Monday, May 22, 2017

Chang Sensory Trails & Learning About Thai Food

If you’re looking for something fun to do this upcoming holiday weekend, I have a suggestion. Chang beer, one of the leading beers in Thailand is sponsoring Chang Sensory Trails, a free un-ticketed festival in San Francisco that focuses on Thai food, art, music and of course, plenty of beer.

The festival has taken place in Los Angeles, London and Singapore and is coming to San Francisco for the first time this year. It’s taking place on Saturday May 27th 2017 from noon until 10 pm at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion. 

But even if you won't be able to make it to the festival, I think you will find it interesting to learn a little bit more about Thai food from Chef Duangporn Songvisava, or ‘Bo’ as she’s more commonly known. She was chosen Asia’s Best Female Chef 2013 and runs the Bangkok restaurant Bo.Lan with her husband Chef Dylan Jones (it's ranked 19 on the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017). Chef Bo along with Chef Dylan helped to curate the food for the festival from local Thai restaurants.

How do you see Thai food evolving in Bangkok and outside of Thailand?
In a promising way, there are more and more restaurant outside Thailand that try to cook Thai properly. This brings more awareness to the cuisine of Thailand.

What are your recommendations for diners looking to discover the real flavors of Thailand?
Be brave and take on spiciness. If you can eat spicy, then your real Thai flavors will just shine.

What do you want people to know about Thai cuisine that they probably don’t know?
That it is not cheap, sweet or full of peanuts. Don’t use chopsticks when eating Pad Thai; instead, use a fork and spoon.

What’s your goal of the Chang Sensory Trails festival?
To share our passion of Thai food and showcase dishes that are less known.

What are the main reasons people should attend?
There will be lots of Thai food to taste, try and eat and plenty of Chang Beer for people to cool off from the heat and Thai spices.

What dishes do Thai restaurants get right and which do they get wrong, outside of Thailand?
I think it is not about the dishes but it is about the ingredients; like fresh coconut cream is the better option over processed coconut cream. Homemade curry paste is always better than a highly-processed curry paste. (Note from Amy: If you want to try curries made from curry pastes made from scratch, I highly recommend you visit Kin Khao, San Francisco's only Michelin star Thai restaurant)

Thanks Chef Bo! Curious about the dishes you’ll get a chance to try? Here’s the list:

Baan Thai House & Wine Bar: Steam Dumplings
Tamarind Hall: Classic Pad Thai Shrimp
Saap Ver: Som Tum
Ben Thai Café: Khao Soi
Tycoon Thai Restaurant: Sai Ua
Lao Table: Larb Duck Pakxe
Lers Ros: Beef Noodle Soup
House Of Thai: Kao Mun Gai

To learn more about the festival head to Chang Sensory Trails. See you there!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Basque Culinary World Prize



Do you know a chef who is making a difference? The Basque Culinary World Prize is a competition not based on the typical achievements of the kitchen and dining room, but on  a ‘transformative project’ in gastronomy that has had a positive impact on society. This could be through culinary innovation, a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability or the economic development of their community. Nominees for the prize must have a background as a professional chef though they don’t currently need to be a chef and they can be from anywhere in the world. 

The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to a social project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of the chef in society.
Credit: Cassie Borreson 
Back in March I attended an event with Dominique Crenn and Joxe Mari Aizega, the Head of the Basque Culinary Center, the host of the competition, to kick off the nominations in the US. They both emphasized the importance of setting a positive example and how crucial it is for chefs to have a public voice. This is the second year of the competition and they are looking for as many nominations as possible. 

Do you know a chef who is making a difference? Please take a moment to nominate them. Nominations are being accepted though May 19th and then between June 12-14 the Prize Committee will decide which nominations meet the judging criteria and finalize a list of the 10 strongest candidates to forward to the Prize Jury. 


Credit: Cassie Borreson 


























The Prize Jury will be chaired by Joan Roca of Spain and will include some of the most well-known chefs in the world -- Ferran Adrià of Spain, Michel Bras of France, Massimo Bottura of Italy, Dominique Crenn of the US, Yoshihiro Narisawa of Japan and Enrique Olvera of Mexio. Leaders from related disciplines will join the prize jury as well including celebrated Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel (author of Like Water for Chocolate); Kirmen Uribe, renowned Basque novelist, poet and playwright; and Cristina Francini, an expert on International Law and Human Rights.

