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Sunday, September 30, 2012

CHAINE DES ROTISSEURS

I'm normally getting ready for my Fall around the world journey, but I have already laid Pearl's ashes at all the the sites on my list, so I decided to instead only attend my Stanford 50th Anniversary reunion, which included the football game with Arizona on October 7, then on to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, joining Ed Jurkens and his brother Bill.  Perhaps more important than that reunion is the balloon festival with Ed, for we have been talking about this for some time and he must be approaching 95, so both are just about final opportunities.

Alas, I got this sudden request to remain in Honolulu that weekend, so am instead, now, making the rounds of three hotels in Honolulu:  the Moana Surfrider (oldest hotel on the Beach at Waikiki--which was last week), the Kahala Hotel (this weekend, to participate in the annual gathering of the local Chaine des Rotisseurs) and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (brunch at Michel's and dinner at La Mer--I'll report on these meals next week).  Heading towards my third millionth mile for Star Alliance, while there will never again be another 50th reunion, frankly, I much rather these days stay home, anyway, avoiding the hassle of travel and saving a lot of money.

Chaine des Rotisseurs is a gastronomic society said to be linked back to 1248 in Paris and King Louis IX.  However, more accurately, this eating club was re-founded in 1950.  There are bailliages (chapters) in 70 countries, with 7,000 American members.  The terms are French and I am a chevalier, which is a French nobleman of the lowest rank.  My colleague at the University of Hawaii, Bruce Liebert, has a rank of Bailli Provincial, which must be the equivalent of grand leader for Hawaii, as his photo is the largest of all the officers in the Hawaii chapters.  I should know all these terms as French was my PhD language, but that was 40 years ago.

So Friday night I checked into the Kahala Hotel.  Here is my first view:


To the extreme right is the beginning of Diamond Head and that driveway is where you valet park your car.  We are located on the other side of that volcano from Waikiki.  Then, there is the ocean view:


Chaine had a reception Friday night, but I was previously signed up for a Pacific Buddhist Academy annual awards dinner next door at the Waialae Golf Course Clubhouse, so, on balance, I actually "saved" $40.  Blue Revolution Hawaii had a table...


...for one of our board members honored was Fujio Matsuda:


I participated in my first Chaine event in some time at the Saturday soufflé and beaujolais culinary adventure at Hoku's.  As you can see, I was the only non-female (photo by Mirella Monoscalco):


Christel Yount on the left helping Patissiere Michael Moorhouse.  Frankly, I thought this was to be just lunch, but it was a cooking class, so I now know how to make soufflés.  Can you believe that you need to heat the mixture to exactly 249 F?  They were very generous with the wine, which was dangerous, for I skipped breakfast to await this feast.  However, nothing was consumed until the end when we had assorted cheesy things and soufflés, with more beaujolais.  I enjoyed the experience.

The highlight of the weekend was the Assemblage Reception and Gala Julia Child Tribute Dinner.  And, yes, I can confirm that Bruce Liebert is the highest ranking Chaine in this whole region:

Bruce is wearing that costume only for the very formal induction ceremony.  You can appreciate that champagne is prominent in the process.

I was rather negligent in taking photos during the meal, so our first course, gougere of gruyere cheese and seared foie gras, will be shown if someone on my table someday sends a shot.  Qi Marie and John White might respond.  The wine was an excellent 1996 Lamothe Guignard Sauternes. Most on the table questioned the appropriateness of a sweet wine at the beginning, but I thought the perfect balance with the foie gras was ideal.  Then came a coquilles Saint-Jacques a la provencale, fortunately for me because this dish is built around scallops, and these were rather large.  However, I was halfway through when I finally remembered to take a photo:


The wine was a 2007 Nicolas Joly Sacres Savennier, and no one on the table ever heard of it.  So I went to see Patrick Okubo, the Grand Sommelier of this Bailliage, and he said this was a French chenin blanc, which in California is a sweetish wine, but in France, very dry.  Next was a chilled green asparagus veloute (basically a cold soup):


A super 2009 Long Depaquit Moutonne Chablis Grand Cru, a French, meaning no oak storage, chardonnay, was served.  While they pour around 3 ounces, you can always later ask for more, which I did on several of these wines.  This is the point where a sherbert comes, and the presentation was exceptional:


The premiere was a boef a la bourguignonne, beef braised in burgundy wine, which I found amusing because this was also the final entre at the Pacific Buddhist Academy dinner last night.

The Kahala version was smaller, not as dark brown and much, much saltier.  I preferred the previous night dish far better.  The wine was a Burguet Gevrey Chambertin Mes Favorites VV (a pinot noir, or burgundy).

A University of Hawaii colleague, Kusuma Cooray, in the culinary arts, sitting on our table, won a gold medal for extraordinary service to the organization:


You get something to place on your ribbon for various events, and my slate is nearly empty:


We then went upstairs for dessert (fruit flambé) and a 2008 Huet Moelleux Trie Vovray, a nice sweet wine.  Had an extended chat with Christel Yount about her travels.

But this was not all, for the next morning I ordered a Japanese meal, not as expensive as my $100 and $60 Four Seasons Hualalai breakfasts, but close:

You can only barely see it, but in the middle bottom is a small bowl of something called natto.  This is fermented soy beans.  I've avoided this foul-smelling and sticky breakfast item all my life.  However, I courageously today followed the advice I remembered from Kenji Hotta of Nihon University about stirring the beans a hundred times.  I did, tried it and was pleasantly surprised.  The smell was not the best, but the taste reminded me of soy beans, and a tad bitter.  Finally, note the beer.  This is a 17 ounce Koshihikari Echigo from Niigata, Japan.  I did not realize that some beers are made from rice, and this one from Koshihikari, which is the #1 brand in the world.

The weekend was just fabulous.  Return next week for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Michel's and La Mer.

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