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Smoky goodness at Yacchaba

By
September 29th, 2016



Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuedays to Sundays. It will eventually offer lunch service as well.

Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuedays to Sundays. It will eventually offer lunch service as well.

The cozy setting of Japanese Restaurant Yacchaba, Hawaii's first "iburi," or smoked dish, eatery, comes not just from the little nooks of space and warm lighting, but the quiet sizzling and warmth generated by the little hot-stone grills delivered to tables. These keep plates of seafood and meats wonderfully warm and tender so patrons can leisurely enjoy their visit without sacrificing on the quality of the food.

This is supreme comfort food, but what takes the morsels from satisfying to delicious are four flavor salts that accompany the plate: yuzu, curry, yakuri/plum and sansyo. Each delivers a punch of tastiness with just a light sprinkle.

Seafood gets the iburi treatment on stone grill plates made from Mt. Fuji stone. Food is grilled for 2 minutes before eating. The experience also includes grilling over cherry and apple smoking chips.

Seafood gets the iburi treatment on stone grill plates made from Mt. Fuji stone. Food is grilled for 2 minutes before eating. The experience also includes grilling over cherry and apple smoking chips.

While the stone grills are headliners, there's so much on the menu to keep customers' taste buds engaged: Items such as saba and pork benefit from the special seasoning shio koji, made from rice-malt salt.  Starters such as a simple Japanese-style potato salad is elevated with the inclusion of half a boiled egg that's been smoked. The smokiness of the creamy egg adds layers of texture and flavor that elevates the humble dish. Ditto on the Kuro Edamame, with flavor that penetrates the seared shells.

Other delicious items: Curry Kimpira, Fried Ebi-Bread, a fresh smoked salmon salad and Inaniwa Udon, a cold dish centered on thin, soft udon that nonetheless boasts a delicate chew.

The drink menu includes Kirin and Asahi beers, Honolulu Beer works craft beers,  wine, sake and shochu.

Yacchaba offers a new way to enjoy fresh, simple, nicely prepared Japanese food, with a flavor profile that is sure to appeal to the local palate.

The restaurant, located at 1718 Kapiolani Blvd., is across the Hawaii Convention Center. It currently serves dinner, but look for lunch service in the near future. Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Call 945-0108.

A standard starter of potato salad is livened up by a smoked boiled egg.

A standard starter of potato salad is livened up by a smoked boiled egg.

 

Curry Kimpira stood up to the smoky flavors of the rest of the dishes.

Curry Kimpira stood up to the smoky flavors of the rest of the dishes.

 

Another starter, Homemade Atu-age Tofu was delicious.

Another starter, Homemade Atu-age Tofu was delicious.

 

Fried Ebi Bread pieces each had a shrimp inside -- satisfying comfort food.

Fried Ebi Bread pieces each had a shrimp inside -- satisfying comfort food.

 

Inaiwa Udon is a more delicate noodle than what Hawaii folks are accustomed to in an udon. It's soft yet has nice texture. The dish comes with dipping sauce and condiments of green onion, bonito flakes and grated ginger.

Inaiwa Udon features a more delicate noodle than what Hawaii folks are accustomed to in an udon. The noodle is soft yet it has nice body and texture. The dish comes with dipping sauce and condiments of green onion, bonito flakes and grated ginger.

 

Delicious grilled saba, with a smoky touch.

Delicious grilled saba, with a smoky touch.

 

A variety of meats on the stone pot grill -- great to share with a pau-hana crowd. The grill is made of Mt. Fuji stone.

A variety of meats on the stone pot grill -- great to share with friends pau-hana. The grill is made of Mt. Fuji stone.

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Chef Mavro named one of top 40 restaurants in U.S.

By
July 23rd, 2016



Chef Mavro restaurant in Honolulu was the sole Hawaii representative on the 2016 top 40 U.S. restaurant list assembled by Gayot, an international restaurant, hotel and travel guide.
The restaurant menu, crafted by owner/chef George Mavrothalassitis and chef de cuisine Jonathan Mizukami, "features the finest ingredients Hawaii has to offer, but also supplements them with luxurious imported items like caviar and fresh truffles from France," Gayot stated in its review. It described dishes as "thoughtfully created and well-executed" and referred to the restaurant's seasonal menus and wine pairings.
Chef Mavro is in good company. Among the restaurants named to the list are Alinea in Chicago; the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; Atelier Crenn in San Francisco; Daniel in New York City; Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas; and Jean-Georges in New York.
For the complete list, visit http://bit.ly/2a7ElCM
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Jimbo's 2.0 menu

By
July 19th, 2016



Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com Toro Neba Udon features some of Jimbo's co-owner Makiko Motojima's favorite food items, including mountain vegetables, sea veggies, natto and green onions. Served cold, it comes with a dollop of wasabi. Jimbo's makes its udon in-house daily.

Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com
Toro Neba Udon features some of Jimbo's co-owner Makiko Motojima's favorite food items, including mountain vegetables, sea veggies, natto and green onions. Served cold, it comes with a dollop of wasabi. Jimbo's makes its udon in-house daily.

With udon made fresh daily, Jimbo's has long been a go-to venue to get a consistently delicious, well-made meal. Its menu of hot and cold udon, donburi, curry, tonkatsu, tempura, gyoza and combo meals offer numerous routes for regulars to sate their hunger and a variety of means to draw in new customers.

Yet this year, owners Jim and Makiko Motojima have introduced new items that take their menu to places it's never before tread, with dishes that will appeal to foodies' love of big flavors and culinary adventure, not to mention top-quality ingredients.

Much of this starts with a versatile sauce they call Jimbo's Ultimate Sauce, which goes with everything from fish and chicken to tempura, gyoza and salad. The sauce is the result of 25 ingredients concocted using a multitude of steps and cooking techniques, said Jim.

The Black Goma Tan Tan Udon combines a black sesame seed sauce with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger and other items for a Chinese-flavored bowl of goodness. It took Jim Motojima a month to create the black sesame sauce, plus four or five revisions to develop the tan tan broth.

The Black Goma Tan Tan Udon combines a black sesame seed sauce with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger and other items for a Chinese-flavored bowl of goodness. It took Jim Motojima a month to create the black sesame sauce, plus four or five revisions to develop the tan tan broth.

The process begins with frying onions, ginger and garlic coated in flour, and boiling a combo of sake, miso and sugar. The fried vegetables are added to the sake mixture, then combined with sesame seeds, togarashi (chili pepper) and sesame oil. Soybean oil heated to its smoking point is combined with the mixture, and fresh green onions, miso, garlic and a ponzu sauce, also made by Jim, are added in.

He isn't kidding when he says it has a complex taste. The sauce is so popular Makiko is looking into bottling it for sale.

While Jim is responsible for recipe development, Makiko flexed her creative culinary muscles to help create the fiery and flavorful Black Goma Tan Tan Udon, a customer favorite. The broth starts with a black sesame sauce Jim created with kuro goma (black sesame seeds), soy sauce, sugar and soy milk. The sauce is punched up with chilies, green onions, garlic, ginger, and garlic and ginger oils, for "lots of Chinese flavor," said Jim.

The bowl of spicy udon is garnished with jidori chicken, snow peas and other vegetables.

Want to spread the joy of Jimbo's new dishes? Get a Jimbo's gift card. It bears the restaurant's new logo, designed by Jim and Makiko's daughter, art student Kana Motojima.

Want to spread the joy of Jimbo's new dishes? Get a Jimbo's gift card. It bears the restaurant's new logo, designed by Jim and Makiko's daughter, art student Kana Motojima.

Another new dish, inspired by Makiko's favorite Japanese foods, is the Toro Neba Udon, a dish featuring mountain yam, nameko mushroom, mekabu (a sea vegetable) and natto — all slimy in consistency — and served hot or cold. A cold version, delivered with a dollop of wasabi on the side, is both refreshing and satisfying.

Diners who don't or can't partake of noodles have many ono options, thanks to the inclusion of jidori chicken and kurobuta pork on the menu. The jidori chicken adds a boost of flavor to not just udon bowls, but donburi and curry items as well. The kurobuta delivers clean flavor to a plate of ginger pork, donburi and Jimbo's beloved gyoza.

The dessert menu was also beefed up, with zenzai, sorbet and a goma mocha that finds another delicious use for Jim's kuro goma sauce.

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Kona's operative word: fresh

By
July 13th, 2016



Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com Pulehu ahi belly at Umeke's in Kona captured both the smoky goodness of pulehu and the freshness of fish caught in isle waters.

Photos by Joleen Oshiro / joshiro@staradvertiser.com
Ono pulehu ahi belly at Umeke's in Kona captured both the smoky goodness of pulehu and the freshness of fish caught in isle waters.

Eateries in Kona on the Big Island sure know how to take full advantage of the bounty that fills their land and waters. On a short visit last week to the island, I ate at several restaurants both humble and fancy, and was duly impressed by the absolute freshness of the food served on the plate.

