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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CUISINE: WHITE HOUSE VERSUS 15 CRAIGSIDE

Am I crazy, comparing the food and service at 15 Craigside with the White House?  Well, yes, but I'll do it anyway.  Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in DC to meet with President Barack Obama.  It was a year ago when Abe treated Obama to lunch at Jiro's, the only three star Michelin sushi restaurant in the world.  Jiro is 90 this year and gained mythical status through a documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  Read about my experience with Jiro on 24 April 2012.

Obama is hosting a State Dinner for Abe tonight at the White House.  The chef will be Masaharu Morimoto, who also has a restaurant in Honolulu, and six others, including a one Michelin star in Tokyo called Morimoto XEX.  He was born in Hiroshima and served as Chief Chef at Nobu's.  Morimoto is best known in his Iron Chef battles on TV.  I most like his Loco Moco, where he replaces the hamburger with foie gras.

Okay, here is the White House menu:
  • The meal began with a sake from Yamaguchi Prefecture, while a Sonoma Chardonnay will be served with the meal.
  • Toro tartare (raw squashed fatty tuna--stuff on the spoon) with Caesar sashimi salad (where the diners will be wondering if the acetate skin and ribbon can be consumed):


  • Consomm√© with bok choy, hearts of palm and bamboo shoots (from Hawaii), garnished with pineapple tempura with a sliver of cured Virginia ham.
  • Roasted American Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with carrots, cauliflower, etc.
  • The dessert had something to do with cheesecake, petit fours based on Japanese tea cookies and a teapot made from blown sugar:

  • President Obama read a Haiku Poem, the first by any American President:
"Spring, green and friendship."
"United States and Japan."
"Nagoyaka ni." (Obama said that means "harmonious feeling.")
  • The after dinner live entertainment was provided by the  Jersey Boys.
The comparison between the White House and 15 Craigside, as presented here, is really not fair, for President Obama honored the Prime Minister of Japan in a State Dinner.  Here we do have our incredible Mother's Day and assorted holiday meals which are, really, quite spectacular.  But in the following, I merely recount our typical Monday Night Table gathering.  Last night, for example (click on Mai Tai, one of our previous adventures, but we have in the past featured Bloody Mary concoctions and Four Colors of Johnny Walker...enjoyed an appetizer of $79/pound real Japanese wagyu beef, shown to the right...and have our outings, such as at Hy's Steakhouse,  53 By the Sea and Royal Garden...soon, maybe, fine dining in our Solarium), we  kind of had a Japanese assortment, too, and focused on sake and shochu: 


Here you see from the right, sakes from Kochi and Hokkaido, and an Awamori from Kumejima, an Okinawan island I had a minor hand in helping establish a second ocean thermal energy conversion facility.  Hawaii has the other one.  Our first course featured inarizushi (cone) sushi, chow fun and konbu maki (burdock or gobo and pork covered with dried seaweed, tied with with gourd strips--thus, like the white house salad, everything is edible).  

However, Cookie, our Program Manager, dropped by to donate a bottle of Hawaiian Shochu, made in Haleiwa of purple sweet potato and rice, and, according to this article, $39/bottle if you can get it at all:


Above, Cookie and Sam.  Below, Sam and Bob, Dexter and Emily, and Polly and Mino: 



To my left, Sam shared with us his harrowing survival as a German POW in World War II, and to my right, Mino, enlightening us on what he had to go through as a 442 veteran.  Tonight we had roast port, minestrone and salad (and note the number of glasses I had to use):


The dessert was a delicious strawberry and cream dish made by Sam's daughter, which some on the table augmented with blueberry pie and chocolate mint ice cream.  

Our Monday night table is beginning to gain a following here at 15 Craigside, for this was the third bottle gift just this month.  I should add that Charlotte and Alfred , seated next to us, provided the CD that serenaded the dining room with nostalgic Japanese music, featuring Hibari (left) and her friends.  The chef at 15 Craigside is Kyle Yonashiro, who was executive chef at Ruth's Chris Steak House and Nick's Fishmarket, and is a culinary product of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani campus.

Sure, the White House State Dinner for 200 guests was more extravagant, but week after week, our Monday night table has more variety and a greater quantity of ethanol.  Next week I'm in Napa golfing, so two weeks for now, a belated Cinco de Mayo celebration, with margarita and, perhaps, even mariachi.  

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