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johnnyd

Deathmatch Japanese 2008

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johnnyd   

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

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Fifteen Courses

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Sixteen Chefs

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Fifty Lucky People

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Five months ago, a group of talented restaurant professionals gathered here in Portland Maine on Sunday, October 14th 2007 for a cook-off - or "Deathmatch". The ingredient that night was deer from a local farm which was slaughtered and dressed by the cooks themselves. Just about every part of the animal was utilized. See: "Deer Deathmatch 2007" for the action on that legendary night.

Talk of the next Deathmatch commenced immediately. It was decided that a Japanese theme would command the menu, with no specific ingredient required. The results were spectacular. I was once again asked to attend, and even invited to submit a course proposal which I happily accepted.

The gathering lasted over 12 hours. The energy was even higher than October's Deathmatch - if that's possible. I snapped 50 pictures and stayed to the end. I will attempt to document each course in the following posts (almost all of them were amazing) filling in the blanks as they become available. Fortunately, the talented Photographer Katie Selva was on hand again this time so we'll have better pictures later on - after she and everyone else recover from another mythical feast in Portland Maine.

:cool:


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

The menu was printed on some smart-looking vellum (I'll type out each course later). I spilled enough sauce and sake on my copy you could probably wring it out and sell it.

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The private residence where the event was held had been decorated appropriately - Hello Kitty was everywhere.

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Since the theme was Japanese, a few participants dressed as Salary Men and the ladies in Kimonos.

When I arrived mid-afternoon, a serious amount of prep was underway.

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Slow-cooked chicken hearts and gizzards for Course #6 (I think!)

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Above, Homestyle ginger braised pork for course #11 and a plum reduction a-simmer.

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I think this is duck for some tasty Nabemono (Course #12).

Little did we all know the meal would unfold over hours and hours, but I can't think of any other place on the planet that I'd rather be.

edit to add: Just received the impressive list of Deathmatch Sakes. Stay tuned.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

One thing that guided the decision towards a Japanese theme was if everyone made small, intense dishes, we would avoid the problem of stuffing ourselves silly as we did at the Deer Deathmatch. Nine courses of venison and cooked deer product began to slow us down about half-way into the night. This time we have 15 courses but a reduced volume of food. I found myself very able to appreciate the subtleties of the chef's ingredients when each course was only two or three bites.

1st Course

Foieshimi - Krista

Pan-Seared Diver Scallop - Shaved Foie Gras - Ginger Roasted Plum - Umeboshi Plum Roll

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Roasted, plum perfectly sliced with Erik's custom-made (and highly coveted) blade from Washington State.

Krista reflects on the plating so far.

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This was an awesome starter both in presentation and in flavor.

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You should have seen the smile on everyone's face. Tonights plan was going to go well. Very well.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

2nd Course

Shabu-Shabu (Naturally with Bouillabaisse Flavors Because Erik Can't Cook Japanese) - Erik

Shiso-Miso Marinated Black Cod - Saffron-Bonito Fumet - Mussels & Pickled Fennel - Horseradish Rouille - Fennel Pollen

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I didn't catch any prep on camera but this was one of my favorites - or at least until the next course (it pretty much went this way all night). The saffron was arresting but never overwhelmed the fish, and finding the mussel was like a little surprise. Great fusion going on here.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

3rd Course

Bonito & Yellowtail Nigiri - Steve & Merry

Wild Rice - Black Trumpet &Miso Aspic - Fresh Horseradish

[no pic] This little mouthful was served with a wee Japanese hat made of the delicious aspic - very clever - or at least I thought it resembled a sun hat at this point. (Might have been the Sake.) It was a fun presentation and a memorable flavor.

4th Course

Enokitake in Kimono - Don

Grilled Enoki Mushrooms in Bacon and White Pepper

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It was so busy in the kitchen, poor Don moved outside in the snow to prep this dish.

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Came out well though. Delicious flavor and stunning presentation.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

5th Course

Maine Shrimp Sunomono - johnnyd

Steamed Maine Shrimp - Honeybell Orange, Dashi, Scallion, Shiro Miso Vinaigrette - Cilantro Stalk - Pickled Daikon Dice - Key Lime Garnish

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And exactly what else were you expecting from me?! :laugh:

Knowing the place is chaos during these things I did everything at home that morning. The toughest thing was keeping the shrimp from any water what-so-ever during the flash-cooling process so that they maintained flavor and firmness. I spent the day before perfecting the sauce so it was subtle enough for the shrimp to stay front and center. To keep within sunomono tradition (vaguely, anyway), I added scallion rings, pickled daikon for crunch and chinese, long-stemmed cilantro stalks for a fresh bite should one care for it. The Key Lime (Susie brand) hit me in the supermarket as a perfect garnish, and to make available for the diner to squeeze in should they want more zing.

