Tip: A week-long cultural festival that honors King David Kalakaua in Hilo.

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Hawaii Food and Wine Festival

By Caroline Wright

As the “Crossroads of the Pacific,” Hawaii is known for a cultural mélange that often results in an electrifying fusion of art, music, architecture and dance from all over the world.

But Hawaii has become

especially renowned as a crossroads for culinary art, thanks to the efforts of internationally celebrated chefs such as Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, pioneers in the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement. With their very first Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, on Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1, Wong and Yamaguchi hope to raise serious awareness of agricultural sustainability for the islands. The event will be an unforgettable East-meets-West summit of farm-to-table techniques and flavors, deftly explored by some of the best chefs and vintners in the world.

For many, the festival’s highlight will be the lavish, VIP-studded formal Gala Dinner at the elegant Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, with dishes created by an elite crew of master chefs from Hawaii, the mainland U.S., Japan and Australia. Tickets are a cool $1,000, and sold out weeks before the inaugural event.

However, tickets are still available for the festival’s other activities, including a coffee and chocolate pairing session led by the reigning U.S. barista champion, featuring locally grown coffee and chocolate; a master tasting event featuring vintages from two of the world’s greatest chardonnay vineyards, and “Setting the 21st Century Table in Hawaii,” a luncheon prepared by four master chefs, including Alan Wong, with ingredients from island farms.

The festival includes a single excursion that might yield its most memorable experience: a visit to the ahupuaa of Heeia on the Windward coast of Oahu. In ancient Hawaii, the ahupuaa was a wedge-shaped slice of land that ran from the mountains to the sea, and contained all of the resources needed by the community, from fish and salt to fertile land for farming. On this once-in-a-lifetime outing, led by cultural experts, guests will learn firsthand about the native concept of land management, and enjoy an authentic lunch harvested from the Heeia ahupuaa that includes wild pig roasted in an imu pit, steamed sweet potato and taro, and fish both smoked and raw.

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival (Oahu)

Date: Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1, 2011

When: Various

Locations: Several, including The Modern Honolulu, the Halekulani Hotel, Hilton Hawaiian Village, DFS Galleria, and an excursion to the ahupuaa of Heeia on the Windward side of Oahu.

Admission: Activities and sessions are priced from $40 to $1,000 (for the Gala Dinner at the Halekulani); a portion of the ticket price for the festival’s three signature events is tax-deductible

Website: www.hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com
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