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Monday, January 1, 2018

OZONI, WAGYU, OTORO, ABALONE, UNAGI, POKE, RAMEN AND HOPE FOR 2018

Yesterday was a dining ultimate, Vintage Cave (scroll to next posting).  Today, I begin with the Ozoni I made to start the day, and go on to what I've been eating the past few days.

Wikipedia calls this Japanese soup zoni, but I add the honorific, o.  This is the way Japan begins the New Year, and the ingredients vary throughout the country.  The origin goes back to 1336, when this dish was offered to the gods on New Year's Eve.  The samurai class carried the tradition, and only over the past century and a half has this become a national beginning for all.

I never made ozoni until Pearl passed away.  Every year the ingredients change, for it all depends on what I can find.  Today, for example, I began with:


The key broth taste-makers are scallops and hokkigai, more commonly known as the surf clam, and important because of the red color.  Red is auspicious this day.  Even the kamaboko (fish cake) is red.

The fish is o-toro (fattest blue-fin tuna) and the meat, wagyu beef from Miyazaki, the best in Japan.  The former costs $55/pound (five years ago a blue-fin tuna sold for more than $3500/pound in Tokyo) and the latter $99.99/pound, but what goes into the soup is minuscule.  The significance of the fish is for the ultimate sashimi, and beef, a bit of butter-yaki, lightly fried in butter with vegetables and an accompanying sauce.  You don't need rice for this first meal because inside the broth is mochi, pounded rice.

The vegetables in the soup are optional.  For most, something called Mizuna (left) is used.  I don't like the taste of this green, so I substituted mustard cabbage, and added water chestnuts,  konnyaku (white, jelly-looking pieces), shiitake mushrooms and lotus root, called hasu in Hawaii.


My drinks this morning were Kirin Beer, Junmai Daiginjo Sake and a Staglin Caberner Sauvignon from my Stanford collection.

I had a simple brunch of just this soup, plus otoro sashimi:




This was my best meal of the year.  Also the first.  That plant stem was papaya:


Then at sunset I had my second meal, more of the ozoni and otoro, plus Miyazaki Wagyu Beef:


Moving in reverse chronological order, last night from 9PM to Midnight, the 15 Craigside Poker Club celebrated our New Year's Eve with Peking Duck, and Abalone with Choi Sum  Our drinks included Heidsieck Piper Champagne, Johnny Walker Platinum, Japanese sake and red wine from Australia.

Earlier in the evening there was our annual 15 Craigside special dinner of Roasted Striploin, Chinese Steamed Fish, Char Siu Chicken, Shrimp Scampi and cheesecake:


The wine was a spectacular 3 Eves Livermore Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Why only three...diners?  Two had the flu (it is reported that 36 residents are now down with this ailment) and a couple went out to their daughter's home.  What is that brown thing over the salad?  I can't remember.  15 Craigside also had another New Year's Eve Party, which I just could not fit into my schedule.

A few days ago I had lunch at 15 Craigside of yellow-fin tuna sashimi, provided by Henry Au, here with real abalone and poke (note the extra large bottle of white wine he brought, and this is lunch):


Earlier last week, also for lunch, I had my favorite ramen at Lucky Belly:


This must be popular, for at an adjacent table of young visitors, they were all having the same.


This past Friday I went golfing at Ala Wai with my neighbor, John.  Note the rainbow in the background.  Maybe that was the inspiration, but I decided at that moment to begin my grand gastronomical splurge.  We dropped by J-Shop, where I purchased a dish of o-toro and a few pieces of wagyu beef:



The evening was punctuated with a beautiful sunset.

Then, for Christmas Eve I joined John, Deanna and two of their church friends for the First Presbyterian annual holiday show at the Koolau Golf Course, followed by dinner at Noboru in Kailua:


I had an excellent hamachi kama (yellowtail collar), and John gave me one of his unagi sushi, which I enjoyed with a flight of sake.

I especially look forward to my breakfasts on the lanai, below, portuguese sausage and eggs over rice and natto with poke:


Let's see, ice tea, apple juice and water, but, maybe not.

The o-toro also provided for two other breakfasts on my lanai:


For lunch this weekend I sneaked out of the dining room a tuna and egg sandwich, to which I added a slice of onion and basil from my roof, fried the sandwich in butter and drank an orange crush:


Unfortunately, like the Fanta meal I had a few weeks ago, I read the back of the bottle:


First, it contains no juice.  However, no caffeine...which could well be a future enhancement, for this active molecule in coffee appears to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  Second, just this bottle provided 24% of the total carbohydrates for the day.  Worst, the ingredients include Yellow Dye #6 and Red Dye #40. YD#6 has a range of health concerns, and is banned in Norway and Sweden, while Red Dye #40 causes chromosomal damage, affects lymphomas and is linked to hyperactivity:


Oh, great.  However, there is hope, for I also took a few photos of what I viewed from my lanai:


I've been here for more than three years and for the first time noticed a fern growing in a pipe protruding from a neighbor roof.  Yes, there is hope.

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