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Sandra Thomas: PHOTOS: A Taste Of The Islands At A Hawaiian Food Festival

February 19, 2012

Staring down at the roasted pig’s head adorning a kiosk at the Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Island of Hawaii, I had no idea the wild bore I had just happily sampled would mark the start of a weekend I can only describe as the ultimate foodie fantasy. After flying in from Seattle, we checked into our room at the neighboring Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort with just enough time to shower and change before heading to the Taste event. The rush was worth it. The event showcases everything that’s great about the local Hawaiian food/agriculture scene, including luscious organic produce and top chefs who bring the best out of locally raised (or wild) pig, beef and lamb. The event has a nose-to-tail philosophy which, depending on the luck of the draw, sees chefs creating delicacies from not only the most popular cuts of meat, but also the least appetizing including tripe and the now infamous mountain oyster, aka bull calf testicles. Each year participating local chefs draw to see which meat they’ll prepare for Taste about a month prior to the event in order to come up with a concept designed to wow the large crowd of foodies who attend annually. This year the mountain oyster challenge was presented to chef Jayson Kanekoa and his chef de cuisine Raylynn Kanehailua from the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, who came up with a kind of bull testicle tamale, which I wasn’t brave enough to try — but fed to my more adventurous partner who gave it a big thumbs up. I did indulge in a taste of heart sausage created by the chefs from Roy’s Waikoloa and it opened my eyes as to how the less-noble cuts of meat can be transformed into something delicious. The next morning I was scheduled to take part in the Chef Shuttle tour offered as part of a package at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott and was surprised to see my personal guide for the day was Chef Jayson Kanekoa of mountain oyster fame whom I’d spoken to briefly the night before. Chef Jayson and I embarked on our foodie travels at 7 am and headed for two farmers markets in Waimea. On the way, we stopped for breakfast at a local institution called Hawaiian Style Café, where particularly large Hawaiian men cooked up pancakes the size of hubcaps and where you can order the Internet Loco Moco featuring Spam, Spam and more Spam. (My partner and I ended up driving to Waimea twice more to the café for breakfast in the all too-short week we spent on Hawaii.) Fortified with breakfast, Chef Jayson and I headed for the Hawaiian Homesteaders Farmers Market and Town Market where together we sourced out ingredients for what would later become dinner for a group of us back at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. Market-goers and vendors alike greeted Chef Jayson with alohas, handshakes and hugs. Maybe it was being in the company of a celebrity chef, but I found the vendors exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the organic produce, fish, meat, flowers, treats and coffee they were selling. I met a coffee grower who had a photo album on display detailing the history of his family’s plantation from its start two decades earlier, as well as Mike Hodson, a retired vice cop who now owns and operates one of the most successful organic farms on the island, Wow Farm. Hodson told me that after surviving two decades on the force, there was no way he was going die from spraying chemicals on his tomatoes. The end result? Juicy, delicious, pesticide-free tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. By the end of our tours of the farmers markets, Chef Jayson and I had chosen the main ingredients for a four-course meal I will never forget. Our dinner, a deliciously divine example of the farm-to-table philosophy driving the agricultural tourism industry in Hawaii, began with seared ahi tuna accompanied by roasted garlic, Kamuela tomato gazpacho, followed by some of those Wow tomatoes served with the macadamia nut, basil-infused goat cheese I had earlier chosen at the farmers market. Our entrée was a veal chop with poha berry jam, local mushrooms and purple sweet potatoes from the neighboring island of Molokai. Dessert was coffee crème brulee with a cup of brew hand-pressed at our table — both made from beans purchased earlier from that same grower. Even more delightful was the line printed at the bottom of our menu, “Prepared for Ms. Sandra Thomas…” This personalized touch is part of the Chef Shuttle package. Completing our foodie fantasy weekend was Sunday night’s Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott during which we indulged in Kalua pig, which had slow roasted in an underground oven all day, Lau Lau chicken and numerous mai tais. Sure there was talented fire knife dancers, beautiful hula dancers and traditional Hawaiian music, but on this foodie weekend, it was all about that sumptuous buffet. And here’s a brief look at Chef Jayson during one of his Chef Shuttle Tours: More: Sandra Thomas: PHOTOS: A Taste Of The Islands At A Hawaiian Food Festival