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Mrs Johnnyd decided a little origami kimono should adorn each serving, so we worked on that the night before (she does a lot of decoupage). They were so popular, some people used them for sake sampling, which was going on endlessly.

Besides being voted the most adorable dish so far :angry: folks seemed to like it, or they were just being polite. There were so many exciting dishes that night, mine seemed a bit lame, but one of my favorite sushi chefs from Miyake was there and his nod of approval was all I needed. Plus I was in and out of the kitchen so fast I was able to keep out of everyone's way and pull off a fun course. What's not to like?!


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

6th Course

Oyako Donburi - Jon

Fried Livers - Slow-cooked Hearts & Gizzards - Dashi-Maki Tamago - Tsukemono Garnish

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Now we are getting serious. I really welcomed the fried liver at this point, and the little chicken hearts were sweet and chewy. The Tamago was as good as any sushi bar-made I've had and made a terrific finish.

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Fascinating dish!


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Siren   

bloody hell, john. this must have been your utopia.


Deadheads are kinda like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but people who like licorice, *really* like licorice!

-Jerry Garcia

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nakji   
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Wow! A stunning feat. Adding the lime and cilantro flavours to the shrimp must have made for a great dish. I can taste how crunchy the shrimp must have been.

The whole feast is amazing; I can't wait to see the rest of the dishes.

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Johnny, now I know what my last meal on earth would be, any one of the Deathmatch dinners (but Im leaning towards this Japanese one).


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Wow.

Serious deliciousness is everywhere. If that were a menu I could actually order from, I'd just embarrass myself by getting a dozen number sevens and call it a day. The next meal I'd go with is number three . . . and so on.

#15 Samantha's Beard Papa Style Cream puff? I'm on tenterhooks with a Smurf profiterole in my head.

One thing that guided the decision towards a Japanese theme was if everyone made small, intense dishes, we would avoid the problem of stuffing ourselves silly as we did at the Deer Deathmatch.
I say this before every pot luck - if each person just brings enough food for themselves plus 10% no one goes hungry or overdoes it.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Hiroyuki   
Since the theme was Japanese, a few participants dressed as Salary Men and the ladies in Kimonos. 

:biggrin:

Thanks for the report. Very interesting.

Sorry I can't see the nigiri. The oyako donburi was hilarious!

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johnnyd   
Sorry I can't see the nigiri. The oyako donburi was hilarious!

We have more pictures coming from photographer #2 shortly so I hope course #3 is among them. Suffice to say at this point it was equally if not more adorable than my ama ebi "cocktail".

Glad you are enjoying this Hiroyuki! I offer apologies on behalf of the Deathmatch Posse to purists out there who take offense at our creative license, but without experimentation and imagination, so many of the world's culinary inventions would not be realized, would they?


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   
If that were a menu I could actually order from, I'd just embarrass myself by getting a dozen number sevens and call it a day.

You know, I'm of the opinion that maki has no business being near a frialator, but when I saw course #7 I was ready to give it a try considering the quality dishes so far this evening.

7th Course

Foie Gras Maki Roll - Ichiban Joe

Loch Duart Scottish Salmon - Foie Gras - House Pickled Carrot - House Soy sauce

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I wanted to get a photo of this in it's black-sesame-seeded glory before it hit the batter but was too late. Unfortunately, things went awry at the second of four rolls when the fryer short-circuited a fuse. This was apparent as we saw a rapid decline of oil turbulence. We frantically reset plugs and appliance but I'm afraid the optimum oil temperature was a speck in the distance by then. Sadly, we watched as the rolls absorbed oil like a sponge and we had our first disappointment of the night. This may not have been actually true, however, because I didn't taste the result. It sure looked cool though and true to the crowd spirit, everyone rallied with yet another sake toast.

8th Course

Duo of Fish - Sean

Tartare of Light Snapper - Tangerine Rice Wine Vinaiggrette - Sashimi of Tarakihi - Ponzu Glaze - Uni Emulsion

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Sean worked really hard on this. I was cleaning some dishes nearby while he prepped. The orange smudge is his excellent uni emulsion and the only use of sea urchin at the event.

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The ponzu glaze on the tarakihi (native to the South Pacific) had a wisp of lemon as well. This was an extraordinary course, a favorite of the evening if the swooning around me was any indication. Clean flavors and perfect dressings for Seans choice of fish. A great success.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

9th Course

Sweet Potato Gyoza - Shane

Dipping Sauce of Coconut, Sesame, Ginger & Sake

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With the deep-fry issues resolved, Shane got started on his wonderful gyoza. They came out piping hot and what a cool flavor!

