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Sunday, January 29, 2017

THE CUISINE OF 15 CRAIGSIDE

Very simply, it cost me $400,000 to move into 15 Craigside, and I'm guaranteed a lifetime  here, even if I run out of money.  Hint:  they won't admit you if they think you won't be able to pay the monthly fee for the rest of your life, which is a bit over $4000/month, $6,000 for couples.

I have heard that two residents have been called in and told they cannot go to Las Vegas anymore.  A couple gave their savings to their children, who were told that unless they returned the money, they would legally now be obligated to care for their parents.  A lady showed me a letter indicating that she can't contribute to charities.  All of this makes sense to me.  You need to file a yearly financial statement.  They haven't inquired about my spending, so I guess I'm doing okay.

15C provides three meals/day and cleans my room weekly, changing the sheets and towels.  The security here is considerable, and there must be ten activities daily, mostly exercise classes, but also movies, poker and the Royal Hawaiian Band.  The staff is fabulous and extremely helpful.  This is a sister property of Arcadia (left), which has been around for half a century, so the long-term prospects are excellent, plus,  we are both run by a religious organization, headed by the Central Union Church, which is celebrating its 182nd anniversary in Hawaii.

When I moved in I decided that, in the short time I had left, every meal would be an event, where cuisine quality, convenience, timeliness, view, etc., prevailed.  Thus, I only come down to the dining room 25 of the free 90 meals/month, usually skipping breakfast and lunch.  A significant waste of money, yes, but I have sufficient funds to do what I reasonably want into the foreseeable future.  I also take frequent trips because soon I won't be able to do this.  But they are stressful, so I particularly savor an exquisite meal featuring a peaceful and celestial skyscape at sunset from my lanai,  here, both the Moon and Venus.

I thoroughly enjoy the regular tables (seating seven) from Sunday through Thursday.  I reserve the weekends to live life my way.  Monday night is easily the most notable, for we have a resident, Dexter, who willingly plans the cocktail for the night, with the alcohol provided by volunteers, he also makes drinks for selected people in three other tables.  Here to the right, his Air Force One, which is served on Obama's Air Force One.  The pupus (local appetizers) many times result in most of us skipping the dinner entirely.

I might add that there is always a bottle or two of wine to complement the cocktail.  Our notoriety is such that we almost once became a special interest clip on CNN.  To the left, I'm wearing my Air Force One jacket and cap to toast an Air Force One drink.  On this night there is always a local dessert, ranging from Japanese senbei (rice crackers) to Chinese rice cakes to Hawaiian haupia (coconut and milk pudding).



The other tables range from just a simple drink or two (usually wine), except that twice/week, with the group I most dine with, we joke about having a night of abstention, but typically consume some combination of wine, sochu, sake, sherry and the like, for we hate to leave a bottle unfinished.  Without a doubt, in the 2.5 years I've lived here, I've eaten more poke (marinated local fish concoction) than my previous life, combined.  Unexpectedly, every night is a party, and we usually spend two hours in interesting conversation.  This is good for me, as the five years after Pearl passed away I usually ate alone and was on the verge of becoming a hermit.  Above, with my neighbors, Al and Charlotte.

There is a different breakfast buffet focus each morning, with Wednesdays being Japanese and Thursdays loco moco.  You can also order from a menu, like Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice.  I'm estimating because I'm too lazy to find the guidelines, but guests can be accommodated:  $14 for breakfast, $18 lunch and $24 dinner. If you invite someone who orders a bowl of saimin for dinner, you still pay the full $24.  If you choose to order from the kitchen, the kalbi is excellent and ox tail soup very good.  The pastas are bland, but okay.  There is also dessert, sometimes okay and many times Jello.  Arcadia, I hear has great desserts.  But sugar is really bad for your health, so I pass anyway.

The lunch and dinner specials are on a five-week cycle.  The salad/soup section is excellent.  The cuisine itself, if you can call it that, is adequate for a cafeteria.  It is said that ours is more local, relative to Arcadia's.  They also require you to wear long pants and shoes for dinner.  Here, most men are in shorts and slippers, though many dress warmer because they keep the temperature cold in the room.  And speaking of temperature, each warm item is too cold, plus the vegetables are always overcooked. I order take-out for $1.50 and enhance the dish.  As for example, I fry garlic in butter, add the clams linguini and top it off with basil leaves from my herb garden.  With a Pinot Grigio at sunset, I enjoy the temperature, taste and solitude.

I was chairman of the Dining Committee for about a year and a half, and passed on this major role to another resident, who was a nicer person.  I was beginning to alienate the management with my ideas.  There is, really, nothing more important here than food.

I also created and chair a dining-out subcommittee, where we have selected top restaurants in town, where the 15C van drops us off and picks us up.  Last week, for example, we went to Eating House 1849 and had a good look at the new Waikiki International Market Place.  This happens at least monthly.  

The problem with going out is that we waste that $24, and end up paying more than $100 for what should be free.  When you add the wine, the cost can be exorbitant.  Thus, a resident will be proposing a dining-in function, using our solarium, which is ideally conformed with a magnificent view, full kitchen next door.  Tablecloths, candles, dress code, violin accompaniment, bring your own wine...for a small extra charge.  Small meaning much less than $100.  This would make 15 Craigside distinctly exceptional among all other seniors community facilities.

The BBQ subcommittee worked with the management, who bought us a spiffy barbecue grill.  This adds yet another option for residents.  This will allow floors to get together on occasion and other groups to bond.  Every BBQ I've attended was fun and enjoyable.  We're attempting to work out with management a more equitable system for providing things like rice and salad.  

I try to go golfing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  For a while I splurged on bentos from Zippy's or Rainbow Drive Inn and immediately then walked at the Ala Wai Golf Course.  By the 6th hole my blood pressure dropped to as low as 80/50, which made me dizzy.  I finally figured out that the food caused this problem.  So I now have a huge breakfast of something like ahi belly with eggs, rice and tsukemono, then write my blog, allowing time before golf.  My blood pressure now only drops to 110/60 at the 6th hole, but returns to 130/80 by the 18th.

My typical Friday dinner is on my lanai, and this is what I had this week: rib eye, Shiitake mushrooms, foie gras, the #3 Japanese rice from Gifu, ahi sashimi, a Meritage from Stanford and Kirin Beer. 


I've been trying to photograph the Green Flash from 15 Craigside, and I just might have succeeded:


I regularly saw the Green Flash from my next door penthouse, but the opportunities from 15 Craigside are scant.  

15 Craigside also serves special meals during holidays, such as Christmas.  We need two servings, for many family members are invited.  Yesterday, we had a Chinese New Year lunch.  Here is what I had:


Note the Moutai, a 106-proof Chinese potion.  The traditional version can be purchased in China Town for $200.  Half a bottle of this substitute still costs $35.  Also a Pinot Grigio and a very special Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from the next table.

We then went to see a documentary on Hawaii's China Town.  The film indicated that Honolulu needs a museum to commemorate the role played by local Chinese in the development of Hawaii...and China, for the founder, Sun Yat Sen, lived here as a student.  Went to Iolani and Punahou.  Here, his statue at the Chinese Cultural Plaza.

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