Simple Luxury by Megan Tomino

Airy and beautiful interior - I vow to go back and steal these indigo pillows!

Airy and beautiful interior - I vow to go back and steal these indigo pillows!

Seafood cocktail

Seafood cocktail

I recently partnered with Hawaiian Airlines to create a food-centric campaign for the company's social media accounts. The assignment: Select 12 food experiences around Oʻahu for the Hawaiian Airlines MasterCard. I thought I'd better take this opportunity to re-visit my favorite haunts like Kaimuki Crack Seed and Morning Glass Coffee, and also to try new restaurants like Fish House at The Four Seasons in Koʻolina.

Instagram has been buzzing after the opening of the Four Seasons in February. I met up with the Kaimuki-raised PR guru (and all around amazing) Kim Shibata for lunch at Fish House on a sunny but crazy humid afternoon.

It's safe to say I was not prepared for the royal treatment but much to my surprise, that's what I received. When a lunch on the beach starts of with champagne (even for a non-drinker like myself) you know you're in for a great meal.

Smoked Ahi Spread on Homemade beer bread and a little bit of bubbly

Smoked Ahi Spread on Homemade beer bread and a little bit of bubbly

Four Seasons works tirelessly to provide their clients with a superior experience for guests - and it's all in the details of their decor and service. This place is what I imagine Meryl Streep's beach house to look like. Breezy, whimsical, comfortable, and beautiful. (Call me, Meryl it's been a while ;) ).

Chef Ray runs the kitchen at Fish House. Originally from San Diego, chef brings a certain California flair and ingenuity to his dishes that fit in perfectly in the restaurant's simple but luxurious resort atmosphere. For lunch's first course, champagne and smoked ahi spread on home made beer bread. Next up - seafood michelada. Tender octopus, creamy bright green avocado, tomato with a slight kick of Cholula, all mixed in ice cold Maui Bikini Blonde with a side of crispy tortilla chips. It's probably what mermaids drink when they need a quick hangover cure.

The meal continued with a chilled avocado salad with hazelnut quinoa crumble, rainbow radish, and apple cider vinegar, local style garlic shrimp with lemongrass, fennel and cucumber, and a head-turning seafood yellow rice served with a roasted ahi head! Our reaction: "Gasp! Haha! Omg! Lol! Wait, we have to take a pic. Let's name him Barry!" Clearly chef has a fun-loving attitude and wanted to give his guest diners something to remember. Kim (also an avid food lover) and I immediately began breaking down the choice parts of the tuna head, cheeks, collar, etc. and mixing the moist flesh with the light and airy yellow rice. Though delicious, I suspect you won't find this dish on the regular Fish House lunch menu.

Seafood yellow rice and avocado salad

Seafood yellow rice and avocado salad

Avocado salad and garlic shrimp

Avocado salad and garlic shrimp

Lunch finished on a sweet note with a large wooden board covered in an array of desserts. Their carrot cake isn't your average slice - thin layers of cake layered with cream cheese and lilikoi frosting is heaven for people like me who prefer desserts on the more savory side. 

The Four Seasons' impeccable grounds are reason enough to make the trek out to the west side of Oʻahu. I'm looking forward to trying one of the other four restaurants - Kim expect a call very soon!

Summertime Fine by Megan Tomino

I'M BACK!! You guys. It's been awhile. Recently my Instagram feed has been an overload of grilling posts from the likes of Bon Appetit - luckily for us, we get to grill pretty much all year round. When it comes to grilling most people reach for steaks and chicken thighs, but my favorite thing to grill is PIZZA.

Grilling pizza is so easy you'll never make it in your oven again. For starters, clean-up is a breeze. Since you're outdoors you can make a mess (and trust me you will make a mess). I like to go to the grocery store, get every type of pizza topping then create a build your own pizza bar. On this particular evening we prepped olives, prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, red onions, basil, baby kale, currant tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, crimini mushrooms and last but certainly not least, anchovies. (Side note: anchovies are my #1 most beloved topping). 

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So here's what you do. Make the dough. I use Roberta's dough recipe because it's the best and always comes out perfectly. Weigh out 8oz balls and let rest under a damp towel until everyone is ready to eat. Then let everyone go to town. Carefully throw the topped pizza onto a scorching hot grill (at least 500 degrees) and cook till the crust is crispy and the cheese is bubbling. Allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in!

Japan Vibes by Megan Tomino

Japan. I love you.

When ever I go on a trip, Mark packs his CONTAX T3 with one roll of film for me. While I'm away I try to use just the single roll and develop when I return home. It's such a fun game to play, you should try it if you can! Here are a few film photos from the trip. Hope you enjoy.

