We were fortunate enough to have our vacation coincide not only with Mealani’s Taste of the Hawai’ian Range, but also the first Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival. Both events had similar goals: to feature local, sustainable Hawai’ian foods and support the local food industry. This event brought in celebrity chefs from the mainland who are known for supporting and sourcing local foods.
The event we attended as guests of the festival was the final evening, “From Mauka to Makai—Hawai’i’s Sustainable Future.” It featured fifteen chefs as well as local wineries, and the event benefited the Hawai’i Agricultural Foundation and the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. (I loved seeing some of the culinary students at work during this event.) A special thanks to Candice Lee Kraughto for arranging our passes.
The location was the great lawn at the Hilton Hawai’ian Village, and we had a beautiful sunset to enjoy. As you can imagine, the event was super-crowded, and I suspect next year they will need to find a larger space. The Hubs and I enjoyed tasting many of the plates. The goat cheese ice cream from Surfing Goat Dairy was amazing (goat cheese, cow’s milk, sugar, and lemon). He loved the coffee station and I especially enjoyed the gourmet chocolates made from Hawai’ian cacao beans by Philippe Padovani; that man is a genius with chocolate!
Many of the chefs were great about plating something without the meat for me, and checking whether items were gluten-free. I would love to see events like these (it’s true in San Diego too) be more aware of gluten intolerances and ask the chefs to indicate which of their plates are gluten-free in advance and on signage. It’s difficult at a crowded event to ask for special plating; you don’t want to hold up the line.
My favorite dish was this side by Chef John Besh of Besh Restaurant Group in New Orleans. I asked him if he would share the recipe, which he kindly did. My renovated version is below his, and is vegan as well. Enjoy!
Jalapeño Cheese Grits
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing
Used with permission
1 C. stone-ground white corn grits
1 jalapeño pepper
3 T. butter
2 T. mascarpone or cream cheese
1/4 C. grated Edam cheese
Heat 4 cups of water in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Slowly pour in the grits while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 20 minutes.
While the grits are cooking, pan-roast the jalapeño pepper in a small skillet over high heat until the skin is brown and blistered. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove the skin and the seeds from the pepper and discard. Mince the flesh and add it to the pot of grits.
Remove the pot from the heat and fold in the butter, mascarpone, and Edam cheese. Season with salt.
How to make cashew cream
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
1 C. (125 g) raw cashews
2 T. (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 t. (3 g) kosher or sea salt
Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least four hours. Rinse and drain. Put the cashews in the blender with the other ingredients and 1/4 C. (60 ml) filtered water. Blend on high speed about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender to get everything incorporated into a smooth, thick paste.
How to use cashew cream
Substitute cashew cream for the same amount of:
cream cheese or mascarpone in jalapeño cheese grits
ricotta in lasagne
cream cheese or ricotta in cheesecake
heavy cream in soup
All of our recipes are gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with plant-based ingredients to help you build a healthy life. Look for midweek posts on meditation, service, and life lessons, helping you create inner balance.