Saturday, July 29, 2017
DINNER WITH CHEF ALEX ATALA
I caught The Bus into Waikiki, and, as I was too early for dinner, stopped by House Without a Key. In one of my previous sittings here I expressed some negative thoughts about their re-planting a kiawe tree to replace the one that fell because this tree has too many dangerous thorns. However, I later learned that the surviving shoot comes from the original. Thus, of course, for historical purposes, they had to keep it.
I had my traditional gin martini. They serve a devilish potato chip bowl that has ruined many dinners for me in the past. You can only barely see it in this photo to the right, but a rainbow was forming over Diamond Head. I don't think I've ever seen this combination, and this scene appears everyday at the top of this blog site.
I used different settings for the next few shots, including a selfie, with the possible intention of replacing that masthead:
Notice that there is a double rainbow. So off I went across the street to the Waikiki Parc Hotel.
The Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College hosted Chef Alex Atala, whose DOM is the #1 restaurant in South America. It was six years ago that I took a 21-hour overnight flight (with a few delays--both in London and Sao Paulo). I finally got to my hotel at 9AM, but as exhausted as I was with no appetite, found my way to Alex's restaurant. You can read about one of the best lunches I ever had.
In 2014 DOM became #1 on Pellegrino's list. In 2017 it dropped to #16, but this is what happens when the chef travels a lot. Chef Rene Redzepi's Noma, which was #1 for several years is no longer on the list, but mainly because he will close this restaurant and open another one in Copenhagen. I dined there more than six years ago just before he attained #1 status. He is shortest guy in this photo.
But here I am with Chef Alex in Waikiki:
The Master Sommelier that night was Patrick Okubo. I still remember some years ago when he was "merely" a young sommelier with Chaine des Rotisseurs. At one time he was the world's youngest sommelier. I remarked to him that he had not aged at all:
I also had a long chat with Alan Wong, who was one of the diners. I didn't realize he has a restaurant in The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai.
Okay, I promise, you won't see me again. The meal begun with a Tattinger Champagne:
There was a menu with all the wines and dishes...but they confused me by adding other things. First came a cava drink with a straw, but my camera had the shot out of focus, so let me start with this frozen something:
Then an Oyster, CupuaCu (a kind of cacao), Whiskey and Mango.
The wine was a Ricardo Santos Semillon from Argentina. Next, Heart of Palm Fettuccine and Yanomami Mushrooms with an Apaltugua Reserve Rose from Chile:
The Onaga was accompanied by Acai and Aromatic Pepper Barda, with a Bodegas Charcra Pinot Noir from Argentina:
The consensus was this was the best of the night. We then had something not on the menu, enchilada comes to mind, and it was good.
Some enjoyed the Brisket with Chutney of Bacuri, with a Chateau Leoville Poyferre St Julien from France. I believe this was the $200 bottle. Terrific wine. I might add that that the third glass which looks like beer, was, from Maui.
At this point, Chef Atala personally served something for which he is famous. I'm guessing, for I didn't listen to why he was doing this or what this was. It tasted like an exceptional and cheesey mashed potatoes.
The extraordinary dinner ended with Smoked Mango, Puxuri and Brazilian Chocolate, plus a fabulous Royal Tokaji from Hungary, reminiscent of a Chateau d'Yquem.
I sat with two Susans and a chef from the new downtown Honolulu Senia, Berkeley. He said that they just began serving lunch during weekdays. I'll be there in August for sure. Our table was next to the piano player, and I'd swear he played the theme from Cheers at least three times.
Next to me from Kapiolani Community College was the other Susan, here with another Susan, both administrators at KCC.
I had long chats with all of them, including the Chancellor Louis and Dean John, here below opening the program:
15 Craigside dined at KCC a couple of months ago:
I indicated to my University colleagues that I would like to drop by their offices one day to gain their wisdom on a future effort the 15C Dining Committee might want to initiate: dining-in. It certainly would be more convenient for a monthly dinner in our Solarium, which has a room with a view and full kitchen. Perhaps we can entice guest chefs to cook for us. This option would make us distinctive among the senior community sites. Of course there would be an extra charge, but not the $100-$400 I have spent on our dining-out activities. I should mention that all the servers were students at KCC. Maybe their budding chefs and hospitality students can be of help to 15C.