The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, Part III: Southern Italy

Our Italian tropological trudging in the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition has come upon its final chapter. Brick Fire Tavern and its regional menu has faithfully led us from the slopes of the Italian Alps in northern Italy and its creamy rustic flavors of the forest (in Part I) down to the ancient city of Rome (in Part II), tasting a few of the most iconic combinations in Italy's illustrious culinary history. In this final installment, our expedition reaches the southern shores and azure blue waters of the Mediterranean. A utopia that begs for fellowship, relaxation and perhaps a modicum of frivolity. Sounds as though things might get a little spicy...

Read More

The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, Part II: Central Italy

Ciao a tutti! This week we are traveling south in the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, in diligent pursuit of Italy’s best regional food and wine pairings. Our traveling compass is the esteemed Brick Fire Tavern and its regional menu that is optimized for a regional pairing paradigm. In Part I, we explored northern Italy and the tremendous cuisine inspired by the mountains and forests of the Italian Alps. As our journey heads south, we stop over in central Italy and Rome, its illustrious capital. Here history, culture and cuisine collide in a wonderful accord of fresh flavors and bustling excitement.

Wine and food pairings in the region date back over two thousand years, and some of the most acclaimed cuisine of Italy finds its rudimentary beginnings in the Eternal City. With so much culinary and vinous history, we are certain to discover some incredible pairings.

Excitement untamed; commence unbridled exploration!

Read More

Brick Fire Tavern and the Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition

EAT-aly! It is one of the most prodigious food destinations in the world. And, you may have noticed, its wines are pretty good, too. Viticulture has thrived in the region for thousands of years, and the culinary heritage of Italy is the spellbinding synthesis of food and wine. At the table, wine is not an option, it is a presumption. I like this country already. 

While Italy is not a geographical behemoth (its length is comparable to that of California), the culinary traditions from north to south vary tremendously. In every corner of Italy, enthusiasts can experience flavors, aromas and techniques that make each region unique, vibrant and special. 

With an expansive Italian diaspora, today we are extraordinarily spoiled with the opportunity to experience and taste a more complete portfolio of Italy’s marvelous regional culinary mosaic. I would humbly suggest that we do so, immediately. In a three-part series, I embark on a culinary expedition through the mountains, valleys and shores of this food haven, showcasing the flavors and wines that make each region uniquely delicious.

Read More

The Vino Pairing Optimization: A Honolulu BYOB Guide for Italy's Greatest Red Wine

Sure, Thomas Jefferson's foremost imprint on history will be as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as the third President of the United States. More interesting, I am sure you would agree, is Jefferson's oenological obsessions. Indeed, he was unequivocally America’s first (and best) Sommelier-in-Chief. Although this passion was primarily found in the vineyards of France, Jefferson was noted amongst the early admirers of Nebbiolo da Barolo during his vinous sojourn through northern Italy in 1785 (although the wine at this time was much different and notably sweeter). Throughout his years as Secretary of State and as President, Jefferson served up hundreds of bottles of Nebbiolo for his esteemed guests at Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson is in good company. I, too, am a huge fan of Nebbiolo.

Unfortunately, I lack access to a cellar that rivals Monticello. Fortunately, I have a few wine enthusiast friends with which to share a bottle and some vinous musings. As to the latter, I found opportunity to sit down with my good friends at Flavors of Italy (Honolulu's preeminent wine merchants) to discuss all things Nebbiolo. Discussion promptly proceeded to uncorking a few specimens (for the purpose of extensive research, of course), and pairing them with delicious local cuisine. Life doesn't get much better than this ...

Read More

The Eggnog-Malasadas Amalgamation: A Match Made in Paradise

Christmastime is here. Chaos has commenced. While there is a dollop of happiness and cheer, most of us experience anxiety levels rise to troublesome levels. Malls are gridlocked with frantic patrons finalizing their holiday lists. Christmas pageants, school recitals and office parties fill an already brimming schedule. Family gatherings are ... well ... filled with family. Feuds are foreordained.

In a season indelibly marked with stress and busyness, we can all relate at times to Charlie Brown's holiday melancholy monologues. But we have an effective countermeasure that poor Charlie Brown did not: alcohol.

This season, assuage the holiday anxiety with a remedy of equal potency. Crack a few eggs, break out the liquor, and mix up a batch of the quintessential Christmas beverage: eggnog. Looking for a pairing partner for your nog? Hawaii has the perfect sweet companion. So grab a glass and read on!

Read More

The Ho-Lee Alliance: Ho Farms and The Pig & the Lady Present a New Farm-to-Table Paradigm

The Pig & the Lady, located in Honolulu’s Chinatown district, has developed a steadfast following for its unique Vietnamese-inspired menu, whimsical personality and family narrative. Chef de cuisine Keaka Lee has elevated the original concept with elegant fusion dishes that emphasize local ingredients and fresh, vibrant flavors. Keaka’s style focuses on a seasonal menu that highlights the restaurant’s affiliations with the community. For Keaka, strong relationships between chefs and farmers are central to achieving a sustainable, effective local food network. Chefs and farmers partner to provide a complete farm-to-table culinary experience. 

This symbiotic relationship was on display when The Pig & the Lady joined forces with Ho Farms, a family farm located on Oahu’s North Shore, to host a collaborative six-course farm-to-table dinner with wine pairings designed to stimulate conversations about food, community and culture. Sounds informatively tasty.

Read More