Monday, May 2, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom" by Alison Love, Served with a Recipe for Tomatoes and Mushrooms Served Over Creamy Polenta

Buckle up--we are journeying to World War II England, by way of Italy. On today's TLC Book Tour stop, I bring you a Monday escape with a book review and dinner--served on my cheese board. It's Tomatoes and Mushrooms, Over Creamy Polenta, inspired by the historical romance, The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love.

Publisher's Blurb:

An epic love story featuring an Italian singer and a British dancer, set against the backdrop of war-torn England.
The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.
Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. 

At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist–but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.
The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books (April 19, 2016)

My Review:  

I love a good sweeping wartime love story and The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom really gives the reader two good romances. There is the main story between Antonio and Olivia and the side story of the forbidden love between Antonio's sister Renata and Stan, the British constable she falls for. Out of the two, I was more compelled by the secondary story. Although I understood the attraction between Antonio and Olivia and liked both characters, their journey from lust to declared love seemed to rushed/forced while Renata and Stan were the tragic couple I was rooting for and shed a tear over. Still, I enjoyed the both, the book as a whole and especially the glimpse it offers of the Italian experience in London during World War II. My love for historical fiction is based on getting a new perspective or learning something new, and author Love brought that. I liked her vivid descriptions of London in the 1930s and could picture and almost feel it from her words. Although the cast of characters had flaws, they were easy to root for and I found myself drawn to the outcome for the characters I grew fond of so quickly. This is my first book from this author and I will definitely seek out her other books. Side Note: I fell a bit in love with the cover of this book which perfectly captures the time period and feel--gorgeous! ;-)

Author Notes: 

Alison Love is the author of the historical novels Mallingford and Serafina. Her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and in 2013 her story Sophie Stops the Clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. Alison has worked in the theater, television, and public relations. The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is her American fiction debut.

Connect with Alison on Twitter.

Food Inspiration:

Although mostly set in wartime London, with rations and shortages, there was food (and drinks) to be found in the story. The classic Negronis that Olivia's husband's uncle Dickie mixed and favored, prosecco, champagne Marsala, Lapsang souchong tea, meringues and macaroons, duck with damson sauce and plum tart. On Olivia's first date with Bernie there was roast pheasant and Dover sole meunière,  and of course there was Italian food such as the gnocchi alla Romana--Renata's betrothed Bruno favored with "tomato sauce and a good pinch of black pepper," ricotta dolce, spaghetti, fried lamb's liver, lasagna with ragù, pale vanilla-scented ice cream, and "candied fruit in snowy, grainy heaps of ricotta"--to name just some of the dishes.

Ultimately, it was the gnocchi all Romana which is a Roman-style semolina gnocchi that caught my eye and stomach for my book-inspired dish. Although I did not feel inclined to form gnocchi, I liked the description: "Antonio spooned up a portion of gnocchi, smeared with tomato sauce, Danila had poured the thick yellow porridge onto the tabletop, just as they did in Lazio, and the men were now helping themselves."  In a nod to the dish, I decided to serve creamy polenta on my slate cheese board (easier to clean than the tabletop) and top it with some tomato sauce, mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fresh parsley to use up some odds and ends.

Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 small shallots, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 (14 oz) canned good Italian tomatoes, slightly drained and chopped

1 small pinch sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 pint fresh mushrooms, rinsed, dried, thickly sliced 

To Serve:
polenta (make according to package instructions)
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
chopped fresh basil or parsley.

In a medium pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add shallot and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add thyme and basil and cook for another minute or two. Add tomatoes and pinch of sugar and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes, until flavors meld, shallots are soft and tomatoes are saucy. Taste and add sea salt and black pepper.

Meanwhile heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium pan. Add mushroom and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat, for about 7-8 minutes until mushrooms are softened and lightly brown. Add sauteed mushrooms to tomato sauce (lifting them with a slotted spoon to drain any excess liquid) and cook another 3-4 minutes until cooked through.  Season to taste.

To serve: place a layer of cooked polenta on a cutting board or parchment lined table.  Ladle the tomato mushroom mixture on top on the polenta. Garnish with plenty of cheese and chopped fresh herbs. Enjoy immediately.

