It’s been a while since I last dined at the trendy Stage Restaurant. When they first opened in 2007 at the Honolulu Design Center, Jon Matsubara was executive chef and George W. Bush was president of the United States. Seven years later, Chef Matsubara is now the man at Japengo and George W. Bush is painting somewhere in a barn in Texas. Former executive sous chef, Ron de Guzman, moved into the executive chef position and revamped the menu. The restaurant decor also received a facelift. Artwork of fanciful genetilia no longer dominate the walls. Now they’ve got Louis Vuitton lips.
I was first introduced to afternoon tea several years ago by one of my friends, Lorie. Along with some of our female co-workers, we would get together to celebrate her birthday with afternoon tea at the Veranda at the Kahala Hotel and Resort.
Earlier this year, Lorie and I had gone for afternoon tea during the hotel’s Golden Jubilee celebration, marking 50 years since the hotel’s opening in 1964. At that time, we noticed that the furniture at the Veranda had changed to furnishings from the Tommy Bahamas line. Gone were the delicate Oriental-inspired dresses worn by the female staff as well.
Mariposa, Neiman Marcus’ signature restaurant, has been serving its chic food in Hawaii for some time now. And I have admit, it is one of my favorite places to have lunch when I’m looking to be spoiled just a tad bit. Golden popovers, chicken consommé, elegant decor, and friendly service is all part of the Mariposa experience. I can’t pinpoint it, but the restaurant has this old Hawaii vibe about it. Maybe it’s the open-air balcony seating that overlooks Ala Moana beach. Needless to say, ladies love to dine at Mariposa. It’s not uncommon to see older local ladies dressed in intricate muumuu’s, as well as the younger, business crowd with their hip Bottega Veneta bags. Laid back elegance and luxury, and sophisticated food, is what makes Mariposa a lunch time dining experience not to be missed.
While having a pretty laid back morning this past Wednesday (which happened to be a Hawaiian holiday, Prince Kuhio Day), I suddenly had a craving for beef cheeks. Yes, beef cheeks. To think, I never had that dish before, but it was due to Coty raving about it for months that I’ve had it on my list of foods to try. Before I told him of my lunch plans, I had already made reservations on OpenTable.
Exploration: Hawaii writer Marvin Chandra has been hitting the Hawaii festival scene very hard over the last couple of months. I decided to join him for the 2014 Vietnamese New Year’s Festival at Kapiolani Park. While Marvin decided to focus on the various performers at the festival, I paid a bit more attention to all of the delicious food for sale. I ended up tasting the avocado bubble drink from one of the food stands. It was so good that it was gone within a few minutes. Too bad the rain came, I would have stayed longer to taste more of the food.
Ah the Big Island, the home of Madame Pele, spewing volcanoes, and larger-than-life waterfalls. Michelle and I recently set off on an inter-island adventure, escaping the hustle and bustle of Oahu and flying the forty minutes to Hawaii’s Big Island. Upon landing at Kona Airport, our plan was to drive an hour to Kohala to see the birthplace of King Kamehameha The Great. Persistent thoughts of red velvet brownies, however, quickly changed our plans and as soon as our luggage had been thrown into the trunk of our newly rented Ford Mustang, we headed straight to the Big Island Candies factory in, errr, Hilo. This was spontaneity at its best.