Taste Test

NOTE: Check out the gallery above to get the visual scoop.

Images by Jonas Maon

Hawai’i Food and Wine festival likes to go out with a bang, literally—with fireworks over the ocean at Disney’s Aulani Resort at the end of their final event, which this year, was “It’s a Food World After All.” As the sun was about to set and diners arrived, bags were given out to carry shoes in for a toes-in-the-sand experience; bamboo forks and a plastic wine glasses were distributed to ease the burden of navigating through crowds of people and fancy bites and booze.

Along the shoreline, more than 20 booths featured chefs from Hawai‘i, the mainland, and even Japan. There were tacos, sliders, Kaua‘i prawns several ways, chocolate cakes, palm-tree-shaped sugar cookies that were surprisingly tasty when served with some sort of made-from-scratch marshmallows and a lilikoi pudding (kudos to Alan Wong’s pastry chef). Giddy chefs, many wearing lei, either worked hard behind the booths, or bantered with people who reached for their dishes. Lines consistently snaked away from booths into the sand as people waited patiently for the next taste. Two handsome men pounded poi in front of chef Mark Noguchi’s booth, which served a delicious venison with pa‘i‘ai. Crowds flocked to sommeliers armed with wines to pour; one popular rosé was gone by 7:30 p.m.

On a stage set up 20 feet offshore, a band serenaded the crowds, and as the sun set, they were replaced by aerial dancers of varying talents who were given candy-colored light treatments. People snapped pictures of their food; of the sunset over the ocean; of the dancers suspended by just a silky skein of fabric. If you paid extra, you could snap pictures from a chair in the raised dining area. The event was a resort-style sampler of everything, and a chance for chefs to celebrate the end of a stressful, albeit flattering, festival. If you like the idea of gourmet samplers, don’t mind tossing a couple of benjamins in the HFWF pot, and think chefs are rad folks, check it out next year. Otherwise, this photo gallery, and a visit to your neighborhood farmers market, should do the trick.

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