Wednesday, February 13, 2008


2-13-08

I woke today to the repetitive buzz of a small domestic appliance. My peaceful morning quiet was broken by this odd sound, and it took me a few sleepy minutes to recognize that it was coming from the kitchen. It turned out to be the motor of an electric citrus juicer, as my mom was making me a tall glass of tangelo juice.

I often feel frustrated by the poor quality and low standards of food in restaurants here in Hawaii, but man, you can't beat the ripeness the fresh tropical fruit. Since I arrived back in the islands, I've sampled a good amount of my local food favorites--shave ice at Matsumoto's (lilikoi-guava-li hing), Furikake crusted ahi plate lunch, portuguese-sausage-eggs-and-rice, and the blueberry-cream cheese scones at Diamond Head Grill. I made it to a few trendy and classic spots around Honolulu too--lunch at Mariposa (love those popovers with guava butter, and the consomme is always an elegant touch), dinner at Vino, Formaggio's, a cocktail at Nobu in Waikiki, breakfast at Town.

All of these are good spots, and time well spent with friends and family, but my favorite meals have been those enjoyed in someone's home. My friend Leah made me fried rice one hungover morning, which, along with a couple of ibubrofen, hit the spot. She whipped up some tasty curry one night too with Japanese eggplant and tofu that was simply satisfying. I wanted to make grilled-cheese on her fiance's "snackmaster" iron, but we just never got the chance.

Back at home on Kauai, I've started to cook a bit myself again, and wanted to share a bit about the fantastic meal we made tonight for a couple of family friends. Our guests arrived with a bottle of Groth 2001 Oakville cab, and while that opened up, we poured some Cloudy Bay Sauvignon blanc that my Mom had saved from her store. They also brought (and this is really what inspired me to type these notes in the first place)a chunk of sausage from Salumi in Seattle (Mario Batali's dad's place). It was mexican mole salami, and that stuff was incredible. Nice and dry, the sausage's richness is still apparent alongside the slight chocolate and spice in the mole. SO GOOD! (I might sneak into the kitchen for a tiny piece right now--even at 11 pm). Our dinner was delicious as well--my stepdad made a coriander rubbed pork tenderloin with "calabacitas" (see recipe below), what he describes as a "poor people" dish that his mother used to make when he was a kid. The original recipe uses Velveeta cheese, but suggested jack cheese and it was great. I made a salad with local mixed greens, cilantro, oranges, and red onion dressed with olive oil/lime juice/honey/cumin/salt/pepper. That's a good simple dressing when you don't want to use vinegar. For dessert I made pineapple soaked in basil simple syrup with a curl of mango sorbet on top. Mmm...It was all very simple but just so fresh and island-style.

Calabacitas:

Ingredients:
3-4 medium zucchini or yellow squash
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped, peeled roasted green chile (or canned, drained and rinsed)
1 cup cooked corn
1/2 shredded jack cheese

1. Saute onion in olive oil until softened.
2. Add squash and garlic until cooked.
3. Add cooked corn and season with salt and pepper.
4. Sprinkle cheese over the top, turn off heat, and cover with a lid until melted.

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