Blue Tomato Dinner, Alan Wong's, Honolulu, Mar. 23 (Video)
Biting Commentary has been neglecting to praise Alan Wong's exceptional new cookbook, The Blue Tomato.
It is in fact, an exceptionally tasteful book, stuffed with color photos, some of which Wong himself took.
If you'd like to skip right to the tasting part, you can set the book aside and go right to dinner. Wednesday, Mar. 23, 5-10 p.m., Wong will be presenting a six-course dinner from the recipes in the book.
The recipes are doable, one supposes, at home—should you have all day to cook and be seized with outbreak of culinary ambition. (Biting Commentary himself is tempted to try his hand at Pork Pot Roast in Red Wine, Miso and Soy with Wasabi-Mustard Cabbage Sour Cream, one of these free weekends.)
However, the best thing about the book is the glimpse into how it's done. The recipes for these dishes make it clear why you'd go to a restaurant. This is food that takes all day, or more, to make.
For instance, the book will show you how Wong's busy display kitchen creates the Opihi, Tako, and Abalone Salad on Cucumbers with Soy-Vineger Gelee that you'll find on your appetizer plate. It's actually four recipes, plus a rather complicated assembly process.
And the Opihi etc. is only one of four appetizers at the Blue Tomato dinner. The appetizers also includes Leche de Tigre (Tiger's milk?), Crispy Pork Belly with Pineapple Gastrique and Seafood Salad on Soymilk Panna Cotta, which requires you to make fresh soy milk.
The entrees (the dinner includes three) take you from Lobster Dumpling in Black Bean Veloute, to a Maui Cattle Co. Beef Tenderloin with Kim Chee Miso Pork and Kabocha Squash, with a brief stop at Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Spaghetti and Meatballs? A little touch of Wong humor. There's actually a little twirl of spaghetti on the plate, cooked up with kale, spinach, Swiss chard and yellow tomato Romesco sauce (four-step separate recipe).
The meatballs (multistep separate recipe) are made with ahi. The plate includes both seared ahi and an artful dab of tomato salad (both separate recipes).
All together, though, it looks good (above).
Dessert is a seriously upscaled version of andagi, called a Wong Way Baba.
Dinner is $85 per person, $125 with wine pairings. When you look at all the steps in its creation, you don't wonder why it costs $85. And it includes a “Behind The Blue Tomato” DVD for each guest.
There are, however, no blue tomatoes on the menu. The Blue Tomato is a metaphor, and it's probably best to let Wong himself explain it—in the following video:
Watermark Publishing, publisher of The Blue Tomato, is a sister company of PacificBasin Communications, which publishes HONOLULU Magazine.