Tag Archives: featured_events_offlede
Cat Chat 18: Have wine, will eat

Cat Chat 18: Have wine, will eat

You put a glass of wine and a plate of braised lamb shank in front of me, well, neither will last very long.

So when Hoku’s, the award-winning restaurant at The Kahala Hotel and Resort, invited me to sample its wine dinner menu — sans the wine, though — I was there. And I would have probably brought my own fork.

The hotel is hosting two big food-related events this month: the Peay Vineyards Wine Dinner on April 13 at Hoku’s and the Kahala Wine & Food Classic 2011 on April 22 and 23.

The first event will feature a dinner with paired wines from Peay Vineyards, a 53-acre estate vineyard located on the “true” Sonoma Coast in Northern California. This first-generation organic winery — which earned such accolades as the 2009 Winery of the Year from Wine & Spirits Magazine — specializes in Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. (Cost is $120.)

The second is one of the hotel’s signature food events. Headlining will be culinary icon and innovator, James Beard Award-winning author, and BRAVO TV personality Chef Cindy Pawlcyn paired with Napa Valley vintners Suzanne Pride Bryan and Stuart Bryan, known for their Wine Spectator “Top 100” recognized wines from Pride Mountain Vineyards. (Cost varies per event. But check out the dinner menu.)

We were lucky enough to have some of the dishes served at both events — and from last month’s wine dinner — prepared for us by executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi.

Here’s what you could be eating, too:

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Lessons from the Cherry Blossom Festival

Lessons from the Cherry Blossom Festival

It’s hard to believe — at least for me — but it’s been 10 years since I participated in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Hawaii.

Ten years.

It seems like only yesterday I was learning ikebana, hitting a taiko drum for the first time, and standing in front of hundreds of onlookers at Ala Moana Center Stage answering an impromptu question I can’t even recall.

Since then, I’ve volunteered to help with the festival — and let me tell you, it’s a lot less stressful — and way more fulfilling — to be on this end.

On Saturday the festival crowned its new queen and court. But as this year’s contestant coordinator, the coronation part of the event wasn’t something I had been looking forward to. I spent about seven months with the 15 queen contestants, coordinating their schedules, setting up cultural classes, giving them pep talks, wiping stains off their appearances dresses, and dishing unsolicited advice about everything from restaurant recommendations to boyfriend deal-breakers.

It was truly a pleasure to watch these 15 young women — all between 21 and 26, career-focused, compassionate, intelligent, passionate, spirited and damn good taiko players — evolve over the course of the festival. The ones who didn’t know much about their Japanese heritage embraced their culture. Those who were terrified of public speaking were telling jokes on stage.

I don’t know if the contestants knew this, but in a lot of ways, the experience impacted me, too. I learned how to be more organized, to be patient, to be empathetic, to listen. And I learned that sometimes we have to be in uncomfortable, awkward situations — like standing on a stage at a nightclub, belting out the national anthem — to free ourselves from what people expect us to be and just be who we really are.

And that’s the greatest lesson of all.

Here are some scenes of the contestant experience leading up to Festival Ball, where a new queen and court are named — and 15 Japanese-American women walked away with something more important than the crown:

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Did this: Visiting Heeia fishpond

Did this: Visiting Heeia fishpond

When I first visited the fishpond in Heeia years ago, I couldn’t believe the work ahead.

The hundreds-years-old fishpond located in Kaneohe was overgrown with mangrove, an introduced plant whose roots grow into the wall and loosen the rocks and corals. Invasive algae — particularly gracilaria salicornia (gorilla ogo) was growing rampant in the pond.

This wasn’t good.

But the nonprofit Paepae O Heeia has made huge progress in the restoration of the 88-acre fishpond. Much of the mangrove is now cut back and the wall is more than halfway completed. (The moi, though, died due to a spike in the water temperature.)

It was utterly impressive.

But ask anyone who works there and they’ll credit the help of volunteers. Many hands working together. That’s power.

Here’s what a recent work day with the staff looked like:

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Interested in helping out? Come down on Saturday, March 26 to participate in a community work day, held twice a month. Volunteers are needed from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (lunch is included) to remove mangrove and rebuild the seawall. Call (808) 236-6178 to make reservations or for more information.

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Did this: An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine

Did this: An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine

Last night folks lined up for eco-friendly dishes created by some of Hawaii’s top chefs at an event promoting sustainable eating.

“An Evening of Sustainable Cuisine,” held at the Halekulani, featured “green” dishes prepared by chefs Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Restaurant), Vikram Garg (Halekulani) and Ed Kenney (town).

Tickets for this “net zero” event — meaning, no carbon footprint here — was $125 with profits supporting the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College.

Here’s what we ate:

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Cat Chat 17: Puppet sex?

Cat Chat 17: Puppet sex?

When my editor, Diane Seo, told me that I would be interviewing a puppet on today’s Cat Chat, I was a bit concerned.

Not about conversing with a puppet. But that the puppet would upstage me.

And sure enough, the puppet — named Princeton and part of Manoa Valley Theatre’s latest production, “Avenue Q,” which opens tomorrow — did just that.

“Avenue Q” is a sharp-witted and hilarious coming-of-age parable, satirizing the issues and anxieties of young adults, particularly the ones — like Princeton — who are recent graduates with throw-away college degrees.

It’s a spoof of PBS’ “Sesame Street,” where kids are special and everything finds a way of working out. Life is good on Sesame Street — but not so great on Avenue Q.

And unlike “Sesame Street,” this play has some real-life situations not appropriate for kids. Like swearing, nudity and, yes, puppet sex.

The show is so popular — it won Tony Awards in 2004 for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Original Book — and tickets sales so strong, MVT decided to extend the show two more weeks. That means, it will run from Thursday — opening night — until April 3.

So Princeton — and his handler, Elitei Tatafu Jr. — and Christmas Eve — played by Pomai Lopez — spent some time with us yesterday to talk about the show, their personal take on the message, and how in the world can a puppet show be R-rated.

For more information or to order tickets, call (808) 988-6131 or visit www.manoavalleytheatre.com.

This production is one of the first community theater productions in the nation and uses puppets from the official play licensing house. Guest director, Bree Bumatai. Guest musical director, Megan Mount. Choreographer/puppeteer, Cindy Hartigan.

Special thanks to Manoa Valley Theatre, Elitei Tatafu Jr., Pomai Lopez, Aubrey Hawk and the cast and crew of “Avenue Q” for making this Cat Chat happen!

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