Three Major Food Events NOT TO BE MISSED

Cakebread Cellars, Ridge Wines, Alan Wong and David Paul Start the Year Off with a Bang

Three Major Food Events NOT TO BE MISSED

The start of a New Year never fails to excite chefs and restaurateurs to get things off to a booming start. We've come across three such events in the coming few weeks that, if your palate is one that needs to be stimulated, you might want to consider attending.

This Friday, January 22nd, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii's Big Island is hosting "An Evening with Ridge Wines". The resort's culinary team is stepping up to the challenge—and basking in the opportunity—to prepare some highfalutin fare sure to attract new followers. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m., at Manta and the Pavillion Wine Bar, and cost is a reasonable $140 per person, inclusive of all wines.

The evening will begin with a sample of Ridge's Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay, 2007, and a series of amuse buche's to match. The meal's first course will feature "Sustainable" seafood sausage poached in Hawaiian salt water, topped with a warm chorizo vinaigrette. With this course, you'll sip Ridge's robust York Creek Zinfandel, 2006. We move on to kiawe-grilled quail served with green apple-fennel slaw and Hamakua corn pudding, which majestically matches the Pagani Ranch Zin from Ridge's 2007 lot. Third course involves a sous vide Opah belly, accompanied by Foie Gras pastrami and a Syrah reduction. The Ridge Geyserville 2007 will step up to the plate, quite literally, with this course. Finally, we top off with a prime ranch strip loin, caramelized baby leeks, smoked potato puree and a Cabernet Bearnaise that melds perfectly with Ridge's Monte Bello 2006. We've shared enough: Dessert will be left for you to discover on your own.

Visit www.princeresortshawaii.com/mauna-kea-beach-hotel/ for ticketing information.

Alan Wong certainly isn't staying out of the New Year mix. He's initiated his first "Farmer Series Dinner" of 2010 with a "You Like Beef?" event, slated for Febraury 2. He's bringing in one of our favorite ranchers, Michelle Galimba, of Kuahiwi Ranch in Ka`u, Big Island, as well as a bevvy of others who's protein will reign supreme in Honolulu on this evening.

Wong starts the evening with an explosion of five small appetizers. They range from Joe Wilson's Kona lobster with creamed Waimanalo Corn, to Ron Weidnebach's North Shore Tilapia, Kuahiwi Ranch beef carpaccio, Ahi lumpia and soy milk panna cotta with Ma'o FArms Swiss Chard.

We'll move on to Hilo Farm-raised sturgeon with Ho Farms baby tomatoe and locally-harvested sea asparagus salad. This course is paired with a Malvasia Bianca from Palmina's Larner Vineyard, 2008.

The evening climaxes with a Kuahiwi Ranch rib eye served "two ways"; in a red wine and ume sauce, as well as soy braised. Wong and staff chose a Mongrana Querciabella, 2007, from Italy to match this duo.

Wong's pastry chef, Michelle Karr, is never one to be left out of the game. She'll close strong with a "Wong Way" banana split that features bananas from Kahuku Farms, and pair it with a Muscat from Domanine de Durban, France.

The "You Like Beef?" dinner is $80 per person ($110 with wine pairings). Call (808) 949-2526 for reservations, or visit www.AlanWongs.com.

Our next wine-related dinner is a nod towards home-grown celebrities, in more than one regard. Chef David Paul Johnson is a Maui culinary cult hero. Dennis Cakebread has inked one of Napa's hottest addresses in the world of wine-tours. The pair are joining forces (on a Wednesday, no less) February 24th, at David Paul's Island Grill on Front Street, Lahaina, for an unforgettable wine dinner.

Johnson, who never withholds energy, opportunity nor local ingredients, will start guests with a goat cheese torte and frisée-endive salad topped with honey-poha vinaigrette, matched with Cakebread's infamous 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. We'll jump with both feet in to a pan-seared halibut served with a Miyaki oyster, fennel and Yukon Gold chowder (I think we just drooled a little), smoked olive oil and pomme gaufrette. As if this course could get any better, try it with Cakebread's butter soft Chardonnay from 2008. (A change of pants is your responsibility.) After a surprise palate cleanser, Johnson delves deep in to crispy sweet breads with braised veal cheeks, smoked sweet potato gniocci and a Cabernet reduction—naturally paired with the 2006 Cab from Cakebread. We'll end on a sugar high-note with a chocolate Gateau baked Alaska that ushers in an opportunity to sample Cakebread's 2006 Red Hills Zinfandel.

This four-hour, Bacchnalian extravaganza begins at 6:15 p.m., and costs an incredible $85 per person, not including tax and tip.

Visit www.DavidPaulsIslandGrill.com or call (808) 662-3000 for tickets.

Chef David Paul Johnson is a Maui culinary cult hero. Dennis Cakebread has inked one of Napa's hottest addresses...