Award-winning Food And Rum

Would you like the executive chef of an award-winning restaurant to personally greet you with a cocktail? What if that cocktail was made with award-winning rum? And, what if he created a one-time-only, four-course meal with that rum? Now wait. He won’t be coming to your house, you’ll have to go to his.

Merriman’s Fish House Kaua’i and the Koloa Rum Company have teamed up for the Koloa Rum Dinner. On April 2, guests will enjoy a dinner that executive chef Mark Arriola designed with Koloa Rum in mind.

“I’ve done beer and wine dinners,” says Arriola, “but weaving rum throughout the menu was cool. There’s a culinary twist on everything from the first cocktail and throughout the menu.”

Recently, the two companies received a Local Hero Award from Edible Hawaiian Islands (EHI), a publication that showcases sustainable food growers and makers of Hawaii. The spring issue lists what readers of EHI voted for, including Peter Merriman of Merriman’s Fish House as the best chef/restaurant in the state, and Koloa Rum Company as the best beverage artisan.

Chef Arriola says that, as diners walk into Merriman’s April 2, he will greet them with a “Garden Island Tickler,” a drink he describes as a molecular mojito martini. Watermelon from Growing Strong Farm in Moloa’a is juiced and blended with white Koloa Rum. Green “bubbles” filled with sweetened cucumber juice and mint float on top. At first, you taste sweet watermelon, but once the bubble bursts, you get a cucumber-mint blast.

The first course is paired with Clos Le Vigneau Vouvrey white wine, and will feature a duo of Kona Kampachi.

“Rum can overpower a dish,” says Arriola. “So there’s subtle influences throughout the meal so that it enhances each dish. I don’t think it would be successful if I were pairing a rum drink with food that had rum in it.”

Buttery slices of Kona Kampachi sashimi will be drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice. Toasted and crushed coriander seeds, freshly ground Tellicherry pepper-corns and Hanapepe salt are sprinkled over the top. Additionally, a ceviche with Kona Kampachi marinated in white Koloa Rum and lime juice will be served.

Colorful cubes of compressed watermelon infused with dark Koloa Rum are the star of the second course. The salad also will have slivers of fresh Kilauea fennel, Kailani Farms baby lettuce, sweet onion and Kaua’i Kunana Dairy feta cheese. It’s a knockout combination of sweet, savory, spicy and tart. The Clos Le Vigneau Vouvrey also will be pared with this course.

The main event is a preserved lemon-herb crusted Hawaiian snapper with local squash, Yukon potatoes, Hamakua mushrooms and a pink peppercorn sauce. This will be paired with a red Freestone Pinot Noir by Joseph Phelps.

For dessert, a warm banana bread pudding will be drizzled with a dark Koloa Rum creme Anglaise. Hot Buttered Rum with spiced Koloa Rum will be paired with this course.

For $85, guests will experience an elegant dinner made with local ingredients and matched with a rum cocktail or wine. Tax and tip are included. I’m sure this event will sell out quickly, so if you want to experience award-winning food and rum, call Merriman’s now. My husband and I have our table booked!

Merriman’s Fish House Kaua’i
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Koloa