Scenes from Yoyogi Flea Market

Scenes from Yoyogi Flea Market

Lindsey shopping for home goods at the Yoyogi Flea

Lindsey shopping for home goods at the Yoyogi Flea

Buying the most delicious brown rice yaki-mochi

Buying the most delicious brown rice yaki-mochi

Hawaii Champroo record playing at Paddler's Coffee

Hawaii Champroo record playing at Paddler's Coffee

Desmond & sakura at Paddler's Coffee

Desmond & sakura at Paddler's Coffee

Ojiisan roasting fish

Ojiisan roasting fish

Street markets and sakura

Street markets and sakura

Lobster miso soup and sushi 

Lobster miso soup and sushi 

#ModernChefTakeover by Megan Tomino

Seared Ahi Tostada with "Sweet and Sour" Pomegranate Reduction

Seared Ahi Tostada with "Sweet and Sour" Pomegranate Reduction

35 lb. Grade B Local Ahi

35 lb. Grade B Local Ahi

This past weekend, the MODERN HONOLULU held their first Chef Takeover culinary event. The hotel's Executive Chef, Keith Pajinag invited friend and fellow chef, Will Chen of Fresh Box to a hotel-wide takeover for the entire weekend! Chef Will focuses on using fresh and local ingredients, so he decided to feature a special ingredient during his takeover - local ahi.

The event finale took place in the gorgeous Sun Suite of the hotel. As the sun went down, we were treated to a great lecture by Brooks Takenaka, Owner of the Hawaii Fish Auction, about seafood sustainability and the abundance of fresh seafood here in our islands. We are truly lucky to have so many skilled fishermen in our waters that give us access to the freshest fish.

For dinner, we had an enormous 35 lb. long-line ahi caught right here in our waters that Brooks brought in from the auction. Chef Will demonstrated how to cut down a side of the fish, first removing the skin, rib cage, and bloodline, then cutting a section of tenderloin and steaks.

These premium cuts of tuna would fetch high prices in any sushi restaurant, but Chef Will confessed that his favorite part of the fish is the belly and bones. The fattiness of the belly is irresistible, and the bones when deep fried make a snack that pairs well with an ice cold beer.

The twist of the evening was that the guests were in charge of cooking our own dinner! Chef Will and Chef Keith passed out thick slices of the tuna and directed us to cooking stations that were set up with grills, burners, flat tops, and prep stations. The MODERN provided us with any ingredient imaginable to make our ahi taste great, everything from lemongrass to pomegranate.

Being that we already had sashimi grade tuna on our hands, I didn't really want to cook the fish. But, when I saw the cute hibachi set-up I had to try it.

Chef Will Chen

Chef Will Chen

The Infamous Brooks Takenaka

The Infamous Brooks Takenaka

Grilling Local Ahi... buggahs got stuck!

Grilling Local Ahi... buggahs got stuck!

Although my attempt at grilling the tuna was a semi-fail, the poke bar in the suite quickly made up for it. Put a group of local people at a poke bar and you get instant chaos. The poor 

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Puerto Rico Film by Megan Tomino

Ed Kenney

This past month I was lucky enough to travel with the Family Ingredients crew to Puerto Rico with Chef Ed Kenney and the multi-talented and gorgeous, Tiara Hernandez. For those of you who don't know, Family Ingredients is a travel, genealogy, and food show that is based in Hawaii. Each episode starts with Chef Ed, his guest, and one dish, and together they take a journey to discovery the origins, variations, and ingredients that make up the chosen dish. Along the way, chef and his guest learn about the culture and history of the country they are in and eat delicious food.

Family Ingredients Puerto Rico was the first episode (of many, I hope) where I was in charge of planning almost everything, and it was an unreal experience. If you combine one part luck with 1,000 parts research, you end up with a pretty great story that I cannot wait to share with everyone. Of course, working with the best crew and amazing talent made my job much easier. The chemistry between long-time friends, Ed and Tiara was just the cherry on top. Together, our crew cruised through the Spanish style houses in Old San Juan, trekked up the mountains in Aibonito to an organic hillside farm and villa for a homegrown dinner, went bar hopping and danced salsa late in to the night, and met the most epic chefs that have a real zest for life. 

I still can't help but grin when I think about that week in Puerto Rico. Here are a few photos from the trip that I captured on Mark's Contax S-2. For more photos from the trip, check out the Family Ingredients hashtag on Instagram: #FIPuertoRico.

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Plaza del Mercado Rio Peidras

Daniella of Siembra Tres Vidas

Daniella of Siembra Tres Vidas

Plantains in the Mercado

Plantains in the Mercado

Paxx and Tara in Aibonito

Paxx and Tara in Aibonito

Dusk in Barceloneta

Dusk in Barceloneta

Hot Puerto Rico Nights


Catch Season One of Family Ingredients on PBS National in Summer 2016.

Obon Season by Megan Tomino

Obon is the time of year when buddhist families gather to celebrate their ancestors. For us non-buddhists, it's a time to eat lots of andagi and dance the bon odori with complete strangers! No matter your what your religious beliefs are it's great to see all members of the community come together to celebrate. This year, Mark and I checked-out the Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission obon since it's just minutes away from our house. 

The sun had just started to set but already there were rows and rows of mismatching beach chairs circling the main tent in the temple's parking lot. Bright pink paper lanterns (with no light in them because I guess that's illegal in Hawaii?) spanned the entire lot. Soon, the bon odori dancers came out to open the ceremony.


