Anna’s Foodie Reviews

February 18, 2008

IL Teatro @ Capische?

Filed under: 5 Stars! — by annarichmond @ 11:26 pm

I have been trying all week to come up with the words to describe Il Teatro @ Capische?. I have finally come to the conclusion that a picture really is worth a thousand words, and I should let my photos do most of the speaking for me.

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A Beautiful Maui Sunset

Il Teatro means “the theater” in English. Chef Brain Etherredge created an interactive dining experience at his restaurant Capishe? last year, and it is truly a one of a kind culinary adventure. Tom and I, along with another couple that we sat with that night, had not just an incredible five course tasting menu with wine pairings, but such a great time and an evening we won’t soon forget.

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Tom and I at Sunset

Il Teatro has taken a Teppanyaki room and turned it into a table-side, interactive experience that any foodie would love. There was four of us that night, but the table seats up to ten, and with two tables, a group of twenty could partake. Chef Chris Kulis was our wizard for the evening. We also had our own sommelier, Matthew. Chef Chris is an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and has trained all over the world, including with Thomas Keller’s Chefs in Napa. When he found himself returning over and over again to Hawaii, he decided to stay and joined Chef Brain at Chapishe?

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Chef Christopher Kulis
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Chef Chris’s Caviar Taco

Our evening stared just after sunset, with a champagne toast. After introductions, Chef Chris got down to business. Our Amuse Bouche was what he called a Caviar Taco. On the grill he made an Herbed Crepe and in it he placed Caviar, Sashmi, Creme Fres and Fresh Cilantro. Finger foods of the gods.

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Beautiful Copper Pots

Chef Chris was great, answering all my questions, allowing me to take as many pictures as I wanted, and making sure everything tasted as amazing as it looked. All the dishes were prepared in beautiful copper pans, and on the grill. Chef Chris plated all the courses in front of us with such ease.

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Ono Gravlox, Fennel Salad, Preserved Lemon, Crostini
Proscuitto di Parma, Asparagus, Truffle Vinaigrette

For Course One he grilled the Butter Crostini and paired it with Ono Gravlox, topped with a Shaved Fennel Salad with Preserved Lemon and paper thin Proscuitto, Parma, Asparagus, splashed with Truffle Vinaigrette. This was light and flavorful and was paired with Vietti – Roero Arneis – Piedmont 2005

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Warm Duck Confit, Upcountry Greens, Apricots,
Shallot Vinaigrette
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Olive Oil Poached Onaga, Parsley Pesto,
White Anchovy Vinaigrette

Course Two was a choice of a Warm Duck Confit, served over Upcountry Greens and Apricots and finished with a Shallot Vinaigrette, or Olive Oil Poached Onaga on Parsley Pesto, with White Anchovy Vinaigrette. Tom and I shared one of each, so that we were able to try all of the dishes.The duck was one of my favorite dishes, and the Oberto -Barbera D’alba- Piedmont- 2006, just pushed it up to an even higher level. The Onaga was served with a Teriano “Kreuth” Chardonny- Alto Adige 2003. Nice, crisp, perfect. One of my many questions for the chef was whether he planned the menu, or chose the wine first. Answer: The wine was chosen first, and the menu planned to show it off at it’s best. Mission accomplished!

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The start of the Risotto
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Chef Chris plates the Third Course
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Braised Pork Belly, Saffron Risotto, Fried Shallot Gremolata
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Butter Poached Lobster, Risotto Nero,
Mascarpone Cappuccino

Chef Chris began making two Risottos when we sat down. For the Third Course, he finished the first with Saffron and the second with Squid Ink. The Saffron Risotto was topped with Braised Pork Belly and Fried Shallot Gremolata. Matthew served us Allerini – “La Grola” – Valpolicello – 2004. The Risotto Nero was served with a Lobster Tail that was poached in Butter and a foam of Mascarpone Cappuccino. A Coppo-Chardonny – “Costebianche”- Vento – 2003 was poured to compliment. We again split the two dishes. I love all risottos, and am always trying to perfect mine at home. Chef Chris gave me great tips to help me out.

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The Plating of the Foie Gras
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Our Bonus Course, Foie Gras, Strawberries, and Aged Balsalmic

The couple that dined with us were from Idaho. The wife was Italian, and they had met and lived in Vegas before moving to Idaho. She had worked in restaurants in Vegas, and loved food as much as I do. She was 3 months pregnant with their first child, and was having no trouble with food. She asked if they had Foie Gras, and Chris brought out his special Foie Gras, that he had been working on for 5 days. He sliced it and served it with Strawberries, and Aged Balsamic. Matthew poured a Sauternes and we had such a special treat. It was very wonderful.

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Before the next course, Chef Chris made us a refreshing palette cleanser.

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Chef Chris Grills the Ahi
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Lamb Chops, Herb Gnocchi, Fig Pan Sauce
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Polenta Crusted Ahi, Corn Black Truffle Sauce, Butternut Sauce

Next was Lamb Chops with Herb Gnocchi and a Fig Sauce, served with Masi Agricola – Amarone – “Costasera” – Vento – 2003, or Polenta Crusted Ahi, with a Black Truffle Corn Sauce and Butternut Squash. This was paired with Cigliuti – Barbaresco – “Serraboella” – Piedmont – 2003. I told Chef Chris that my New Year’s Resolution was to learn how to make perfect Gnocchi, and he gave me pointers on this also. I love Chef Chris. The Lamb and the Ahi were both done perfectly, and Matthew made sure that we didn’t run out of our wine before the food was done.

