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Monday, September 30, 2013

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A $100 ROOM SERVICE ITALIAN MEAL?

My morning began with a free breakfast, but I splurged on a $100 Italian lunch on my Four Seasons veranda of Hualalai Linguini Bolognese, Hualalai Caesar Salad and corn, with a beer and Field Stone Merlot from Alexander Valley:


I like to enhance my bolognese, usually with a slice of raw onion, but today tried some corn.  This was a very satisfying meal, with my only regret being that I should have brought with me a small can of corn, which got to cost less than a dollar.  This dish (only the corn, mind you) above set me back $8.  Sure, my weekend was extravagant, but the bread was so good that I zip-locked the remainder to take home.

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HUALALAI GOLF AND TASTE OF HAWAII


According to FOX News, the best golf courses in Hawaii are:
  • #1  Club at Hokulia
  • #2  Hualalai Golf Course (above)
  • #3  Mauna Kea Golf Course
  • #4  North Course at Maunalani Resort
  • #5  Poipu Golf Course.
Thus, the top four courses in this state are on the Big Island.  I today golfed at #2, Hualalai.  Hokulia, unfortunately, is a private course, and is not open to the public.  Neither is Hualalai.  You need to stay at the Four Seasons here to golf.  Got to agree that Hokulia (right) is far superior to Hualalai, which I found to be lacking.  #2?  Not in my opinion.

A dozen Chaine des Rotisseurs members and their guests played:


The signature #17 hole (that's the photo at the top) with Marie waving, Dominick in cart and Carol at the tee:


After golf and a long bath with a glass of Chardonnay, on to the sunset Taste of Hawaii reception at the Seashell Pool Deck.  Here are a few photos, beginning with Patrick Okubo (he won the Chaine Young Sommelier award five years ago and has zoomed to become our wine guy as Echanson Provincial):


Patrick is manning the red wine table, with that 18-year old Highland Park, an organic scotch, plus cognacs.


The highlight of the gathering was a series of stations featuring sashimi/poke, a memorable risotto, shrimp scampi, desserts and more.  Interestingly enough, water, sparkling or chilled, could not be found, except in the adjacent pool.  Rae and Susan:


Mark and Ty (Tai, Tyrie?), a Honolulu ophthalmologist, with whom I golfed today.

The setting at sunset was a splendid conclusion to the official activities of Chaine des Rotisseurs at Hualalai.  The next affair is the annual Halekulani black tie Christmas supper, where I will wear a tuxedo.

I then spirited away a spot (or three) of Highland Park, and enjoyed a cognac-infused cigar on a reclining chair at the beach, serenaded by Hawaiian music and the pounding surf.  Life cannot get any more relaxing than this.

Although I really already had too much to eat, getting lost finding my way in the dark to my room, I happened to walk by a steakhouse, so went in to order the smallest wagyu they had.  Unfortunately, the best they could do was a substantive New York:


I actually ate the whole thing.  What a culmination to a dazzling day at Hualalai.  It's not quite over yet, as there is still tomorrow.

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WHO REALLY CARES IF OUR GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN?

Hey, this is merely a political game.  Congressional disapproval has been mired at 80% for years anyway, and might even be down to 9%, so who's counting?  President Barack Obama?


But he's not running again, so what's the Republican ploy this time?  Simple as this:
  • The Republican Party is in continued disarray.
  • The Tea Party wants to again be influential.
  • They know that the public is confused about Obamacare, and, more are NOT in favor of the plan.
  • To maintain control of the House, gain majority status in the Senate and then the Presidency, why not take a chance on making an issue where they appear to have the edge?
Sign-up for Obamacare begins next month.  They need to act now, and what's the downside?  How terrible can a government shutdown be, when only non-essential workers are essentially furloughed?  Plus, taxpayers save a billion dollars/week if this one third of one percent our population stays home.

For the record, here is one poll of Obamacare:


If you can't read the details, just click on it.

Of course, keep in mind that TheBlaze, which did this survey, is a libertarian conservative network founded by talk radio personality Glenn Beck.  It's all in how you ask the question to whom.


