Kaiseki in New York

March 19, 2014

In this in-between season, with spring coyly hiding behind a recalcitrant winter reluctant to depart, the Kaiseki menu at Brushstroke is like a promise: the sun will come. It's a beautiful way to welcome change.

Had dinner there last night with the always inspiring Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of  Japanese Farm Food. (If you don't know this book, you should.) Nancy's a forthright American who married into a Japanese farm family and seems to have absorbed the country into her pores.  I admire the way she honors her adopted country's food and rituals with none of the sentimentality of so many ex-pats. Reading her book, you want to cook everything – and you learn so much.

Dinner was a long, dream of a meal that began with this:


and went on to this delicate crab chawan mushi with bits of black truffle and tiny morels.


Then there was the gorgeous platter of sashimi at the top (my favorite was the fluke, bottom left, with a delicate ponzu sauce). And those sticks of yama imo. 

That was followed by this extravagant  little bowl of lobster and vegetables in white miso.

Crab, white miso


Next, the big presentation:


 which appeared on the plate like this:


octopus, smoked in hay and topped with a huge heap of golden osetra.  Underneath, a puddle of black sesame sauce enriched with squid ink.  On top, a wisp of fried burdock root. On the side, the prickly goodness of chrysthemum leaves.

Then there was this gorgeous little bit of squab, hiding its own swell secret: a slab of foie gras was tucked underneath.



Wagyu?  Of course there was wagyu:


The rice course: Dungeness crab with mushrooms, eggs and rice, presented in a crab shell, simmering over smoking bincho charcoal:


Dessert: Simple and very lovely: lime sorbet in a warm pear sauce with a froth of fennel.

A fitting ending, a little bit of sunshine sitting in snow.



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