Notes/Results: Shouldn't more foods be served on a board rather than a bowl or plate?! I think so. It makes it more fun and easy for sharing. This is a simple dish but excellent with lots of flavor and texture. The sweetness of the tomatoes and shallots is delicious with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms and the nuttiness of the cheese. I like to cook my mushrooms separately and them add them in to the tomato sauce when cooked to prevent the watering down of the sauce but you can cook them with the sauce, or just layer them on top of the tomato sauce if you prefer. (I'm easy like that!) Next time I may add a fried egg. ;-) I will make this again.

I'm linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fennel, Garlic & Potato Soup with Fennel Frond Pesto: Healthy Vegan (Hot or Cold) Soupy Fennel Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

How much do I love fennel?! Must be a lot, judging by the number of times I have it on the menu. Bulb, fronds, seeds... it's all delicious and an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of fiber, folate, and potassium. Think of it as an phytonutrient and antioxidant powerhouse and a great anti-inflammatory food.     

Since locally-grown fennel was on sale this week, several bulbs came home in my shopping bag and I knew some of it was destined for the soup pot. This Fennel, Garlic and Potato Soup from Martha Rose Shulman is described as "reminiscent of the classic potato and leek soup known as vichyssoise,but it’s lighter and contains no dairy. It’s good hot or cold"--perfect for when you aren't sure what the weather wants to do or when days are feeling a bit humid. I made mine vegan and topped it with the leftover fronds, made into pesto (recipe here) and some thinly shaved bulb--lightly sautéed with fennel seeds in olive oil.

Fennel, Garlic & Potato Soup
Slightly Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman via The New York Times 
(Yields 6 Servings)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large or 1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 lbs bulb fennel, trimmed, washed and diced (reserve fronds for topping)
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
sea salt
bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each parsley and thyme, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds and 1/4 tsp black peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth
2 quarts water or vegetable stock
freshly ground pepper

For garnish: chopped fresh fennel fronds, lightly crushed fennel seeds, paper-thin slices of fennel bulb, garlic croutons and/or shaved Parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion, celery, chopped fennel and a generous pinch of salt. Cook gently for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and lost some of their volume. Add the potatoes, garlic, bouquet garni and the water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Remove the bouquet garni. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or ladle into a blender, working in 1 1/2-cup batches. Remove the center from the blender cover, place a towel over the cover and pull it down tightly to prevent splashing. Blend and return to the pot. Heat through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve, or chill and serve cold, with your choice of garnishes.

This will be good for 2 to 3 days. Whisk the soup before reheating or serving cold. 

Nutritional Info: per serving--not including pesto: (6 servings): 159 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 28 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 105 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein


Fennel Frond Pesto
Slightly Adapted from The New York Times
(Makes about 2/3 Cup) 

1 heaping cup fennel fronds, roughly chopped
2 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp slivered almonds (or nut of choice--I used cashews this time)
(I added 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
(I added 1/2 tsp black  pepper)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

Combine the fennel fronds, garlic, almonds, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is chopped up. Drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture reaches desired consistency, scraping the sides of the blender or food processor as needed.   

Serve pesto at once, store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze up to one month.


Notes/Results: So much great flavor in this fennel soup and rich and creamy without any dairy, which I love. The potatoes, garlic and herb balance out the fennel well, although--especially with the toppings, this is a definitely fennel-forward soup, which makes me very happy. If you aren't familiar with fennel, I hate describing it because it's hard--you do have to mention the licorice/anise flavor which was a bit of a turnoff for me until I tried it and realized it wasn't like popping a piece of black licorice in my mouth. ;-) It's just really cooling, good, and has a certain herbal taste that I love and that like many veggies, slightly changes depending on whether you eat it raw, sauté it, roast it, bake it, or grill it. I find the green part of the stalk and the seeds to have the most anise flavor, with the white bulb and fronds having a mellower flavor--so if unsure, start with those parts. And do save those fennel fronds and make the pesto! I adore it and with the lemon, it brightens up the soup nicely and would be amazing on pasta or bread as well. This soup is good both warm and cold, not too heavy but satisfying, and it smells incredible while cooking. I will definitely make it again! 