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10th Course

Tampopo Ramen - Bronwen

Rich Chicken & Pork Broth - Braised Pork Belly - Pickled Ginger & Dandelion Greens - Duck Egg

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This is the only photo I have of this incredible dish by chef Bronwen from 555 so we'll wait and see if KS comes up with one or two later. We are getting to the mains part of the menu at this point - dishes are complete meals in miniature. This tribute to Juzo Itami's "noodle western" was soulfood fusion - remarkable.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

We are 10 courses into 15 on the menu and things are not slowing down. Not even close.

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The kitchen is a bee hive. People are jammed into the dining room. The living room has a bangin' soundtrack with Shonen Knife, The High-Lows, Ryuichi Sakamoto and other Japanese artists so dancing is irresistable.

No one knows what time it is or even cares.

Good time to take in the comprehensive sake offerings of the evening. There are things here I never knew existed, like Red-Rice Sake, and unfiltered Sake, which was opaque and silky. Check it out:

Deathmatch Japanese Sake List:

1x Daimon Shuzo, Mukune "Shadows of Katano" Junmai Ginjo Nigori, Osaka, Japan, 720ml

2x Echigo Shuzo, Echigo Hana-Bonbori Junmai Ginjo, Niigata, Japan, 500ml

48x Gekkeikan Sake, Zipang Sparkling Junmai, Kyoto, Japan, 250ml

1x Gekkeikan Sake, Black & Gold Junmai Ginjo(?), Kyoto, Japan, 720ml

1x Gekkeikan Sake (U.S.A.), Light Gekkeikan Futsu-shu, California, United States, 750ml

1x Hakutsuru Sake, Hakutsuru Japanese Excellent Futsu-shu, Hyogo, Japan, 720ml

1x Hakutsuru Sake, Hakutsuru Superior Junmai Ginjo, Hyogo, Japan, 720ml

1x Kaetsu Shuzo, Kanbara "Wings of Fortune" Junmai Ginjo, Niigata, Japan, 720ml

1x Kasumi Tsuru, Kasumi Tsuru Yamahai Ginjo, Hyogo, Japan, 720ml

2x Kiuchi, Kikusakari Tarusake, Ibaraki, Japan, 720ml

4x Kiuchi, Kikusakari Tarusake, Ibaraki, Japan, 900ml

3x Kiuchi, Kikusakari Asamurasaki Red Rice, Ibaraki, Japan, 720ml

2x Kiuchi, Kikusakari Kurashizuku Junmai Ginjo Usu Nigori, Ibaraki, Japan, 375ml

1x Kiuchi, Kikusakari Kurahibiki Daiginjo, Ibaraki, Japan, 375ml

1x Kiuchi, Gekkakow Vintage Junmai Daiginjo 2002, Ibaraki, Japan, 375ml

1x Momokawa, Silver Junmai Ginjo, Oregon, United States, 750ml

1x Momokawa, Pearl Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu, Oregon, United States, 750ml

1x Nanbu Bijin, Nanbu Bijin "Ancient Pillars" Junmai Daigingjo, Iwate, Japan, 720ml

1x Ozeki, Ozeki Karatamba Honjozo, Hyogo, Japan, 300ml

1x Ozeki, Osakaya-Chobei Daiginjo, Hyogo, Japan, 300ml

1x Ozeki Sake (U.S.A.), Ozeki Nigori, California, United States, 375ml

1x Ozeki Sake (U.S.A.), Ginjo Premier Ginjo, California, United States, 720ml

1x Saiya Shuzoten, Yuki No Bosha Limited Release Junmai Ginjo, Akita, Japan, 720ml

1x Saiya Shuzoten, Yuki No Bosha Akita Komachi Daiginjo, Akita, Japan, 720ml

2x Sasaichi Shuzo, Madoka Honjozo, Yamanashi, Japan, 720ml

1x Sudo Honke, Sato No Homare "Pride of the Village" Junmai Ginjo, Ibaraki, Japan, 720ml

1x Takasago Shuzo, Takasago Ginga Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo, Hokkaido, Japan, 720ml

2x Tatsuuma-Honke, Kuromatsu-Hakushika Snow Beauty Nigori, Hyogo, Japan, 300ml

1x Tatsuuma-Honke, Hakushika Yamadanishiki Junmai, Hyogo, Japan, 300ml

1x Tatsuuma-Honke, Hakushika Junmai Ginjo, Hyogo, Japan, 300ml

2x Yamamoto Honke, Genbei San No Onikoroshi Futsu-shu, Kyoto, Japan, 180ml

1x Yamamoto Honke, MizunoShirabe Ginjo, Kyoto, Japan, 720ml

1x Yamamoto Honke, MatsunoMidori Junmai Daiginjo, Kyoto, Japan, 720ml

32 Sakes, 16 Breweries, 16 Styles, 10 Prefectures and 2 States, 91 Bottles, 38 Liters

Holy Honshu! :blink:

A million props go to Jon Dietz who stayed up until daylight to compile this list. You da man!

