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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Lunch At Stage, Chocolate And Foodie Gifts

When Stage Restaurant opened five years ago within the impressive Honolulu Design Center, there were those who doubted it would last more than a season. Happily, the naysayers have long since been silenced and Stage, along with its sister wine bar Amuse, continues to impress as both an elegantly casual restaurant and a home to new culinary trends.

There are several reasons to visit Stage this month, especially if you have time for lunch.

For $26, three-course lunch choices include soup, a Petite Stage Caesar Salad (with bacon, house-made croutons, local tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and an anchovy vinaigrette), and a selection of entrees including Misoyaki Salmon and Meatloaf (made with Angus ground beef and served with truffle mashed potatoes). Choices also include a couple of pasta dishes and fresh island fish, served Chinese style. Dessert options include Stage’s ridiculously decadent Brownie A La Mode – a rich, fudgy fromage brownie made with macadamia nut toffee and served with house-made vanilla bean ice cream. If that doesn’t tempt, then the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta should have you asking for more.

If you can’t make it for lunch anytime soon, make a calendar note to visit Amuse on any Monday or Wednesday evening; there are $5 appetizer specials during happy hour ,and $50 wine cards are offered for just $30.

You can find the details on lunch and dinner tasting menus, wine bar events and upcoming holiday festivities at stagerestauranthawaii.com. …

If the fudgy, gorgeous fromage brownie at Stage whets your appetite for dessert, then Kailua’s annual Chocolate Extravaganza might be something to put on your calendar. The Nov. 10 chocolate tasting features an amazing array of chocolate dishes from restaurants that include Hokulani Bake Shop, Morton’s, 3660 On the Rise, Manoa Chocolate, La Tour and JJ French Pastry, along with silent auction items from Hawaii Opera Theatre, Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Big City Diner, and donations from many of Kailua’s eclectic businesses. …

The made-for-chocaholics event, held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, is part of fundraising efforts that help shelter and feed Hawaii’s homeless families (most of them with children). Eating chocolate to help the community raises spirits as well as much-needed funds. Tickets cost just $25, and yes, that’s for all the chocolate you can stand. More details at emmanuelkailua.com. …

We promised to find a host of exciting food gift ideas to help lessen the holiday stress this year: This limited-edition tea gift box from The Tea Chest is a great example of a locally produced product that gives back to our community. Combining art and wellness, the gift box celebrates tea’s legendary antioxidant properties and offers 48 certified organic teas. Hawaii artist and cancer survivor Jocelyn Cheng created the water-color tea-themed still-life that adorns the cover, and a portion of sales from the “tea for strength” gift box will be donated to University of Hawaii Cancer Center. Details at hawaiiannaturaltea.com.

I’m making a commitment to buy only locally made gifts and products for the holidays. Want to join me? Who knows, maybe we can start a mini economic recovery of our own and get 2013 off to a roaring start.

Happy eating!

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