What the Heck?
Chef Mary Clark, center, and Master Sommeliers Larry Stone, left, and Fred Dame taught participants how to cure a hangover at last weekend's Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. CLICK FOR LARGE
Pros cure hangovers at Kapalua festival
The Kapalua Wine and Food Festival is four days of wine tastings, wine panels, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations with, you guessed it, wine.
So as "an act of mercy," the festival's host, Master Sommelier Fred Dame, kicked off the last morning with a session called "Hangover Helper."
Joining Dame were California sommelier Larry Stone and Mary Clark, a chef-instructor from Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas. The three came up with hangover cures -- both Bloody Marys and food.
I arrived with a hangover. "Good Lord, man, drink this right away," said Dame, handing me his Bloody Mary. Dame's was the sanest of the three. Secret ingredient: juice from a jar of green olives and a fresh squeeze of lime.
Clark's Bloody Mary was made with chipotle pepper juice, with a pickled jalapeno as a garnish. Stone, at great risk to his legendary palate, made his with a hot sauce so incendiary it carries a warning label: Keep out of the reach of children. Stone used less than a teaspoon of the sauce in 160 Bloody Marys. Too hot, he had to dilute them.
Mercifully, there was also food. Stone made elaborate French toast. Dane made that historic San Francisco hangover cure, Original Joe's Scramble, which looks like a mess of scrambled eggs, spinach, hamburger and onion but works.
Mary Clark made a pancake with bacon, chives and sour cream, topping it with salmon she cured herself, back in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, after a long flight, she arrived on Maui just as a wildfire closed the roads. She sat in traffic for hours and was eventually diverted to a Wailea hotel, so late that the kitchen was closed. Her salmon spent the night in the hotel bathtub, covered with ice from the ice machine down the hall.
The food came with six different wines. One of the guests rose, irate. Was he objecting to so much wine at brunch? No, he complained that tasting the Bloody Marys first had thrown off our palates, preventing us from detecting the perfect wine and food pairing.
"Oh, sometimes you just have to drink for effect," said Dame.
Shuttin' Down the Ritz: After the Food and Wine festival concluded, the Ritz-Carlton shut down Monday at noon for a $100 million renovation. Employees didn't seem particularly dispirited, since they were guaranteed their jobs back and their benefits were covered in the interim. One said she was moving on to a Ritz on the mainland, some said they'd take temporary jobs elsewhere, but most had plans to travel.
Early Monday morning, I talked to concierge Leslie Lessnau. "When I woke I couldn't figure out why I was so happy," she said. "Then I realized it was the last time I had to get up at 4 a.m. -- for months."
The redone Ritz must reopen by New Year's, for the Mercedes-Benz PGA Tournament. The renovation crews will be housed in the hotel, moving from wing to wing as they finish. Look for a surprise announcement on the hotel's new chef, coming soon.
Calvin Say sets fire to a napkin while competing in a cook-off with Colleen Hanabusa. CLICK FOR LARGE
Back on Oahu, last weekend's big munch-down was Flavors of Honolulu. The cooking competitions were such a hit, the event will move them more center stage next year. Comedian Augie T lost to Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, despite the fact that two out of five judges voted for him because he was funny.
House Speaker Calvin Say showed up in full chef's regalia to go wok-to-wok with Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. Despite three hours of culinary coaching by his staff the day before, he managed to set a napkin on fire while cooking pork chops.
Nonetheless he beat Hanabusa, aided by his staffers, who whipped out signs during the judging that insisted, "Cal Can Cook."
Wonderful World? In its first week, the new Iz CD, "Wonderful World," climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard World Charts, No. 44 on the Top 200 charts for CDs across America, a remarkable showing for a Hawaiian album.
Raiatea Helm's new CD, "Hawaiian Blossom," also charted. It was No. 1 on the Billboard "Heatseekers" Chart for the Pacific region (sort of like being No. 1 with a bullet), No. 38 nationwide.
Since Iz was outselling Helm, Mountain Apple prexy Leah Bernstein wondered why Iz didn't make the Heatseekers List as well. She called New York, where, she says, the attitude is always, "We don't have time for this." Why wasn't Iz on the Hot List? "Because he's dead," said the New York voice.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently gave an award to "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson, perhaps on the grounds that "Idol" draws more voters than presidential elections -- though "Idol" voters can vote more than once, which, come to think of it, is also a tradition in some American cities.
Handing Jackson his award was our Mayor Mufi Hannemann. To roaring applause, Jackson suggested that because our Mufi could sing, he could be the first contestant on "American Idol, Mayor's Edition."
The Internet buzz says Fox is actually serious about this, hoping that such a show would give it a contender in the race for "newsertainment" viewers.
According to Web paper American Chronicle: "Sources have revealed that Fox is rumored to be hoping to leverage the unprecedented success of American Idol, combined with the political draw of Mayors, to find their niche in this area. If it is a success, it is hinted they are considering governors, and adding presidential candidates in time for the 2008 election."