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Sandra Thomas: PHOTOS: A Taste Of The Islands At A Hawaiian Food Festival

January 27, 2012

Staring down at the roasted pig’s head adorning a kiosk at the Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Island of Hawaii, I had no idea the wild bore I had just happily sampled would mark the start of a weekend I can only describe as the ultimate foodie fantasy. After flying in from Seattle, we checked into our room at the neighboring Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort with just enough time to shower and change before heading to the Taste event. The rush was worth it. The event showcases everything that’s great about the local Hawaiian food/agriculture scene, including luscious organic produce and top chefs who bring the best out of locally raised (or wild) pig, beef and lamb. The event has a nose-to-tail philosophy which, depending on the luck of the draw, sees chefs creating delicacies from not only the most popular cuts of meat, but also the least appetizing including tripe and the now infamous mountain oyster, aka bull calf testicles. Each year participating local chefs draw to see which meat they’ll prepare for Taste about a month prior to the event in order to come up with a concept designed to wow the large crowd of foodies who attend annually. This year the mountain oyster challenge was presented to chef Jayson Kanekoa and his chef de cuisine Raylynn Kanehailua from the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, who came up with a kind of bull testicle tamale, which I wasn’t brave enough to try — but fed to my more adventurous partner who gave it a big thumbs up. I did indulge in a taste of heart sausage created by the chefs from Roy’s Waikoloa and it opened my eyes as to how the less-noble cuts of meat can be transformed into something delicious. The next morning I was scheduled to take part in the Chef Shuttle tour offered as part of a package at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott and was surprised to see my personal guide for the day was Chef Jayson Kanekoa of mountain oyster fame whom I’d spoken to briefly the night before. Chef Jayson and I embarked on our foodie travels at 7 am and headed for two farmers markets in Waimea. On the way, we stopped for breakfast at a local institution called Hawaiian Style Café, where particularly large Hawaiian men cooked up pancakes the size of hubcaps and where you can order the Internet Loco Moco featuring Spam, Spam and more Spam. (My partner and I ended up driving to Waimea twice more to the café for breakfast in the all too-short week we spent on Hawaii.) Fortified with breakfast, Chef Jayson and I headed for the Hawaiian Homesteaders Farmers Market and Town Market where together we sourced out ingredients for what would later become dinner for a group of us back at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott. Market-goers and vendors alike greeted Chef Jayson with alohas, handshakes and hugs. Maybe it was being in the company of a celebrity chef, but I found the vendors exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the organic produce, fish, meat, flowers, treats and coffee they were selling. I met a coffee grower who had a photo album on display detailing the history of his family’s plantation from its start two decades earlier, as well as Mike Hodson, a retired vice cop who now owns and operates one of the most successful organic farms on the island, Wow Farm. Hodson told me that after surviving two decades on the force, there was no way he was going die from spraying chemicals on his tomatoes. The end result? Juicy, delicious, pesticide-free tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. By the end of our tours of the farmers markets, Chef Jayson and I had chosen the main ingredients for a four-course meal I will never forget. Our dinner, a deliciously divine example of the farm-to-table philosophy driving the agricultural tourism industry in Hawaii, began with seared ahi tuna accompanied by roasted garlic, Kamuela tomato gazpacho, followed by some of those Wow tomatoes served with the macadamia nut, basil-infused goat cheese I had earlier chosen at the farmers market. Our entrée was a veal chop with poha berry jam, local mushrooms and purple sweet potatoes from the neighboring island of Molokai. Dessert was coffee crème brulee with a cup of brew hand-pressed at our table — both made from beans purchased earlier from that same grower. Even more delightful was the line printed at the bottom of our menu, “Prepared for Ms. Sandra Thomas…” This personalized touch is part of the Chef Shuttle package. Completing our foodie fantasy weekend was Sunday night’s Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott during which we indulged in Kalua pig, which had slow roasted in an underground oven all day, Lau Lau chicken and numerous mai tais. Sure there was talented fire knife dancers, beautiful hula dancers and traditional Hawaiian music, but on this foodie weekend, it was all about that sumptuous buffet. And here’s a brief look at Chef Jayson during one of his Chef Shuttle Tours: More: Sandra Thomas: PHOTOS: A Taste Of The Islands At A Hawaiian Food Festival