Learn about the incredible work of the past winner, Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe

Monday, May 15, 2017

Japanese Restaurants in Honolulu Spring 2017

It’s not uncommon for restaurants and or chefs to come to Honolulu from Japan and set up shop. This phenomenon leads to a particularly exciting Japanese food scene. Here are my top picks of recently opened Japanese restaurants in Honolulu, direct from Japan, from my most recent visit.
Located on Kapahulu and tucked away on the second floor of an office complex this hidden treasure is insanely popular after being open just a few months. And for good reason. Tamafuji Tonkatsu is an import from Sapporo and everyone is talking about it. A local friend told me I must order the shrimp, the oysters and the pork. All are prepared in the tonkatsu style, meaning breaded and fried until shatteringly crisp on the outside yet gushing with juiciness on the inside. It’s a simple formula. You pick one of three different kinds of rice, grind some sesame seeds in your bowl and add sauce to taste. There is unlimited shredded cabbage and some jars with Japanese pickles on the table. But oh, the tonkatsu! It’s definitely as good as the tonkatsu I stood in for in Tokyo. Take my friend’s advice. Go with some friends and order a bit of each. No reservations, prepare to wait in line. 

Tonkatsu Tamafuji
449 Kapahulu Avenue
Hee Hing Plaza, second floor
808-922-1212
Denizens of Los Angeles know Tsujita, a branch of a Tokyo noodle shop that opened over 5 years ago. Lots of ramen shops thrive in Honolulu and each has their own specialty and Tsujita is no exception. At Tsujita Hawaii the must order dish is tsukemen, also known as dipping noodles. Stretchy ramen noodles are served in a bowl with a ridiculously thick syrup like soup on the side. It’s all so that your noodles stay chewy and don’t soften in the soup. The effect of perfectly cooked noodles and a rich thick soup to dip them in is pure genius. A little comic strip explains how to eat tsukemen. You can add a squeeze of lime to cut through the richness and once your bowl begins to empty you can request some broth to be added. You can also add kuro-shichimi seasoning to you noodles if you want some heat.Tsujita is located downstairs in Yokocho Gourmet Alley in Waikiki. 

Tsujita Hawaii
2250 Kalakaua Ave
(808) 777-3546
Yakitori Hachibei is located in Chinatown in a lovely exposed brick building. The best seats are at the counter where you can watch the yakitori chef grilling away. It’s a restaurant that originated as a butcher shop in Fukuoka Prefecture. They now have locations in Tokyo and Taiwan and at each location they pride themselves on using high quality local produce. In addition to classic styles of grilled skewers and grilled pieces of chicken, they also offer innovative and unique creations such as sukiyaki on a stick, a kalbi skewer with vegetables, bacon and grilled egg maki and grilled mozzarella maki. I also thoroughly enjoyed the salad which was overflowing with fresh vegetables in addition to greens. It’s difficult to get a reservation so be sure to call as far in advance as you can! 

Yakitori Hachibei
20 North Hotel Street
808-369-088

Good sushi is not hard to find in Hawaii. Maru Sushi another Sapporo import, from a Michelin-starred sushi bar no less takes it to another level. The vast majority of the fish they serve comes from Hokkaido. Located in a strip mall location right around the corner from the Hawaii Convention Center, it can be a bit tricky to find since there is no obvious sign. The sushi bar has just 8 seats and the cost for the omakase only menu is around $200 per person. But the experience is exquisite. Some standouts included squid “somen” filely sliced into delicate slivers topped with yuzukosho, crispy white shrimp and sayori cured in kombu also known as Japanese half beak or needlefish.

Maru Sushi
1731 Kalakaua Ave
808-951-4445

MORE

I use this Honolulu Dining Guide Google map to keep track of all my favorite restaurants in Honolulu. But I recently got another beautiful Honolulu map, the one at the top of this post, to keep stay focused on my home away from home. It's from Modern Map Art and is available as a poster in various sizes. Head over to find the city of your dreams! 

Disclaimer: I paid for all meals myself, however I was given the lovely map as a gift. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

DIY Tamale Kit Giveaway!

I’ve written about Global Grub before and their wonderful DIY cooking kits. I am particularly fond of the tamale kit, which while I hate to admit it, makes better tamales better than I do. I’ve followed plenty of recipes and even have a book on tamales, but this kit is tops. The excellent chiles in the kit are what makes it so great as well as the easy to follow instructions. The kit is generally offered only seasonally at Christmas time. 
This year Global Grub has an excess of kits and with Cinco de Mayo rapidly approaching they offered me the opportunity to share some kits with you, my readers. I have 5 kits to give away! This kit is usually available from Williams Sonoma. Because they include high quality ingredients like corn husks, chiles and masa, they are best used by 7/24/17 so plan accordingly. 

The cool thing about these kits, is that you can fill the tamales with anything you like. I’ve made them with chicken, pork and even a vegetable filling with corn and green chiles. The detailed instructions ensure your tamale adventure will be a success! You can even follow along with this video. Interested in possibly hosting a tamalada? Global Grub has tips for how to Throw a Simple Tamale Party

Leave a comment and tell me where you have had the best tamales or what you would fill them with and I will chose 5 winners on Tuesday April 25th. You must have a US mailing address to win. The comment form includes a field for your email address, so no need to include it in your comment. One entry per person please. 

Good luck and happy tamale making!

Amy

WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN