"Julie and Julia" and French Cuisine in Hawaii

“Food” seems to be a very important topic in a lot of people’s daily thoughts and conversations. I thoroughly enjoy eating, but I also enjoy cooking. The Food Network is one of my favorite TV channels. But besides that, I love cookbooks, especially the Japanese ones with all the colorful pictures. My husband goes to Japan about once a month on business and he always brings back the cooking magazines called Orange Page, NHK Kyo no Ryori (Today’s Dishes) and Harumi. Trying to decipher these Japanese recipes has helped me become a better reader of Japanese kanji! That is definitely killing two birds with one stone. I learn cooking and the language simultaneously. Well, got off on a tangent.

What I really wanted to blog about was that because of my interest in food I went to see the movie "Julie and Julia." It’s about Julia Child and her life in Paris, how she began her career which led her to become one of the first and most famous celebrity chefs in the world. You know when you think about it, The Food Channel owes her a lot and so do all those chefs like Emeril, Mario, Bobby and Paula. She was truly a pioneer and so unique in delivery and appearance (tall). According to the movie there were no French cookbooks written in English until Julia Child published hers in 1961. That is amazing. I suggest that all you foodies go watch this movie. It’s very entertaining. You will also learn to appreciate French cooking. Personally, when dining out, I am not one to choose French. But this movie has made me want to explore it more. I recall having many opportunities to eat at Halekulani’s La Mer when I was employed there as a sales manager. My important clients enjoyed Chef Padovani and Chef Mavro’s delicious meals. I wish I had appreciated it more then. But it’s never too late. This got me thinking, so what exactly is French cuisine and what sort of restaurants in Honolulu are considered French? It is very difficult to define French cuisine in a nutshell except to say that it is the style of cooking derived from the nation of France. But this style has changed through the years based on the country’s social and political climate. But if I may attempt to explain, French cuisine may be considered the origin of much of the dining that we have become accustomed to in America- appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts. Even the concept of restaurants, dining service and organization of kitchens are originally French. French master chefs created their cuisine to please the palate of the kings and queens. This haute (high) cuisine was then influenced by regional dishes and new techniques, thus creating nouvelle (new style) cuisine. There is classic and then there is bourgeoise (for the common folks, family style). French cuisine uses fresh products that are in season, wine, cheese, butter, cream, herbs and spices. It is famous for sauces. I know that my explanation sounds trite but this will have to do for now. The more I research the definition of French cuisine, the more I respect it. And once again, it all boils down to culture. Culture is what creates traditions, even cooking traditions. I am constantly talking about the cultures of Japan and other Pacific Rim countries and its relationship to the development of the Honolulu Festival. Somehow I feel that talking about French cuisine is somehow related to this too. French cuisine was created by its people and their culture.

So I found a list on the website that lists the “French” restaurants in Honolulu. And to my surprise I have eaten at more than half of the restaurants that were on the list. The list includes La Mer, Chef Mavro, Elua Restaurant, Michel’s at the Colony Surf, Nico’s at Pier 38, Chai’s Island Bistro, Du Vin, Duc’s Bistro, Le Guignol, Café Miro, Le Bistro, Petite Garlic and Sammy’s. Which makes me think that although I said that I prefer not eating French food, that I was enjoying it all along. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or considered “fine dining” all the time. So much to learn. My most recent experience of enjoying a fine French influenced meal was at Le Bistro for my birthday. My brother’s treat. C’est Magnifique! I thoroughly enjoyed my meal that included escargot and barbequed lamb chops. I will leave you with a few pictures that I took of some of the food prepared there for our dinner.

Watching "Julie and Julia" has opened my mind to something that I never thought about before. French Cuisine. The good news is that I can explore this in Hawaii-French Cuisine Hawaiian Style. I hope that I have encouraged others to do the same.
Bon Appetit!
P.S. Good news, Chef Mavro has created a special three course dinner menu as a tribute to "Julie and Julia." This special movie menu will only be served on Fridays and Saturdays in August. The entrée is bouef a la bourguignonne and it is reasonably priced at $59. You can read more about it at www.chefmavro.wordpress.com

Honolulu Festival

Chef Mavro
La Mer
Elua Restaurant and Wine Bar
Michel's at the Colony Surf
Nico's at Pier 38
Chai's Island Bistro
Brasserie Du Vin
Duc's Bistro
Le Guignol

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing your list of French restaurants. I'm not very fond of escargots but I wouldn't mind having some crème brûlée. As you mention, good food doesn't have to be expensive. Very nice pictures.

French course