Archive for the ‘French’ Category

2011 is here, I just turned 27, and it’s been far, farrrr too long since I’ve contributed anything to this blog.  And while I can’t change how fast time seems to fly these days, I can make it a point to share my latest foodie adventures with all of you – and between the holidays and some major culinary indulgence recently, I have a whole lot to say.  I just finished putting together a list of my favorite Japanese restaurants on Oahu for a client (which of course led to me spending about an hour compiling a list of the rest of my current favorites…), and I thought I would start of my 2011 blog entries with it.  So here goes…If you’re in Hawaii you’ve got to give them all a try, if not, this list looks like the perfect reason to book a trip!

TOP SIX – Reservations are a must for these, and I highly recommend sitting at the sushi bar and asking the chef to serve you what they think is      best/fresh that day…you’ll never be disappointed!

  • Imanas Tei: http://www.yelp.com/biz/imanas-tei-restaurant-honolulu this website rates it as being quite pricey, but you can go and have a mid-range meal there easily.  The sashimi platter is the very best…the fish is very, very fresh.  I hear their nabe is also really good.  Amazing delicious and not too formal, this is the perfect go any night of the week kind of place.
  • Sushi Izakaya Gaku: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sushi-izakaya-gaku-honolulu My absolute number one favorite sushi place in all of Hawaii right now.  The fish is unbelievably fresh, their Izakaya dishes are to-die-for and the service and ambiance are wonderful.  The head chef of Imanas is the guy who owns/runs Gaku.  Very limited seating and very popular, so make sure to make reservations.  It is pricey, but worth every single penny, I promise!  Just make sure you give the seared O-toro and the Spicy Negihama Tartare.
  • Hakkei: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hakkei-honolulu Hakkei specializes in Oden which is a Japanese soup similar to Nabe or Shabu-Shabu.  Their focus is much less on sushi (we had some sashimi but that was the only raw fish dish to be seen) and more on warm, comfort type food.  Don’t be mislead though, they change their menu monthly to focus on season ingredients, and each and every dish is creative and exceptionally delicious.  They have three tasting menus or you can just order off the menu.  Very traditional from the food to the ambiance and the staff, I felt like I was back in Japan for a few hours!  Apparently they also serve lunch (check out their website).
  • Ideta: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ideta-restaurant-honolulu Incredibly fresh fish, very straightforward, traditional yet inventive, clean, focused and mouthwatering flavors.  Sit at the sushi bar for sure, the chef/owner is a true master.  This one is a bit off the beaten path and  bit pricey as well, but most definitely worth it!
  • Matsugen: http://www.yelp.com/biz/matsugen-honolulu If you love fresh Soba this is the place to go.  Make sure to try the duck broth with the soba and their fresh tofu as well.
  • Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tonkatsu-ginza-bairin-honolulu Right next door to Matsugen, this place serves Tonkatsu like nothing you’ve ever had before in your life.  Top-grade pork (when you call to make a reservation you can actually reserve the pork as they only have so much and tend to run out as the night goes on), only the freshest ingredients flown in from Japan and an old man whose life has been dedicated to perfecting this dish makes for an unforgettable meal.
Low-Mid Range Favorites
  • Phuket Thai:http://www.yelp.com/biz/phuket-thai-restaurant-honolulu very, very good thai food!
  • Hale Vietnam: One of my very favorite Vietnamese restaurants…you must try the Imperial Rolls if you go! http://www.yelp.com/biz/hale-vietnam-restaurant-honolulu Reservations are accepted here.
  • Covenant Books & Cafe:http://covenantbooksandcoffee.com/ Hawaii really lacks good soup & sandwich places, but Covenant really makes up for it in every way possible.  Nestled in a Christian bookstore, their sandwiches are amazing, and they make a different soup every day that makes you want to melt (they have a soup calendar on their website!).  They also serve an incredible breakfast.  I live for their croissant french toast with flambeed bananas….closed on Sunday.
  • Cafe Kaila:http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-kaila-honolulu Cafe type food, really yummy breakfast and lunch place.  Crazy on Sat/Sunday mornings, but always worth the wait.
  • Bogart’s Cafe:http://www.yelp.com/biz/bogarts-cafe-honolulu Very similar to Cafe Kaila
  • Diamond Head Grill:http://www.diamondheadmarket.com/ When I don’t feel like cooking or sitting down at a restaurant, but I want take-out that is healthy and always top-notch, I go to Diamond Head Grill.  They have prepared food available in the market to take home and heat up, or you can order from the grill outside.  Their ahi salad at the grill and their desserts in the market are my favorites.  If you like scones, they have the most insanely good blueberry and sometimes banana scones unlike anything you’ve ever had before.
