Alan Wong’s puts on its Farmer Series dinners only two or three times a year, always supporting local producers, always delivering for a worthy cause. Last night’s showcased a range of microgreens and herbs from FarmRoof, the local project that converts unused rooftop space across Honolulu to grow fresh greens and herbs. Those last night were picked in the morning from the organic FarmRoof garden at Castle Medical Center in Kailua, which grows them for patient and staff meals.
We ate everything from sassy baby mustards to inch-long tarragon, which packed an assertive licorice punch. The first course, a miniature salad of carefully chosen greens, we ate with our hands, dipping the leaves into olive oil brought home from the vineyard (yes, vineyard) that produced it in Tuscany. Fingers turned out to be the best implement for the small tangle of freshness, and around the dining room, where everyone was eating the same $85, seven-course meal, everyone was using their hands. This was going to be fun.
The FarmRoof dinner, which put on our plates a range of ag products from across the state, was one night only. Next up in the Farmer Series: a dinner this summer spotlighting next-generation farmers, younger generations who are taking over from their parents. After that, a dinner featuring lasts of their kind, industries where only one local producer is left, that could use some attention and support to thrive.
Meanwhile, the parade of courses from last night’s meal.
Journey of a Cacao Pod (10 of 10)
After visiting Waialua Chocolate's cacao farm, pastry chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka wanted to create a daring dessert showcasing the flavors of cacao at different periods of its fermentation process. The result: a complete journey, from pulp through fermentation stages to roasting and the final product — in sorbet, cake, mousse, tuille and fudgesicle form. Those yellow knobs bracketing the ends are candied apple banana.
Diane: I'll remember this dessert whenever I crave chocolate. I especially loved the frozen fudgesicle and the sweet but slightly tangy, apple bananas.
Mari: If you've never tried fresh soursop, try the cacao pulp sorbet. A dead ringer. The candied apple banana in its crisp hot sugar shell was a revelation. I would like it every morning with black coffee. And in the afternoon I'd like another midway fermented chocolate fudgesicle, please.
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