The Free Range Gourmet Free range thoughts on the finest ingredients, cuisine, and fine dining in Hawaii.

Range Gourmet

  Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair

        ^BNanette^K^H (Gone but not forgotten) 1946-2020


Friday, March 24, 2006


Our mad government: Feds threaten to sue if meatpacker tests for Mad Cow

No, this is not my April Fools Day post. Nanette and I read this article in today's Honolulu Advertiser and thought we had entered an alternate universe.

Can you believe:
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef says it has Japanese customers who want comprehensive testing. The Agriculture Department threatened criminal prosecution if Creekstone did the tests, according to the company's lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
You just have to read this article. If it disappears from the Advertiser site, it can also be found here.

Testing is woefully inadequate already:
Testing for mad cow disease in the United States is controlled by the department, which tests about 1 percent of the 35 million cattle, or about 350,000, that are slaughtered each year. The department is planning to reduce that level of testing.
As a result of this, when the government says that there have been only three cases of Mad Cow disease discovered in the USA, what it really means is that they have no idea how many cases there really are. Newspapers should not report that "the third case of Mad Cow disease was discovered in the USA" because there is no testing to show how many cases there have been.

The government is making sure that no one will ever find out. This puts all of us at risk.

That's sick, and we humans ought to do something about it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


HawaiiDiner interviews Ed Kenney of Town

Gail Jennings, Hawaii's premier food podcaster, interviews Ed Kenney, chef-co-owner of Town restaurant in Kaimuki.

Catch the podcast here and read the show notes here. (Note: you don't need an iPod to listen, you can click and open the podcast to hear it on your computer).

If you've eaten there, you know that Town uses the freshest, locally-grown and preferably organic ingredients for an unmatchable dining experience. Town is open breakfast through dinner--following the tradition of European bistros. Stop in when you're hungry and don't want to be disappointed.

You'll need to listen to this podcast to learn:

Where do the Kenneys go out to eat when they can?

What did Ed do before he became a chef?

What is the one thing Ed hasn't gotten used to eating?

What do you need to know if you want to brine a chicken the way Ed does?

All that and more, plus the only up-to-the-minute source of farm and food news available in Hawaii.

If you enjoy the program, why not drop Gail an email to let her know you tuned in. She puts a lot of work into each of her podcasts, which are as professionally produced as anything you can catch on the radio.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Mad government disease: US plans to reduce surveillance of cows

In a letter in today's Star-Bulletin, John A. Broussard of Kamuela, Hawaii alerts us that our government plans to respond to the crisis by reducing testing of herds.

Broussard concludes:
See how simple it is? The fewer the tests, the fewer mad cows we'll find. That's the solution brought to you by the same administration that saved New Orleans.
The public is on to this, of course, even if our government sides with the cattle industry. From an article on
Jane Halloran, a policy director for Consumer Union said such a step will have disastrous consequences. "The alternative is to put your head in the sand and ignore the problems," she said. The organization, which has asked the government to test all cattle over the age of 20 months at slaughter, said the 2007 fiscal budget provides enough funds to conduct only 40,000 tests, or about 0.1 per cent of the 35 million cattle slaughtered in the country in a year.
Is this serious? Yes. From the same article:
The disease had killed some 180,000 cows in the U.K. when there was an outbreak in 1986 and spread throughout Europe peaking in 1993. It is also termed as cause for deaths of some 150 humans. In the U.S. the first case was spotted in 2003, in Washington state in a Canadian-born cow. It was found again last June in a Texas cow.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


3rd Mad Cow case pushed off front pages

If you missed it, here's why. According to the article, papers have been running the story on inside pages.

But Free Range Gourmet readers want to know!

The CDC's claim that there have been no human cases in this country can't be supported since it is not tested for in cases of dementia.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Peter & Betsy Spann from Spann Vineyards, pouring at HASR Wine Co.

