From Food to Wine: Perfect Pairings

I’m a lover of food and will spend weeks, even years, reminiscing about a good meal. But the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival opened my mind to the beauty that wine can add to a dish and now I’m having a hard time talking about one without the other.

I’ve enjoyed wine paired meals before but DK’s Luncheon at the Festival blew all previous experiences out of the water. Perhaps it was the excellent food made with local ingredients or maybe it was the brilliant pairings by Geoff Kruth, Master Sommelier and Festival Wine Director, but either way, the luncheon was a culinary delight.

DK Kodama, Hawaiian Fusion chef and owner of six restaurants, prepared the four-course meal and stressed the importance of using local products – not only for the nutrients but for the flavor which can be lost during shipping.

The luncheon began with the New Wave Hawaiian Ono Sashimi with Spicy Cilantro-Ginger Oil, sprinkled with morsels of raw ginger and cherry tomatoes (pictured above). The dish by itself was delicious but when it was paired with the beautifully dry Navarro Gewürztraminer, the flavor of the raw ginger was enhanced along with subtleties of the ono sashimi that I had missed upon my first bite.

The next dish was the Kona Cold Sous Vide Lobster “Farm to Table” Salad with Waipoli Hydroponic Greens, Big Island Hearts of Palm, Citrus Gelee and Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette served on a crispy wonton.

Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier, said from the stage, “Think of the microherbs as pixie dust. It sets this dish off.” Also setting off the dish was the Gunderloch ‘Jean Baptiste’ Riesling Kabinett. The Riesling perfectly accentuated the delicate flavors of the lobster without overpowering it and I felt as though I was thoroughly enjoying lobster for the first time. My compliments go out to DK Kodama and Geoff Kruth.

The Asian Spice Crusted Meyer Natural Angus New York Steak was next, served with Potato and Hamakua Alii Mushroom and Spinach Potato Risotto and Ho Farms Tomato Umeboshi Lomi. The pairings were a Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon and a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignons created a pleasant amount of spice that wasn’t noticeable within the meal itself.

“Cabernet Sauvignons are high in tannins,” said Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher. “And tannins accentuate pepper.” He wasn’t kidding.

Dessert consisted of three small spoons filled with Upcountry strawberry, pineapple, and mango, topped with puffed rice and I believe a dollop of coconut cream. But the real star of dessert was the Penfolds Grandfather Old Liqueur Tawny.

I’ve never been a fan of fortified wines but this particular glass knocked my socks off. It had a rich caramel flavor, yet it wasn’t overly sweet. After enjoying my glass, I had to correct myself – maybe I am a fan after all. I just wasn’t drinking the right ones.

Fred Dame said it best with, “Port is coming back.” Yes, I do believe it is. And I’ll be adding port to my collection from now on.

Nadine Nettmann

Nadine has a taste for travel, adventure, delicious food and a great glass of wine. A foodie from a young age, she loves trying meals from around the world and does her best to travel and dine on a budget. Originally from Los Angeles, Nadine and her husband stored 95% of their belongings and moved to Maui with two suitcases in 2006. She is an avid cook and while she loves living on the island, she will admit she misses some of her kitchen appliances in storage. When she’s not baking a cake or out on the water, she can be found at her computer working on her novel.

1 Comment
  1. Wow, that Hawaiian Ono Sashimi with Spicy Cilantro-Ginger Oil sounds amazing! Good thing I’m going out for sushi on Sunday because you’ve given me some serious cravings.

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