TAI YAKI

As the dancers danced my eyes wandered over to the tai yaki tent. I'd like to thank whoever made these little cuties up. Fluffy pancake-like dough filled with sweet azuki bean or chocolate at just $1 a piece... luckily I didn't have much cash or else I would have bought the entire tray. All the volunteers were so nice, allowing me to shove my camera in their faces while they were busy trying to fill these little fish molds. 

I love the tool they use to fill the tai yaki - it's the first time I've seen it being used but am guessing it's pretty traditional. The azuki is filled on a plate about 1/8" deep, leveled out, then pushed into the dough that fills the molds. The azuki contraption ensures that each tai yaki is filled from mouth to tail with azuki bean. Genius!

The tai yaki are cooked until slightly crisp and served piping hot! I wish I had a cup of tea to go with it, but there was no way these guys were gonna make it home with me. Bite, bite, gone!


ANDAGI

The andagi guys were a riot. Thank goodness Mark asked the volunteers if I could creep behind the barrier to take photos of them! I sheepishly walked up to the crew (who look like they've been on andagi duty for the last decade of Obon ceremonies) and asked if I could take pictures. One uncle responded, "of course!" After I snapped a few, another uncle said, "oh, now her camera steh broke!" HAHA! They were hilarious.

I continued to watch as they formed new andagi. They pulled out handfuls of dense dough from a bucket and fed it through the perfect sized hole made with their index finger and thumb. Then, they use their opposite index finger to "slice" off the piece of dough and drop it into the blazing hot oil.

Once the andagi are golden brown and delicious, they pick each one up with a tongs and shake it (rather violently) to remove excess oil. As you can see in the photo above, the uncles pull their socks allllll the way up just in case the hot oil splatters all over. So smart!

These guys have their recipe down 100%. The andagi was crisp and light with a cake donut-like consistency in the middle with just a hint of sweetness. Although they're best when fresh out of the fryer, I took some home with me and can't wait to have them with my morning cup of coffee!

MTEA x PDD by Megan Tomino

Living in NYC was such a blur. Looking back, I realized I'm so lucky to have had such a great experience (polar vortex aside) in the big city. 

One of the best memories I have was working at ODIN/Pas De Deux a brother + sister high end clothing store. Aside from completely screwing up my perception on how much moolah clothes should cost, I made lasting friendships and miss this team every day! So, when Serafina (manager and buyer for Pas De Deux) asked me to write a summer recipe for them, I couldn't say no!


MACADAMIA NUT PESTO WHOLE GRILLED CHICKEN

Simple, fresh ingredients

Simple, fresh ingredients

Rings by Gabriela Artigas, available at pasdedeuxny.com

Rings by Gabriela Artigas, available at pasdedeuxny.com

Gus wants a lick of the chicken!

Gus wants a lick of the chicken!

My go-to denim, skin 5's by Acne Studios, available at pasdedeuxny.com

My go-to denim, skin 5's by Acne Studios, available at pasdedeuxny.com

Photos by Megan Rhoden

View the full interview and recipe here: PAS DE DEUX


Pas De Deux
328 E. 11th St.
New York, NY 10003

Rafute by Megan Tomino

Rafute is one of those slow simmer dishes that turns cheap cuts of meat into magic. The dish originates in Okinawa, a country known for its pork. The happy hog is used in TONS of dishes, but as I learned through working for Family Ingredients, this wasn't always so. One of our producers, Dan Nakasone, told us this story about a man from Hawai‘i that changed Okinawan food history forever.

In 1948, Okinawa was decimated after the Battle of Okinawa. A soldier from Hawai‘i came back to the islands to put together a relief effort for Okinawa. Reverend Whitmore wrote letter to General MacArthur to ask for his help to transport pigs back to Okinawa. In the midst of a war with Japan, the U.S. Navy agreed to help. The relief effort raised $50,000 to buy 550 pigs from farmers in Nebraska. These pigs were transported from Nebraska to Colorado and then took the 10 day journey to Okinawa with a team of seven Hawaii-Okinawans free of charge on U.S. naval ships. 

To this day, an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward people from Hawai‘i can be felt when you visit Okinawa. Little influences of our local culture can be seen - they even have spam musubi stores!


RAFUTE

My version of this dish isn't exactly traditional, but is damn tasty!
Serves 4 with full bellies

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pork belly
1/2 C awamori (or sake)
1/2 C shoyu
1/2 C brown sugar
1 C water
1 t bonito dashi (dried packet)
1 small piece ginger, skinned

Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil with the piece of ginger. Add pork belly and allow to boil for about 30 minutes. Drain the pork and rinse. In the same pot, bring the water and dried dash to a boil. Add the pork, then the awamori, sugar, and finally the shoyu. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Simmer pork for about an hour, or until the meat is very tender. If the liquid evaporates too much, add more water and just a pinch of sugar and a splash of awamori and shoyu.

Serve with hot mustard and rice.