factory.

Unbelievable as it may be given all the chocolate from around the world that I have tasted, I had never seen it growing before. We had the opportunity to see the cacoa pods growing on trees, a pod cut open, and to taste the chocolate.

All of the chocolates are pure single origin with no blending. My favorite was the Criollo for its smooth round flavor. Owner Bob Cooper gave an informative lecture on chocolate production with such enthusiasm it seemed he was doing it for the first time!

Day two of our tour we were on the road at 6:30 am to circle around the island, stopping at many interesting sites. The Hilo side of the island has an entirely different environment from the Kona side as it is on the side of the mountains that receives most of the rain. As it was a day long drive, it gave Hector the opportunity to practice his talent as a talk show host, interviewing me and wanting details of the roots of the Cake Bible and my entire past that led up it to it.

We stopped by the side of the road to enjoy the rainbow and then it was on to the famous Akaka falls with their 492 foot drop and walk through the rain forest.

On the way to the Kilauea Volcano we stopped at the Akatsuka orchid green house where I saw more orchids than I had ever seen before in my life. I always thought orchids had no smell but was proven wrong. One orchid even smelled like chocolate.

We had lunch at a lovely rustic Inn, the Kilauea Lodge Restaurant, near the volcano where we all shared a delicious passion fruit margarita, and ate less delicious crab cakes and bison burgers.

The Kilauea Volcano is still active so the volcano’s open crater interior varies in height virtually every day.

We saw maps indicating the new island that is growing under the sea to the south of Hawaii.

Hector send us this amazing photo of Kapalana lava flowing into the ocean, taken by Bruce Omori at dawn on New Year’s day of this year.

As we drove back to Kona, we stopped for a short but dramatic visit to the black sand beach, created from pulverized lava rock. If you look closely you will see the high wind that is blowing everything including us and the surf.

Next day was the much-anticipated highlight: private astronomer guided visit to the Keck Telescopes on Mauna Kea, the world highest mountain when measured from the bottom of the ocean.

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Hawaii Part Five

Hawaii Part Five

Feb 23, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here

Last Day in Honolulu Brunch at Hector and Visit to Pearl Harbor
On our last day in Honolulu, Hector wanted us to meet as many of his friends and family as possible given the size of the apartment. Eight people attended, each bringing a special dish. Debbie Story, who offered to pick us up from the hotel along with cups of coffee, made fabulous spinach, mushroom, gruyère, and poached egg casserole (she gave me permission to post the recipe in future).

The buffet table was laden with goodies from pastries to Chinese dim sum to Portuguese sausages.

Kevin Kawahara brought delicious squares of pumpkin mochi. He also brought a jar of mango chutney and of lilikoi butter (passion curd) prepared by the students at thePunahou School where he works as part of the IT staff and where President Obamawas once a student. Kevin explained to us the special story behind the preserves:
The students make these preserves each year to sell at the Punahou Carnival held on the first weekend of February. The carnival is put on by the junior class and parents, and supported by the entire Punahou community. All proceeds from carnival are used to help fund the financial aid budget – the same fund that helped put Barack Obama through Punahou! One of the more popular and famous parts of Carnival is the Mango Chutney. Just before all the mangoes start to ripen, students and parents collect green mangoes and spend hours and hours peeling, slicing, cooking, and canning the chutney to sell. It is only available twice a year – once at the Christmas craft fair, and then at the carnival. People wait in line for hours to buy as little as a single jar. While almost everyone knows about Punahou Carnival Mango Chutney, the lilikoi butter is in much shorter supply, and arguably more desirable – it disappears before the chutney.

I asked everyone to give an introduction describing themselves and what they brought to the table! Hector and I listened with obvious delight.

I was especially delighted to meet Hector’s younger brother William and his charming girlfriend Breanne.

The grand finale was cutting the cake that was made at the demo the day before. It was the “Golden Lemon Almond” using macadamia nuts in place of almonds–a “Hector Take on My Cake.” It never was better!

Before flying back to Kona, Hector arranged for us to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial to the Dec 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. We watched a movie depicting the events surrounding the incident that president Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed as “the day of infamy.” Walking through the museum of displays we noticed there were also many people from the military viewing the exhibits. As there was a high wind, the boat that goes out to the Arizona Memorial was cancelled but we could see the Memorial from the shore.

Christopher, Hector’s partner, joined us at the airport and for dinner in Kona atQuinn’s. My dear friend Leslie Harlib, who is in the process of moving from San Francisco to Hawaii, made this recommendation and advised us to try the Ono Cajun sandwich with fried onion rings, which we all enjoyed, girding ourselves for the next days of touring to come.

