Archive for September, 2010

10
Sep
10

Europan Shrimp, an Out of this World Delight?

Life appears in unexpected places.

So I had a special thought that I couldn’t get out of my mind. So I am going to share it with the rest of you.

I was channel surfing the other week (or was it the other month?) and I saw Andrew Zimmerman’s off-shoot of Bizarre Foods talking about deadly kinds of food we humans like to consume on Earth; from fugu to rock fish it is no wonder we have sayings like “pick your poison.” I realize that isn’t the phrase origin, but I’m trying to make a point so stick with me.

After that, I was on the Discovery Channel or one of the science channels, and it was about space. As an avid Star Wars fan (read as, raving mad lunatic who would dress up in costume if he could), I enjoy watching things about space. As the ideas of space and deadly foods mixed in my mind I thought about one of my friends who makes me look less Chinese because he will consume Japan’s canned seal meat . . . . he likes the idea of eating the exotic.

So I was thinking if there is a possibility that life exists on Europa, one of the largest moons of Jupiter, which scientists think contains liquid water under the hundreds of meters of ice, would we try to eat it? What is more exotic than  Europan Shrimp?

Before you think it is far-fetched consider the following:

  1. First of all, its pretty clear life can live in freezing depths and around thermal vents and these ecosystems do not derive energy from the sun, but the heat and chemicals pouring from the vents.
  2. Second, this life is generally things like starfish, crabs, shrimps, worms, etc . . . .
  3. Third, if the hypothesis of Europa’s under-ice oceans filled with life is correct, then . . . .
  4. We have Europan Shrimp . . . or some sort of extra-terrestrial equivalent. Can we say edible-terrestrial?

This picture while interesting and very scientific looking, I can't help, but wonder are these creatures edible?

Now for the bigger question: would anyone try to eat it?

But it’s not from here! Well, I sat and thought about it, and when the Earth seemed a whole heck of a lot bigger to explorers it did not stop them from killing things and trying to eat them. Hell, as I said before we eat things we already know are deadly. Fugu anyone?

So what about you? If you live to see the day mankind brings back Europan shrimp, would you eat it? I probably wouldn’t, but that is more because I seem to be allergic to terrestrial crustaceans, so extra ones? Yeah, probably not gonna happen for me.

Would you eat this or would it eat you?

Actually, this all sounds so crazy it should be SyFy movie. It could be the “Shrimp that Invaded Earth” or something else like that.

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09
Sep
10

Restaurant and Cooking Tips from the Professionals

Sometimes its best to take advice from a chef.

Hey everyone, today I am posting advice from food professionals on little tricks that they use when cooking and on how to get the best deal at a restaurant.

So let’s get to it!

10 Food Tools and Tricks

The other night I was at a Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) party with some friends (a recap and pictures forthcoming). One of my friends was lamenting on how to cook something that seemed relatively simple, and my best friend (who cooks well, thus I raid his fridge often) offered some advice. My cooking challenged friend was surprised at the amount of knowledge my best friend knew and asked “how do you know all this stuff?” Well, it comes from watching television, reading books, and checking things out on the net.

For instance at the Huffington Post they have this simple slide show of little tricks people in the food industry use when cooking. I’ll do a quick run thru here and may be throw in a comment or two, but you should check out the slide show here.

  1. Using a Pedegg as a lemon or lime zester. All I can say is don’t use the one for you feet when you are making my drinks.
  2. Spice up your fries with some Old Bay Seasoning.
  3. Use mayo, in particular Hellmann’s Mayo. I’m not surprised by this tip, as mayo, like butter and bacon, makes almost everything better (well, except your arteries).
  4. Protect your cake with plastic food film, in fact, it may improve its texture.
  5. Coriander for sweet and savory dishes.
  6. Use a Vita Prep to make your sauces and vinaigrettes.
  7. Microplane, you don’t need to wish airplanes are shooting stars to save your meal with this versatile tool.
  8. Use cinnamon to add depth and flavor.
  9. Flat Spatula. Treat it like an extension of your hand, as it gives greater control in pans
  10. Use your pasta water. Don’t dump it out! It adds that starchy and salty goodness to sauces.

5 Tips How to Get Deals at Restaurants

Are you a small business owner? Have a budget to keep, but need to rope in those new clients?

Over at OPEN Forum, Jean Chatzky shares some advice on how to bring down that high price check at restaurants. While she is speaking from a small business owner trying to impress clients, but keep the costs down all the advice given from culinary professionals can be used even on a more casual/friendly basis. So here goes:

  1. Do breakfast. Luc Dimnet, the Executive Chef of Brasserie in NYC, says “A lot of restaurants that serve breakfast have good offers for business that include coffee, orange juice, and a great dish.  There’s also no risk that the guest will order an expensive bottle of wine[.]”
  2. Share. Richard Sandoval, chef and owner of more than a dozen restaurants recommends going small. Small plates are trendy right now and sharing keeps the tab down. This also allows you to try a wider range at a new restaurant without breaking the bank. I think this is a tip that Hawaii people have known for a while. Family style, the way to go!
  3. Plan ahead. David Burke, chef and owner of David Burke Restaurants, says “Arrange for a pre-set menu ahead of time, with wines included in the price.” While this may take some planning the personalized menu always looks fancy to others.
  4. Stay casual. Chef Kerry Simon of LA Market in LA says that restaurants nowadays have a high and low tier, with the lower being more casual in terms of cost and presentation. Moreover, clients probably would appreciate relaxed every now and then.
  5. Eat early. Try dining between 5 and 6pm suggests Chef David Myers, owner of Sona in Los Angeles and Comme Ça in LA and LV. During this time many restaurants have special drink and food deals.

