Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Writing and why I haven't

I've had intentions many times over the last several months to write about an upcoming meal.  For example one that could have been great fodder was the Japanese farm to table dinner at Salt Water in Inverness, CA I attended in April,  hosted by author Nancy Singleton Hachisu who put out a beautiful book about life on her husbands farm outside of Tokyo.  Being a self declared "nipponphile," my expectations were a bit high.  Hoping for the subtle flavors of just the right amount of soy, or a hint of sesame in the background, or even some sweet miso or delicious dashi, I was disappointed to find that most of the food was seasoned with salt and really, only salt, not even grey salt or brazilian salt, just plain ol' Maldon salt from the shores of Essex, England.   Okay, I shouldn't be complaining, as that stuff is some of the best around, crisp, flat wafer-like little morsels of goodness that seem to melt right into any food it sits atop.  Okay but I wanted more flavor, Nancy, more layers and more representation of the Japanese subtle art of seasoning. That is why I didn't write. The best dish at that dinner was the sake lees ice cream at the end.  There was a little something lacking in every course.  It was good, at some times mediocre, but not great.  And in my little corner of the world where my motto is "Life is Too Short to Eat Bad Food," I just wasn't inspired to write.  And that has been happening a lot lately.  I just don't enjoy writing about bad or boring or mediocre food.  That is why I'd make a horrible critic.  Or maybe, that is why I'd make a good critic. No chef would hate me and no restaurant would close due to my poor and perhaps skewed review (yes, some critics do have that kind of power)  If i don't write about your uninspired dishes then I'll possibly save a few people nights of lost sleep,  or road rage after reading one of my oh-so-unsavory ramblings.  But really, writing about amazing experiences with food, flavors and setting makes me happy.  And why regurgitate (excuse the pun) a uninspired or poorly executed meal?  It's like reliving the bad parts of a relationship to your friends over and over again.  No one wants to hear it more than once and the recap itself  conjures up unsavory emotions that are better off left alone.  A bad meal belongs in the past.  But a good meal, well,  that belongs at the forefront of memory and pleasure to be enjoyed long after its over.  And that is what happened to me last night...


  1. Hello...I am sorry to hear that you did not like the dinner at Saltwater. I thought it was the best Japanese Farm Food dinner so far since I started touring with my book last September. However, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions. First: we did not use Maldon salt. We used Wajimakaen salt from the Noto Peninsula of Japan. Also I brought homemade miso as well as two other local organic misos from Japan. And I brought homemade soy sauce as well as our local organic Japanese soy sauce. And I brought konbu, katsuobushi, and sesame from Japan. Here is the menu just in case you wanted to refresh your memory.

    The produce came from small local growers via the San Rafael farmers' market and the fish, clams, meat, and eggs were local as well.


    Radishes with Homemade Miso
    Salt-Massaged Turnips and Turnip Greens
    Asparagus with Homemade Soy Sauce and Katsuobushi
    Soy Sauce-Marinated Egg
    Citrus-Marinated Halibut Sashimi with Sea Salt

    Wild Arugula with Walnut-Miso
    Smashed Tofu with Fava Beans and Sesame-Miso
    Seared Yellowtail Tataki with Homemade Soy Sauce

    Sake-Steamed Manila Clams with Miso

    Soy Sauce-Seared Beef
    Blue Brass Soy Sauce Vinaigrette Salad
    Hachisu Homegrown Brown Rice with Black Sesame

    Sake Lees Ice Cream with
    Poached Kumquat & Manderquat

  2. Ahhh, Nancy, see, I risk causing someone a bit of pain in my writing which is merely an opinion. Exactly the reason I've been struggling with it lately. (and, I've been very much enjoying your book). First, I apologize if I offended in any way. Second, I apologize for not being well informed of the salt used. My favorite courses were the 2nd course (with the homemade walnut miso and the tofu) and I did very much enjoy the rice and steak. I think I was looking for that "this is the best thing I've every had" experience because I had been having a huge streak of writer's block. I enjoyed meeting you and will look for more meals when you tour next. Thank you for commenting