  • Olive Tree:http://www.yelp.com/biz/olive-tree-cafe-honolulu BYOB, this is the hands-down the best Greek restaurant on the island.  Fat Greek which is down the hill from your house is good as well, but Olive Tree really kicks it up a notch.  VERY busy all the time, so either get there early, order take-out, or be prepared to wait.  There is a wine shop right next door for your convenience 🙂
  • Little Village:http://www.littlevillagehawaii.com/ I know we have a China Town teeming with Chinese food places, but trust me when I say that Little Village is the very best.
  • Mocha Java:http://www.yelp.com/biz/mocha-java-cafe-honolulu Located at Ward Center, this is a wonderful healthy place to go for breakfast and lunch.
  • Himalayan Kitchen:http://www.yelp.com/biz/himalayan-kitchen-honolulu Love this place!  BYOB also (go to Tammura’s down the street for great wine and beer!) We eat here all the time – great ambiance (lots of outdoor seating) and delicious food.
  • Waioli Tea Room:http://www.yelp.com/biz/waioli-tea-room-honolulu If you want to get out of the city and escape into the jungle, this is the place to go.  They serve a great lunch all week, but it is for their breakfast brunch on Saturday and Sunday that I hold out for.  Eating here always makes me feel like I’m on Kauai 🙂
  • Formaggio: http://www.yelp.com/biz/formaggio-honolulu Great french/Italian food and awesome wine list.  Perfect place to go during the week for a quick but great meal and some really yummy wine.
  • JJ Dolan’s:http://www.yelp.com/biz/jj-dolans-honolulu Simple but delicious pizza and beer place located Downtown.
  • V Lounge:http://www.yelp.com/biz/v-lounge-honolulu More artisan style pizza place that is definitely worth a try.
  • KCC Farmers Market: Saturdays from 7:30-11:30 a.m. at Kapiolani Community College…..best Farmers Market on the island, the produce, food, flowers, and everything else there makes it my favorite place to be every single week.
  • Tango:http://www.tangocafehawaii.com/ More in the mid-high range, this place serves excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Tokkuri-Tei: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tokkuri-tei-honolulu another hole in the wall Japanese place, the food here is amazing.  It’s small and very popular, so you might have to wait if you go on a popular night, but it’s well worth it. (Since I wrote this I think they’ve expanded to a larger location, but I hear it’s still packed!)
  • Tsukenaya: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tsukuneya-robata-grill-honolulu this is different than any Japanese food you are used to and its wonderful!  The style of cooking originates from Nagoya in Japan so the focus is less on sushi and more on the robata or bbq style of cooking.
  • Maguro-Ya: http://www.yelp.com/biz/maguro-ya-honolulu Go here for the sushi.  Very traditional and straightforward, I’ve never been disappointed here.  If you like green tea and azuki beans for dessert, theirs is a must-try!
  • Kochi: http://www.yelp.com/biz/kochi-restaurant-and-lounge-honolulu If you are looking for a good place for happy hour and sushi rolls, this is the place to go.  It’s on King St. and I think it’s a bit of a hidden gem.
A bit pricy but VERY worth it:
  • Alan Wongs:http://www.yelp.com/biz/alan-wongs-restaurant-honolulu very pricey (appetizer, food, dessert and alcohol aprox. $100 a head) but SO SO SO worth it.  Alan Wong is one of Hawaii’s very best chefs and I promise that you will not be dissapointed.  If you go to one restaurant while you are in Hawaii, this must be it!  Make sure to make reservations WAY in advance.  Style of food is very pacific rim, fresh and local.
  • Hoku’s at the Kahala Hotel:http://www.yelp.com/biz/hokus-honolulu this is another amazing one, and the location is just beautiful.  It is about a 15-20 minute cab ride from your hotel.  If you go, I recommend going early to have drinks first, and then to dinner…the hotel is breathtaking. Style of food is very pacific rim, fresh and local.
  • Town: Farm-to-table, the ingredients are always fresh, and local and organic whenever possible.  One of my all-time favorites for sure.  http://www.yelp.com/biz/town-honolulu#hrid:kEZQplvbjxjkTEBjAT_4mA/src:search/query:town%20restaurant
  • 12th Ave. Grill:http://www.yelp.com/biz/12th-avenue-grill-honolulu#hrid:_887lbqstrayqaZ6BZSeIA/src:search/query:12th%20ave%20grill fantastic food, totally hole in the wall restaurant.  Right near Hale Vietnam and Town.  Food genre is “New American.”
  • Chef Mavro:http://www.yelp.com/biz/chef-mavro-honolulu One word: unbelievable.  Different than anything you’ll find here in Hawaii, Chef Mavro’s french restaurant is worth the indulgence (both financially and in calories).
  • BLT Steak:http://www.yelp.com/biz/blt-steak-honolulu I’ve heard mixed reviews, but my experience there was fantastic.  I think it’s the best steakhouse on the island personally.
  • Royal Hawaiian Hotel: http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/ just renovated, the Royal is one of Hawaii’s landmark hotels and one of the most beautiful.  Great restaurants but quite pricey – at the very least go for a Mai Tai at their beach front bar because they make the meanest Mai Tai’s you’ve ever had!
  • Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel: http://www.moana-surfrider.com/ another of the landmark hotels in Waikiki – their ocean front veranda is beautiful and a great place for breakfast, tea, or drinks at sunset.  I hear the restaurants are good as well, but on the pricier side for sure.

