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The Gourmet Review

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is known as much for its dining as it is for  luxurious hotel accommodations. Great ingredients, with an emphasis on farm fresh local selections, are the key. Food takes center stage. All photos in this post are from the new menu debuting tomorrow.

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The Gourmet Review

Executive Sous Chef Nick Mastrascusa has been overseeing tastings this week for his new menu at Four Season’s Beach Tree Restaurant, as well as new menu changes at Pahuia and Lava Lounge menus. I was fortunate to be included in the winter menu tasting today. It was a culinary treat.

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The White Bean with Crispy Pork Belly Garnished Soup was inspired by a recent culinary trip to Italy. Chef Nick and Chuck Wilson, Manager for the Beach Tree Restaurant, traveled to Tuscany. They spent time at Antinori Vineyards. The White Bean Soup was their favorite Italian dish. Chef Nick put his own spin on this Italian favorite and added crispy pork belly pieces as a garnish. It was fantastic.

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The Chicken Marsala (seen above) was melt in your mouth good. Chef Nick is passionate about food. He is the first to tell you he has a story for each dish on the menu and would gladly talk about each one for an hour. Whether it’s his grandmother’s recipe for Gnocci and Paella or one of his new menu items, this man loves food.

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Chef Nick utilizes over 160 ingredients from the Hawaiian Islands. He puts a fresh spin on even the simplest of dishes, substituting a heartier potato served alongside the grilled ribeye.

Sous Chef Angela Kenyon gave a wonderful presentation of each dish, with a description of the fresh ingredients and an explanation of preparation. You’ll remember her fantastic Lobster Salad and Beef Caprese Salad from earlier posts.

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How does a dish end up on the menu? Throughout the year, the most popular specials of the day become candidates for roughly 50% of the menu items that will change quarterly. The cioppino, shown in the photo, was inspired by Joe Panganiban, Beach Tree’s all star supervisor.

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Roasted Carrot Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Salad will be served as a heartier, seasonal winter salad. Heirloom baby carrots from local vendors are roasted in herb oil, salt, pepper and honey before being roasted until slightly caramelized. This dish was inspired by Ricki in the  Beach Tree kitchen.

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Seared Ahi Panzanello, Olives and Tomato Salad combines fresh seafood with another seasonal salad selection. In this salad, leftover bread is tossed in herb oil, grilled and cut into large cubes to create an updated version of this Italian classic dish. Inspired by the best breads in Puglia in southern Italy, Chef Nick adds slices of seared ahi to give this salad a distinctive Hawaiian flair. Lane also lent a touch to this dish in the kitchen. In Chef Nick’s kitchen, everyone has a chance to contribute.

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Mac Nut Crusted Scallops with Kabocha Squash and topped with fried crispy sage is Chef Nick’s take on traditional scallops.This will be served on a bed of fresh corn puree and sure to be another menu favorite.

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When asked why the Beach Tree’s pizza is so fantastic, Chef Nick will tell you that the secret of the dough is that it is made from scratch with winter grown “OO” flour from Italy. The flour is ground extra fine and produces a pizza that not only tastes better, but is healthier. Aside from traditional pizza toppings, this seasonal item will feature thinly pounded ahi tuna with a salsa verde (no tomatoes!) to reflect a tropical theme.

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When we didn’t think we could eat one more bite, Pastry Chef Linda arrived with a selection of new dessert items. Some favorites, such as chocolate covered bon bons, never change, but there always needs to be room for something new!

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Chef Linda oversees all the bakery and pastry items at the hotel and has a flair for the artistic, as well as delicious mouth watering desserts.

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For those having dietary restrictions, the Mochi dessert, with cream coconut, local citrus, roasted pineapple and cake is the perfect way to end a meal. This was presented as the “no” dessert; no gluten, no dairy, and no nuts! Fabulous.

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Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing the ice cream selection of the month. Look closely at the photograph. This is Corn Ice Cream topped with caramel corn. Chef Linda explained that the freshest local corn is picked and immediately shucked and pureed into a creme anglaise as a base for the ice cream. It was amazing, with just a hint of fresh corn.

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It was a great afternoon for anyone that loves food. No one does it better than the team at Four Seasons.

A special thank you to Sebastian Hinsch, Director of Food and Beverage at Hualalai, for including me in the final menu sampling. What a fantastic selection of great new dishes.

NOTES

Our tasting group in photograph from left to right, included Sebastian Hinsch, Chef Nick, Chef Angela, Chef Linda and Chuck Wilson.

– The Gourmet Review

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