The lobby, courtyard and verandas at the Moana Surfrider were packed Saturday with devotees of Hawaii's favorite summer fruit. Mangoes at the Moana drew hundreds to taste mango many ways.
A crowd favorite was MW restaurant pastry chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka's mango shave ice with tapioca and sorbet, served with two mini cocktails. The dish won the Mango Throwdown, a friendly competition among six chefs.
Dishes were savory and sweet and reflected the many ways mango's — either naturally sweet or pickled and tart — can fit into with classic preparations such as risotto and crab cakes.
Chef Mark Noguchi used papio from the ancient fishponds at Paepae O He‘eia, served in a tasty morsel with a garnish of spicy pickled mango. Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki's paired a mango harissa (chili) sauce with a quinoa crab cake.
Sweets included a mousse-like semifreddo that looked like a little marshmallow, with a surprising topping of Pop Rocks, from Carolyn Portuondo of the Royal Hawaiian, Ed Kenney's toasted mango bread topped with ricotta and olive oil, a deceptively simple dessert that was simply fabulous.
One of the purposes of the event was to showcase the many varieties of mangoes, offered in free tasting. The line for this tasting wrapped around the veranda. For people who only know the Haden this was an introduction to varieties such as Excel, Gouveia and Dot.
Then came cooking demonstrations by Moana chefs Nanako Perez-Nava and David Lukela. Perez-Nava made a luscious mango cream pie, while Lukela quickly ran through a day's worth of mango recipes – breakfast, lunch and dinner — in the form of oatmeal, wild rice salad and fish tacos.
Look for Perez-Nava's recipe for mango cream pie in Wednesday's Crave section.