For the full details on the aforementioned advice check it out at OPEN Forum. Oh yeah, if you are interested in business casual in downtown Honolulu read about it at the Honolulu Grub Club’s news round-up here.

04
Sep
10

What We Drink: Some Stories for you to Imbibe

NYC has Shrimp in its Tap Water

Craving shrimp? Take a huge swig of NYC tap!

New York City has some pretty good tap water (not as good as Hawaii, but still pretty good for a major metropolitan city). Could it be due to the microscopic shrimp lurking in its waters? Yep, according to this Time article when you are taking a gulp of tap in NYC you are getting something extra, some copepods. They little shrimp are not dangerous, in fact they provide a health benefit by clearing out mosquito larvae from the water system. However, if you are one of the many Orthodox Jews living in the city. It’s not really kosher. For everyone else, whenever you are in the mood for shrimp, just drink the NYC tap. You’ll be getting a lot.

Green Tea that is Bad for You

Drink this or eat four slices of cherry pie. It is all the same.

If you thought VitaminWater was bad, watch out for green tea. In particular, SoBe green tea. Earlier this year, Men’s Health put out a list of “Drink This, Not That!” I had posted on the HGC website earlier about that infamous Coldstone PB&C shake, which is equivalent of 68 strips of bacon. Well, here is a follow-up and some other drinks you might want avoid.

  • Worst bottled tea: SoBe Green Tea. A 20-ounce bottle has 240 calories with 61 grams of sugar — the sugar equivalent of four slices of Sara Lee Cherry Pie.
  • Worst water: Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water. A 20-ounce bottle has 150 calories and 33 grams sugar, the equivalent of two Good Humor Chocolate Eclair bars.
  • Worst energy drink: Rockstar. One 16-ounce can has 280 calories and 62 grams of sugar, the sugar equivalent of six Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.
  • Worst beer: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. A 12-ounce bottle has 330 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates, the carbohydrate equivalent of a 12-pack of Michelob Ultra.
  • Worst espresso drink: Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream. A 20-ounce venti has 660 calories and 95 grams of sugar, the sugar equivalent of 8 1 / 2scoops of Edy’s Slow Churned rich and creamy coffee ice cream.
  • Worst margarita: Traditional Red Lobster Lobsterita. A 24-ounce serving has 890 calories and 183 grams of carbohydrates, the carb equivalent of seven Almond Joy candy bars.

Source: “Drink This, Not That!”

Coffee Beans May Be More Expensive, but Your Starbucks Coffee Won’t Be Anymore Costlier

Beans may cost more, but your Starbucks cup won't.

Are you enjoy the price of your coffee beans? Well, this NPR article explains that Colombia has had several years of weak harvests. So normal supply and demand rules apply. However, if you are fortunate to have a job that allows you the daily please of Starbucks in the morning, and then may be again after 2p.m. when you bring in your morning receipt for $2 off, not to worry. The true impact will be felt by those of you who get your beans at the grocery store. Time to switch to tea? Probably not, prices should fall if Brazil’s bumper harvest pans out.

03
Sep
10

midnight munchies spotlight: Imanas Tei’s Beef Tongue and Other Goodies

It’s not a secret that I am a big fan of izakaya (居酒屋) food. It’s also no secret that I like to stuff my face late at night. Probably later than one should following sound medical advice. Oh well, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to take wonderful pictures of the food that goes so well with sake or Japanese brew.

Anyway, Imanas Tei, while not technically open till  midnight (and the kitchen closes well before then), is a place I find myself often on Friday or Saturday nights with friends close to midnight, which is perfect because after sake and sushi I can run (may be take labored steps) toward Bubbies for ice cream!

Anyway, here are some of my favorite late night salty treats that go well with sake and friends:

Kinpira (金平) gobo (牛蒡) or burdock is a nice salty and sweet appetizer with a bit of crunch that like to start out with.

Agedashi tofu (揚げ出し豆腐) another nice small dish. I like the texture of the crunch with the soft tofu inside sitting in a nice broth. I think I also delude myself into thinking I’m eating something healthy because it has tofu . . . .

Beef tongue or usually referred to tan shio (タン塩), which literally translates into “tongue salt” because it is usually flavored with salt is one of my favorites. The texture is usually delicate, but slightly chewy and the saltiness erodes any delusion in my head that this is something healthy . . . well there is the lemon and parsley, no? Anyway, I can’t saw if Imanas Tei’s beef tongue is better than Aki-No-No’s because I really just like the beef tongue itself.

