What the Heck?
Chocolate overflow rattles Kona dieters
On the Big Island:
They said there were 25,000 pieces of chocolate. It seemed like more.
Last weekend, the Kona Chocolate Festival filled the lawn at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort with every kind of chocolate imaginable -- brownies with Jack Daniels caramel sauce, mousses and ganaches, tortes and tarts, truffles and even plain old chocolate bars. If you tired of sweets, you could have chocolate-and-spice-rubbed steak or lamb shanks with spicy Oaxacan red mole.
JOHN HECKATHORN PHOTO
Dana O'Mary of the Kona Chocolate Festival congratulates People's Choice Award winners Freedom Elkins, Armano Rivas and Colee Garr of Pangaia Raw Foods.
Professionals staffed some of the booths. Amy Ota of O's Bistro whipped up a hot chocolate using the recipe for a 17th-century Spanish aphrodisiac. Others were staffed by amateurs. A group of young people from a Big Island commune called Pangaia set up a booth with lights and scarves and incense, and passed out raw cacao stuffed with gogi berries. They were a hit, walking off with several People's Choice awards.
The event's a fundraiser, put on by tiny Kona Pacific Waldorf School in Kealakekua. The gala was prefaced by two days of workshops, from how to make a great chocolate martini to the health benefits of chocolate. State public health educator Carrie Kuwada Phipps said chocolate was indeed good for you, but only dark chocolate and, alas, only in small doses.
After her presentation, I asked Phipps if she was going to the big chocolate extravaganza. "No," she said sadly. "I really love chocolate and I don't trust myself."
Glad hand: To protect his hands, and his livelihood, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Charles Michael Brotman gave up both basketball and volleyball. He won't go near a power tool. But, says Brotman, "I thought, what's the worst that could happen to me surfing? Outside of drowning?"
Just down the hill from his Big Island home, Brotman was surfing off Kawaihae on "a classic day," he says, glassy waves, no wind. Another surfer lost control of his board, and it shot through a wave, skeg first, into Brotman's right hand.
The guitarist knew he was hurt, but didn't realize his hand was lacerated until he saw all the blood in the water, which made him paddle all the harder one-handed back to shore.
"No fractures, thank God," he says. After eight stitches, he found his fingers all still worked. Two weeks later he picked up a guitar -- and could play, even bandaged. There's some healing yet to do. "Don't shake my hand," he told me. "I appreciate the thought, but it still hurts."
Back in the city: The Honolulu Design Center throws its grand opening gala next Thursday.
At a sneak media preview last week, the real eye-opener was the center's new Stage Restaurant, the most ambitious independent restaurant project in Honolulu for years. The décor is wildly black and white; check out the full-size horse statue serving as a lamp.
The crew looks like a reunion of the personnel who've left Alan Wong's over the years. In addition to chef Jon Matsubara, who briefly worked for Wong, there's general manager Charlie Yoshida, who opened King Street for Wong, operations manager Scott Armstrong, and perhaps the prize catch, celebrated pastry chef Mark Okumura.
The media preview was literally the first day the kitchen was functional -- and it was already putting out food that's going to get noticed.
Brave new world: My last column mentioned that UH's Hamilton Library lacked the money to process the 10,000-item collection of Hawaiian music purchased from Mainland collector Dirk Vogel. That drew a flurry of unhappy e-mails from Hawaiian music buffs around the country.
Now the good news. UH's music librarian Gregg Geary, who's already been experimenting with digitizing the collection, is negotiating with Alexander Street Press, a major provider of online collections to libraries, to put all the music up on the Web, including sheet music, photographs and other materials from the library's vast Hawaiian music holdings.
Access will depend on whether your library pays a subscription fee to Alexander Street. It's good that the online provider charges for access, says Geary. "That means they can pay royalties to the musicians, many of whom are still alive."
More than meets the eye: Congrats to Hono-lulu architect Glenn Mason, who designed the new visitor center for Pu'ukohola, the Big Island war heiau built by Kamehameha the Great.
The new center's a beautiful building -- if you even notice it. It's faced with lava rock, just like the heiau, and blends into the site so well that even the roofline curves to match the landscape. "We wanted it to look like it belongs there," says Mason.
Whole earth jock
Ron Jacobs is a radio legend, both locally (KPOI, KKUA) and on the Mainland (KHJ, KBG, "American Top 40"). He's been working off the air for decades, but you couldn't expect him to fade away quietly.
"I'm going to be the world's first live global disc jockey," he claims. He's signed up producers and sponsors, gotten interns from Windward Community College, crammed his small Kaneohe living room with hi-tech gear. The show will broadcast online on whodaguyhawaii.com, and soon be available wirelessly on devices like iPhones.
He'll rise with the roosters in Kaneohe, doing his live globalcast from 3 to 7 a.m., prime time on the West Coast. He'll play mostly classic and vintage Hawaiian music, and chat with correspondents he's set up around the globe. The show will repeat around the clock, says Jacobs. "It's always morning somewhere."
The show launches 7-7-07, scheduled first guest: Don Ho. "We're reinventing radio for the 21st century," says Jacobs, with characteristic understatement.