Archive for August, 2016

New Waikiki hot spot lures thousands

By
August 31st, 2016



The redeveloped International Market Place opened in Waikiki this week with thousands of kamaaina and visitors checking out the long-awaited event. All photos by Erika Engle.

A conch shell blower, a Hawaiian chant and speeches by elected- and company officials launched the new IMP.

A conch shell blower, a Hawaiian chant and speeches by elected- and company officials launched the new IMP.

Naturally there were speeches by elected officials and executives with the center's developer, Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc.

What the crowd was eagerly anticipating, was the doors of about half of the 90 shops and three completed restaurants to open.

Kona Coffee Purveyors, with San Francisco-based b.patisserie inside, had vigorous business on opening day. Photo by Erika Engle.

Kona Coffee Purveyors, with San Francisco-based b.patisserie inside, had vigorous business on opening day.

Belinda Leong, James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef and co-owner of b.patisserie, prepares her famed Kouign-amann pastries for baking. Photo by Erika Engle.

Belinda Leong, James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef and co-owner of b.patisserie, prepares her famed Kouign-amann pastries for baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honolulu Cookie Co. had a long line of people awaiting the opening of the doors to its shop, which offers free taste-before-you-buy samples of its various baked-in-Hawaii cookie flavors.

New-to-Hawaii candy store Sugarfina, also brightly and cheerfully lit, was packed with people perusing the shop's sweets, many of which are whimsical and geared toward grown-up tastes.

These candy-coated almonds made to look like martini olives. Photo by Erika Engle.

These chocolate-coated almonds are made to look like martini olives.

The shop offers a large assortment of gummies in various flavors. hoto by Erika Engle.

The shop offers a large assortment of gummies in various flavors.

The Cuba libre gummies, taking their inspiration from a rum and cola beverage, are another grown-up-themed candy selection.

The Cuba libre gummies, taking their inspiration from a rum and cola beverage, are another grown-up-themed candy selection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also on the ground floor, a billboard relays a promise of things yet-to-come. The Street, curated by Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and his team, is set to open in the Spring. Among its more than one dozen dining options will be the Ramen Bar, by chef Ken Tominaga. Tominaga and Mina are partners in Pabu, a popular San Francisco izakaya. The Ramen Bar, which serves Tokyo-style ramen right next door to Pabu, in the city's financial district.

The Street, a food hall concept with more than one dozen casual dining options, is to open in the Spring.

The Street, a food hall concept with more than one dozen casual dining options, is to open in the Spring.

On the third floor Grand Lanai, Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, and Stripsteak, by Mina, were ready to open on the first day of IMP's new life. By 11:15 a.m., the Eating House bar was full, and many of the tables also were full of eager diners.

One view of the large bar at Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, in Waikiki.

One view of the large bar at Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, in Waikiki.

The Eating House kitchen was bustling with Executive Chef Mike Leslie calling out orders and cooks churning out orders.

Executive Chef Mike Leslie works on an order with a red-bandanna-wearing crew member.

Executive Chef Mike Leslie works on an order with a red-bandanna-wearing crew member.

A line formed outside Stripsteak as local people sought to try the famed cuisine by an award-winning chef.

On the market place's opening day, local people and visitors got to try award-winning chef Michael Mina's menu, as prepared by Mina and Executive Chef Ben Jenkins.

On the market place's opening day, local people and visitors got to try award-winning chef Michael Mina's menu, as prepared by Mina and Executive Chef Ben Jenkins.

Smartly dressed Stripsteak General Manager Ron Bonifacio was ready for a busy day with sensible, yet whimsical footwear, for which he is known.

Stripsteak General Manager Ron Bonifacio is known for his shoe collection, which includes these hula-girl festooned sneakers.

Stripsteak General Manager Ron Bonifacio is known for his shoe collection, which includes these hula-girl festooned sneakers.

The expansive International Market Place spans nearly six acres, with stores and restaurants on three levels. Touch-screen directories offer helpful navigational guidance, if you'd like to formulate a plan before heading in to Waikiki.

 IMP's large directories are interactive, with touch-screen technology that also allows for scrolling to the desired information.

