Thursday, March 19, 2009
A Nice Lunch
Today we had one of the best meals we’ve had the whole time in Sendai City. After the food tasting we had yesterday (several different cuts of several different preparations of ueber-rich Sendai Beef and several different types of Nigiri sushi, and a camera crew) by the time I sat down at the table for the tasting menu the hotel’s executive chef had prepared for us, I wasn’t hungry in the slightest. That meal was an assault on our stomachs; large portions of in-season produce, fishes, and beef that just kept coming and coming--ten courses later I felt like I was going to die from too many calories; and I’d only had one or two bites of every different dish that was presented to me. There were only two chefs that ate every bite: Damon, and Ravi, and Shotaro did his best but by his last dumpling he was sweating and couldn’t eat dessert. But the presentation was lovely and I really enjoyed opening little bowls to see what was inside, especially the the main course, several pieces of thin-sliced Sendai beef that had been wrapped around different vegetables and steamed inside a bamboo tree trunk with river rocks that kept the beef elevated above the bottom of the slice of trunk so that the fat could drip down.So when I got on the bus today for our excursion to the sake brewery and then to the oyster farm, I hadn’t eaten anything and I was still feeling uncomfortably full from the day before (we had attended a ‘processed seafood tasting’ where we had to give feedback on several different kinds of frozen, smoked, dried seafoods; then we’d gone to a panko place and eaten fried things for hours; Bruce and Damon and I stopped after 9 or 10 skewers but the others went on and ate 17 skewers) and I was nervous about the meal. Yesterday was kind of an overwhelming day, food-wise, with a traditional Japanese breakfast in the morning, then that killer lunch that went on for hours and then all the fried stuff. I was not feeling well.The lunch we had was the perfect size and all the flavors were great. I was honestly scared of eating! but the sashimi was so fresh and the flavors were so perfect that I ate almost everything presented to us. There was a sashimi course, some pickles, miso soup (with seaweed from the lake that we were sitting on), local Miyagi rice which was amazing, for a bowl of plain white rice it had so much character and was really tender. The main course was miso-glazed mackerel that had been cooked for a long time and had a butter burr, sancho and miso paste on top and a little bite of cherry custard to the side.I loved the custard dish Cha Wan Mu Shi, which was egg and dashi steamed inside a teacup; with a little hidden piece of something (yesterday it was a shrimp and a piece of chicken, that custard was broken and the serving was too large) inside of that. Then we had slices of a delicious little thing, a couple pieces of fish wrapped in a shiso leaf and then wrapped in a skin of rice flour and egg yolk and deep fried.Dessert was a tiny scoop of cherry-leaf ice cream that had been flavored with strawberries as well. Sendai strawberries are some of the nicest I’ve ever had.