“Growing your own food is like printing your own money,” just one of the great lines Ron Finley delivered during his inspiring TED talk. The other one that I vividly remember was at the end of this presentation when he told the crowd to “Go grow some shit!”

If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on food sustainability and how a little creative thinking can do amazing things for a community, this is a must watch. As the video description on the YouTube site says:

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

Have a watch and let me know what you think. As I watched this, it also made me think about the great work the folks out at MAO Organic Farms in Waianae are doing to put the youth on Oahu’s westside  on a path for success through working in the Earth. Very inspiring stuff!

-NGK

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As I was preparing to write about local baker Christopher Sy’s incredible Breadshop sourdough breads (country loaf pictured above), it dawned on me that was a foolish idea. Why? Because my post would have said pretty much what HONOLULU Dining Editor Martha Cheng wrote in her detailed Biting Commentary column last year titled “The best country bread you’ve never heard of: Chris Sy’s levain.” I’m joking. There was no way I was going to be able to make the chef and his bread sound that good with my own words, so I encourage you to click the link above and enjoy her piece. I have mad respect for Martha’s work and it’s a great read.

On a slightly more serious note, here’s my take. If you enjoy sinking your teeth into a good piece of bread like I do, you need to give Chris’ country and city loaves a try. Some may argue that it’s ridiculous to pay $7.50 for a loaf, but those people just don’t get it.

This bread has a quality and character well worth the price and enjoyment. The texture (crunchy outside, chewy soft on the inside) and flavor (distinctly sourdough with a smoky finish from being baked in a kiawe wood fired oven) is like nothing I’ve had in Hawaii before. You can see and taste, passion, and pride Chris puts into his craft with every bite.

But don’t take my word for it, the fact that my kids – Ensen (5) and Avery (2) – prefer it over the regular sandwich bread you find in the grocery store is proof positive to me this stuff rocks. The delicious country loaf has become a staple in our kitchen  and I have a feeling it will be in yours too after you try it.

So  what does it look like and where can I buy this you ask?

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Each loaf is carefully wrapped and date stamped for freshness.

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Proof that good things come in white packages. The dark crust is not only beautiful, but packs a ton of flavor.

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Cutting into a city loaf. As you can see, the texture of the bread is light and airy. Absolutely delicious with or without butter or olive oil.

Breads by Breadshop are made in limited quantities, so follow Chris on Twitter to find out when and where he’s delivering during the week.

Breadshop
www.breadsbybreadshop.com
Stay in touch on Twitter and Instragram
Breads available at The Whole Ox Butcher and Deli and The Pig & The Lady (various farmer’s markets)

-NGK

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My simple advice to you is get a bag (or two) of this delicious Brownie Brittle the next time you’re at Costco or Don Quijote. Why? Well, if you typically reach for the crunchy corner pieces in the brownie pan like I do, you’ll absolutely love these crisp and decadent snacks. As the package reads, “No more fighting for the Corner Pieces.”

Apparently, these brownie treats have been on the shelves for some time now, but I only recently discovered them when my mother-in-law sent us home with a bag the other night. I’m glad…and mad…she did. This has instantly become a family favorite and will surely satisfy your craving for declines chocolate brownies anytime of the day.

Have you tried this yet? Love? Hate?

My apologies in advance if you get hooked like we are.

-NGK

As the package

Photo by Ed Morita

Pictured from left: Dean Okimoto, president of the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Hiilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae o Heeia, Rick Barboza, hanaola director of Papahana Kuaola, HFWF co-chairs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, Michael Pecsok, vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Leeward Community College, and John Morton, vice president for community colleges for the University of Hawaii. [Photo Credit: Hawaii Food & Wine Festival]

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (HFWF), the state’s premier culinary event now in its third year, presented checks to five local nonprofit beneficiaries totaling $210,000 on Monday, February 4, in a special presentation at Kapiolani Community College’s Ka Ikena dining room.

The net proceeds raised during the 2012 festival went to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation ($80,000), Culinary Institute of the Pacific ($80,000), Leeward Community College Culinary Arts Program ($30,000), Paepae o Heeia ($10,000), and Papahana Kuaola ($10,000). Since its inception in 2011, HFWF has raised nearly $500,000 for these organizations.

“In partnership with the tourism industry, we created this festival in 2011 to give travelers to Hawaii and residents alike a world-class food festival featuring top chefs and wine makers from around the globe, while showcasing the bounty of incredible ingredients the islands have to offer,” said Roy Yamaguchi, HFWF co-chair and owner of Roy’s Restaurants. “As a result of the festival’s success the past two years, we’ve been able to fulfill the festival’s equally important mission of providing our beneficiaries funding to support their important food sustainability, cultural, and educational efforts.“

HFWF co-chairs and chefs Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, owner of Alan Wong’s Restaurants, presented the checks during a Mahalo Reception thanking the festival’s partners and participants for making last year’s festival a sold out success.