It's almost as if the Democrats are purposefully playing this game of chicken and want the Republicans to derail themselves, for Obama went golfing this weekend and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  kept the Senate home until this afternoon, when this body thumbed their noses at the other chamber by rejecting the House version of the budget bill.  While the Japanese Nikkei fell the equivalent of a 450 drop for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the American stock market just ho-hummed to minor losses.  Good a way to end this posting as any.

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There are five ocean storms:


But, only one, Tropical Depression 22, currently now at 35 MPH, is of concern.  This looming typhoon is heading straight north for Japan:


If you're traveling to the Orient this weekend, be aware.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

CHAINE DES ROTISSEURS: Gala Induction Dinner

Chaine des Rotisseurs celebrated a Gala Industion Dinner at the Hualalai Ballroom of the Four Season on the Big Island.  The induction ceremony was formal and exalted:


The two gentlemen are the #2 (Harold Small) and #1 (George Brown) grand leaders nationally, while being inducted was Tai King, with the Big Island Bailli (Kim Matar) presiding.  George, also known as Keoki (see posting of yesterday), does this almost weekly, as he has to suffer from something similar in Europe next week.  I can empathize, for with two more events left, I'm already jaded, and would rather go to Zippy's.  They also wore courtly costumes:


The two guys to the left are Bailli Provincial (biggest boss of Hawaii) Bruce Liebert and Bailli (leader of Honolulu Chapter) Sydney Lee, with Small and Brown.  Keoki indicated, while Chaine tolerates no speeches, he did go on to say that we are not totally decadent, for our fees also go towards supporting and encouraging young chefs and sommeliers.  We sponsor annual competitions to honor them. While most of the men wore tuxedos, meaning black tie, I wore white and blue:


There is a story to this attire, of course.  It was, perhaps, two decades ago when on one of my Bangkok stops I had this suit made...for less than a hundred dollars, and maybe much less.  For balance, I purchased a Jim Thompson Thai silk tie...for $150 (the average cost of a decent tie on the streets went for about a buck).  This was a lengthy trip, and by my final stop in Tokyo, everything else I had was wrinkled, so I chose to wear this white suit for a formal dinner in my honor, with that blue tie.  This is not uncommon, but a typical sitting would be everyone on one side of a long table, and the dozen or so guests were facing me when I walked into the room.  I wish I had taken a photo, for they were aghast.  This I did not then know, but the only people who wear a white suit with a bright blue tie are Yakuza (Japanese mafia).  I'm not sure if I fully convinced them that ignorance was my excuse, but I did point out that I had all my fingers and no tattoos. The next day, while walking to one of my meetings, I saw a 50-foot poster of a new movie, with a Yakuza gangster all in white with a blue tie.

Anyway, when I was packing my tux for this trip, I noticed this white suit which I had not worn for 20 years, so in a moment of mischief, I decided to also bring it.  It was a kind of relief that no one at the dinner took any offense, and, in fact, I seemed to get mostly compliments.

These were my dinner companions:

George and Kristie of Hilo on the left and Adele and Lucille from Maui to the right:











Nicole and her mother Lee from Hilo (the Hiloans are from the same family):






The dinner was not particularly spectacular, but okay.  My allergies meant substitutions, while the temperatures of the dishes were long after peak because of the banquet nature of the servings.  The evening began with canapés (Kampachi Jalapeño and Huli Huli Pork Belly) with an Ayala Brut Majeur NV champagne.  The first two courses: Keahole Lobster "Duet" plus Dungeness Crab and Coconut Consomme.  As I need to be careful about crustaceans, I instead got a mushroom something (left) and soup (below) with no crab, which, actually, was terrific, for the soup was served in a young coconut, with a thin layer of tender and translucent "meat."


The first wine was a fine Cakebread Sauvignon Blance.  The rolls looked like coal (squid ink) and were almost as tough:


The next course was Hualalai Duck Peking:


The skin was heavenly.  Came with a Castello di Neive Barbaresco.  Followed the Intermezzo of Poha Berry and Meyer Lemon Sorbet:


The main course was Truffleyaki Short Ribs with Hamakua Mushroom, Puna Chevre (goat cheese) Sphere, Kekala Farms Beets and Truffle Crisps.


The wine was a nice Pahlmeyer Merlot.

