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Sunday, October 9, 2016


After I watched the University of Hawaii beat San Jose State in football, I drove to the Kahala Hotel and Resort for a weekend vacation:

The hotel opened for occupancy in 1964 as the Kahala Hilton.  A hundred coconut trees were planted and 18,000 cubic yards of sand came from Molokai for the 800-foot beach.  Every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has stayed here, except for Barack Obama.  A month ago Gerald Glennon became general manager, a  position he held for 12 years at the Halekulani.  I mention him because I had a chance to talk to him and Director of Food and Beverage Manager Michele Brumblay at some length.  

I stay here every decade or so, including a couple of SONY Opens because Waialae Golf Course is adjacent.  I do miss the Maile Room with Charlie Goodness.  The property is located on the other side of Diamond Head from Waikiki:

Yes, that is Diamond Head from the other side.  For a 52 year old facility, my room is quite nice, with a view of the Waialae Golf Course (that's the hotel to the left) and a waterfall:

Next to this waterfall is where you can swim with dolphins:

Well, I went swimming, but at the beach.  The waves were a more manageable 6 inches high.  I entered the water from just about here:

Okay, this time.  See my travails at Waikiki Beach if you don't know anything about my recent disaster.  In comparison, I stayed in the water for ten minutes, ten times more than Waikiki, never got close to drowning and no blood was shed.  Also, no water in my ear.

But I'm here for Wine Spectator's Napa Valley Wine Trail dinner at Hoku's.

I chatted with Cheryl Lewis of Wine Spectator:

I also on several occasions had a chance to talk to Gillian Balance, who works for the company that provided the wines and served as the moderator.  She is one of 30 women in the world with a Master Sommelier title:

Let me begin by saying that all the wines were outstanding, and my best was the Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon, although the Beringer Chardonnay and Nightingale were also very worthy:

It was explained to me why they had to do this, but wines were not served in the correct glasses.  Plus, for such a high class event as this, I would think they'd bring out their Riedels.  If not the connoisseur version, there is the every day version.  But Kahala only has Schott Zwiesels.  I took this shot a distance from my table, but here to the left is an indication of how many glasses were used.

Had to take a photo of the butter, mainly because I adored the color composition:

First, an appetizer with a Provenance Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc (note the glass):

My problem was that I am allergic to crustaceans, so, while the others had something called Carta Fata Wrapped Local Onaga Snapper, with scallops, king crab, Hamakua mushrooms, etc...I had an excellent hamachi sashimi:

The next course was a Pomegranate Roasted Foie Gras with chestnut puree, Big Island Macadamia Nuts, and three kinds of cucumber, with an Etude Carneros Pinot Noir:

Maybe it's only me, but pomegranate seeds tend to get stuck in my teeth and I try to ignore them.  The fourth dish was Kona Maine Lobster, which for me was a grilled Onaga, with soy milk, coconut milk risotto (good idea), hearts of palm and slices of Kau orange:

The wine was a  Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay.  Truly outstanding.  I found the food concoction a bit bland, but was able to enhance the snapper with the anchovy butter, and made a couple of basil sandwiches with the fish.  All in all a nice adventure in creativity.

Then came the Miyazaki Wagyu Beef Ragout and Kona Coffee Crusted Lamb Rack, with two reds, Stags' Leap and Beaulieu Vineyards Cabs.  I was shocked to see the Miyazaki beef in ragout form, partially why I had discussions with the hotel management.  But let me leave this subject and just say that the lamb was exceptional:

The dessert was a Pineapple Tarte Tatin, and I actually ate the whole thing with a cappuccino:

The final wine was a Beringer Nightingale.  Terrific.  What made the evening particularly pleasant were Julie and Karen:

The standard pour was  around 3 ounces, but I'm sure I got up to five, which means if you multiply just by 4, the six wines added up to a whole bottle.  Which had a downside because I got a mild headache and woke up with a slight hangover.  I was surprised not to see anyone from Chaine des Rotisseurs in the filled room.  I ended my stay with breakfast at their Plumeria Beachhouse:

We all got a nice gift bag:

Let me end with one room amenity:  their toilet is like those in Japan, plus lights:

For a hotel more than half a century old, everything here is looking and working well.  The staff reminded me of Thailand, where service is the best in the world.  The great majority of the guests seemed to be from the Orient, mostly from Japan.  I very much enjoyed my stay and felt particularly sorry for those tourists (which was just about every guest) who took all day and/or night to get here, would have to suffer through the return, and pay thousands for this privilege.


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