Some good friends came bearing soup at last week's Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays linkup, here's a recap of what was posted--everything looked so good, I had to feature them all! ;-)

Like me, Tina of Squirrel Head Manor enjoys soup even when the weather turns humid, especially when it's a bowl of Bacon, Corn and Potato Chowder. She says, "Now that the whining about the heat is out of the way let me present a wonderfully rich bowl of soup. Yes, it would be better welcomed in the cool Fall months. Call me crazy but I love soup year round. No matter the temperature, I like a bowl of soup for lunch. Look, I also made a fresh baguette to go with it." Check out her post and her tip for mess-free corn 'shaving' too! 

Joyce of Kitchen Flavours made Nigella's aromatic Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup and says, "Quick and easy to cook, and tastes great! For the noodles, instead of ramen noodles, I've used fresh yellow noodles, which just need a quick blanch in hot boiling water. I did not use baby bok choy, but have replaced with Chinese Choy Sum, the last batch of  choy sum harvest, from my container garden. They are tender and delicious! ... I've made this for lunch, but it would be great as a one-dish meal for dinner, or even breakfast. We, Asians, love having noodles for breakfast!"

Joyce of Joy 'N' Escapade tried Madhur Jaffrey's stewy Red Lentil Dhal and says, "I cooked a pot of red lentil dhal (dal), my toddler's favorite stew and mine too. Both of us can easily drink bowls of dhal as our ultimate comfort food. :)  I really love digging into this bowl of chunky dhal stew."

Sue of Couscous & Consciousness tried a raw version of Curtis Stone's Quick Curry Noodle Soup using veggie noodles! (A woman after my own heart!) She says, "Obviously, because this is a raw version, it's not a hot soup, but there's actually plenty of heat comes through from the chilli, so it was still plenty comforting even on an autumn evening.  The wild card I guess in my version was the beetroot - not something that you would generally expect to find with these bold Asian flavours, but the sweet yet earthy flavour of the beets actually worked surprisingly well, and there's no doubt that they certainly add some visual impact to the dish.  I would have no hesitation including them again."

Claudia of Honey From Rock made a fabulous Mulligatawny Soup inspired by a fun mystery series that I want to read. She says, "The original version of this soup consisted of a broth from lentils, fried onions and curry powder. Today it normally designates a thickened soup that is strongly spiced with curry powder and nutmeg. Often, strips of vegetables, nuts and rice are added."  Anglo-Indian food then, and appropriate for English royalty. ... Simply delectable, and not really difficult.  Well worth it.  Don't you just love the sound of it, Mulligatawny, Mulligatawny, tra la la la, sing along with me.  And the taste more than lives up to expectations."

And, Vicki of I'd Rather Be At The Beach brings Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup and says, "This was really good, lots of taco flavor and the ratio of the ingredients was perfect. I was going to eat a hard crusty bread with it but we had some left over cornbread from the night before and Anthony said he was going to eat that instead. So I did too, not sure I’d like it with the soup. I shouldn’t have worried, they were really good together."

So, yes, if you hadn't noticed, Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads or sandwiches and then a recap of (some, OK usually all of...) the entries on the following week  (If you are not familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.)   

Thanks to everyone who linked up last week!

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month but we'll take older posts too.) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.
On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional). 

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "300 Days of Sun" by Deborah Lawrenson, Served with Fried Tuna with Tomatoes & Onions and Potatoes with Coarse Sea Salt & Rosemary

We are escaping today with a review of 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson, a novel that will take you to Portugal, transport you between present day and World War II, and wrap you up in an intriguing mystery. On today's TLC Book Tour stop, to make the journey complete I am accompanying my review with recipes for Fried Tuna with Tomatoes and  Onions and Potatoes with Coarse Sea Salt and Rosemary--sure to make you feel the seaside breezes and the warm sun on your face. 

Publisher's Blurb:

A mesmerizing novel that transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.

Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career; Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But Joanna soon realizes that behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline more than two decades ago.

Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically suggests she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro—where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.