Now, I must admit I don't necessarily gravitate toward fish as my first choice in a meal, but if I had been familiar with fish this fresh, I'd be eating it all the time. Besides breakfast, it was pretty much part of every meal I had in Kona during my stay.

My newfound appreciation began at Akule Supply Co., a casual outdoor eatery at Keauhou Bay run by the Sheraton Kona. Servers told me fishermen come right up from the bay to bring fresh fish to the restaurant. It sure tasted like they do. My 10-year-old niece had a fish and chips plate filled with battered fish and fries that she said she'd share with her mom, who was in the hotel. But instead she gobbled up the whole thing, and I understood why: Not only was the tender, white-fleshed fish so fresh, it was perfectly cooked, moist without a trace of mushiness.

Akule Supply Co.'s Fried Nori Rolls delivers fresh ahi, lump crab and fresh avocado in a nori roll, fried crisp on the outside. It's dressed with a garlic aioli.

Akule Supply Co.'s Fried Nori Rolls delivers fresh ahi, lump crab and fresh avocado in a nori roll, fried crisp on the outside. It's dressed with a chipotle ginger aioli and served with furikake rice and namasu.

My daughter order a poke bowl, which based on the ingredients didn't seem like anything particularly distinctive. Sea salt, shoyu, sesame oil, lime, green and round onions and chilies, all standard fare for a poke mix, seasoned her dish. But the fish itself took the dish to another level, and served with perfectly cooked rice, it moved my daughter to clean her plate the same way the fish and chips had my niece.

Since there were no more fish and chips, I ordered my sister a Crispy Nori Roll, a sushi of sorts (sans rice) filled with fresh ahi, avocado and lump crab, then wrapped in nori, doused in panko and fried. Chipotle ginger aioli lent a lively touch, and servings of furikake rice and sweet, vinegary namasu balanced out the meal. She devoured the plate before I got to have a taste.

Avocado Fries — perfectly ripened avocado coated in panko and fried golden on the exterior while remaining fresh inside — is Akule Supply Co.'s most popular appetizer.

Avocado Fries — perfectly ripened local avocado coated in panko and fried golden on the exterior while remaining fresh inside — is Akule Supply Co.'s most popular pupu.

As for myself, I selected the only nonfish dish, Avocado Fries, which the waitress said was the most popular appetizer on the menu. It entailed a perfectly ripened avocado coated in panko and fried golden. While that may seem like a ruinous way to treat a perfectly ripened avocado, the cook executed magic — the morsels of avo were delightfully crisp on the outside while somehow remaining fresh and cool inside. Generous drizzlings of teriyaki and spicy aioli sauces covered the fries, and I feared they would dominate the delicate rich flavor of the fruit. But their tempered flavors were complementary rather than overpowering.

A couple nights later, upon recommendations from family friends, I dined at Umeke's Fishmarket Bar and Grill, where fresh fish was centric to the menu. My friend ordered a pupu item, Umeke's Poke Balls, deep fried and finished with a spicy garlic aioli. The fish, fully cooked and fully flavored, was delicious.

I made a meal of another pupu item, Pulehu Ahi Belly, which I ordered with a couple scoops rice. It's served with garlic, furikake or spicy aioli. I chose spicy, which wasn't at all overbearing, and its creaminess added a nice contrast to the smoky fish.

By the time we left, our opus were thoroughly satisfied.

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Fresh menu at Keauhou Bay inspired by South Hawaii's bounty

By
July 10th, 2016



A beautiful salad put a spotlight on the deep flavors of local, vine-ripened tomatoes and isle-made chevre, stuffed inside. Strawberry li hing vinaigrette delivered a perfect sweet balance.

A beautiful salad put a spotlight on the deep flavors of local, vine-ripened tomatoes and isle-made chevre, stuffed inside. Strawberry li hing vinaigrette delivered a perfect sweet balance.

With an eye toward becoming a culinary destination, the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay is dazzling visitors with endless delicious cuisine, made of fresh products sourced from Big Island waters and small South Hawaii farms.
The pulse of the resort's efforts, situated on the history-rich, picturesque bay, takes place at Rays on the Bay restaurant, where chef de cuisine Francis "Junior" Ulep and executive chef George Gomes have turned out lively menu items that are as beautiful as they are ono.

A salad of sustainably caught fresh fish is a work of art for the eyes as well as the palate.

A salad of sustainably caught fresh fish is a work of art for the eyes as well as the palate.

