WAKO – a special Japanese dinner

I have never had a prix fixe Japanese fine-dining experience so for my birthday, my sister took me to WAKO, a quaint Japanese restaurant in the Outer Richmond district of San Francisco.

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The evening started with an “amuse-bouche” of miso tofu and uni (sea urchin). A perfect start for uni is my favorite!

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It’s followed by a platter of appetizers: clockwise from top, tako (octopus) and cucumber, roes, miso cream cheese, unagi (eel) and egg, snapper, squid and sea weed, ad waguy beef ball. Everything was tasty but nothing knocked our socks off…

FirstCourse

Then the nigiri sushi starts…all from left to right

Kelp-Sandwiched Halibut and Wild Red Snapper

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Bonito, Striped Jack, Ink Squid with Sea Urchin

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A small plate of Cherry Blossom Rice Cake with Organic Chicken and Bamboo Shoot in Bonito Broth – quite yummy!

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More nigiri sushi …

Barracuda and Red Nose Amberjack

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Jalapeno Soy Marinated Blue Fin Tuna, Cold Smoked Cherry Salmon and Mackerel (forgot to take a picture but you get the idea! ;-))

Another small plate, Mackerel with Vegetables

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Horse Hair Crab with Crab Miso

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Sea Urchin (again! YUMMMM!)

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Blue Fin Tuna with Caviar (and a gold leaf!) – this is absolutely delicious

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Sea Eel

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Wagyu Beef – after a Wagyu dinner at Alexander Steakhouse (not recommended!), I am not a big fan of Japanese Wagyu beef (way too fatty, like eating a stick of butter). But in this tiny nigiri sushi amount, it’s actually very good!

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Red and White Miso Soup

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Last small plate: Seafood Egg Pancake

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And two delicious desserts: Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

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And finished with Red Bean Jelly with Green Tea Sauce

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With everything being bite size, it didn’t seem like a lot of food – and we could order extra from its Nigiri and Sashimi Selections (there were 6-7 that weren’t in our dinner) – but we both were fairly full.

All in all, it was a nice experience. Each piece/serving was already seasoned so there was no soy sauce/wasabi as with regular Japanese sushi dining. But raw fish/seafood is essentially raw fish/seafood and the seasoning/sauce already prepared with the delicate fish is pretty mild (as not to power the fish itself). I’d just be as happy going to our neighborhood sushi restaurant for a fraction of the cost and dip my nigiri in soy sauce and wasabi! 😉

 

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Playing with Glass!

I don’t normally teach beginning lampworking but over the years, have shown friends and family are interested how to melt glass from time to time. Remembering my first class at the local bead shop, how daunting it was to try to wind the molten glass onto a mandrel without any understanding of how glass moved in the flame, I have beginners pull stringers in various thickness before actually making a bead on a mandrel. This way, they get a feel for how glass melts, have an understanding of the heat based on the color of the tip of the rod, and learn the importance of how gravity affects the molten glob. I also spend time explaining how to round up a bead using gravity from the get go.

I am happy to show these AWESOME beads made by my college buddy’s kid (well, she’s in her mid 20s so not exactly a kid! ;-)) on her VERY FIRST DAY of lampworking! Perfect beads with dimpled ends on pretty much all of these!

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And she got a matched pair to turn into a pair of earrings!

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And a pendant to match!
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To say that I was a proud teacher/auntie was an understatement! 😀

The Beauty of Double Helix Newest Release, Phoebe, and 2018 Test Batches

It’s not surprising that Clio is one of Double Helix Glassworks‘ most popular silver glass – with its translucent/transparent quality, flameworkers can layer Clio on top of colored glasses and achieve different results. Getting hot pink was all the rage when Clio was first introduced – layering transparent orange with a clear coat, then Clio, and finally encasing everything in Zephyr. With the introduction of RHEA – the clean, non-reactive gold ruby – one can achieve pinks without the clear coat.

Now we have other translucent/transparent reduction colors that work just as wonderfully with the layering technique… ZL-689 released as Phoebe and the 2018 Transparent Luster Test Batches, CA-706, EL-702, OX-696, OX-705, PL-699, ZL-707. Layer them over RHEA or experiment over other Effetre and CiM colors!

Here are a couple of examples:

Over RHEA test batch

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Over various Effetre colors

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That’s the best way to create a unique palette with just a couple of silver glass colors!

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Double Helix nor am I paid as a tester.

 

The Making of the Leather Tote, Part 4

I did it! I managed to finish my leather tote so I could take it with me to my annual glass conference – the International Society of Glass Beadmakers Gathering – in Vegas last week. It was a hit even though most of my glassy friends thought I was crazy to have stitched this entire tote by hand!

With this project behind me, I will be starting my Advanced Workshop at Amblard Leather Atelier next. VERY excited! We will start with hand skiving – along with a couple of small projects – then a structured purse! WOOHOO!

