Thursday, February 14, 2008


Isao's Feast

Isao showed up with a few ideas sketched out for his feast.

He also arrived carrying this massive bag of ingredients, which I wasn't allowed to open.

I'm very devoted to the farmer's market in Union Square, and Saturday morning, we trekked out with our tote bags to see what we could find. I'd promised Isao that the mushrooms, potatoes and carrots at the market were superior to anything Whole Foods had to offer and he gamely agreed to check it out.

It's fun to go shopping with Isao. He gets excited about the perfect potato and meeting the farmers, and always notices things that I completely miss. He sniffed all the root vegetables in one of my favorite little stalls and told me that they smelled "fun." Food, he said, is supposed to be fun. A moment later he told me he was jealous of our market--and I'd always thought food in Japan was better.

Isao changed his menu at the last minute to accommodate the new purchases. He made notes, rearranged the order in which certain things were to be prepared, and we were ready to go. We ended up with an 11 course meal. Believe it or not, there wasn't much left over.

Nono had brought a number of nice tenugui to use as placemats--he'd put them all in little bags with a note explaining their history and function. He also spent much of his plane flight wrapping chopsticks. I saved all the unused wrappers so I could employ them for another party.

A true chef travels with his own knives (carefully wrapped) . . .

And with his own apron and slippers.

Isao bought some duck eggs at the farmer's market. He'd never cracked one open before (neither had I) and Nono made sure to capture the moment.

We started with two salads--one made from daikon with shiso leaf, and another with gorgeous glass noodles. Isao also threw in some sunflower sprouts from the market.

My favorite dish was probably this creation--scallops, flounder, an avocado/yuzu sauce and some secret garnish which I didn't watch Isao make. The assembly was fun too. After this, I seem to have stopped taking photos. I don't know what happened. I'm sure the sake/wine/champagne combination had something to do with it.

I did resurface after Isao announced that we should open up our placements and use the tenuguis as we saw fit. My creative friends happily obliged.

Isao and my mother. He says he wants to come back next year and cook another meal.

Nearly a week later, all the lily buds have opened (thank you, Joseph).

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