RumFire: Great Food, Drinks, View

“Growing up, I was always helping in the kitchen and today I like to make simple, clean food,” says RumFire executive chef Roger Liang, “I love creating something from raw ingredients and feeding people.”

Chef Liang, a young Chinese man who was born and raised in Pakistan, graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. About one year ago, he was promoted from RumFire executive sous chef and has added his food to the summer menu.

The scent of truffles fills my nose as the filet mignon ($32) is placed in front of me. It looks rustic and simple. A plate anyone would enjoy. A robust filet sits on a bed of sautéed kale, and juicy mushrooms spill into a dark pool of rich sauce. Fingerling potato halves, caramelized from butter and heat, are nestled against the beef, which is cooked medium rare. Crispy shreds of battered onions form a tangled garnish. The flavors are complex, layered and full.

“It’s real simple,” explains Liang. “I try not to put more than four or five ingredients into a dish because I like each ingredient to be present.”

Sea scallops ($27) with edamame risotto and spicy miso butter are tender, creamy and ethereal. Four plump scallops, their tops and bottoms the color of toast, are placed on the risotto; fat rounds of light green edamame are studded throughout. It’s sweet and decadent and there’s a touch of heat from the spicy miso butter.

I learn that Liang and his staff make vegetable stock for the risotto, and spend two days creating a beef stock reduction known as demi glace. These are simple processes that require great ingredients, skill and time. And this type of integrity is laced throughout the menu.

Four baby romaine lay on a plate, their pudgy bottoms drenched in a house-made garlic ranch dressing. An herb oil, the color of emeralds, is drizzled just over the dressing. Wedges of oven-roasted tomatoes are dusted with gorgonzola cheese and topped with four strips of crisp bacon that were marinated in chili pepper flakes and brown sugar. It’s a lovely salad ($12) exploding with flavor and oodles of texture.

One bite of the warm, double fudge chocolate cookie ($9) and Lappert’s vanilla ice cream, and I’m sitting at my mother’s kitchen table after school. The brownie-like cookies have a crisp exterior. Walnuts add crunch to the rich, moist interior.

When Jayden Callahan became the director of food and beverage at RumFire, she added 45 boutique rums to the menu – including Kaua’i’s own Koloa Rum Co. – bringing the total to 60. She also dreamed up a wonderful way for people to enjoy rum, ocean-side.

On Friday, August 16, RumFire will host the first RumFest around the Ocean Courtyard’s fire pits. For $40 dollars, you get to sample more than 15 rums, and keep track with tasting cards. (If you like a rum, they are available at The Wine Shop in Koloa.) The ticket price includes a drink made with the rum you like best.

The tasting includes three rums from around the state (Koloa Rum Co., Old Lahaina Maui Rum and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum) as well as Zaya, a 12-year-old viscous rum laced with caramel, spice and vanilla flavors.

Enjoy the tasting with unlimited pupu from RumFire’s kitchen, including Lemongrass Rum-Glazed Chicken Wings, Grilled Steak with Pappadew Pepper Relish and Seared Shrimp Sticks with Pineapple Rum Cocktail Sauce. There’s also live entertainment and a silent auction that benefits the Kaua’i Humane Society.

Tickets can be pre-purchased through RumFire, or bought that night at the door. For more information about RumFest at RumFire Poipu Beach, or to make a reservation, call 742-4RUM (4786) or visit sheraton-kauai.com.

Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.

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