While we like to make a practice of covering events yet-to-come in order to give esteemed readers the opportunity to attend them, this “wrap up” of a just-passed culinary extravaganza from Jean-George’s Kauai Grill at the St. Regis Princeville is well worth the space. Trumpeting their one-year anniversary last week, the resort’s food and beverage team paired with Kauai Grill chef de cuisine Colin Hazama to bring locals and hotel guests a truly innovative menu that celebrated the notion of maintaining a Hawaiian ahupua‘a.
Portions of the evening’s six-course, wine-paired menu were donated to the Waipa Foundation of Kauai, who aim to restore the Waipa ahupua‘a (land division from mountain to sea). The menu included a dizzying array of Kauai and neighbor island-harvested product—something Hazama not only contributed a significant amount of his year pursuing, but fully supports as a local, Hawaii-born chef.
Here is a brief overview of the menu from Saturday evening, November 13, 2010. And while it is not available in its entirety every evening at The Grill, it gives you a fine preview of the level of cuisine Hazama and his skilled team are churning out to a cult-like following of regulars—the true sign of a burgeoning, hotel-anchored restaurant in Hawaii.
The first course was a slow cooked Big Island baby abalone, which rested in a chilled pool of chili and ginger broth. It was paired with a 2007 Vouvray Champalou from the Loire Valley, France.
Next was a mouth-watering poisson cru with the lesser known hirame fish, cultivated in cold water tanks at NELHA in Kona. It was finished with Kauai fresh hydroponic watercress, and immersed in an elegant balance of coconut and yuzu. A 2008 Gruner VEltinger Loimer from Austria was sweet and dry—a fine pairing with this flavor packed dish.
Hazama kicked things up a bit with more proteins from Kona and Kauai: Cold mussels and Kekaha shrimp were balanced with spicy homemade chorizo, kula onions and basil oil, served with a Marsanne Qupe from the Central Coast of California (2006).
A local-caught moi crusted with “nut and seed” and wading in a sweet and sour jus was perfectly cast next to fan-favorite Jim Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat “Nuits-Blanche au Bouge” from 2004, Central Coast.
Finally, for the main course Hazama delivered a Kona cold Maine lobster served with a Galangal and Champagne Sabayon, topped with crystallized Kaffir lime. A 2009 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand held up well to the power-packed finale.
The team about-faced with dessert, surprising us with a local baby candy beet flan, a tease of local citrus shaved ice, and toasted Macadamia nut. No other wine but a Brachetto (this one from Rosa Regale Banfi, Piedmont) could have been served with this dish, and it worked stunningly.
As previously mentioned: We formerly considered Kauai an island that was culinary challenged. Now, not only is the team at Kauai Grill offering a high-level (one might even say “St. Regis-worthy”) dining experience—they are winning over a discerning, particular and rather internationally-savvy following. Frequent sightings of Laird and Gabby, Pierce Brosnan and other North Shore notables speaks volumes.
Stay tuned for more musings from Hanalei...
Kauai Grill is winning over a discerning, particular and rather internationally-savvy following. Frequent sightings of Laird and Gabby, Pierce Brosnan and other North Shore notables speaks volumes.