“The support from the visitor industry and local community has been tremendous and instrumental in our ability to offer unique events that sets our festival apart from others across the country,” Wong said. “The guest chefs love coming to Hawaii to cook, attendees really enjoy the opportunity to learn about where the food comes from and meet the chefs, and everyone leaves inspired by the experience. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Through the industry’s efforts in 2012, more than 4,000 visitors and residents from around the world attended 15 events at six venues on Oahu featuring 61 chefs, four master sommeliers, 25 top-tier winemakers and 31 local farmers, artisan food producers and innovators. These chefs and participants shared their expertise and skills with more than 200 culinary students from Kapiolani Community College, Leeward Community College, Maui College, and Kauai Community College who were able to work side-by-side with some of the most respected names in the industry for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We are very grateful to receive this donation which will help finance the construction of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific (CIP) at Diamond Head, an advance culinary/pastry facility that will offer students new opportunities currently unavailable in Hawaii,” said Conrad Nonaka, CIP director. “The University of Hawaii community colleges offer a two-year associate degree for culinary students through its six culinary training programs on the four major islands. However, the CIP will provide students the opportunity to gain their third year professional certificate, as well as the ability to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree through UH West Oahu.”

“The Bounty of Heeia event allows us to showcase our premise and education programs to a much broader audience that we would not otherwise reach and this generous donation will go towards our aina based education programs increasing our capacity to serve the community,” said Rick Barboza, hanaola director of Papahana Kuaola. “As a member of Papahana Kuaola, I would like to extend my sincerest aloha and mahalo to all the people from the festival, in particular Roy and Denise Yamaguchi and Alan Wong for including our organization in this spectacular event.”

The 2013 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is set for Sept. 1-8, 2013, and will kick off with an event on Maui (Sept. 1) before returning to Oahu (Sept. 5-8) for the main events. For more information, please visit HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.com or follow the festival via social media on TwitterInstagram  and Facebook for updates.

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Let me just get this out of the way and say I’m not a huge fan of tripe. I didn’t grow up on it, but occasionally enjoy it in stew and pho. However, after eating this Tripe alla Parmigiana dish at Cafe Julia at YWCA recently, I have a whole new respect for the intestine.

Executive Chef Lance Kosaka, formerly of Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room, carefully cleans and cooks the tripe in a magical way that takes out most of the funk. The result is a tender, delicious, and “broke da mout” dish that I can only imagine would have been even better with a cold beer. Tripe in a rich tomato sauce and topped with cheese and a runny egg kept me going in for more. This day at lunch there were two other non-tripe eaters at the table, yet after trying this, we all agreed that it rocked. I would order it again in an instant.

Since opening in the YWCA late last year, and following the closure of the beloved Downtown @ the HiSAM, Cafe Julia has become a hot spot for lunch, pau hana, and weekend brunch. Chef Lance is doing the kind of food reminiscent of childhood days, but on an elevated level. Not to mention, the historic building in which the open-air restaurant is located offers a casual elegance to the ambiance.

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If any of the pot pies happen to be on special, get it. I’m told its a rare site on the menu, so I couldn’t pass up devouring one a couple weeks ago. This was a Mexican-inspired interpretation with beef, beans and a whole lot of goodness in a crisp pastry. So good.

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You can also find some great sandwiches here, like the Korean-Inspired Grilled Pork which was quite tasty.

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Finally, if you have room for dessert, Chef Lance’s version of an ice cream sandwich is worth the calories. He’s making cookies just like his mom made them for him growing up. What’s not to love about that?!

Cafe Julia can get busy at lunch, so I strongly suggest making reservations, especially for larger parties. Check it out next time you find yourself hungry in downtown.

Cafe Julia at YWCA
1040 Richards Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone : 808-533-3334
Breakfast: Sunday only, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Pau Hana: Wednesday – Friday, 4-9 p.m.
Parking: One hour validated parking for Alii Palace for diners. It is the closest and cheapest garage located off Alakea Street. Metered street parking is also available along Richards and King streets.
Follow the restaurant on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Lucky We Live Hawaii

Posted: January 26, 2013 by Nathan Kam in Oahu
Tags: , ,

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Sometimes I take living in Hawaii for granted. Amazing sunsets like this remind me how lucky we truly are to live in paradise. As seen from the Sheraton Waikiki.

- NGK

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I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. If you love ramen, then check out the Shirokiya Yataimura Quality Food Court the next time you’re at Ala Moana Center. Order the Shiroton Charsiu Sibori ramen (pictured above) from the place with the huge “Ramen Noodle” sign and enjoy. I’m addicted!

The delicious and cloudy pork broth is my favorite part of the experience, although the noodles are quite enjoyable too. There are a variety of different options to dress up your bowl of ramen depending on your mood that day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I’ll admit I’m not a ramen expert by any means, but I know when I’ve discovered something that’s “broke da mout” and worthy of returning time and again to satisfy my noodle craving.

Bon appetit!

-NGK

Yataimura Quality Food Court at Shirokiya
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, #2250
Honolulu, HI 96841
Phone: 808-973-9111
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.