A few dishes from a recent meal:
>> Refreshing Frozen Mo‘o cocktail, a concoction of rum blended with coconut water, lime and Thai basil
>> Fresh fish salad that's a work of art on the plate
>> Local vine tomato stuffed with Big Isle chevre and served with baby arugula, strawberry li hing vinaigrette and red dirt salt
>> Seared fresh-catch entree served with black rice, mango salsa (made with mangoes from a tree on property) and seasoned dark greens, all accented with a lively aioli
>> Yogurt pana cotta that managed to be both light and decadent all at once.

The Frozen Mo‘o

The Frozen Mo‘o

Lovely yogurt pana cotta

Lovely yogurt pana cotta

Seared catch-of-the-day, a light yet satisfying entree

Seared catch-of-the-day, a light yet satisfying entree

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Authentic aloha

By
June 29th, 2016



Make-A-Wish Hawaii California leukemia patient Adrian, whose original wish was a visit to Sicily, spent the day instead in Waikiki, where he fulfilled a dream to cook Italian food, working with chef James Aptakin to whip up fettucine. wish was to visit Sicily for an authentic Italian culinary experience, but his flight was canceled due to a European airline strike, and his wish was diverted to Hawaii.

Make-A-Wish Hawaii
California leukemia patient Adrian, who was set for a visit to Sicily, spent time instead in Waikiki after an airline strike in Europe curtailed his plans. He met up with M.A.C 24/7 executive chef James Aptakin, who taught him to make fettucine.

Aloha spirit is a term that in many instances must be taken with a grain of salt, as marketers of these islands make much ado of our gracious culture in saccharine (and profitable) ad campaigns and the like.

But the real deal was in fine form June 22 when generous folks in Hawaii's culinary community went all-out to help a 16-year-old leukemia patient indulge his passion for Italian cuisine. Wish kid Adrian spent a day in the kitchen with M.A.C. 24/7 executive chef James Aptakin and sous chef Edmund Kwok, to whip up a fettucine meal.

The private cooking class was arranged on the fly. Adrian and his family had planned to travel from their California home to Sicily for an Italian culinary experience that had been in the works for more than a year. But a European airline strike left them grounded, and within hours the family was rerouted to Hawaii, thanks to the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Hawaii chapter.

The chapter is delivering more than 600 wishes to ill youth this summer and is seeking support. Visit hawaii.wish.org to make a donation.

Make-A-Wish Hawaii  Adrian, 16, fulfilled his dream of cooking Italian cuisine and earned a certificate as a master of fettucine-making.

Make-A-Wish Hawaii
Adrian fulfilled a dream of cooking Italian food and earned a certificate as a master of pasta-making.

When Aptakin heard about Adrian’s change of plans, he got to work organizing an authentic Italian meal for the family that featured Italian salad, handmade fettucine with a variety of sauces and spaghetti gelato for dessert provided by IL Gelato.

Friends of the chef joined the effort with donated gifts for the teen, including a hand-embroidered chef jacket by Malihini Hawaii uniforms, a handmade Koa wood cutting board from Foundwood, a recipe book filled with all the foods from the day, and a certificate of achievement for Adrian for mastering pasta-making.

After Adrian's class, the family — including Adrian's mother, brother and grandmother — sat down to the meal and listened to music by acoustic guitarist Kiana Luna. The family deemed the day a great success.

“Every day since Adrian’s trip was changed, we’ve experienced good omens that everything is as it should be — that we were meant to be here for this experience,” said Jannette, Adrian’s mother. “We were not expecting this at all. It’s so amazing!"

MAC 24/7 is in the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel at 2500 Kuhio Ave. True to its name, it is open 24 hours a day, everyday. Visit mac247waikiki.com.

Since 1982, Make-A-Wish Hawaii has granted wishes to more than 13,000 youth with life-threatening medical conditions. The Hawaii chapter is among the busiest in the nation, assisting not only isle youth with their wishes, but coordinating the wishes of kids from across the globe seeking a visit to Hawaii. The chapter has more than 700 volunteers and 200 business partners.

For more information on Make-A-Wish Hawaii, visit hawaii.wish.org or call 537-3118.

Posted in Food, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Authentic aloha

Nostalgia in every bite

By
June 22nd, 2016



Glutino Gluten Free Toaster Pastry satisfies a longtime yearning for that childhood food.

Glutino Gluten Free Toaster Pastry satisfies a longtime yearning for the Pop Tarts of childhood.