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Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

11th Course

Japanese Pork Three Ways - Nolan

Homestyle Ginger Braised Pork Loin - Pork Gyoza - Ton Katsu - Fried Pork Loin

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Folks who were trying to leave gave up when these aromas wafted through the house.

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Anyone for some pig? I thought so.

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The braise was simmering gently when I arrived that afternoon, a gazillion hours ago, torturing us all (see photo in post#1).

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Very, very satisfying dish - a big hit. After this I feel a hint of a full stomach. Might have been the Kirin Ichiban that I was sucking on though... hmm.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

12th Course

Nabemono - Courtney

Udon Noodles - Shitake Confit - Duck Breast - Scallion Oil - Hard Cooked Egg

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The Hits keep on coming. Courtney put together a classic and it was a welcome dish after some big guns had rolled through. Clean and simple with tons of flavor. Perfect moment as we eased into the last three "dessert" courses.

13th Course - Andrew

Rice Milk Sorbet - Pink Peppercorn Crusted Tuna - Soy Caramel Rice Krispy Treat

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Andrew certainly scored points for originality. I was unprepared for this - literally. Not having read the menu for this course, I photographed the following, and still I ate this with my fingers and was shocked that there was ice cream suddenly melting rapidly in my fingers. Doh!

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This terribly focused shot doesn't do justice to this inventive and delicious combination. The Krispy Treat kicked ass and neither that or the delicious ice cream kept the peppered tuna from coming forward. Loved this dish.

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14th Course

Ichigo Daifuku - Piepers

Mochi Cake - Anko Paste - Strawberry

15th Course

Beard Papa Style Cream Puffs - Samantha

Green Tea - Ginger

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Wow! What a finish. Delicious nuggets of sweet goodness. I missed a couple courses and chalked it up to party momentum but I would have been really bummed out if I missed these two bites at the end of the night. eGullet member pastryelf (Samantha) is the proud producer of the Cream Puff and perhaps she would like to weigh in with their story?

In any event, the feast was over but the party was in full swing.

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I never knew how long it went on but I found myself outside in the snow with a Remy Martin and a cuban cigar from Montreal in my hand somewhere south of two that morning. Probably explains why the following photo is so perfectly focused...

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Why is the ceiling so far away? Who is this... er, these attractive women??

Anyway, I have a ton of people to thank but I'll wait a bit for some names and places to come in first - plus, we have the far-better photographs of Ms. Katie Selva to add here later.

Thank you for visiting us at the Deathmatch Japanese - March 9, 2008!


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Margo   

I'm sorry, why does Maine not have an enormous reputation as a culinary destination? Is Portland not the San Francisco (or whatever) of the East Coast?

Johnnyd, you are hard core. And recovered so quickly to post pictures! When's the next deathmatch?


Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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handmc   

Truly amazing. What a lifetime experience that must have been. The clean up must have been a big job though?

I have had a few monster bashes in my neck of the woods. The record is a four day clean up for a one day party. My good the place looked like it was attacked by locusts.

Any chance of getting a recipe for the braised pork? I have a full size pork belly in the freezer, with ribs! I would like to give it the treatment it deserves.


**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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MaryaB   

John, what a great set of photos and narrative! It was great to meet you and enjoy your food as well. I hope you don't mind, I linked to this from my blog. Cheerio and hope to see you at your new offices soon!!!

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johnnyd   

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Another batch of photographs of this fabulous party

has come in! I have picked through them to show

some of the terrific food that night.

Thanks to Ms Katie Selva for the following photos

1st Course

Foieshimi - Krista

Pan-Seared Diver Scallop - Shaved Foie Gras -

Ginger Roasted Plum - Umeboshi Plum Roll

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2nd Course

Shabu-Shabu - Erik

Shiso-Miso Marinated Black Cod - Saffron-Bonito Fumet

Mussels & Pickled Fennel - Horseradish Rouille - Fennel Pollen

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Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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johnnyd   

3rd Course

Bonito & Yellowtail Nigiri - Steve & Merry

Wild Rice - Black Trumpet &Miso Aspic - Fresh Horseradish

gallery_16643_5794_2540.jpg

gallery_16643_5794_22392.jpg

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See the Japanese "Hat" in aspic - didn't I say these

were adorable? Did I say they were delicious?

We all thought so.

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4th Course

Enokitake in Kimono - Don

Grilled Enoki Mushrooms in Bacon and White Pepper

gallery_16643_5794_20662.jpg

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5th Course

Maine Shrimp Sunomono - johnnyd

Steamed Maine Shrimp -

Honeybell Orange, Dashi, Scallion, Shiro Miso Vinaigrette -

Cilantro Stalk - Pickled Daikon Dice - Key Lime Garnish

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"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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