Michelin starred kaiseki with Mr. Kikuchi

Venue: Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo

Lens: Samsung S10 camera

Music: Eric Clapton – Somewhere over the rainbow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz01q4GueP8)

After the success of my first food-themes post (https://kirilson.com/2019/04/14/food-vendors-in-napoli/), I decided to try taking more photos of food wherever I go. I still feel a bit uncomfortable taking out my bulky camera in restaurants, so this post was made entirely with my smartphone and the photos surely seem much more amateurish compared to my usual standard. Still, the idea is that the photos tell you a story, and hopefully you’ll enjoy this one.

I was visiting Japan for several weeks this spring with my girlfriend and for her birthday we decided to celebrate in a two-starred Michelin restaurant, where the cook Mr. Kikuchi serves his kaiseki dishes (i.e. the Japanese traditional haute cuisine which is essentially a multicourse tasting menu devised by the chef only with fresh local ingredients). We chose this place because, unlike other flashy expensive Michelin-starred places, it is extremely unassuming and relaxing. Set in a quiet part of town and run solely by Mr. Kikuchi (no waiters, no one else to pick up the phone and clean, etc.), the restaurant has a maximum capacity of 10 people and the chef prepares everything meticulously and with great calm right in front of you on the other side of the bar. So, here come the dishes in chronological order,  itadakimasu.

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We start with the.. starters. We had fried small fishes (left), Japanese mustard plant (top), and marinated monkfish liver. All three were very good, but the monkfish liver was particularly interesting and nice.
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Next came this sublime seaweed soup. It was a bit slimy, but the taste was really great.
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A salad with green onions and tiny pieces of fish, might have actually been the famous fugu or blowfish that, if not prepared properly, is very poisonous. In any case I didn’t like it as much as the previous courses as I am not so used to having salads tasting like sea (of course, many things in Japan can surprise you).
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Next was the sushi set of raw seafood: squid (left) and uni (top). The squid was way too fatty and unfamiliar as a taste for us, so we really couldn’t eat it. The uni or sea urchin, on the other hand, was really great even if also unfamiliar as a taste for me.
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Next came another type of fish (sorry but I forgot really fast all different fish types we were served, mostly because I had never heard of them before), this time fried, together with a mushroom and a pepper. The fish was a bit fatty, while in fact the pepper was really the big star here.
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Another fish, this time grilled on a skewer in soy sauce, miso and a small cucumber. The fish and miso were great, but again the vegetable was the main star as it really tasted amazing.
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A palate cleanser: a sweet tomato from Tokushima. The taste was truly amazing, we were really in love with this dish. Indeed it was “just” a chilled tomato, but in Bulgaria we usually pride ourselves in the fact that we grow and can appreciate really tasty tomatoes and we really loved this one.
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The last course, and by far the most sizeable one (also on the top photo): soup, steamed rice, vegetables, pickled vegetables, and probably something else I’m forgetting. After all the preceding food I was already too full to fully appreciate the rice, but as far as I understand this is a must in any kaiseki menu. In any case we didn’t leave anything behind and after some mango juice as dessert we headed back out happy and rather full.

 

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Food vendors in Napoli

Venue: Napoli city centre

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 & Samsung S7 camera

Music: Renato Carosone – Tu vuo fa l’Americano (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqlJwMFtMCs)

So far I haven’t posted many photos with food at markets and restaurants, with the exception of the Greenwich village food tour (https://kirilson.com/2016/06/09/greenwich-village-food-tour/). But I do spend a substantial time in thinking, buying, cooking or just enjoying food. I have the confidence of saying I do know good and quality food after living some time in Italy and more generally having tried many cuisines and visited plenty of restaurants around the world. So from now on I’m going to start posting more food-related photos and have a dedicated food category on the blog. And of course what better place to start than Italy, and in particular Napoli. It’s a city where everything happens on the street and this includes the sale of all sorts of fresh quality products. Ordinarily one would expect to see most of the photos below from inside a fancy supermarket, but all the shots were really made randomly as I would walk around the street and pass by some good looking vegetables or meat. So I hope you enjoy my first tries in entering the food-oriented photography, all your feedback is very welcome as always!

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I dare you to name all fruits and vegetables on this picture.
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Some fresh seafood…
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..and some more fresh vegetables and mushrooms.
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More fish: salmon, sea bream, swordfish and little octopuses.
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Probably a less usual sight, cow stomach and intestines that are also an important local ingredient.
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Of course we’re not in Italy without some bread and cheese.
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And again a wide variety of small fishes and seafood.
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Fresh fruit juice with the typical large lemons from the region.
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And of course we have to finish in front of some of the famous Neapolitan sweets, my personal favorite baba and the main local specialty sfogliatelle next to some other mouth-watering desserts.

 

Greenwich Village Food Tour

Venue: Greenwich village, New York

Organizers: Foods of New York Tours (http://www.foodsofny.com)

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: The Rembrandts – I’ll be there for you (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-9kPks0IfE)

It was a Sunny (purposefully capitalized) Saturday during my visit in New York and we had subscribed for a food tour in Greenwich village as a way of celebrating the birthday of one of us. For me it was also a good chance to see the neighborhood and try some “local Italian” cuisine. Our tour guide was Joanna, who was very lively and helpful. She walked us around the place giving us food and telling us the stories of the restaurants and shops we visited. In the same time she also managed to squeeze in some extra information about the local culture and art events, making the experience complete.
We started off at the heart of Greenwich village – Bleecker street. And what’s more local Italian than a true New York pizza?
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The pizza pie from Joe’s was over about a minute after the photo was taken. The pizza was the perfect combination of Napoli and New York, and we won the monthly photo competition of Foods of New York Tours with this shot!

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Our next stop was a small olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, where we got to taste the difference between the true and the fake balsamic vinegar.
Afterwards we wandered off around the small streets in Greenwich village, trying many small bites here and there and hearing the stories of the families running all these small restaurants in the area.
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Arancini, a little different than the original Sicilian style.
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Cauliflower stew with nuts, probably the least Italian dish for the day but still delicious.
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The menu of a fish restaurant that we passed by.
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We tried some of these instead!
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The prosciutto in action.
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More food shops on Bleecker street.
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A peek inside one of the cafes on the way, partially reflecting myself.
We made a longer stop at Rafele’s – yet another Italian restaurant – where we could celebrate the occasion we had with some more food and prosecco, before moving to the desserts.
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Melanzane alla parmigiana, one of the best Italian dishes for me.
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“Forno a legna” – the wood pizza oven at Rafele brought all the way from Italy.
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After all the healthy Italian food it was time for something less healthy and true American – freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
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Which were amazing.
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One of the last stops, some cheese and dried fruit before the grande finale..
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Sicilian cannoli at pasticceria Rocco and a hot espresso afterwards, the perfect end of the food tour. Fortunately for us since we could not fit in anything else in our stomachs.
 Check out this tour for yourself at http://www.foodsofny.com