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Duck Walk: Oregon Routs UCLA For Pac 12 Title

December 3, 2011

EUGENE, Ore. — LaMichael James ran for 219 yards and three touchdowns and No. 8 Oregon beat UCLA 49-31 in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game Friday night for the Ducks’ third straight conference title and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Rick Neuheisel tipped his hat to the UCLA fans in his last game as coach. The former Bruins quarterback was fired this week after four seasons with his alma mater. While the Bruins (6-7) played with passion for their outgoing coach and kept it closer than many thought they would, it was not enough to overcome the Ducks (11-2), who head to a BCS bowl for the third straight season. Darron Thomas threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns, becoming Oregon’s career leader with 63 TD passes. James became the first rusher in Pac-12 history with three straight 1,500-yard seasons. He moved into a tie with USC’s LenDale White (2003-05) for second on the league’s career rushing TD list with 52. Afterward, James and fellow running back Kenjon Barner danced, while other Ducks held roses clenched in their teeth. Fans swarmed the players as fireworks exploded above Autzen Stadium and confetti rained down. “These guys go play,” coach Chip Kelly said. “They’re fearless competitors.” Neuheisel, fired following last weekend’s 50-0 loss to No. 9 Southern California, hugged quarterback Kevin Prince as time ran out. “Well, we weren’t good enough, but it wasn’t because we didn’t have enough heart,” he said. Neuheisel’s dismissal was part of a wave of coaching moves in the conference. Around the time he was fired, Arizona State let go of Dennis Erickson. Washington State parted ways with Paul Wulff, then quickly hired former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach a day later. “They can take my job,” Neuheisel said, gesturing to the locker room, “but they can’t take those boys away from me.” Oregon will play the winner of the first Big 10 championship game Saturday between No. 11 Michigan State and No. 15 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. The bowl pairings will be formally announced on Sunday. The heavily favored Ducks scored on their first series when James ran 30 yards for a touchdown. James went into the game as the nation’s top running back with an average of 142.7 yards per game. UCLA tied it when linebacker Patrick Larimore intercepted Thomas and ran 35 yards for a touchdown. Neuheisel pumped his fist in celebration. Thomas scored on a 10-yard keeper and then found true freshman tight end Colt Lyerla alone in the end zone with a 7-yard scoring pass to make it 21-7. UCLA narrowed it with Prince’s flea-flicker to Nelson Rosario for a 37-yard touchdown. Oregon was stung early in the game when dynamic true freshman De’Anthony Thomas fumbled after a hit by Tevin McDonald. Shaken up on the play, the versatile running back who earlier this week was named the Pac-12′s co-freshman of the year on offense did not return. James added a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 28-14 before Darron Thomas connected with Daryle Hawkins for a 25-yard TD reception. UCLA’s Tyler Gonzalez kicked a 44-yard field goal to make it 37-17 at halftime. Prince scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter to pull UCLA closer to the Ducks, but James answered with a 5-yard TD dash to make it 42-24. A Heisman Trophy finalist last season as a sophomore, James fell out of the running for the most part this season because he missed two games with a dislocated right elbow. There has been speculation that James may skip his senior season at Oregon to go to the NFL. After the game, fans on the field chanted “One More Year!” “Just being with my teammates, I cherish that,” he said. “I don’t think about `one more year.’ I just think about today.” David Paulson caught a 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third, which put Darron Thomas in front of Danny O’Neil (1991-94) for most passing TDs at Oregon. Rosario pulled down a one-handed, 19-yard touchdown pass from Prince with less than two minutes to play. Prince completed 13 of 26 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. The addition of Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 paved the way for a league championship game this season. In previous years, the team with the best conference record claimed the title. While No. 9 USC (10-2, 7-2) finished atop the Pac-12 South, the Trojans are ineligible to play in the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, which put UCLA in the title game. This week, the NCAA ruled that the Bruins could accept a bowl invitation even if they lost Friday. Because of Neuheisel’s dismissal, offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will take over if UCLA is selected. The Bruins have reached just one bowl game in the past three seasons. Athletic director Dan Guerrero said he wants to reward the Bruins’ 18 seniors by going to a bowl even while the program is in upheaval. Oregon went to the 2010 Rose Bowl in its first season under Kelly, losing to Ohio State. Last season the Ducks went to the BCS championship, where they fell to Auburn. Oregon had appeared to be in the running for another shot at the national championship game before losing 38-35 to USC at Autzen Stadium on Nov. 19. Read the original: Duck Walk: Oregon Routs UCLA For Pac 12 Title