You can’t go to a Hawaii izakaya and not get some sort of sushi, or well I can’t. Always one of my favorites is unagi, cucumber, and avocado roll. To me its a classic that I never get tired of and probably could it 3 days a week, possibly 4 if there is sake with it.

Speaking of sake, I love Imanas Tei because it has my favorite sake for izakaya food. Akitabare Junmai “Northern Skies” compliments salty food quite well because of how dry and smooth it goes down. Not to be trite about it all, but the name is highly evocative of a northern skies, crisp and cool. I highly recommend it.

02
Sep
10

Impressions of Off-Menu at Managers’ Dinner

So as I am eternally backlogged with recaps, reviews (which I still have yet to get back to), and other write-ups this post is delayed by a month. Anyway, I was fortunate as a HGC member to be invited to Off-Menu’s annual managers’ dinner in late July. Off-Menu is a new, hip, and edgy catering company located here in Honolulu. More info on them can be found here.

I'll be honest my food pics didn't come out because I was eating when dinner was served and well, kept on eating. I promise food pics at the next event!

As with what I said in an earlier post about Shogunai Tacos, I am always fascinated with new start-ups and people who bring creativity (especially, through food) to the islands. The reason I think Off-Menu will be good is they have a lot of fun and new ideas. The talent they have on hand is quite smart and energetic. These people are professionals that love food!

The staff getting ready for the evening after coming in early to set up the tent.

Managers’ Dinner Means Managers Make Some Mean Food

So at the this launch party all the food was cooked by the management, and not their actual chefs. However, the food in itself was quite tasty; like I said they love food and you can certainly taste it. The appetizers were arranged artfully and  The meats for me were salted and seasoned just enough that your mouth watered for one more nibblet. The meal in the outdoor, relaxed setting was finely ended with a good brew of coffee and a candy bar (like a salad bar, not an actually bar of candy) that made you feel like a kid after a family bbq.

So that same love of food is going into managing the company and they have some big plans on how they are going to serve up their catering and make it “lucky you live Hawaii.”

Service that is Full

The managers’ dinner also serves for them to fine tune their service and how they conduct themselves. Basically, they always are striving to provide a level of service that demonstrates care. I always had a full wine glass by my server’s hand even though they had a beverage bar. It’s a company that strives to do better rather than just be satisfied with the same old thing that a lot of Hawaii companies suffer from.

Elegant, but a casual affair.

The New “Black” Will Be What is Off the Menu

They indicated they really want to run a tight ship that brings you off premise events that are off the hook. Added to that fact that they sign chefs to provide unique menus that are not necessarily found in their restaurants, Off-Menu really wants to live up to their name. In addition, I’m told they themselves want to host special dining parties that will have exclusive and innovative menus designed by their chefs held in unique locales other than your normal brick-and-mortar restaurant. Basically, think outside the box.

The venue's view was gorgeous.

Location, Location

Speaking of locales the spectacular view by the managers’ dinner party is not one of their typical venues, but I am told that they have other really beautiful venues, such as the famous Oasis World Estates for their normal catering, and in fact have held several weddings at these venues. Off-Menu can certainly do the traditional wedding and event coordination, but that is just one part of the whole deal.

So in my opinion even though this was just for the company if Off-Menu goes off the beaten path as they plan, they will certainly be serving some unique ideas and how we experience our food. Looking forward to their first Underground Dining at Manifest later this month. Update you all on that with real food pics.

01
Sep
10

Quick Lunch Review: Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict and Guava Chiffon Pancakes

Alright, so this food really isn’t meant for lunch and it’s not necessarily quick, but well with my lawyering skills and as I bend the rules of my own policies I’m going to talk about the Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict and Guava Chiffon Pancakes found at Cinnamon’s in Kailua.

In my mind it is lunch because when I go there on Sundays it is lunchtime. Secondly, it is quick in the sense that the restaurant gets the food out quick, but the caveat is that the wait can be really long. Cinnamon’s is really popular and is it any wonder when they serve up things like Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict and Guava Chiffon Pancakes. My mouth is watering and my heart is racing as I mention those food items . . . or is it me having a heart attack for eating these things too many times? Oh well, you’ll know for sure if the posts stop coming.

Anyway, on to the food. I love salt. I talked about it here in conjunction with the NPR article talking about “Supertasters.” So the Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict is like a dream on earth. I am one of those people who at the Las Vegas buffet takes the Eggs Benedict, and then stares and pokes at it after eating everything else. So for me to devour these Eggs Benedict says something.

Such a savory treat is then perfectly paired with an order of Guava Chiffon pancakes for dessert. The taste is really evocative of drinking a good guava juice or eating fresh fruit. It really tastes like a good piece of cake. Anyway, if you find yourself in Kailua around breakfast and/or lunch I highly recommend getting a plate of Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict and Guava Chiffon Pancakes.




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