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Hawaii Part Four

Hawaii Part Four
Feb 16, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here.

The Culinary Demo at the Leeward Community College, Honolulu and Hector’s Yellow Kitchen

I was thrilled when Hayley Matson Mathes invited me to give a baking demo in Honolulu. Hayley is executive director of the Hawaii Culinary Educational Foundation, a charitable organization that brings in chefs from all over the world to give classes and workshops to culinary students. She and her charming husband Mike were the best of hosts. They picked Woody and me up at the Honolulu airport and brought us to the Halekulani 5 star hotel at Waikiki beach, with a glorious ocean view from every room, where Haley arranged for us to stay for two nights.

Hector picked us up for dinner at his apartment, home of The Yellow Kitchen, where we met his delightful partner Christopher Obenchain. Christopher is a free lance actor, who occasionally does commercials. He is also working on his PHD in education. He gave us a short viewing of his cameo appearance as a waiter in one of my very favorite movies “Dirty Dancing!”

I don’t know how Hector managed it, having been with us in Kona up until that morning and doing most of the prep for the upcoming baking class, then making us a tasty Peruvian dinner of Hake fish with rice and a sauce of Aji Panca marinade: vinegar, cumin, garlic, oregano,aji panca, and a touch of soy sauce. (Aji panca is a Peruvian dried chili pepper which gives a dark red color and has almost no taste. It is similar to paprika.), and onion salad. For dessert, the “Hector’s Take on My Cake” chocolate oblivion made with avocado instead of butter. If I hadn’t spotted a tiny bit of avocado green I never would have suspected it was there!

In the Yellow Kitchen, Hector has established his personal signature with as many appliances and tools as possible in yellow. Christopher even painted the frig yellow and made a hanging ceiling light from a yellow colander.

The second bedroom is set up as a baking studio. It was quite amazing to see how much Hector could fit into this space. Even the inside of the cabinet doors have brackets for tools to make more storage.
Early the next morning Haley and Mike drove us to the Leeward culinary school where we were introduced to Tommylynn Benavente, Leeward Community College Culinary Arts Program coordinator, and Donald Maruyama, Leeward Community College Culinary Instructor.

Even though we have done this duet of cakes a couple of times (“the Deep Chocolate Passion” and “the Golden Almond Lemon Cake” from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes), and we come equipped with laminated recipe sheets and often with equipment as well, it always seems like the first time because the set up is always different. But this time we had Hector who did a masterful prep, bringing loads of equipment including his Breville oven and my entire Rose™ line. Chef Mike Scully, together with the students, made sheet cakes from both of the cakes being demo’d for the tasting, and one of the students, Crystal, provided excellent assistance during the demo along with Woody and Hector. (It was video taped so will eventually be posted!)

Hector prepared a “Deep Chocolate Passion” cake already frosted with a smooth undercoat for glazing, the Lacquer Glaze heated to the perfect pouring temperature, and the mis en place for all ingredients, weighed and labeled.

He also prepped the Golden Almond Cake, replacing the almonds with macadamia nuts so that we could try it for the brunch he was planning for the next day. (It was even more delicious than with almonds.) Woody handed out index cards for the students to write out questions for the Q & A at the end. Hayley had encouraged me to talk about my background and the route I took to become who I am today to inspire the students. So by the end of the demo, the students felt comfortable enough to ask questions out loud as well. One student asked about my biggest influence and without thinking twice I said Buddha! Another asked who was my favorite baker and again without reservation I called out “Hector,” and this gave us the perfect opportunity to hand him the Cordon Rose School diploma which Woody designed especially for him.) Woody was my right hand during the demo.

Despite being in the midst of final exams, 80 food science students and professionals attended the demo. It was most gratifying that they were exceptionally attentive and appreciative, and when Haley forwarded the ‘ratings’ they were all 100% positive.

The demo was followed by a book signing. Haley brought in several copies of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, and I had asked her to encourage the students to bring any books they already had.

By the end of the demo and signing, when I had hardly any voice left, I was treated to an interview with Joleen Oshiro, Food and Arts reporter for the Star Advertiser. Her questions and comments were so fascinating I found just enough voice left to squeak some responses. She is now working on a special profile of Hector, about how he learned to bake from my books to the point where he could adapt many cakes using Hawaiian ingredients, and his unique artistry in decorating them.