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Filmmaker Talks The Release Of ‘Kinyarwanda’

December 3, 2011

This weekend the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) is releasing its second film, “Kinyarwanda.” Directed by newcomer Alrick Brown, the motion picture is the first film conceived in Rwanda and interweaves six true tales regarding the 1994 genocide that saw one million lives lost in 100 days. Garnering critical praise and winning the Audience Award in the World Cinema Drama category at the Sundance Film Festival, the historical release will be shown in eight cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. For AFFRM founder, Ava DuVernay, who directed and released the association’s first film “I Will Follow” earlier this year, being able to house Brown’s directorial debut is an exhilarating experience. “For me as a black filmmaker to have this idea about how this all can come together to distribute films and to see it and realize ‘Kinyarwanda’ is so amazing, even more so than ‘I Will Follow’ was,” she explained to the Huffington Post. “‘I Will Follow’ was my film, so I knew that kind of fashion that I was bringing to my own work,” she added. “But to push myself to work as hard for another filmmaker’s film, to push myself and the volunteers and the leaders of all the organizations to do so for a film that’s not my own was something that I just wanted to challenge myself to do. And I’m just really proud of the campaign. Every time we do this and we get to opening day I can’t believe that we pulled it off.” Powered by the nation’s finest black film organizations, including Urbanworld Film Festival, Imagenation, BronzeLens Film Festival, ReelBlack Film Series and Langston Hughes African-American Film Festival, the coalition experienced a tremendous amount of success with DuVernay’s “I Will Follow.” The film opened last March in more than 20 cities with a screening average of $11,428, and AFFRM did not have formal advertising or a marketing budget. “We really are doing something that the studio and Hollywood system says can’t be done,” she said. “Regular people distributing films, regular people deciding the fate of our films. Regular people saying, ‘You know what, maybe Hollywood doesn’t have all the answers as to what we want to see or what we can do. “These are grassroots organizations around the country, these are volunteers that have regular jobs during the day that have nothing to do with the industry, that are coming together and saying, ‘We want to see this film and we’re going to put it out the same way the studio would.’ Real theaters, real publicity, real promotion, a real movie.” “This is a model that I’m hoping other niche communities and people that are gathering and congregating around all kinds of films can learn to do,” she continued. “And it’s basically saying, ‘don’t wait for permission; don’t look to this corporate entity to say your film was good enough to put out.’ There are ways for us now to do it ourselves as filmmakers. All of those traditional barriers have been broken down by technology and just with hard work, elbow grease, and passion.” The ambitious filmmaker and distributor is showing no signs of resting on her laurels. Just this week, it was announced that the Long Beach, Calif. native’s forthcoming flick, “Middle of Nowhere,” will be among the many films highlighted during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival . Remaining poised and collected, she admitted that the honor is “a special time, and I’m so looking forward to it.” Continue reading here: Filmmaker Talks The Release Of ‘Kinyarwanda’

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