Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Four Nights in Hawaii

I had sworn never again to go to Hawaii at Christmas time.  Our experiences in the past in the holiday season have been of too many people (and lots of children…) and not great weather.  I gave in this year.  But I fortified myself with low expectations – especially since hotel rooms were scarce as this was a bit of a last minute trip.   The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island turned out to be not our kind of place.  After a few nights we ended up moving to the Fairmont Orchid and splurged on a first floor beach side suite.  I love to be able to come and go from the sliding lanai doors right to the beach or bar or pool.  I felt like this was my own little spot of paradise (well - to which I’d invited 100’s of guests…).  Service was excellent at the Fairmont in all expected and many unexpected ways.

Our dinner experiences also started out with a whimper...

Dinner at Monettes – Presentation over Substance

When I perused the menu at Monettes at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel I was quite impressed and immediately said to the family that this was one of the most promising menus I have seen.  Well, we soon realized the power of marketing and presentation.  

  • Cold Water Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette, Lime & Gin and Pineapple Puree
  • Ahi Tuna with Yuzu Brushed Tataki, Ahi Poke, Yuzu & Soy Caviar 
  • Mosaic of Ono & Ahi with Umeboshi Vinaigrette, Genovese Basil, preserved Lemon Caviar
  • Chilled Waimea Tomato and Avocado Gazpacho with Shaven Salted Radish and Niçoise Olive Powder 
  • Sher Farms Double Black Wagyu Beef with Black Truffle Reduction
etc., etc., etc.  I really didn't know what most of this was but it sure sounded yummy.

But…. The oysters, which were so tiny any sauce would overpower their taste, were served with three, albeit cute, little bowls of sauces that tasted like they were mixtures of a few bottled ingredients.   The Mosaic of Ono and Ahi appetizer was cute (little squares of the two fish put together like a checker board) but not that tasty and what and where is the lemon caviar?  My gazpacho had three, cute again!, Asian soup spoons filled with the typical crouton, tomato and scallion garnishes - nary a shaven salted radish or niçoise olive powder in sight. (I know, I know - a shaven salted radish – what does that add?  But it sounded so nice).  Then the Sher Farms Wagyu beef (an Australian high quality beef on a par with Kobe beef from Japan) was fine but the “truffle reduction” that my son requested as an accompaniment was, yes served in the same cute miniature white bowl that seemed to accompany every dish, but alas without a whiff or hint of truffle flavor.

But I hate to be such a naysayer.  And perhaps it was just that the menu wording was so well done that our expectations were too high.  I can truthfully say that the meal ended on a high note.  We ordered regular coffee.  And of course it was served with another cute plate (I think it was a deviled egg serving platter – very clever) filled with different items to put in or have with your coffee.  But in spite of the nice presentation of which I was now wary, the very smooth Kona coffee was excellent! 

Better dinners to come – to be continued…

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