Paperback: 384 pages  
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (April 12, 2016)

My Review: 

There are things that I expect from a Deborah Lawrenson book after discovering her through TLC Book Tours of her first two books, The Lantern (set in Provence) and The Sea Garden, (set on a Mediterranean Island off the French Coast). When describing her writing, I always fall back on the word "lush." There are the beautiful and lush locations she writes about and the lush way she describes them that makes a reader feel as though there is a touch of sun on their face and they are smelling the sea air, hearing the cries of the birds, seeing the local flowers and foliage, and tasting the delicious food. There is also that Gothic literature feeling that her writing evokes--knowing that beneath all that beauty, especially in the crumbling corners of old buildings and ruins, there lurk secrets, mystery and menace. 300 Days of Sun does not disappoint, in fact I found it to be more of a pulse pounder than the first two books and it had me turning the pages with a sense of anticipation and dread to learn the secrets of tiny seaside Faro, Portugal--both in World War II and those carried on to present day--and find out just how it was all woven together. 
The story goes back and forth from present day Faro, where recently-unemployed journalist Joanna is staying while completing a Portuguese language course and meets Nathan, a younger man with a mystery that he seeks her help in solving. As she begins to investigate, a British expat she meets suggests that she read a novel written by an American woman about her experiences in Faro and nearby Lisbon during World War II. At first Joanna doesn't see a connection between the book and Nathan's mystery, but the probing that she and Nathan do into the past seems to be digging up trouble, danger and even murder. The back and forth in time and the story within a story work well here as it kept me guessing and wondering throughout the book. I am a fan of wartime fiction, particularly World War II, and as in The Sea Garden, Lawrenson has taken a country where I didn't know much about the effects of the war on the citizens and expats that lived there and given an interesting perspective with her detailed research of the political issues, spying, and intrigue that occurred. But, even if you are not typically a fan of historical fiction don't shy away from 300 Days of Sun as it is a excellent mix of mystery and romance, modern day and history, and she tosses in some travel writing to wrap it all in a setting that will make you carry it outside to your lanai, just to feel the sun on your face and to warm any goosebumps that might pop up as the tension builds. 

Author Notes: Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter, and lives in Kent, England. Deborah’s previous novels include The Lantern and The Sea Garden.
Find out more about Deborah at her website, read more at her blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


Although not a food-centered book, it would be hard not to visit a seaside town in Portugal without food playing a role and Lawrenson writes food with as much lush detail as in the scenes she sets. Whether reading about the "aromatic cloud of strong coffee" at the local cafe, or how "the air was heavy with orange dust from the Sahara that fell like a sprinkling of paprika powder over the town's white sills and ledges," I found I was frequently hungry while reading. There were mentions of tiny almond pastries and custard tarts, fried donuts on the beach, plates of cubed white cheese and olives, carafes of Vinho Verde, tosta (toast with cheese), pizza, imported biscuits, whiskey, stollen, cakes and marzipan in wartime Lisbon, sweet sticky carob and honey-and-almond cakes, piri-piri chicken, omelette, oranges and orange trees, a pomegranate, dried figs, and apricots, cherry liqueur, flakes of white sea salt raked by a salt panner, and of course the seafood--clams, octopus, dried cod,"sardines grilling on charcoal fires" and other"delicate fish dishes."

When choosing a book-inspired dish, I was drawn to the description of a wartime fish dinner in Faro from the novel within the story, cooked by a fisherman's wife and consisting of white fish with preserved pimento and potato. Although I couldn't quite find a recipe that sounded like it online, I opened the pages of my favorite (OK, maybe only, ... but still favorite) Portuguese cookbook, Piri Piri Starfish by the amazing Tessa Kiros. (If this review has you wanting an armchair trip to Portugal and some of the delicious food, I recommend you go to Amazon, order 300 Days of Summer and then toss in a copy of the gorgeous Piri Piri Starfish--you will be swept away!) ;-) 

I have been wanting to make the fried tuna recipe from Piri Piri Starfish for quite a while now and found some nice local tombo ahi (white ahi)--see fish sourcing notes below. Since I am not eating gluten at the moment and did not have GF breadcrumbs, I toasted and ground sliced almonds and coated my tuna lightly with them for the crust. To get potatoes into the mix, I picked Tessa's boiled potatoes tossed with olive oil and coarse salt--thinking of Alva in the book within a book, who stops to watch a man raking white crystals on the beach and he gives her a taste to show her it is sea salt.  