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Photo Credit: © Tina Rupp

Ever since I spent a summer living in France, right around the corner from this to die for tart bakery, I have been obsessed with clafoutis.  Somewhere between pudding and cake & filled with fresh fruit, I could eat the entire thing in one sitting.  The real question is how have I not made one since I got back from France in 2005???

My craving for clafoutis reappeared when my mom gave me my Julia Childs cookbook a few months ago and finally, after finding a delicious looking recipe for raspberry clafoutis AND a dinner party that was in need of a dessert, I gave in and threw one together last night.  Traditionally made with cherries, this raspberry version was perfection.  This is one worth trying.

Here is the recipe from Food & Wine.  Slightly different from Julia’s, I will have to give that one a try sometime very soon.


  1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. Salt
  4. 3 large eggs
  5. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  6. Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  7. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  8. 1 1/2 pints raspberries (3 cups)
  9. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish (I used an 8.5″ spring form pan that worked perfectly). In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the gratin dish and top with the raspberries.
  2. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

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“Cooking is not about convenience, and it’s not about shortcuts. Take your time. Move slowly and deliberately, and with great attention.” – Thomas Keller, The French Laundry


I am of the opinion that one can never have enough great cookbooks.  Personally, I read through them like novels, marking the pages I want to try and planning menus for dinner parties in my head… 

Last night I was watching Top Chef on Bravo and one of the contestants (one of my favorites actually) noted that the cookbook The French Laundry changed his life (world renowned chef Thomas Keller, owner of The French Laundry restaurant was the guest judge).  Of course my ears perked up and I made a mental note to do some googling of said book to investigate further.  I have done some searching via amazon.com and found that he actually has three cookbooks – but the consensus seems to be that The French Laundry is THE one to have. 

The recipes that fill the pages of this great cookbook are exactly the ones served at the book’s namesake restaurant in Napa, and are described as being anything but simple and straightforward – which is sort of what intrigues me about it.  Keller’s other two books appear to be a bit more accessible to the every day chef, but I personally want a taste of whatever it is that was powerful enough to change someones culinary life.

Want a challenge?  Here is where you can find chef Thomas Keller’s books:



On a related note, my mom and I were grabbing coffee at Nordstrom the other day and as we waited we started thumbing through a sample cookbook of the stores called Flavors, An Artful Celebration of Food.  As amazing as I think the Nordstrom Cafes are, I was a bit surprised to find a book so chock full of what appear to be jaw-droppingly delicious recipes (like I really needed ONE more reason to love Nordstrom…).  A tip: buy this one at Nordstrom stores – it costs only $25 compared to $70 online!

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crepe cafe

Mmmm chocolate and banana, my fav...

This just in from LeiChic.com


Ooh La La!
What: Escape to Paris (well, almost) at the newly-opened Le Crêpe Café. Once a cart in Waikiki, the traditional French crêperie now has a permanent spot in Manoa. The award-winning crêpes are made with fresh and organic ingredients, and come in sweet and savory flavors. Bon appétit!
When: Open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Le Crêpe Café, 2740 E. Manoa Rd.
Details: For more info, call 808.372.3989 or click here.

