Flavors from the Road

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Beach Tree’s Bold New Menu is the Product of One Excellent Adventure

Photography By Don Riddle

Discoveries made on a spring culinary road trip have inspired new menu items and a bolstered food and wine program at the Beach Tree. The open-air, seaside restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is pouring a host of new wines to complement culinary ideas freshly plucked from California and the Italian countryside.

Chef Nick Mastrascusa and restaurant manager Chuck Wilson are behind all the fun. Known as the “dynamic duo” of Beach Tree-Nick focuses on food while Chuck oversees the wine list and operations-the men took a 12-day tour in April that began on California’s Central Coast and continued on to Italy. Dubbed “Nick and Chuck’s Excellent Adventure,” the whirlwind excursion provided a wealth of ideas on ingredients and menu ideas, grapes and varietals, and cooking and serving styles.

After sampling the vintages of Palmina Winery in Santa Barbara, which cultivates Italian grapes to produce a wine authentic in Northern Italian character and terroir, Nick and Chuck visited sunny Tuscany, touring and tasting the Frescobaldi vineyards and the 17th century wine cellar of Antinori’s Tignanello Estate. It was dinner at Osteria de Passignano, next to an ancient monastery, that inspired Beach Tree’s new Papardelle al Cinghiale-a savory dish of homemade pasta, local boar ragout, fresh peas and mint.

“It’s a classic Tuscan dish, Big Island style,” explains Chef Nick, who has family roots in Sicily.

“Italian food is made true to each region’s fresh ingredients, wine, people and the season,” he continues. “We do it here with our ingredients, exactly the same. We could refine this and that, but this is how it’s done there.”

Another trip-inspired menu item is freshly baked bread served with homemade ricotta cheese topped with exquisite olive oil. “It’s simple, delicate and the cheese is made from fresh Big Island milk,” shares Chef. The duo enjoyed this unpretentious, yet delicious repast amid plenty of hospitality in Puglia, located in the heel of Italy, where whitewashed limestone buildings, dating from the Middle Ages, dot the countryside.

And what about the wines? Chuck says Beach Tree is offering five varietals from Palmina by the glass and select Tuscan wines like Antinori’s Guado Al Tasso Vermentino.

Based on their travels, Beach Tree is also presenting an August food and wine promo. The first week showcases the fresh style of California cuisine paired with Palmina’s wines. Next up is a week highlighting traditional Tuscan food-with hearty, yet simple dishes of grilled or braised game. The food of Puglia is the focus of the third week, where diners can enjoy “delectable sauces and fresh- made pastas.”

Throughout the month, A Chef’s Table is available for parties of eight to 12. It replicates the home-style Italian dining experience of food brought in waves to the table without a menu. Beginning with antipasto, Italian for “before the meal,” you’ll sample a selection of cheeses and salami; then fresh breads; homemade pastas; grilled meats and fish-followed by desserts.

“We fell in love with this dining concept,” notes Chuck. “It’s the true essence of genuine hospitality… and hospitality is what Beach Tree is all about.”

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