Fried Tuna with Tomatoes & Onions
Adapted from Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros (and at the L.A. Times)
(Serves 4)

about 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly squashed1 (14 oz) can good chopped tomatoes or 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
2 onions, thinly sliced (I used local sweet Maui onions)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 thick tuna steaks, halved crosswise
dry breadcrumbs (I used sliced almonds, toasted and ground)
chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and release their juices. If necessary, add a few tablespoons of water to thin out the sauce slightly so it isn't too thick (there should still be rustic lumps of tomatoes in it). Remove the garlic, taste and adjust seasoning as needed and set aside, covered, in a warm place

In a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and sauté the onions. Season and cook until soft and golden, turning with a wooden spoon occasionally to ensure none are burning. Add the vinegar and simmer until it is just absorbed. Tilt the pan, keeping the onion-flavored oil to one side (you'll use this to cook the tuna). Lift out the onions with a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm.

Rinse the tuna and pat dry with paper towels. Season with a bit of salt. Place the breadcrumbs (or ground almonds) on a plate then coat the tuna on both sides. Add a little more oil, if needed, to the onion oil in the pan and place over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tuna and fry until a deep golden brown crust has formed underneath. Flip the tuna and cook the other side. (I like my tuna on the rare-in-the-center side so I should have cooked it about 1 and 1/4 minutes per side and ended up about 2 min per side.)

Divide the onions evenly among plates; place a piece of tuna on top of each. Top with the tomato sauce. Scatter with parsley; serve with crispy fried or boiled potatoes.

Potatoes with Coarse Sea Salt & Rosemary
From Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros
(Adapted to Serve 2-4)

2 lbs new potatoes/baby potatoes, scrubbed, skins on, halved if large
2 Tbsp roughly chopped rosemary leaves + extra to garnish
1 large red or white onion, roughly chopped
1 heaped tsp coarse sea salt
black pepper
about 1/4 cup good olive oil

Bring the potatoes, rosemary, and onions to the boil in a large, unsalted pot of water. Lower the heat slightly and cook until potatoes are soft but not falling apart and rosemary is tender.

Drain potatoes into a bowl and scatter with the salt, black pepper to taste and olive oil. Mix gently so the potatoes don't break up too much. Garnish with a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Serve warm or cold. 

Notes/Results: Two fabulous Tess Kiros recipes! The tuna dish had such excellent flavor with the sweetness of the lightly caramelized onions and tomato sauce, contrasting with the acidity of the vinegar--it just popped in the mouth. I will admit to getting the tuna a shade past done to my liking. (I prefer the outside seared and the inside bright pink--aka mostly raw) but with the browning of the almond crusts I was about 45 seconds too long on each side and my fish center was lightly pink. Still, the fish was moist and tender and I enjoyed every bite. The potatoes were also perfectly tender and the bits of salt (I used a mix of fleur de sol and a pink Hawaiian alaea salt), rosemary, and olive oil were just right and great with the tuna. This is probably one of my favorite book/inspired dish pairings of late! I would happily make both dishes again.

Fish Sourcing Notes: I try to eat fish a couple of times a week and I try to buy as much locally sourced and sustainable fish as possible--but it is hard to be sure just what you are getting, the quality, and the effect on the waters being fished. I got an opportunity to sit in on the practice runs of a new Waikiki restaurant, Mahina & Suns at the new Surfjack Hotel & Swimclub. Lucky me! I mention it because Mahina & Suns is Chef Ed Kenney's fourth eatery on Oahu. If you don't know Ed Kenney, you have not been reading your food media recently as his eclectic restaurants and local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always” mantra seem to be everywhere these days with the increasing popularity of Hawaiian cuisine. My entire meal was delicious (you can see the rest of the meal and cocktails on my Instagram page) but the standout was the 'Ahi Palaha'--white tombo ahi on a 12-grain rice salad with shaved cucumber and carrot, pickled mushrooms, pistachios and an amazing limu (seaweed) salsa verde (shown in the upper right corner of the picture collage below).

My server Max gave me a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pocket guide for Hawaii and mentioned that all four of Kenney's restaurants are certified as "good choice restaurants" for fish they serve. Makes me feel good about my dinner and renews my commitment to sustainable and responsible buying choices. My tuna for this post is local tombo from Pacific waters although I am not sure if it was pole and line (excellent choice) or longline (good choice) but either way, I can feel good about my home-cooked dinner too. (And I am definitely going back for more Ahi Pahala!)

I am linking this post up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck Week! Our chance to make any dish from current featured chef Curtis Stone, or any dish from one of the previous IHCC featured chefs like Tessa Kiros. You can see what dishes and chefs everyone chose by checking out the picture links on the post. 

And, I'm also linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "300 Days of Sun" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.