Saturday, November 24, 2012
PEARL'S ASHES: #3--Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Monette's
(If anyone is following this series, I made a mistake and inserted #3 before #2. Thus, if you missed #3, just scroll down to the 22November2012 posting. Sorry.)
It occurred to me that as I travelled the world for Pearl, I might as well take advantage of the fact that I would be in the most extraordinary places on the planet. There was no need to save for the future, as there was not that much time left for me. Why not at least enjoy the exceptional cuisine of that location? For this particular night at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, however, there was also nowhere else to eat. So, off to Monettes.
I had a perfect view of the sunset:
And what a dinner it was: tomato/pepino gazpacho with veal sweetbreads (and I just need to share the story of Pearl's uncle and sweetbreads, which I will at the end) with a Carneros Ancient Pinot Gris, Kona Kampachi carpaccio and Rougie Farm foie gras with a Neal Family Cabernet Sauvignon and Japanese wagyu Kobe beef, New York cut. Note that sunset in the background.
I had a great time with the staff and they actually treated me to a flight of their signature desserts with an excellent Tawny Port:
It might seem to some disrespectful to mix solemn ash tossing and gourmet meals, and perhaps I should have separate books for each, but when Pearl passed away, I wrote "Gratitude...Not Grief" for the Huffington Post. That was the end of my grief, and I chose with considerable gratitude to enjoy the rest of my life. I'm sure she would approve. In fact, as this book evolves, I can see where it will be as much about travel and food than anything else.
Later that night I searched for an ideal beach site for Pearl's ashes, and found a location with some ethereal lighting:
About that story of Pearl's Uncle Yori Onishi, he went to see his doctor on a regular visit and I think was told he had high cholesterol. He was advised to avoid foods such as sweetbreads. Internally, he agonized, for every morning he had sweetbread in some form. Punaluu Bake Shop made the best, and, coincidentally, it is located in Naalehu, where we first lived after we got married. I return to this site for one of the ash ceremonies on this tour around the Big Island.
Anyway, after a year of deprivation, he went to his annual physical and complained about the sweetbread part. The doctor was puzzled, until he figured out that their different cultures had clashed. The physician's sweetbreads (note plurality) were the thymus gland found along the top of the neck vertebrae on the front quarter of cattle. Here is a drawing of where it is located in our body (bet some of you thought this gland was somehow part of your brain), and what it looks like, except that some also consider pancreas (another organ located between your stomach and vertebrae) as a kind of sweetbreads. These pieces of offal are neither sweet nor breadlike, but, so they say, sweeter than regular meat. In any case, Uncle Onishi is now happy. Yet all is not perfect, as he and I liked to joke around and drink some, if not a lot. He now can't have alcohol. Terrible when you get old.
NEXT: Four Seasons Hualalai.