Did This: Rice Fest 2011

By September 11, 2011 Food

It’s not everyday you get to cook alongside an award-winning chef.

I got to do that — and eat everything in sight — at yesterday’s 2nd annual Rice Fest at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Not only did I make the rounds and sample the “rice-ipes” from vendors like Grandma G’s Kitchen, Kat’s Sushi and Shiga’licious, but I got to help Chef Mavro’s George Mavrothalassitis with his famous Keahole lobster risotto. (See recipe below)

I can’t complain. I was eating one of my favorite things — rice — with some of my favorite people. See what event looked like:

Rice love fest

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Who doesn't love rice? This annual festival is all about celebrating one of Hawaii's food staples.

Keahole Lobster Risotto
George Mavrothalassitis, Chef Mavro
from “The Hawaii Book of Rice” (Watermark Publishing)

Hot vegetable broth
8 cups water
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
4 cloves garlic
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, fresh thyme and parsley, tied together)
Sea salt, pepper and ground red pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and simmer for half an hour. Strain broth and cool.

Lobster
1 pound whole lobster
8 c. hot vegetable broth (above)

Put lobster and broth into saucepot. Bring to a simmer; do not boil. When the lobster turns red, it is ready. Remove lobster, reserving broth for the risotto, and immediately cool the lobster in ice water. Keeping the tail shell on, cut the lobster between the joints into five sections. Remove the meat from the knuckles and claws, dice the meat and place on the side.

Risotto
1/2 onion, minced
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup white wine
Hot vegetable broth (above, as needed)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a cast-iron pot, saute the onion in one Tablespoon of butter until translucent. Add the rice and cook for about two minutes. Add the wine and cook until the rice absorbs the wine. While cooking, add hot broth, a little at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot. The rice has to be firm and tender and not stick together. Add the diced lobster meat; remove from heat and immediately add the remaining one Tablespoon of butter and the olive oil. Reheat the lobster tail sections in the remaining warm broth. Arrange the risotto in the center of a platter. Top with the lobster. Serve immediately.

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Today’s happy shot

By September 11, 2011 Happy Shots, The Dog Dish

I can’t resist this face.

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Postcards: Lake Mendota

By September 10, 2011 Postcards

With fall semester in full swing, students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison spent an awful lot of time at College Library, one dozens of libraries and study areas on the sprawling, 933-acre campus.

While the library features special collections, multimedia resources, more than 200 computer workstations, a coffee shop and cafe, it’s really the view that impressed me.

This is the view from the third floor of the library. That’s Lake Mendota, the northernmost and largest of the four lakes near Madison. (The university of situation along the southern shore of the lake.)

The lake is lined with expensive luxury homes and condos, protected natural areas and parks, university housing and a bunch of hotels and restaurants. During the summer the lake is littered with boaters, water-skiiers, wakeboarders, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders. During winter — which is fast approaching — the lake freezes over. But that doesn’t stop folks from coming out; it’s a popular spot for ice boating, ice skating, ice fishing, ice hockey and cross-country skiing.

And yes, the library is also home to the popular Open Book Cafe, which serves gourmet coffee, specialty drinks, soups, grab-and-go sandwiches and wraps, salads, snacks and baked goods. This burger and salad only cost $5.80.

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Did This: Waimano Pool Hike and Ice Garden

By September 9, 2011 #CatTravels, Food

I hike fairly often.

But I tend to avoid hikes that cause me physical pain.

Don’t get me wrong: I like a challenge. But I don’t need to hike a trail that requires any more gear than a bottle of water and a few Band-Aids.

So when my friends invited me to hike down to the Waimano pools off the Manana Trail in Aiea, I quickly agreed.

This is a fairly easy 3-mile trail that leads down into the lush Waimano Valley. Your reward: two swimming holes at the end of the descending hike. The payback, though: you have to walk back up the hill. And it’s a bitch.

It’s a beautiful hike through a eucalyptus forest and groves of strawberry guava trees. Just challenging enough to burn calories and rev my appetite.

And I have an appetite!

So the deal was this: we go on this hike, we nearly die on the way back up, and we get shave ice at Ice Garden in Aiea.

I thought that was completely reasonable.

Here’s what our adventure looked like:

At the trailhead

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Waimano Pool is a hike off the grueling Manana Trail. The trailhead starts at the end of Komo Mai Drive in Pacific Palisades.

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Today’s happy shot

By September 8, 2011 Happy Shots

Look at the view from my workplace. Doesn’t get better!

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