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Torching the Creme Brulee Spoon
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Warm Chocolate Cake, Chambord Strawberry Sorbert

Dessert was a warm Chocolate Cake, baked in a oven table-side, with Chambord Strawberry Sorbet. Our spoon was filled with Creme Brulee, giving us such an exquisite mouthful. What a perfect ending, paired with Banfi – Rosa Regale – Brachetto D’Acqui – 2005.

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Me with Chef Chris
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Me and Matthew

I don’t speak Italian, and I can only come up with so many words in English to signify what a fun night we had and how wonderful the food was. I have found a new interest in Italian wines, and we have started to try new ones at home. The experience was one I hope to have again on a return trip to Maui. Chef Chris tells me they change the menu often. So, enjoy the pictures, invent your own words, and know that Il Teatro really is that wonderful.

February 3, 2008

Chez Paul

Filed under: 4 Stars,5 Stars!,General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 10:48 pm

Every year on our drive from the Kahului airport to our condo in Kahana, we pass a roadside restaurant about 7 miles outside of Lahania. Every year we look at each other and wonder why anyone would drive to the middle of no where for French food on Maui. Well, it may have taken us 11 years, but we finally figured it out. The food is amazing.

This was the year we decided to give Chez Paul a try, and we are so pleased that we did. This quaint bistro has been owned by Chef Patrick Callarec since 2000, but has been an island institution since 1968. People have always told us good things about it, and they were right.

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The Amuse Bouche

We started the evening off right, a glass of French Champagne for Moi, and a mai tai for Tom. Our server brought us a small portion of their Soupe Glacee Vichyssoise for an amuse bouche. This chilled leek and potato soup with fresh chives is on the regular menu, as an appetizer. It was nice to be able to try one of their regular items. I really enjoyed this chilled soup. It was very creamy, but not too heavy. It was garnished with slices of almonds for a nice crunch.

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Wild Mushrooms and Brie in Puff Pastry

I started with the Pithiverier De Champignons Sauvages, Fromage De Brie, Sauce Au Vieux Porto. This dish of wild mushrooms and Brie cheese is baked in a flaky puff pastry and served with a vintage port wine sauce. What a beautiful presentation. It was as delicious as it looked, with it’s rich port wine sauce.

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Foie Gras

Tom was very happy to see Foie Gras Frais De Canard Saute Aux Fruits De Saison. He loves foie gras. This preparation of sauteed fresh duck foie gras was in a raspberry-vinaigrette and accompanied by poached pears. Tom paired it with a glass of Dolce. He was very pleased.

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A Happy Tom!
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Mahi-Mahi in Champagne Buerre Blanc

For our entrees, I choice the Poisson Des Au Champagne. This is Chez Paul’s classic preparation of fresh island fish, in this case Mahi-Mahi, poached in Champagne with leeks and capers. It was plated with mashed purple sweet potatoes and asparagus. The champagne Buerre Blanc sauce was creamy, but not heavy. The whole dish was very French, and oh la la… C’est Magnifique!

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The Perfect Rack of Lamb

Tom decided to forgo the fish this evening and ordered the Carre D’ Agneau Paniolo Chutney De Fruits Exotiques. In English, this Rack of Colorado lamb accompanied with a paniolo marinade and exotic fruits chutney, was done to perfection. Tom said that this ruined him for all lamb to come; this was the best he ever had. Paired with a Pinot Noir, and he was a very happy man.

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Yes, It was that good.

We capped off our evening with the vanilla creme brulee. It is caramelized in a pineapple, and served with fresh fruit. A very Hawaiian twist on a French favorite. Being that these are our two favorite places, no wonder we loved Chez Paul.

February 2, 2008

Aloha, Maui!

Filed under: General Chatter — by annarichmond @ 4:12 pm
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A Double Rainbow From Our Beach Chairs

Tom and I just got back from our yearly visit to paradise, the island of Maui. We have been visiting since 1997, when we purchased a time share at the Sands of Kahana. It is our home away from home, for one relaxing week a year. In the past 11 years many things have changed on the island. It has gotten much more crowed, with an increase in visitors and it has lost some of it’s “small town” feel, but it’s still the one place that can slow Tom down to what we call “Maui Time” and he can just relax. We do a lot of laying on the beach, or by the pool, just reading all the books we don’t have time for in the real world, or just looking at the ocean, watching for a whale to breach.

The other activity we partake in is the dining. We love to eat on Maui. We plan our week around the restaurants that we love to eat at and the new ones we want to try. Some people come to Maui to enjoy the golf courses, or the sport fishing, not us. Give us a wine list and the fish of the day, and we are happy.

I have reviewed many of the island restaurants already, so I tried to order something new at our favorite places, so I could give a new opinion. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

We arrived early on Saturday, so we had a “bonus” dinner. We walked up the street from our condo to Roy’s Kahana Bar and Grill. Last year I reported that Roy’s had lost some of it’s charm since our first visits. On this visit, we were satisfied with our food and service and decided that it is a good place to recommend to the traveler who wants a nice meal, with nice service, at a nice price. Roy’s is no longer the 4 star restaurant that it once was, the linen table cloths are gone and there are more tables in the dining room, but it still puts any seafood place on the mainland to shame.

Try the seared ahi, or the mahi-mahi, and always order the chocolate souffle. Roy’s has it’s own wine label and they are reasonably priced, nice California wines, so enjoy a bottle and celebrate being on “Maui Time”.

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