Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, May 2, 2001


How to Speak Geek

Exploring the world of food and wine

Chuck Furuya

wines and food

People are always asking me to help them match some type of food with a wine or some kind of wine with a food.

But here's the thing: This is a skill you can learn on your own, and the practicing is really fun.

A perfect opportunity is a food and wine extravaganza such as "Taste of the Stars," a fund-raiser for Leeward Community College set for Saturday night.

This event will feature 18 cooking stations featuring Honolulu's finest chefs, as well as a wide selection of wines from around the world. You can pick up a dish, go to a wine station, ask for a suggestion, fill your glass and try out the pairing. Don't like it? Take your glass back and try something else. Repeat as often as necessary, with as many dishes and wines as you like. It's all included in the ticket price. And it's educational, remember.

This will be a perfect time to experiment. But if you need some recommendations, here are some pairings I'd suggest from among the dishes and wines on the menu:

>> Charred Ahi on Chilled Potato Mousse with Ginger Ponzu Sauce (prepared by Darryl Fujita, Halekulani): Many professionals today would recommend some sort of cool-climate-grown Pinot Noir (such as Cambria "Julia's Vineyard") that has enough substance and depth for the rich, full-flavored, well-marbled ahi and a rather low-key finish that won't clash with the Asian-inspired ponzu sauce. But if you want to be adventurous, try Antinori's Santa Cristina, a tangy, wonderfully refreshing Italian Sangiovese blend that should do what the Pinot Noir does, but with a much more deliciously rustic edge. You know what else? For post-party purposes, Santa Cristina will never break the bank. It is a great value wine.

>> Pastrami-Smoked Lamb Loin on Grilled Foccacia (Goran Streng, Hawaii Prince Hotel): Look for a savory red such as Australia's Deakin "Victoria" Shiraz, or perhaps Robert Mondavi's La Famiglia Barbera 1997. Both wines have enough depth and richness for the lamb and a rustic edge to keep things interesting.

>> Braised Short Rib in Red Wine and Braising Jus (Alan Wong): Consider the dark, deep Terrazas Malbec from Argentina with Alan's "broke da mouth" specialty. In the VIP tent (set aside for $1,000 tables of 10), we will be serving an incredibly sleek, stylish yet very profound 1997 Edmeades "Mendocino" Zinfandel, as a change up.

>> Crispy Crab Lumpia (DK Kodama, Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar): Try one of Robert Mondavi's newer projects, Danzante Pinot Grigio. This is where the sweet/saltiness of Asia meets the dry, crisp, lemon-lime-ness of Italian Pinot Grigio. With the same dish, you will probably see Sansei general manger Ivy Nagayama (one of our guest sommeliers) serving her recommendation, Bonny Doon's dry Pacific Rim Riesling, as a completely different and delicious pairing.

There you have it. Just a tidbit . . . imagine the possibilities!

If you need help, ask somebody in the wine tent or one of the featured chefs what they would pair with your dish. Or, look for me, I'll definitely be around. See you there.

Chuck Furuya is president of Fine Wine Imports.

Taste of the Stars

Featuring: 18 chefs, including Alan Wong, Chai Chaowasaree, Hiroshi Fukui, Wayne Hirabayashi, Philippe Padovani, Russell Siu and Roy Yamaguchi.
Entertainment: Na Leo Pilimehana, Gabe Baltazar, Jimmy Borges, Betty Loo Taylor, Shari Lynn and Fascinatin' Rhythm
Dinnertime: 6-9 p.m. Saturday
Place: Leeward Community College
Tickets: $65 in advance; $75 at the door
Call: 455-0392

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