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Beef Stew_Food and Wine

Photo Credit: F&W Magazine

As I sit here flipping through the most recent edition of Food & Wine magazine over lunch, I am compelled to add a quick post of this recipe so that I don’t forget it…because that would just be a damn shame.  Judging from the picture, and the recipe explanation that emphasizes the use of only red wine for the sauce – no water or stock – this might just be perfection in a pot.  As the chilly weather sets in, this version of chef Jacques Pépin’s boeuf bourguignon is going to be a new favorite I’m sure…

Here is the recipe straight from the F&W site:

Prep time: 1 hour

Total prep/cook time: 2 hrs 40 min

Serves: 4


  1. 2 pounds beef from the flatiron part of the shoulder
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. Salt
  5. Pepper
  6. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  8. 1 tablespoon flour
  9. 1 bottle of red wine
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 sprig fresh thyme
  12. 15 cipollini or pearl onions
  13. 15 cremini mushrooms
  14. 15 baby carrots
  15. 5-ounce piece of pancetta
  16. 1/4 cup water
  17. Dash of sugar
  18. Chopped fresh parsley


  1. Buy about 2 pounds of beef from the flatiron part of the shoulder. Remove the skin or sinew from the top. Alternatively, use lean beef chuck in the same manner. Cut the meat into 8 pieces.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast-iron pot that is attractive enough for the table. Arrange the meat in one layer in the pot, and season it with salt and pepper. Cook on top of the stove over high heat for about 8 minutes, browning the meat on all sides.
  3. Add 1 cup of finely chopped onion and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic. Cook over moderate heat for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix in well so that the flour doesn’t form lumps. Stir in 1 bottle of red wine. Add 2 bay leaves, a sprig of fresh thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir well and cover.
  4. Place the pot in the oven and continue to cook for about 1 1/2 hours; the meat should be soft and tender and the liquid properly reduced. The recipe can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead.
  5. For the garnishes, peel 15 cipollini or pearl onions, wash 15 cremini mushrooms and peel 15 baby carrots. For the lardons, you will need one 5-ounce piece of pancetta. Bring the pancetta and 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes; drain. Cut the pancetta into 1/2-inch slices and then cut the slices into 1-inch-wide lardons.
  6. Combine the onions, mushrooms, carrots and pancetta in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of water and a good dash each of sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes; at this point, there should be practically no water left. Uncover and cook over high heat, sautéing the vegetables until nicely browned on all sides, about 4 minutes.
  7. To serve, mix some of the vegetables and lardons into the stew and sprinkle the rest on top as a garnish. Add a little chopped fresh parsley and serve.
And because you can never have enough wine…

Pairing Suggestion

Though Jacques’s hearty stew is inspired by boeuf bourguignon, classically flavored with red Burgundy, he prepares his version with the rich red wines of the southern Rhône, particularly those made from the Carignan grape. Two great wines to seek out—for cooking and drinking—are the gently tannic 2004 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Perrières, from the Costières de Nîmes region, or the wild herb-scented 2004 Domaine de Nizas Carignan.

Ah yeah, can you say YUMMMM!

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MTAOFCI recently called my mom and asked her to mail me a pair of shoes that I needed (for a new cooking adventure).  I opened the box today to find, tucked below the shoes, Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking.  Words cannot express my excitement, which is only growing as I sit here pouring through the recipes.  I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and start giving her simple, classic, tried-and-true recipes a go…I will let you know how it all turns out.  Thanks mommy! xoxo

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When I studied abroad in Aix en Provence, France, I was lucky enough to live with a woman who was an amazing cook.  It was the middle of the summer, and everyday she would go to the markets just down the street from her house and pick out the freshest ingredients for our dinners.  Most of the dishes were vegetarian, perfect on those hot, sticky summer nights.  Toward the end of my stay there, I became her shadow in the kitchen, determined to learn all of my favorites so that I could recreate them at home. 

For some reason, the recipes are all in my journal from that trip, tucked away in my closet, and so it’s not often that I Eggplantthink to make them.  However, last weekend Megan sent me home with a huge bag of eggplant from her garden, and when I thought about what to make with it, this recipe immediately came to mind.  Simple, delicious, and reminiscent of a much healthier version of eggplant parmesan, I have a feeling now that I’ve rediscovered it, I will be making this a whole lot more often.  Because these are recipes that I learned by watching, and Madame Grisoni didn’t cook with exact measurements, I cook this by taste in large part.  Feel free to make changes here and there to suit your own tastes.  Bon appetit!

Serves: 6-8

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Oven temp: 350 degrees


  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large can of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • 2 shalots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil (approx…I just sort of pour it in)
  • 6 small or 2 large eggplants, sliced in quarter inch slices


In a large pan, mix the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, water, shalots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and olive oil.  Cook over high heat for 5 minutes.  Lower heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

While sauce is simmering, lightly baste the eggplant slices in olive oil and grill them until tender (about 4-5 minutes) and until there are grill marks on the slices.

In a 9×13 inch pyrex dish, put a layer of the grilled eggplant on the bottom of the dish and top with half of the sauce and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Repeat and finish with the mozzarella.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the cheese is toasty brown.

Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and serve with pasta (my preference), rice, chicken etc. or just enjoy it on its own!

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