After two hours of rest, and a walk by the ocean, we were whisked along to have champagne at Hayley and Mike’s stunning high rise and then on to a special dinner in my honor given by the delightful Hawaiian chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier at the Stage Retaurant. Hector’s date was his aunt Lavina Ho who had given him The Cake Bible in 1989 when he had moved from Peru and spoke very little english, which did not stop him from baking his way through the book! I had received so many orchid lei I stopped counting but the most beautiful lei was the one lovely aunt Lavina hung around my neck–it was composed of tiny rosebuds .

Next posting: Brunch at the Yellow Kitchen, visit to Pearl Harbor, and return to Kona.

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Hawaii Part Three

Hawaii Part Three
Feb 09, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here.

Hawaiian Home
Our home base for the entire visit to Hawaii was at Patti and Marty Kimball’s beautiful home high in the Kona Mountains with a panoramic view of the ocean below.Ocean liners and their entourage of smaller boats looked like toy boats in one’s bathtub.

The first thing we both noticed before entering the house was this stunning ‘dinosaur egg’ cement planter made by Marty’s brother Mark Kimball.

Imagine being able to go out into one’s half acre yard to pick passion fruit, several varieties of avocado (Marty explained that the most delicious, the large and plump Kahalu’u variety cannot be exported because of it’s loose pit that shakes around during transport damaging the flesh), mangoes, oranges, apple bananas, papaya, pineapple, star fruit, and all manner of vegetables. Truly we had landed in tropical paradise. A paradise with no snakes as years ago the mongoose population wiped them out, however, the Coqui frogs, which have no other natural predators, abound. We were serenaded by their bird-like chirping all night until the roosters took over at 4:00 am (Many Hawaiians have a slightly different opinion of this concert!). This created a life-style of early to bed and early to rise–ideal as the best time for ocean swims to prevent sunburn is before the sun rises too high.

During our swim at Kahalu’u, a favorite of the locals, we saw many of the fish that I had seen growing up in my cousin’s aquarium. Hector held up a rock to attract them. The black, white, and yellow angelfish and butterfly fish with their long streamers, the bright yellow tang fish, and blue parrotfish all flocked to him.

After our swim we went to Sam Choy’s for lunch, recommended by my dear friend Leslie Harlib, formerly food editor of the Marin County News. She said it was the best view on the Big Island but she didn’t know at the time about the view we were to have chez Kimballs! The food was quite good. We had our first fish, poke, two ways: marinated, w/onions and chives, and fried w/cabbage. We also sampled another of Hector’s favorite fish, ono w/ brown rice and purple sweet potatoes.
Mornings began with freshly squeezed orange juice from oranges harvested from the backyard, while Woody was busy answering blog questions, and Hector was busy organizing and reorganizing the rest of the trip. Hector had brought a house gift assorted Hawaiian coffees and made us cappuccini.

We presented Hector with daily gifts ranging from a book–to a copper tin-lined cake pan–to a white satin jacket with “The Cake Bible” embroidered in hot pink. We also brought gifts for Patti.

Patti’s large and well-organized semi-commercial open kitchen was a dream to work in. We all walked barefoot on the most satiny-exquisite wood flooring I’ve ever seen, made from Robusta Eucalyptus trees. The walls were decorated with beautiful paintings by their daughter Sean Kimball.

Patti and I worked together making the coffee panacotta I had contributed several years ago to a booklet on the Hawaiian Sugar in The Raw.

And Hector, Woody, and I worked together at last, creating an adaptation of one of my favorite pastries using many Hawaiian ingredients such as Sugar in the Raw, macadamia nuts, and Hawaiian Rum. (The wonderful pastry will be included in our next book, even though we had said we were done adding recipes.)

Hector and Patti turned out many fabulous lunches and dinners. Patti prepared specialties such as Mexican style black bean cakes with a chunky avocado , Mahi Mahi, purple sweet potatoes, delicately delicious baby Kale greens, and shrimp/chicken gumbo. She honored me by making my pizza and my mother’s coleslaw with avocado.

Hector made some of his Spanish specialties from his childhood in Peru. A crisp and delicious onion salad called Salsa Criolla with lemon and hot pepper, and a savory sofrito rice with passion fruit juice.

Hector’s dear friend, astronomer Luca Rizzi, brought a lovely Tira Misu and entertained us eloquently and informatively about the Keck telescopes and our upcoming visit to it.

With all this wonderful eating we tried to get some exercise by walking, but the mountain road was so steep Hector and Woody had to hold me on either side to keep me from rolling down. Next posting: the demo at Leeward Community College in Honolulu!

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Hawaii Part Two

Hawaii Part Two
Feb 02, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here.