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Double Helix Test Batches 2018

The International Society of Glass Beadmakers annual glass conference, the Gathering, is next week in Las Vegas, and after a year of absences, Double Helix Glassworks will again be there with its very-sought-after test batches! As I have done in years past, I had the honor to create sample beads for Jed and Julie! I think all my glassy friends will be thrilled with these batches so make sure you queue up early Friday morning! 😀

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I created  beads from my Enchantment, Dragon Scale, and Celestial Series, along with unencased spacer beads…

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CA-706

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EL-702

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OX-696

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OX-705

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PL-699

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ZL-689 – released as Phoebe

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ZL-707

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Alinea

Ever since we watched the Alinea episode in Season 2 of Chef’s Table, it has been on our Bucket List. Getting a reservation at the Michelin 3-star restaurant (one of two in Chicago) was a completely different story, however. So when we were going to head back to the midwest for a special family celebration AND was able to reserve Salon seatings at Alinea, we simply couldn’t resist!

This wasn’t our first rodeo at a top-rated restaurant but what we didn’t expect was how the courses were orchestrated like a performance… and with hidden treasures along the way! In addition to sight and taste, Alinea cleverly integrated another sensory to some of its courses – smell!

The first course was a pear sherbet with roes and shiso leaf along with a spear of romaine lettuce “boat” of vegetables on a lime “pedestal.”

WET SNOW | ASIAN PEAR, ROE, SHISO
SPEAR | ROMAINE, AVOCADO, JALAPENO
Henri Goutorbe “Special Club” Brut, Vallée de la Marne, Champagne, France 2006

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The second course was sweet crab with coconut, curry, and gruyere cheese, under dried savoy cabbage (that has the texture of seaweed/nori), along with encapsulated orange juice. Water was poured into our citrus bowl center piece (dry ice?) and smoke started to fill our table creating the citrus aroma that enhances the dining experience.

RANINA RANINA | SPANNER CRAB, COCONUT, CURRY
GLOW | SPICED ORANGE
Forge Cellars “Sawmill Creek” Riesling, Finger Lakes New York 2016

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Glow

Our citrus bowl was replaced with a bowl of salt with grain alcohol that was promptly lit (from smoke to fire!). The squid was served with squid ink butter along with a platter of black “rocks” that yielded two hidden artichoke purée stuffed soft gel olives (those were really yummy).

BLACK | OLIVE, ARTICHOKE
INK | SQUID, BLACK GARLIC, CALENDULA
Eladio Piñeiro “Envidiacochina” Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2016

Squid

Can you find our artichoke purée stuff olive gel? They are shinier than the real rocks!

Black

Juniper branches were placed over the bowl to smother the fire creating a smokey aroma to go with my favorite dish of the evening – a translucent piece of langoustine noodle that resembles a piece of rice paper in a bowl of the best bouillabaisse broth I have ever had. We were to submerge the noodle in the broth to reconstitute it and have it with a very crunchy purée black garlic potato (mine was carrot) stuffed nori roll.

And two “eggs” – small venison and pork sausage stuffed donuts – were hiding in the juniper branches!

CRUNCH | ROUILLE, NORI
PAPER | LANGOUSTINE, BOUILLABAISSE, OLIVE OIL
Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 2014

SMOLDER | VENISON, JUNIPER, HUCKLEBERRY

You can barely see one of the donuts hiding in the juniper branches, it’s slightly to the right of center at the very top of the picture.

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Then we had an interruption. We were told to all stand up and follow the leader down the stairs for a kitchen tour! We were served savory steamed cake (the lightest cake ever!) with mint, allspice and brown sugar, along with apple brandy with pomegranate.

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When we got back to the table, the juniper branches were removed and our server prepared the next dish at our table. He first dug up a Yukon Gold potato from the salt, cleaned it off with a brush, mashed it up with butter, chive, parsley, celery, onion, Applewood smoked bacon, etc., and adding to it thick and creamy clam chowder.

THE CAPE | CLAM, POTATO, BACON
OLD BAY | OYSTER CRACKER

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Next was Maitake mushroom, foie gras truffle with kale kim chee with raspberry thins and sauce.

GLASS | BLUEBERRY, LAPSANG SOUCHONG, MAITAKE
Antica Terra “Ceras” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2015

Glass

The final savory dish was Sonoma squab served under a piece of binchotan charcoal along with black rice “noodles.” On the side was a spiral of beet and a piece of beef jerky masquerading as a vanilla bean.

COAL | SQUAB, BLACK FORBIDDEN RICE, BINCHOTAN
SPIRAL | BEET, MUSTARD, CHILI
BEAN | TENDERLOIN, SPICES
Bergstrom “Gargantua” Syrah, Oregon 2014

Coal

Squab

First dessert was a light goat’s milk honey cake with goat cheese (mine was just olive oil) served with a shot of shiso (red), aloe (clear in the middle) and pineapple (yellow at the other end). We were told to suck from the red side like a straw until we got to the pineapple end. It was delicious!

AIR | GOAT CHEESE , MANUKA
SHOT | PINEAPPLE, ALOE, SHISO

Air_Shot

A platter of yummies – cherry blossom, purple sweet potato, miso, chocolate, hazelnut, and etc. Can’t say I was paying that much attention anymore at this point! 😉

ROCK | SWEET POTATO, CHOCOLATE, MISO
Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 2008

Rock

Last but not least – S’mores on a stick served on charred birch so a little smokiness was captured in the s’mores, along with a green apple helium balloon. We were told to kiss the balloon and breath in… so I did and spoke with my helium induced squeaky voice!

NOSTALGIA
CAMPIRE | DARK CHOCOLATE, BIRCH, MARSHMALLOW
BALLOON | HELIUM, GREEN APPLE

Nostalgia

It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!