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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Whole Hog And Master Sommeliers

Kicking off with the world-class Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, the month also saw the inaugural Hawaii Agriculture Conference held at the Hawaii Convention Center, a gathering that inspired creative ideas on ways Hawaii and its growing food movement can focus on collaborative consumption.

There was even a whisky/beer event as Master Of Whisky, Tom Turner, rolled into town to host events highlighting the incredible resurgence of craft beers and single malts in America – and particularly the beer scene in Hawaii.

A Homegrown Food Festival at Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar highlighted local pigs, and another crab restaurant – Karai Crab – opened, this time at The Willows. There hasn’t been this much activity in one month since Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras all fell on the same weekend.

But don’t feel like you missed it all. There’s still time to taste some of the best pork dishes in town as the hog festival continues at Sansei through the end of the month.

The restaurant is using Shinsato Hog Farms pork and going whole hog, buying complete pigs and using every part on their snout-to-tail menus. “We’re really excited that our chef JJ Reinhart and our sushi chef Ikunari Yamamura have been creating some incredible dishes using every part of the pig,” says Sansei’s managing partner Ivy Nagayama.

Shinsato Hog Farms is the only USDA-certified pork slaughterhouse on Oahu and, until recently, the family farmed in relative obscurity. Not anymore, as chefs and restaurant owners around the city vie for the precious pork.

The dinners at Sansei continue until Sept. 27; some of the dishes on the menus include Kona Kampachi Nigiri with Shinsato Pork Lardo, Kalua Pig Maki Rolls, Braised Shinsato Pork, and Portuguese Bean Cassoulet with house-made pork-filled Portuguese sausage. Don’t miss this amazing dinner featuring one of our most coveted local products. Who could resist local lardo?

If you find yourself wondering what kind of wine to drink with that pork fat, then you probably should take your love of wine over to Mid Pacific Country Club Nov. 7, where the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) will conduct its Level 1 (intro) and Level 2 (certified) exams in Hawaii. Level 1 is considered the level to get those interested in learning more started on their path to certification, and at the very least is a fascinating insight into the kind of dedication required to become a Master Sommelier. In the two-day class blind tastings take place, and at the end of the course there’s a multiple-choice exam. Required pass rate is 90 percent. Study packets and an introduction to the course are mailed out on application. Classes will be taught by Master Sommeliers Ron Edwards from Upper Michigan, MidWeek columnist Roberto Viernes and Patrick Okubo, Hawaii’s most recent MS. More information at mastersom-meliers.org.

Happy eating!

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