HONOLULU Small Bites: 5 Goings-On Worth Buzzing About
Here’s a quick-bite guide to the latest foodie news around the Islands.
A farm-to-table event returns, two popular restaurants close and Chef Mavro earns yet another award. Here are some of the buzziest food news this week:
1. Feasts on farms
This restaurant-without-walls event returns to Hawai‘i in January with three dinners.
Photo: Courtesy of Outstanding in the Field
Outstanding in the Field returns to Hawai‘i in January with three table-to-farm dinners. These events, held around the country, involve a huge table set in a rural landscape, where diners, farmers, ranchers, chefs and winemakers come together for a feast showcasing local ingredients. In its 15 years, Outstanding in the Field has organized more than 600 events in all 50 states, with more than 80,000 people attending.
The first event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Big Island Abalone Farm in Kailua-Kona. Hiroshi Arai of Big Island Abalone will host the event, alongside guest chef Bonita Lao from Laulima. The second is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 20 at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū, with guest chef Jeff Scheer of the Mill House preparing the meal. And the roving restaurant’s final stop is Kualoa Ranch on Saturday, Jan. 23, with guest chef Andrew Le of The Pig & The Lady.
All events start at 2 p.m. and cost $195 per person. Dinners are served family-style and can last up to five hours. Make reservations at outstandinginthefield.com.
2. Hale Ōhuna, Fresh Café closed
After just three months, Hale Ōhuna in Kaimukī abruptly shut its doors just before Christmas. Helmed by Top Chef alum Lee Anne Wong, who’s been running the successful Koko Head Café for the past two years, this modern take on a noodle bar had a sluggish start, according to Wong, due, in part, to opening in September, typically a slow month for restaurants. The space itself—a long and narrow split-level area that once housed Salt Bar & Kitchen—was also challenging. The closure was announced on Instagram last week: “It is with the greatest regret that we close our doors permanently at Hale Ōhuna today. We are deeply grateful for all of our family, friends and patrons. Your enthusiasm and support is what made Hale Ōhuna a home.”
And, after six years in Kaka‘ako and a year in Chinatown, Fresh Café closed both its locations on Tuesday. The restaurant cited “an unforeseen change in management” as its reason in a press release, alluding to a possible new venture for owner Tiffany Tanaka. “I’m looking forward to fresh changes in 2016,” she said in a statement, “to offer a better café, more art and live music, and to serve my community.”
3. Chef Hugh Acheson headlining Kapalua Wine & Food Fest
Celebrity chef Hugh Acheson will be one of the guest chefs at the 2016 Kapalua Wine & Food Festival on Maui.
Photo: Courtesy of the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
For its 35th anniversary, the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival is celebrating with celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, chef/owner of several acclaimed restaurants in Georgia and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author. The festival is slated for June 9 to 12, 2016 at the luxe resort on Maui.
Best known for his role as a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and as a contestant on Top Chef Masters, Acheson runs the Georgia-based restaurants 5&10, The National, Empire State South, Spiller Park Coffee and The Florence. His cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, earned a James Beard Award in 2012 and the foundation awarded him Best Chef Southeast that same year.
The festival will feature an international theme this year, with a focus on wines from around the world.
Tickets go on sale in mid-January at kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com.
4. Chef Mavro makes a new restaurant list
The roasted Keāhole lobster with kabocha confit and grilled Brussels sprout leaves from Chef Mavro, which earned a spot on the new La Liste rankings.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
There’s Michelin, Forbes, Zagat and Yelp. Now, there’s another source naming best restaurants in the world, this one claiming to have, at least in name, the be-all-end-all list.
Called La Liste—not a list, but the list—this ranking of 1,000 restaurants around the world is assembled by a computer algorithm that uses data gleaned from more than 200 guidebooks and websites to come up with the world’s best restaurants. (La Liste is run by the French Foreign Ministry and supported by the country’s tourism board, just FYI.)
Topping the list is Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Switzerland, following by Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. Tokyo’s Kyo Aji, Paris’ Guy Savoy and Switzerland’s Schauenstein round out the Top 5. The list, which bases its rankings on quality of food, ambience, service and wine list, was released earlier this month.
The only Hawai‘i restaurant to make La Liste’s Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. is Chef Mavro, the only independently owned restaurant in the state with the American Automobile Association Five-Diamond Award.
To see the list of restaurants that made the cut, visit laliste.com.
5. New coffee pub at Waikoloa
With a strong focus on coffee, Daylight Mind opened a second location on Hawai‘i Island at the Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa.
Photo: Courtesy of Daylight Mind
Daylight Mind, a Kona-based coffee café and restaurant that offers classes in all things coffee, has opened a coffee pub in Queens’ MarketPlace at the Waikoloa Beach Resort this month. It sprawls over 3,000 square feet at the entrance of the marketplace with a direct view of the Mauna Kea observatories.
Like its first location, this café will offer carefully sourced, roasted and brewed coffees from Hawai‘i and other regions, as well as an American-bistro-style menu built around fresh ingredients and handcrafted foods. Some dishes include the “Sam,” an eggs Benedict with kālua pork over a Belgian waffle; a New England clam-and-bacon chowder in a house-made bread bowl; a vegetarian cassoulet; and a liliko‘i opera gâteau with layered almond cake, liliko‘i buttercream and dark-chocolate ganache.
“Coffee is first and everything else is second,” says co-owner Shawn Steiman, aka Dr. Coffee, an author and coffee consultant with a Ph.D. in tropical plant and soil science. “What makes our coffee special? We take a good product, treat it really well and make great coffee. There’s no secret, no magic. If anything, it’s passion.”
Daylight Mind, Queens’ MarketPlace, Waikoloa Beach Resort. Open 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. (808) 223-0982, daylightmind.com.
READ MORE STORIES BY CATHERINE TOTH FOX