It's clear that Peter and Betsy Spann have fun making wine. While pouring a sample of "Betsy's Backacher," Betsy described how the grapes were grown on her own special spot, a place on a hill not easily accessible (hence the backache), the kind of rootstock, and each step along the way until it was finally bottled. Only 35 cases were produced, mainly for their friends who helped during the harvest.

We managed to snag the last bottle of Spann Vineyards Sangiovese although I understand more has been ordered for those who hesitated.

Peter and Betsy explained their wine philosophy with great enthusiasm and fielded questions from the crowd. Betsy is clearly the wine scientist, and a person who takes pleasure in creating a wine exactly the way she wants it. Peter was the consummate host, making sure that everyone gathered round had a chance to try each of the wines and learn how they were produced.

HASR has become a place where old friends discover new wines. Many of the wines are exclusive to HASR, so there's no use going elsewhere anyway. Besides, everyone you know is coming here.

This seems to be a busy week with wine tastings Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I don't know how Terry does it...

Check out their fresh new website at and get on the mailing list to be notified of upcoming events. Do it now. Or else you'll miss something.

HASR Wine Co.
31 N. Pauahi St. 1B
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817

Phone: (808) 535-9463

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Tsukuneya: an authentic experience of Japan in Manoa

Attractive, tasty, tech-savvy. What more could one want in a restaurant. No, not cheap, but priced in the mainstream of Oahu restaurants of this type.

After reading the review in the Honolulu Weekly this week, we couldn't put off visiting Tsukuneya any longer.

First impression: fantastic makeover of what has been a drab, bad-luck location, at the corner of Dole and University. The interior provides a range of seating from counter overlooking the grill (the robata), through a glass panel to tables to Japanese-style seating.

Tsukune (つくね) (pronounced ts'-ku-ne with level accent), a kind of meatball, are among our favorite Japanese delicacies. A picture of the varieties available at Tsukuneya is on their website where a popup (if you're not blocking them) announces Honolulu in 2005.

When we lived in Japan we frequently visited a small neighborhood restaurant in Nishiogikubo that served tsukune. Their style was different (Tsukuneya claims their own secret recipe) but we've been imprinted. Also, those were served with the raw yolk of a chicken egg, which we loved to grab with the chopsticks and drop over the tsukune so that it spread evenly over each morsel (don't try this at home). Tsukuneya in Manoa doesn't serve that raw egg yolk, but otherwise, the tsukune compared favorably with our memories.

The menu is thermographed, illustrated and slick, with info on the food, the city of Nagoya and more, and is a tasty read all by itself. It has the mandatory spelling error (do restaurants hire consultants to put those in?). There is also a Japanese menu if you'd like one without spelling errors.

Waitpersons take orders on PDAs. The restaurant advertises for help on Craigslist. Their Japanese website has a form to make reservations (not yet for Manoa, though). These folks are tech savvy. Gives one confidence.

They also make their own tofu from imported beans. That's a more important technology perhaps. The proof is in the dengaku. We also ordered tofu stuffed with nattō. The taste was not assertive, the filling went well with the homemade tofu.

The white Bincho charcoal made in Wakayama Prefecture is probably part of what makes the grilled dishes so special.

They also have a variety of sake, beer and shōchū and are open quite late, so this should be a popular drinking spot (they have valet parking but you need to bring your own designated driver if you plan to indulge).

We'll be back.

Tsukuneya Robata Grill
1422 University Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
4:30 - 1 a.m. daily
(808) 943-0390


Costco carries 1% organic milk - shipped refrigerated

If you've been reading along, you know that milk sold in supermarkets in Hawaii is shipped unrefrigerated and then re-pasteurized on arrival. I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to drink that stuff.

Costco has been carrying their own brand of organic milk for some time but it was 2% butterfat. We prefer non-fat. So probably do many of their health-conscious customers.

The other day we noticed--at the end of the refrigerated section, not with the rest of the milk in the Iwilei store--this 1% organic milk. Ok, we can live with this compromise.

So now there is a source of milk available that is shipped to Hawaii in refrigerated containers and is organic, meaning that it is supposed to be from cows untreated with hormones, and which has an acceptable fat content. Just to let you know.


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