In my day, there wasn’t a kid who didn’t love Pop Tarts, those toaster pastries that provided a hot, quickie breakfast in a mere minute. (Straight from the toaster, they were so hot, in fact, that they had to be wrapped in a napkin to be able to hold in the hand, and each bite needed a few seconds to cool between the teeth before chewing, lest you burn your tongue.)

Pop Tarts came in every flavor imaginable, and I was envious of the kids who ate the chocolate and cinnamon varieties in the morning. My mom’s rule was we had to eat a fruit flavor for breakfast; the others were only for snacks. Looking back today, it probably didn’t make a heck of a lot of difference which one we consumed. What with all the frostings and deliciously sweet fillings, there probably wasn’t a tremendous difference in nutritional value — or lack thereof.

The vending machine in our newsroom often carries Pop Tarts, and those of us of a certain age sometimes stop to check what flavors are available. We can’t understand why younger staffers don’t find the pastries appealing.

At my house, I’ve occasionally offered my daughter a Pop Tart from the boxes her father buys. Her response has always been: “Yuck.”

Why have I kept trying with her? Because I’ve wanted to live vicariously. My gluten sensitivity has not allowed me to indulge an absolute yearning for a Pop Tart.

But here’s why hope should always spring eternal: I FOUND A GLUTEN-FREE POP TART!

It happened nearly a year ago, when I spocked boxes of Glutino Gluten Free Toaster Pastry on a shelf at Whole Foods Market. I must admit my excitement was tempered by a bit of caution — some gluten-free products are just plain disastrous.

But this one was fabulous. Not because it was an exact replica of what I recall from childhood; rather, the fillings, made with real fruit, aren’t overbearingly sweet for an adult palate. Coupled with a good gluten-free pastry, they are tasty and delicious. Flavors include strawberry, frosted blueberry, frosted strawberry, and my favorite, apple cinnamon.

And the icing on the proverbial cake? My daughter likes them, too. It makes indulging in a nostalgic food a little bit more of a heartwarming experience.

Whole Foods Market sells a box of five for $5.99, but I’ve got ‘em on regular order at Amazon.com, for roughly the same price.

Posted in Food, Shopping | Comments Off on Nostalgia in every bite

Carpaccio is a slice of heaven

By
June 15th, 2016



By Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com A simple, albeit skillfully prepared offering of wagyu carpaccio took visitors over the moon at the Wagyu Plaza in the new Shirokiya Japan Village Walk at A Moana Center.

By Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com
A skillfully prepared offering of wagyu carpaccio took visitors over the moon at the Wagyu Plaza in the new Shirokiya Japan Village Walk at Ala Moana Center. Village Walk is open today for a public preview and officially opens on June 25.

I must say, folks in the newsroom certainly don't hold back on sweat equity to put out the paper each day. But the hard work sure does afford us wonderful opportunities to experience first-hand what's going on in the community. We're a lucky lot.

On Monday during a media preview, a small crew of us visited the colossal Japan Village Walk, Shirokiya's revamped yataimura (food court), at Ala Moana Center's Ewa wing. It took each of us to tackle the 44,860 square-foot space, nearly the size of a football field, even with only about half the shops presenting their fare. The scope of what Shirokiya is presenting is astounding: 56 shops offering a long, varied list of foods and cuisines.

Yet one dish, just a taste, garnished with a couple arugula leaves and delivered on a humble plastic plate, made my world drop away — perfectly chilled, perfectly marbled, buttery, tender wagyu carpaccio from the Wagyu Plaza.

Now, I've always assumed that it takes special care to make such a dish — carpaccio is a raw preparation — but the skilled treatment of the melt-in-your-mouth beef, perfectly balanced with a touch of rice wine vinegar and adeptly seasoned with a perfect, light touch of salt, turned the dish into something magical.

It was decadent and refreshing all at once, subtle yet flavorful, absolutely delicious. The dish achieved what fine cuisine is designed to do: provide an experience.

Staff from the Vintage Cave, Shirokiya's fine-dining restaurant that uses only the finest ingredients from across the globe, runs the Village Walk's Wagyu Plaza, six stations dedicated to wagyu, and eight-station Seafood Plaza, plus a Vintage Cave bakery.

Vintage Cave will next open a cafe focusing on Italian cuisine, slated for the fall.

Village Walk will be open for a public preview today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Doors will officially open at 10 a.m. June 25. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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Poke takes 9-year-old isle girl to the White House

By
June 11th, 2016



For this fifth and final year of first lady Michelle Obama's Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' "State Dinner," Hawaii's representative offered a poke dish that earned her a seat among 55 other 8- to 12-year-olds at the White House.

