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Chef Mavro

December 13, 2009

For my birthday this year I was treated to Honolulu’s ultimate dining experience: Chef Mavro, which ranks among Gayot’s top 40 fine dining establishments in the country.

Things kicked off with (1) an amuse bouche of gazpacho with little flakes of dried ham and a cilantro leaf floating on the surface. Fresh and zingy.

The first course of (2) escabeche of Big Island abalone and Manchego cheese croquette was one of my favs of the evening, mostly due to the subtle succulence of the abalone. I’m a sucker for peppercorns and the like, so the coriander probably contributed to my favorable impression. Mavro’s current menu pairs wines with dishes, meaning you get a fresh glass of something different with each course. The escabeche was matched with an ’04 Vollrads Riesling. While I’ve never been a huge fan of Riesling, it provided a wholly appropriate fruity counterpoint to the appetizer.

This was followed by (3) opakapaka Grenobloise wrapped in brick, with baby cauliflower heads that had a caramelized flavor. The brick was delicate and crisp, like the lid of a creme brulee. It came with an ’06 Grof Degenfeld Muscat, my favorite of the evening after the Pinot that accompanied Mizuho’s lobster.

Next was (4) a little stack of Colorado lamb medallions in a cinamony curry sauce, a curious eggplant fritter concoction and a spicy ’06 John Duval Plexus. This was good and all, but it paled in comparison to my taste of Mizuho’s Keahole lobster paella plus ’06 Saint Clair Pinot Noir. Holy schmokes! She was griping about the saffron puff rice, which looked kind of like Rice Crispies, but for me it tasted like pure inspiration.

Before dessert we were served a little cleanser course of melon balls in a gelatin laced with strips of mint leaf. Consider this palette cleansed!

Dessert: (5) Lilikoi malasadas. A little different from the ones you get at Leonards, these were filled with guava coulis and topped with super fresh pineapple-coconut ice cream. The dessert wine – again something I’ve never been fond of – was a 5 year Blandy’s Malmsey Madeira.

It might be years (or never) before I get to eat there again, but it’s a meal that will linger in my memory.

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