Sunday, February 8, 2009

International Cooking Club Dinner at Ron and Brad's

Last night we had a great time in Hawaiian Paradise Park with our International Cooking Club. Once a month we get together for a dinner with a theme set around a particular part of the world. Sometimes it is a region and sometimes it is a country. There are about 45 members in our club, which was started in November of 2008 when were here for the closing on our house. Most events bring in about 25-30 people because there are always some of us who are busy with other activities and travel. Many of the people are ex Californians who are consummate gourmets, with a few people from such places as Idaho, Florida, Canada and Oregon. Given the lack of great restaurants on the big island, this kind of dining experience is much more common among people in our area. Since we moved here we have been to many such dinners including our own Super Bowl Potluck. It is a terrific way of socializing and sharing food. Most of the people in this group are also slow food members, so care is taken to make foods from scratch using as many local ingredients as possible. It is convivial dining at it’s best. Last night was no exception. Brad and Ron opened up their home and Lanai to us and we laughed, talked, hugged and enjoyed the creations of our members from the Pu Pu course to the great coffee and desserts. I rarely eat desserts, but these people take them to a whole new level and it is pretty much impossible to not at least have a few bites of these delectable delights.
I took some pictures at the beginning of the evening and then got wrapped up in the fun and conversation and left my camera in my purse. So you can see us as the evening began with pu pus and drinks.

The theme for last evening’s dinner was Mediterranean. Many countries were represented from Portugal to Greece and everything in between. Brad and Ron’s house has a delightful retro feel to it and was a lot of fun to explore. There was a combination of Hawaiiana and mid century art and the house in typical Hawaiian style led directly to the large lanai and pool area which was surrounded by lush vegetation and exquisite tropical plantings. They had lots of torches burning around the pool and the glow from them was a lovely back light to the evening. These guys are serious foodies and have a well equipped kitchen which was overflowing with wonderful food made by club members.

Our neighbors Maria and Ric came along with us to their first club dinner. They own a B & B and moved here from very close to where we lived in the East Bay. The guys that sold us this house, Hugh and Ray told me ahead of time that Maria and I would be fast friends and we would have many good foodie times together and they were RIGHT! We met them at our super bowl party (also a potluck) last week and had such fun with them we invited them to the club dinner.

Maria made two especially great dishes, for the salad course she made a roasted asparagus salad. But one of the crowning glories of the night was her awesome coconut flan!
I brought bruschetta with luscious local tomatoes from today’s Farmer’s Market and herbs from my garden. I also made a 99% local Greek Salad. Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and Puna Goat Cheese Farm Feta all from the farmer’s market. For that 1 % that was not local, I did bring some Greek Calamata olives and olive oil from Italy with us and used them in the salad and added lots of parsley, basil, oregano, mint and chives from my garden. I also used a few squeezes of lemon juice from my trees.

There were so many terrific dishes… just to name a few: Bonnie’s assortment of homemade breads delicious. She shall forever more be named Bonnie the Baker! Once I get my wood burning oven made and running I am going to invite her to our communal baking days. We had dolmas made with local lamb by the Richards, Liz made incredible spinakopia (sp?) with chard from her garden. Ron made a tasty pear salad with one of the best dressings I have ever had. Noel made a pu pu with asparagus that was rolled and fried. They were one of my favorite things of the evening. There was delicious Portuguese Bean Soup (one of Wes’ favorite “Hawaiian” foods), a lovely tomato and mushroom casserole, fluffy polenta ala fungi, there was a chick pea dish to die for by Noel, Ron made grilled Greek chicken that brought me to the “other” islands, there was a pasta salad dish and a tomato and cucumber salad too. Russel mad a delicious Paella. The dessert table was laden with amazing things like an almond cake with whipped cream, Maria’s Coconut Flan, a apricot and chocolate flourless cake/torte drizzled with a dark chocolate ganache and studded with almonds and baklava!

The entire evening represented a lot of what we love about Hawaii. The importance of good friends and new acquaintances always welcomed with aloha and sharing foods from the land, prepared with heart and soul. Dining with balmy breezes on lanais, laughing, drinking great wine and sharing the truly great moments that matter around the table (in this case several tables). It just gets better and better.

We will be hosting the March dinner which is penciled in for March 28th right now. It will feature regional Italian foods. If you are interested in joining us, send me an e-mail . Note: most of the people in the club live in Puna and a few of us are in Hilo.

There is a cruise ship pulling in just now… the Spirit of America. Here she is:

When the sun comes out, we are heading downtown for the Bob Marley Day celebration and the Ag Fair. It seems like there is always something going on here, in fact many times we have to choose between 3-4 events.


Anonymous said...

"When the sun comes out, we are heading downtown for the Rob Marley Day celebration and the Ag Fair."

I definitely won't be at any "RRRob Marley" Celebrations...

Who is that? :)

Devany said...

Good catch Damon! LOL... I guess I was in a hurry there and did not see it. Every writer needs an editor. He is back to being BOB again. We just got back and had a great time. News, video and pictures to follow.

Connie Lou said...

Hi Devany,

Nice post. Your group looks like a lot of fun! Really captures the essence of island style living...could you do me a big favor? My blog feed doesn't seem to update, on your page (still featuring an outdated post). Would you mind redoing it? I know you are busy, and I would really appreciate it!
Mahalo!!! Connie

Anonymous said...

Hey man I am a way out from being a local but how does one become a part of this club? I responded to your comment on my blog BTW. Hope we can communicate more. I want to pick your brain and learn from your experiences.

Devany said...


Let's TALK! Send me an e-mail:

Also, I highly suggest that you visit our online forum, the "other" Puna online group,

Aloha! Looking forward to seeing you on the big island.