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Thursday, July 30, 2015

CHAINE DES ROTISSEURS GOES TO GRONDIN IN CHINATOWN

Chaine des Rotisseurs is an international gastronomical society tracing a history back to 1248 at the time of French King Louis IX.  The Kauai/Oahu Bailliage (everything is in French, and the term means jurisdiction in English) is led by Bailli (means King's representative, but effectively stands for president in our organization--French was my PhD language, so I should know all this...but don't) Kathryn.  I am a chevalier, which means a chivalrous man, and is the lowest rank.

Last night we dined at Grondin in Chinatown Honolulu.  First, though, Carter (who personally created this experience) provided a grand World War II Red Light District Tour:  a historical walking tour of debauchery and corruption.  We learned about boogie houses (hotels which were not hotels, but brothels, and there were 20 of them, all on the second floor), the history of prostitution, strip clubs and tattoos.  The charge was $3 (worth $40 today) for 3 minutes (yes, three minutes), and the prostitutes made an annual income of around $25,000 ($350,000 today).


Wo Fat, the first Honolulu restaurant, opened in 1882, closed in 2005, and is today, sadly, a run-down market:

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This was the home of the original Glades, a mahu-friendly club, now a religious media outlet:


Grondin, a French-Latin fusion restaurant, opened two years ago and is owned by Jenny Grondin (father was a French chef) and David Segarra (from Ecuador).


At the start, a Drappier Carte Blanche Brut Champagne with Pate de Campagne (country pate), Gateau de Foie (duck liver mouse on crostini) and Salmon Rillette (a salmon concoction):


Dame de la Chaine Bobbette and Don.  


I sat at a table for five, with Tom (president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii) above, Carol (Pacific Aviation Museum) / Donna (executive director of Hawaii Pops)  and Kathryn (our leader) below:


The meal began with Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Blanc (a French Chardonnay) with some amusement, then Scallop Crudo (raw scallops in a lemon emulsion topped with lamb prosciutto flakes and green onion threads), a very fancy ceviche:


Then, maybe the dish of the evening, Duck Prosciutto (means cured by drying) with herbs and olive oil:


Followed by some exquisite Chorizo Clams (Manila clams with chorizo, lime and cilantro):


Very tasty.  Then with a Jean-Marc Brocard-Chablis les Vieilles Vignes (another fancy French Chardonnay) an olive oil poached market fish (forgot what was mentioned) with prawn jus and beurre blanc (white butter):


It was okay, if not excellent, but, as in many Chaine meals, with so many people to be served, as at 15 Craigside, the food temperature was less than optimal, especially so for the two following meats.  The first with a Meiomi Coast Blend Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara Pinot Noir - Petit Syrah meritage (a truly excellent blend) came a Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with king trumpet mushrooms and sauce forestiere (just means wild mushroom sauce).


I remember this dish as uninspiring, with Seared Tajima Wagyu Ribeye served with confit Cipollini onion puree, roasted garlic and Parisienne potato almost cold, and, therefore a disappointment.

Further, the taste of original wagyu from Japan also was lacking.  I did not ask, but if this was a true Tajima Wagyu Ribeye, the cost is around $150/pound.  A terrific Emblem Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (enhanced with some Syrah, Petit Syrah, Zinfandel and Petit Verdot) came with the steak. The dessert was a superb Spiced Chocolate Torte:


The wines were all quite good with essentially bottomless glasses.  Many of us drank way too much and I'm feeling the aftereffects this morning.  There was much joviality, the ambiance was electric and Kathryn again produced an epic feast.  I took The Bus to dinner and eventually caught a ride home, but we got lost looking for the car and  had an unexpected night tour of Chinatown.  Surprisingly enough, there seemed to be no sense of danger as we roamed around Chinatown at 10:30 PM (I arrived at 4:30 and started with a Dalwhinnie Single Malt Scotch, so this was, on a dollar/hour basis, a cost-effective gustatorial adventure).  No vehicles, no homeless, just us walking about.

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There are six ocean storms:


The most dangerous is Tropical Storm Soudelar, now at 45 MPH, but expected to attain Category 2 typhoon status and head for Okinawa:


Tropical Storm Guillermo is now at 60 MPH, but will attain hurricane strength and aim for Hawaii:


However, computer models show the storm weakening, with the eye probably sliding north of the islands on a westward path.  However, maybe not:


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