Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Cattleya Wine BarRestaurant Insider
November 27, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Cattleya lead bartender KALE FURUYA and Orchids Level 2 certified sommelier RANDALL PARKER
Halekulani Hotel is known for luxury and unparalleled service. Award-winning Orchids is its casually elegant, oceanfront restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and the coveted Sunday brunch.
Tucked right in the middle of Orchids is Cattleya, a wine bar created in January 2019 that has been given a menu refresh curated by Italian-born and -raised executive chef Christian Testa.
Wine offerings are hand-selected by Orchids sommelier Randall Parker (Level 2 certified) and Cattleya lead bartender Kale Furuya.
I was able to sample a unique wine pairing with incredible tapas while learning more about what this trio has to offer at Cattleya.
AL: Randall, can you tell me how you got into this industry?
RP: I was born and raised in Connecticut. I moved to Hawaii in 2008 to attend University of Hawaii at Manoa and never left. I started with Halekulani in 2019 as a waiter at La Mer and worked my way to Level 2 certified sommelier.
AL: Kale, you have genes that made it inevitable you would get into hospitality. How did you get your start?
KF: I have been here for about five months now. KevinToyama, the wine manager and lead sommelier for Halekulani, recruited me to work at House Without a Key. It’s my home base where I bartend. When they were ready to reopen Cattleya, I had the opportunity to take the lead role, as wines are a passion for me. The wines that Randall and I selected for the list are ones that I drink at home and am very familiar with.
My father, Chuck Furuya, talks about “aha” moments. When we had a wine tasting for Cattleya, I was tasting Terre Nere wines, which he is very fond of, and we have four of their wines on our list. I never understood this wine.When we tasted six of these reds back to back, I called him at 1 a.m. and I told him, I get it, I understand why you love Terre Nere.
AL: What is new and exciting at Cattleya Wine Bar?
RP: It’s meant to highlight the exclusive wines that we can get from all around the Mediterranean to Hawaii, to celebrate the best wines. Christian Testa, our talented chef, is born and raised in Genova and the menu is a nod to his heritage. It’s a different menu that he designed to be more pupu style, encourage sharing; lighter, brighter, fresher dishes that are meant to go well with the options of 3-, 5or 8-ounce pours from 25 wines by the glass (bottles are also available for purchase).We like to offer wines that are more obscure and underappreciated.
The cattleya flower is a specific genus of orchid. It’s rare and only blooms three days at a time. The cattleya orchid is also in the Halekulani logo.
KF: I think this is one of the coolest wine lists on the island.You do not see these wines in stores, let alone on a wine list that you can order anywhere else by the glass.What’s interesting is the different types of grapes that we offer. You will not see a chardonnay or cabernet. It’s all-indigenous grape varietals from small appellations and regions in Italy, Spain or Turkey. We want our guests to try different wines from all over the world without having to commit to a full bottle.
AL: What did chef Christian Testa prepare to go with the wine selections?
RP & KF: We collaborated on what we felt was the best experience guests can have. The menus were created specifically to pair with these wines, and guests can also have a wine experience (as we offer 3-ounce pours).
Hamachi Crudo ($29) has sea asparagus, lemon orange zest and extra-virgin olive oil. It pairs well with the La Vizcaina La Del Vivo, Godello, Bierzo, Spain, 2019 ($23, 5-ounce pour). This is an old vine Godello grape-based blend with a jabongand citrus-centered liquid mineral quality.
Prime Beef Tartar ($28) with Parmesan shavings, Sicilian olive oil, celery and apples go nicely with Le Strette, Langhe Nascetta, Piedmont, Italy, 2018 ($17, 5-ounce pour). This is a revival of this native grape once called the queen of Barolo. This grape is native to only one town, there were only two people growing this grape; it was on the verge of extinction.
Our Imported Cheeses ($28) are served with housemade rosemary lavosh and Big Island organic honey. On the day of your visit, we had sheep milk cheese made with truffle, pecorino Romano and Parmesan. We pair this with our medium-bodied Turkish rose wine, Pasaeli,Yapincak, Aegean Region, Turkey, 2019 ($20, 5-ounce pour). It’s something you can go into without any expectations, and is from a 50-year-old vineyard. It’s textured with flavors of lemon, quince, linden and brioche.
The Charcuterie Plate ($32) has a selection of imported cold cuts and cheeses, marinated olives and baby carrots. Pair this with Tenuta La Pergola, Vino Rosso “Il Goccetto,” Piedmont, Italy, 2020 ($12, 5-ounce pour). It’s a juicy, fresh blend of Brachetto, Barbera and aromatic Freisa grapes that’s light, quaffable and best enjoyed chilled.