Hawaii Food and Wine Festival 2013: Highlights from Under the Modern Moon

Last night's Under the Modern Moon kicked off the third annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, this year packed with an impressive roster of chefs (including Grant Achatz and Dominique Crenn) and seminars (such as Christina Tosi and Michelle Karr-Ueoka collaborating on a sweets demo).

Under the Modern Moon, held at The Modern, was as stylish and swanky as ever, the sold-out event filled with food fans and celebrity chefs. Highlights from the event (I attended as media):

Tony Abou-Ganim and Julie Reiner's cocktails. From left to right: Sarah's Smile, Silver Sword, Zig Zag

Tony Abou-Ganim's vodka-based cocktails, the Zig Zag, a summery watermelon concoction, and Sarah's Smile, a lovely pink and pleasantly bitter thanks to aperol and grapefruit juice, sweetened with elderflower liqueur. Plus, Julie Reiner's Silver Sword, a pineapple and mezcal based cocktail, mole bitters giving it added complexity. (Update: Julie Reiner's consulting project, Tiki Iniki on Kauai, still hasn't opened, but hopefully will by the end of the year.)

Left: Floyd Cardoz's ahi and ogo; right: Eric Ziebold's pork belly and smoked steelhead trout roe

Two favorite dishes of the night: Floyd Cardoz's ahi and ogo with crunchy, light croutons and a sunny-side up quail egg providing gooey richness. And Eric Ziebold's pork belly confit—so white and smooth that it almost looked and felt like walu sashimi—topped with shaved radish, smoked steelhead trout roe, punched up with a sorrel vinaigrette.

Left: Charles Phan's fried chicken; right: Bryant Ng's cereal prawns

Some of the juiciest fried chicken I've ever had, by Charles Phan. Though it was drizzled with a sweet sriracha sauce, Phan won't be typecast as a chef cooking upscale Vietnamese: he just opened two New Orleans-themed restaurants in San Francisco—South and Hard Water—all based on the success of this fried chicken.

Move over cereal milk, here's a novel, savory use of cereal: Bryant Ng's cereal prawns. The crunchiness of deep-fried prawns, skin and head and all, is amplified by a spiced cereal mix.

Left: Scott Toner's braised short rib with a corn griddle cake; right: Stephen Durfee's macadamia nut honey mousse

Also of note: Scott Toner's perfectly tender square of braised shortib, on a chive corn griddle cake with pickled cauliflower, and Stephen Durfee's macadamia nut honey mousse, with pineapple sherbert and macadamia crunch.

Want more photos from the event? Check out the photo gallery.

Tonight's $1,000-a-head dinner with Grant Achatz, Hubert Keller and Vikram Garg is sold out, but there are still tickets left for other events throughout the weekend at hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com.