When Kathy and I told Reid of Honolulu-based blog Ono Kine Grindz that we were visiting Honolulu and wanted to break some bread with him—we've been reading each others blogs for years—we didn't expect him to organize a family-style 11-course dinner by executive chef Ed Kenney at Town followed by a six-course dessert by pastry chef Rachel Murai at Nobu in Waikiki.
But we should've, because Reid is a serious eater of the sort that I doubt I will ever be. These chefs put together special menus for Reid and his band of happy food blogger friends, which included Alan of ma'ona in addition to Kathy and me. It was Reid's first time meeting all of us, and with the help of Ed and Rachel he left his mark by making us all feel mega pregnant and happily food coma-ed by the end of the night.
It's been over one and a half months since I ate these meals—it's safe to say the flavors no longer ring clear in my mind. But I can tell you that everything tasted awesome, a sentiment that will hopefully become clear from the following bagillion pieces of food porn.
We started with small plates of almonds, cantaloupe slices, and pancetta.
There was also some bubbly. I gave my flute to Kathy since I'm nowhere near being able to appreciate alcohol.
Also to start was sliced focaccia and baguette accompanied by a dish of olive oil topped with a pat of butter and red and green olives. Mm, two fats of different origins.
We got more small bites in the form of risotto cakes topped with ahi tartare and balsamic vinegar.
And a salad made with organic lettuces from MA'O, pancetta, Manchego shavings, halved cherry tomatoes, and walnuts.
And piquillo peppers stuffed with fresh flaked ahi, potato, and olive.
Our last starter was a sunny-side up blue lotus duck egg on top of polenta and ali'i oyster mushroom with roasted tomato.
And now...for the main dishes.
Gnocchi with hamanalo baby corn, grape tomatoes, and sage brown butter. SAGE. BROWN BUTTER. I WANT IT ON EVERYTHING.
Seared ahi, Milton's potatoes, and long beans in scallion vinaigrette. That is so many things I like in one bowl. If I put my mind to it, I could probably make something like this at home. GET TO IT, MIND.
Kulana striploin, roquefort butter, french fries, and arugula (Ed shares the steak recipe at West Hawaii Today). I'm pretty sure we were in "stomach explosion" territory by this point, but we couldn't resist juice-oozing steak and crispy golden fries, ye know.
Nor this very special spread of rabbit cooked a gazillion ways. Or six ways. But six is a lot compared to most rabbit dishes, which I'd assume only feature one method of preparation. Here we had little meat cakes, something rolled up, something grilled, and more things that I've unfortunately forgotten, but maybe you can figure out from looking at the photo. Ed really got the most out of that rabbit in its final state of (dismembered) existence. As for where the rabbit came from, I think the story is that there's a local woman who breeds show rabbits, but if the rabbit doesn't cut it on the showroom floor, it miiiight meet its fate as a gourmet meal. Doodeedoo. (RABBIT LOVERS, BEWARE, but those interested in butchery, proceed: Alan pointed out these photos taken by chef Mark Noguchi of chef de cuisine Dave Caldiero breaking down the rabbit.)
You can't have all this meat without side dishes! For contorni we got a honkin' huge bowl of braised gigante beans.
Along with grilled lettuce and shaved Parmigiano.
Methinks Ed wanted to feed us more desserts, but since we had a dessert meal in our future and Ed had more than adequately stuffed us with savory goodness, he ended our meal on a light, refreshing note with grapefruit Campari sorbet.
Many thanks to Ed for feeding us an outstanding meal of champions that will go down in my eating history as "THAT CRAZY, SEEMINGLY NEVERENDING DINNER WHERE I ATE A RABBIT SIX WAYS," and to Reid for treating us to Ed's culinary prowess. (I've read reviews saying that Town is pricey for dinner, but is reasonable for lunch.)
And next up...six-course dessert tasting menu at Nobu by Rachel Murai! I'm ashamed to say that my nose was so stuffed by this point (my allergies really acted up in Honolulu, argh) that I had trouble tasting most of the dishes. :( Judging from everyone else's reactions, they were as delicious as they were beautiful. I tried my best to taste them by repeatedly blowing my nose before/after taking a bite. Which worked. Sort of. I'm sure my nose blowing was quite unsightly, but there were thankfully few people in the restaurant to witness my mucus unblockage by the time we started eating around 10:30 p.m.
Azuki panna cotta, matcha sorbet, tapioca pearls, and a kuri (chestnut) tuile. I was really into the tuile. Need more chestnut-flavored stuff in my life, perhaps.
Creme de mascarpone, honey caviar, almond extra virgin olive oil crumble, passion fruit coulis, and shiso syrup. I also want more crumbles in my life.
Pistachio ice cream, coconut foam, and caramelized goma (sesame seeds). I got a few whiffs of the black sesame. Those were some good whiffs.
Gianduja cremosa, peanut praline powder, frozen raspberry bits, and cacao nibs. More crunchy + creamy goodness—I like this formula very much. The peanut praline powder was probably my favorite part. I keep gravitating towards the nutty things.
Espresso snow, sweet milk, cardamom ice cream, and financier crisps. Ah yes, there had to be a shave ice dessert! Although I'm not a fan of espresso, I'm totally down with it when mixed with milk and ice cream.
It seems crazy to have added all those desserts to our already-full bellies, but...it worked out just fine. Because desserts goes in a separate stomach that may not physically exist, but psychologically, it totally does—if the desserts are tasty enough, which in this case, they were. It'll be a long time before I get to feast on such elegantly composed desserts again.
On an unrelated note, a baseball capped George Clooney and friends were sitting a few tables down from us the whole night. I don't think I would've noticed if Alan hadn't pointed it out—I can count the number of celebs I've seen in New York City in my 5+ years of living here on one hand—but once he did, it was hard to ignore. (I have one random George Clooney-related memory that I'll mention now since I doubt I'll ever have any reason to again: During one recess period in fourth grade , one of my friends said something like, "I love ER—George Clooney is so hot." I probably nodded and smiled, but thought, "I'm nine-years-old; I don't really watch ER and I don't think anyone is hot.")
I can't thank Reid enough for organizing our gluttonous night and for all the chefs involved for making it happen. Reid and Alan are great eating buddies for their wealth of food knowledge...and bottomless stomachs. I'm still working on the former, but I seem to be doing fine on the latter.
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