The cheese was goat, dessert Pineapple Melba and Mignardises an assortment of Kalamansi Vanilla Pate de Fruit, Meyer Lemon Financier, Cotton Candy Macaroon and Grand Marnier Marshmallow Pop with a Fonseca Panascal Port and coffee.  By now I had too much to drink, but I felt compelled to try the 18 year old Highland Park scotch (a bottle costs $110):


Sydney Lee introduced Chris Bateman, the Executive Chef of the hotel:


The evening concluded with a DJ, flashing lights and dancing.  Kimi, I was very impressed.  Thank you.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A $100 JAPANESE FUSION BREAKFAST?

Four years ago I enjoyed a $60 breakfast at the Four Seasons Hualalai:


This morning, while, perhaps, a bit exaggerated, I had a $100 Japanese breakfast at this same hotel:


This was more a Pacific-Japanese fusion breakfast, for the fruit salad included passion fruit, rambutan, mangoes, boysenberries, blueberries and a raspberry that was a large as a medium size strawberry.  If you add the bottle of Stanford Alumni Paraiso Vineyards Chardonnay, Kirin beer and the amenity hiding behind the wine of banana cake, strawberries and pineapple lychee green tea, surely the worth must have approached $100.

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Typhoon Wutip at 80 MPH, formed south of Hainan, will strengthen into a Category 2, and head for a point in Vietnam just north of Hue:


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CHAINE AT HUALALAI

I've belonged to two eating clubs in my life, El Capitan while a student at Stanford University, and Chaine des Rotisseurs.  Eating clubs began forming at Stanford in 1892, making them the oldest student organizations on campus, while CdR is said to be traceable back to 1248 at the time of King Louis IX.  I guess, though, that calling Chaine an eating club does not quite describe the epicurean nature of that organization.

The flight from Honolulu to Kona on Hawaiian Airlines was hazy.  Maui above, and at landing, Mount Hualalai, to the right.  Why?  Thirty years ago I was golfing at the Volcano Golf Course.  The ground shook, and no more than a few hundred yards away, we saw fountains of lava.  That eruption continues today, and the noxious emissions are causing a huge concern for this region of the Big Island.  This natural air pollution even gets to Honolulu during Kona wind days.  Anyway, there was a hula greeting:


We are spending the weekend at the Four Seasons Hualalai, ranked by TripAdvisor as the #1 hotel in the Hawaii.  I arrived yesterday and my room was not ready, so I went golfing.  It is possible that I might have been the only one playing that day, as I never saw anyone else on the Jack Nicklaus designed course (signature 17th to the left).  Part of the problem is that the greens and some fairways are being aerated, and this was just awful, considering the prices they charge.

My room is wonderful, with a good view of the ocean, where you can hear the breaking waves and pounding surf.  The bathtub comes with bath salts and a candle.  The first Chaine event was a champagne reception and assorted hors d'oeuvres.

Here are the three highest officials of Chaine:  Bruce Liebert (Bailli Provincial, or #1 in Hawaii),  Keoki (#1 nationally, who spent part of his childhood in Hawaii) and Hal (#2 nationally):


Or, more officially:

George H. Brown, Jr.
Bailli Délégué des Etats-Unis

Chancelier Général, Académie de Gastronomie Brillat-Savarin

Consul Général, Société Mondiale du Vin
Harold S. Small
Chancelier des Etats-Unis

Kimi (Bailli, or #1 for the Big Island) organized the events this weekend:


Champagne-infused, dinner followed at Ulu, where we ordered whatever we wanted and eight of us shared 5 or 6 bottles of wine.  On our table were Judith (Chargee de Presse Provinciale) and Bruce, Dominick and Marie (right),

Tim and Carol (left), while I sat next to Adele (right, who is the Bailli of Maui).  The others ordered conventionally, but Adele and I chose to share appetizers and sides.  Just one combo, Kona Kampachi sashimi and tempura octopus, followed by my wines:


The amazing part to the feast was that the whole meal per person, with wines, tax and tip, was $91.25.  An appetizer at Robuchons's could cost this much.  Tomorrow, the highlight black tie with ribbons event.  They really dress up, and here is a typical photo:


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