IMP's large directories are interactive, with touch-screen technology that also allows for scrolling to the desired information.

More restaurants will open on the Grand Lanai in the coming weeks, and additional retailers also will be opening as time progresses. The International Market Place offers 700 parking stalls, and validated parking, though depending on how long you're there, you may still have to use your plastic in order to exit.

 

 

 

 

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5 foods Montreal

By
August 28th, 2016



From the delicacy of foie gras to the hot mess that is poutine, this town can eat. Favorite foods here are as cosmopolitan as the population, reflecting an amalgam of immigrant heritages. It's -- hey! -- a melting pot. I imagine that the loco moco would be quite happy here.

I spent just a few days in Montreal, and make no claims to being an expert, but I did ask consult several natives about the iconic foods of this city, and some of them were indeed quite expert. Then I made it my mission to taste them all.

Bagels are dumped into these baskets straight from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood.

Bagels are sorted into these baskets straight from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal's Mile End neighborhood. You can see them pulled from the oven as you stand in line to order.

  1. A Montreal bagel -- as opposed to a New York bagel -- is thinner, crunchier on the outside, softer on the inside, and sweeter. Among bagel connoisseurs, the relative superiority of either city's bagel is subject to often impassioned debate. I stand firmly on the Canadian side on this one. Both types are boiled, then baked, but the Montreal version is boiled in sweetened water and baked in a wood-fired oven. No salt is used in the dough, which is always hand-rolled (no machines). All this adds up to major differences in taste and texture. Bagels can be found everywhere in the city, but the most acclaimed are from St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmont Bagel, both in the Mile End neighborhood. The favorite flavor, by the way: sesame.
A smoked meat sandwich from a stall in the Jean Talon market.

A smoked meat sandwich from a stall in the Jean Talon market.

2. They call it smoked meat, but it will likely remind you of pastrami. You can get it at food stands, delis and sit-down restaurants in this city, served simply on bread with mustard and a pickle -- although you could skip the carbs and just eat a pile of it plain. Smoked meat is beef brisket that is brined, marinated in a spice blend, smoked and then steamed to tenderness. In preparation it is much like pastrami. Differences in flavoring, smoking methods and time taken for each step, as well as the exact cut of meat, account for the taste variation. Like bagels, smoked meat is a delicious tradition that grew out of Montreal's Jewish heritage.

Portuguese chicken from Piri-Piri.

Portuguese chicken from Piri Piri restaurant.

3. Portuguese chicken a la Montreal is first marinated in a blend of paprika and other spices, then brushed with a spicy sauce made with piri piri, or bird's eye peppers, and, finally, turned on a rotisserie over a coal fire. More piri piri sauce goes on top, if you like. The usual companion is french fries. It's like an extra-extra special rotisserie chicken, with the flavor cooked deep into the meat. Delicious hot or cold.

A foie gras mousse atop toast with pickles is served at Maison Publique, a pub in the Plateau neighborhood.

A foie gras mousse atop toast with pickles is served at Maison Publique, a pub in the Plateau neighborhood.

4. This town is exceptionally big on the French classic of foie gras, with some restaurants that make it a specialty, offering several preparations a night. Especially famous for it: Joe Beef, which offers a Double Down "sandwich" of two deep-fried slabs of foie gras with bacon, cheese and chicken-skin mayonnaise between; and Au Pied de Cochon, where the menu lists 10 foie gras dishes, including "Fg" on burgers, in croquettes and over fries (see poutine, next). In some restaurants it's even merged with desserts.

Fries + gravy + cheese curds = poutine.

Fries + gravy + cheese curds = poutine.

5. Last and by all means least -- poutine. The word is Quebec slang for "mess"; the dish is french fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. Not all poutine is created equal. The cheese is basic -- mild, fresh, unaged cheddar -- but the rest is only as good as the gravy and the quality of the fries.  You can get a basic version like this one from food stands or fast-food restaurants. Fancy restaurants dress it up with special sauces, even foie gras. Take it or leave it, depending on of the depth of your personal culinary mission to pursue the iconic foods of Quebec.

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