On July 14, Kaira Grace will share a meal with the first lady and other youths who created healthy, affordable and original lunch recipes that reflect the USDA's My Plate recommendations.

In addition, this year's challenge encouraged entrants to include locally grown ingredients from their state, territory, or community. The competition garnered more than 1,200 entries, which were pared down to include representatives from each U.S. state, five territories and the District of Columbia.

The 56 aspiring young chefs will attend the dinner hosted by Obama with a parent or guardian. The menu will feature a selection of the winning recipes

The meal will be followed by a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden.

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It takes a village, and sometimes, a very cute baby

By
May 24th, 2016



Photo by Craig T. Kojima Aki "Frankie" Noguchi was the eternal sweetheart during a photo shoot last week at the beautiful Papahana Kuaola in Heeia. What better way to convey the virtues of kalo than a healthy, happy baby eating her kalo pop? We were able to indulge the modeling talent of Frankie thanks to the generosity of her mother, Amanda Corby Noguchi, who made the poi pops Frankie enjoyed and drove her daughter to the picturesque site.

Photo by Craig T. Kojima
Aki "Frankee" Noguchi was an eternal sweetheart during a photo shoot last week at the beautiful Papahana Kuaola in Heeia, for a food story on kalo. What better way to convey the virtues of kalo than with a healthy, happy baby eating her kalo pop? We were able to indulge the modeling talent of Frankee thanks to the generosity of her mother, Amanda Corby Noguchi, who made the poi pops Frankee enjoyed and took the time to drive her daughter to the picturesque site.

When feature writers produce a story, part of the deal is figuring out how to best illustrate what we're writing about. Sometimes we ask staff artists to create a drawing or graphic, but most of the time our photographers do the job.

Often, our plans require help outside the newsroom staff. As my friend Amanda Corby Noguchi says, "Sometimes it takes a village."

Case in point: For my story tomorrow on the many ways to cook kalo, Crave editor Betty Shimabukuro and I were pondering the best way to illustrate the topic. Much of the images in Crave are food shots — these are sure to draw interest — but kalo, while delicious, doesn't necessarily produce the most colorful dishes. What I knew I had were recipes for a banana bread using kalo flour and a kalo baby biscuit.

Now, Betty is gifted at thinking up great ideas on a whim.

"My dream shot is to have a baby eating a kalo biscuit while sitting under a tall kalo plant," she said, then laughed at the seeming outrageousness of her idea. Betty designs many of the pages for Crave.

Hmmmm. I didn't necessarily think it was pie-in-the-sky. There are kalo farms all over the place, with generous farmers always ready to lend a hand.

And I knew just the mommy to ask about lending us her baby.

Amanda runs and owns Pili Group with her husband, chef Mark Noguchi, and the couple produce the cutest babies — preschooler Elee (Eleanor) and 10-month-old Frankee (aka Aki), the baby I was thinking of.

Amanda, always helpful, was quick to say yes.

Also quick to lend a hand was Kapaliku Schirman of Papahana Kuaola, a gorgeous 63-acre site in Heeia that provides educational environmental programs using Hawaiian cultural knowledge. The site is rife with gorgeous loi and thriving kalo plants.

We were all set.

Then the kalo biscuit recipe fell through — and with it, our dream shot. Or so we thought.

"How about we use my poi smoothie pops instead?" Amanda suggested breezily in the midst of my freak-out. "I can whip some up and bring them to the shoot. Frankee LOVES them."

True to her mother's word, Frankee did love them. In fact, she went through three pops like nobody's business. All while being the cutest, sweetest, most agreeable baby I've ever met. She even smiled on cue.

Throughout the shoot, Kainoa Pestana of Papahana Kuaola helped us along, from picking just the right kalo, which Frankee sat under contently, to propping up leaves just so, while photographer Craig Kojima snapped away with his camera.

Needless to say, the shots were beautiful. Or as Betty said, they're some of the cutest shots in the history of food covers.

There's honestly no way to convey the deep gratitude I have for everyone who helped us pull this off, from superwoman Amanda and baby Frankee, whom I'm completely enamored of, to Kapaliku and Kainoa, both gracious and kind.

Please take a look at Crave tomorrow. When you pick it up, you'll fall for Frankee, too. (And don't forget to turn the page and read the story.)

Posted in Education, Food | Comments Off on It takes a village, and sometimes, a very cute baby

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