Tag Archives: dinner

Ryokan Repast

As I type, I am sitting in my tatami mat room at a stunning Hokkaido ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. Recently reconstructed, this Noboribetsu ryokan is a creative blend of East and West built with comfort in mind. Beautiful baths, cozy couches, gorgeous green scenery, what’s not to love? But a ryokan stay would not be complete without an intricate kaiseki dinner. Last night’s food was rich, delicate, and oh so plentiful! It was so good that I forgot to document nearly half the meal. With that in mind, I thought I’d take this opportunity to showcase a May meal from a ryokan in Nagano.

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The dauntingly long, yet promisingly delicious menu.

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Our appetizers.

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Next up, sashimi!

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And… one of my favorite spring dishes: mountain vegetable tempura.

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Your basic nimono, or simmered dish.

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Polished off with pickles and rice.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a true ryokan meal without a, shall we say unusual, fruity desert.

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Marea

Back in New York after a whirlwind three days up at Yale, Dad and I went out to dinner at Marea, a fancy seafood restaurant on Central Park South–one I’d been hearing about since my parents ate there 9 months ago. Let’s just say it lived up to my expectations.

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The atmosphere was buzzing with class.

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We started off with focaccia and a spot of white wine. Aerated and speckled with green olives, the bread had a light, crisp crust, and oh so much flavor.

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Dad and I both picked appetizers from the seasonal antipasti menu. My first official course was a tartaletta made with caramelized onions, marsala, cherry mostarda, and capers.

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Meanwhile, Dad indulged in fresh calamari.

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My next course was funghi risotto. A little more al dente than the typical risotto, the melding of mushroom and rice textures was exquisite.

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Dad’s pesto-bathed ricotta ravioli looked so delicious that it almost disappeared before I got the chance to document the dish. (Whoops!)

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And then, as though I wasn’t full enough, course three then wound its way to the table. Snapper for me, cuttlefish for Dad. Definitely the highlight of the meal thus far. But, then again, we have yet to arrive at the most anticipated plates of the evening.

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But before digging into the heavier stuff, we took a break our repast for some biscotti and chamomile tea.

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Alright, you’ve waited long enough: here they are.

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One Strati di Cioccolato, a sensational combination of dark chocolate and salted caramel flavors, and one Budino di Mandorla, a blissful blend of citrus and white chocolate.

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The check was accompanied by mini chocolate chou-crèmes. We left Marea full to the brim and elated, ready for many similar escapades in the future.

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Araxi

Meal. Of. The. Week.
Or Month.
Or Year? Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but this dinner was utterly sublime.

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A few years ago, Araxi was good. Now it’s great. Exceptional. Extraordinary. And, dare I say it, even better than last night’s Rimrock Café.

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The housemade bread was served with olive oil and butter, a really rich (but magnificent!) combo.

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Eve, Mom, and I strategized our meal with the utmost care: two shared small plates, and two large.

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Butternut squash soup with a touch of curry oil – just enough to taste, but not overwhelm.

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Our second appetizer was a beet salad with fresh mozzarella and candied pecans.

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Main dish no. 1: Arctic Char on roasted rapini, fingerling potatoes, dijon maple dressing, and potato foam.

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And… no. 2: Parmesan Polenta with butternut squash, roasted seasonal vegetables, tapenade, and romesco sauce.

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Finally, the four of us couldn’t resist the restaurant’s signature truffle fries, and truffley they were.

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Brace yourselves. It’s time for dessert. There were a few appealing options on the menu but none quite lived up to the sound of ‘Valrhona Chocolate Fondant: warm chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream.’

Tangent: the consensus is that we really should have had two sticky toffee puddings last night rather than one of those and a chocolate cake – disappointing. As a result, Mom ventured forth a brave suggestion: two of the chocolate fondant. It was definitely the right decision.

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This cake. Mom even went as far as saying it may be one the best chocolate desserts she’s ever tasted. Eve wants it piped into her veins via IV.

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As though we hadn’t had enough to eat, our server brought a few little treats to round off the meal. The shortcake and chocolate cookie were good, but the financiers were easily the highlight. Moist and mildly sweet, they were delightful.

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Before leaving, we just had to take a look at the Araxi cookbook. What if it had the instructions for the butternut squash soup? Or better yet, that molten chocolate cake recipe?

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Well, it did. So, naturally, a copy came home with us, autographed to my sister and I by the chef and all!

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To Abby and Eve – Always eat well and hug a farmer.

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Niseko: The Barn

Niseko night number 2. Dinner at The Barn. A meal well worth venturing out in the snow for.

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The Barn’s structure is literally barn-shaped, but so much chicer.

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Dinner was a set three course affair.

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We split a bottle of wine from the owner’s vineyard in Bourgogne, France. Not bad.

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With Mom out of the country, it was just the three of us, a father-daughters weekend.

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The focaccia had the most amazing crust! With a smear of whipped butter, delish.

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Tasmanian Salmon Confit. This slow-cooked salmon was smooth and flavorful. I’d never tasted anything like it.

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My main: Hokkaido flounder poêlé. The portion was insane, but boy was it good. Underscored by onion sauce and roasted vegetables, this light, flaky fish was sensational.

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Between dinner and dessert, we had a chance to admire the decor. This sculpture (?) won the award for wackiest artifact hands down.

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The interior was airy and elegant, despite skiers-cum-diners like us dressed in fleeces and jeans.

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I love having a sister. When it comes to ordering dessert, Eve and I are of one mind. Making the choice between Crème Brûlée with Milk Sorbet and Warm Gâteau au chocolat with Framboise Sorbet would be tough. Luckily, we never had to cross that bridge. In our typical style, we went 50/50 on one of each.

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The chocolate cake was the winner. While the crème brûlée was good, it simply couldn’t match up to warm, gooey, chocolate goodness cut by the tang of a fruity sorbet. The pudding was thick and creamy, but those rare bites sans sorbet and sugar crust felt a little lacking in flavor. Then again, maybe my deep affection for chocolate makes my assessment a little bit suspect…

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Anyways, a cup of camomile tea later, it was time to step back out into the snow drift and get some rest before another day on the slopes.

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