Culinary Event at the Fairmont

Things started off with a bang: We were invited to a special event at the Fairmont Hotel, coordinated by Hector’s friend chef Patti Kimball. It was the Culinary & Wine Extravaganza Charity Event for the Kitchen Campaign Palamanui to buy equipment for the school. Hector arranged to have three of my cookbooks at the auction!

On the way to the Fairmont Hotel we were treated to a landscape of black lava, decorated with personal messages written with small white rocks. We thought about bringing some lava rock home as souvenirs but were warned by Hector that the goddess Pele would bring bad luck to anybody who does this. As we drove up to the hotel it seemed strangely familiar. It took a few days to discover that Elliott and I had stayed there 18 years ago when it was called the Ritz.

The hotel was decorated for Christmas which included unusual gingerbread house.

The first person we met turned out to be a colleague of mine I hadn’t seen since she moved to Hawaii: The chairwoman of the event Jean W. Hull (pictured with Hector below, at breakfast the next morning)

Hector describes Jean as the Grand Dame of Hawaii Culinary. She wrote the curriculum for the West Hawaii Culinary College and now is a consultant for major culinary events

Out in the garden, chef students helped man the booths. After meeting our host Patti Kimball, we raced around to try to taste everything!

Favorites were the ginger chicken salad, wild boar meatballs, and eggplant cake frosted with avocado.

We met and were charmed by French born chef Fernand Guiot who opened a bakery in New York in 1980 and a few years later opened a bakery in Hawaii. He now teaches at the culinary school. It was his students who made the gingerbread house above and several other ones, under his supervision.

The next morning we were treated to the brunch buffet and were blown away by chef Curtis Lea making omelets. Not only were the omelets made with Portuguese sausages, cheddar and spinach so good we had to go back for seconds, what impressed us still more was when he volunteered that having a metal prosthesis served as a great advantage. He never worries about burning or cutting his left hand or arm, and can run the metal device under boiling water to sterilize it. (Talk about silver linings!) Patti told us later that she and he were in culinary school together and the students all took up a collection to buy him a better prosthesis.

Before departing for Patti’s home we walked to the hotel beach and learned that the white sand was imported from California. A few of the beaches in Hawaii are black sand, but there are also beaches of plain rock, lava rock, and white sand. The Fairmont is located in an area where there is a mixed landscape of all these forms and colors.

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Finally meeting hector

Finally Meeting Hector Wong in Hawaii
Jan 26, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose, posted here.

Hector Wong and I first met over the internet in December of 2006 when he posted a question on my blog about Panettone. Since that time we have had an enormous influence over each other’s lives. Hector baked his way through many of the recipes in The Cake Bible and all of the recipes in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. He read through all of my books and became intimately familiar with my work and in the process became a masterful baker. His renditions of my cakes were so stunning I gave him a spot on the blog called “Hector’s Take on My Cake.” And Hector taught me how to make the leap from a PC to a Mac and innumerable techniques on the computer. He also edited and posted over 150 of my video and tv appearances on YouTube so that every one could benefit. He also often jumps in to answer questions on the blog. It hardly seems possible that we have been friends for 6 years, only having spoken once on the phone, but having exchanged hundreds of e-mails.

Hector has been inviting me for several years to come to visit him in Hawaii. Finally the time came this past December to meet in person. It took a lot of planning on all our parts and even included a culinary demo at Leeward Community College, arranged by another wonderful new friend Haley MatsonMathes.

The 10 day visit was the trip of a lifetime. And for Hector, it meant achieving several of his wishes:
A chance to interview me over the period of many days and long car trips
The chance to do a drop dead mis en place for my demo
The perfect opportunities to show off his baking and culinary skills
Getting me to taste his avocado rendition of my chocolate oblivion
And to work together to create a Hawaiian adaptation of one of my favorite recipes that will be in the upcoming book.

The trip included so many special highlights that I’ve divided it into several postings to share with all of you and I hope that you will feel almost as if you were there. Truly it was an embarrassment of riches: the people, the fruit, the demo, the landscape, swimming in the ocean. The most unusual highlight, the visit to the Keck Telescopes on Mauna Kea, arranged and led by the astronomer himself, Hector’s close friend Luca Rizzi, was video taped by Hector along with appropriate music. It will be posted in the posting about touring in a few weeks time. Do Not Miss It!!!

Woody flew out of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, which had 14 inches of snow
I from out of cloudy gray, 40˚F/4˚C New York City
We both arrived to 80˚F/27˚C sunny Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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