Okay, this isn’t exactly a preview of the wine dinner at Tiki’s Grill & Bar tomorrow night. It’s more of a recap of their last wine dinner, but this will give you an idea of what kind of creativity you’ll get to go with the Villa Maria wines they’re showcasing.
Every so often, Tiki’s will have a dinner featuring a winemaker that’s popular, but not too mainstream, to both educate their diners and challenge Chef Ronnie Nasuti to come up with pairings. This month, they’ll be showing off Villa Maria of New Zealand, which is supposedly the country’s most awarded wine.
The last pairing dinner featured Hahn Family wines, which were so good that I bought some. When I went to pick up my bottles at Fujioka’s, the associates congratulated me on taking home the last bottles — others who bought Hahn wines at the dinner liked it so much they tried to get more, and found that they had sold out. One of the main reasons the wine was a hit was its value, since it was not only delicious, but approachable at $20 to $30 per bottle. Apparently Villa Maria will be the same kind of value. The dinner itself is popular for its value, too, since you get five or six courses, with pairings, for $60 to $80.
Here’s what the last dinner looked like:
The teaser was comprised of two spoons: On the left is Big Island beef tenderloin yukke (like beef tartare) with quail egg yolk and shredded Korean pears. On the right is coconut braised escargot. Both of these were right but light at the same time, and balanced with the acidity of a 2013 Hahn chardonnay cocktail. (We were kind of surprised that they made a cocktail out of the chardonnay, which could have held its own, but I think mixologist Joey Gottesman wanted to show its versatility.)
I probably could have stopped at the Big Island abalone and Kahuku sea asparagus “carbonara,” topped with ikura and tossed with ocean vegetable noodles and uni sauce. That was a neat way to get the idea of different kinds of eggs across, with the salty-crunchy contrasts. This was paired with the 2013 Hahn chardonnay, straight. (I ended up buying two bottles.)
I got a lot of comments on my post about the Manoa rabbit sausage, which actually looked rabbit-like with the corn sprouts and the baby carrots on the side. It was delicious! This was served with mustard spaetzle, braised cabbage and Hau’ula tomato chutney, and accompanied by Hahn SLH pinot noir. I think you normally think of pairing white wine with rabbit, but here, especially with the sides, it was strong enough to stand up to a red. (I bought a couple of bottles.)
No dinner at Tiki’s is complete without a lamb dish … I’ve said it before, Chef Ronnie makes the best lamb. The heartiness of this meat was balanced out with a bright island watercress puree, herb salad, and fennel pollen. This was paired with a 2013 Smith & Hook cabernet, which was a perfectly bold, American match.
This was not the best to photograph! The fifth course was a plate of indulgent bites, like a Hudson Valley foie gras potsticker and Wagyu pepper steak. This was served with braised covolo nero and colcannon, which is an Irish mashed potato-cabbage side dish. Very nice! I’m not sure why I didn’t buy the 2011 Meritage that was paired with it, because it was full of universal appeal.
Usually, red zinfandels are served with heavy meat dishes, like steak or burgers. Here, it was a surprise pairing with dessert, comprised of light doughnuts (actually, doughnut holes) and lilikoi, island coconut and chocolate sauces for dipping. The pairing actually worked well, especially with the chocolate sauce.
Tickets for these wine dinners sell out pretty quickly, so watch Tiki’s website for details as they come up. See you tomorrow!
Wine dinner at Tiki’s Grill & Bar
2570 Kalakaua Ave.