Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sounds Fishy to me...

To quickly scrabble myself back into credible foodie status, following my initial 'junk food extravaganza' entry, I'm going to get right onto the case with two particularly outstanding frolics of the fishy variety which I had whilst I was in New York, both of which deserve a hearty virtual pat on the back.

Fishy Fare no.1:
Gari Sushi - Columbus & 78th

Let's be frank here - I'm always going to be in my 'happy place' with a seemingly endless stream of sushi passing in front of me, three by three, but this particular sushi den holds a pretty special place in my heart. Following close on the heels of my recent Japan trip, this was an interesting contrast to the raw energy of Tokyo's Tsujiki market, where lightning-fast sushi chefs slam 20 pieces of sushi down in front of you faster than you can say 'goeasyonthewasabiarigatoooogazaimashtaaa' .

Rather, Gari presented spankingly fresh fish with quirky twists and edgy flavour combos, some so eye-opening and pleasure-inducing that it rapidly became a mantra (often eyes closed) of 'oh what treasures can they bring next'? What new and untold delights would be revealed in the next playful threesome?

I'll elaborate:

Toro Roe with pickle - fresh roe with a tangy crunch of pickled Japanese radish
Salmon with a tomato compote - fresh, sweet tomato relish burns with flecked roast garlic, a pala
Fatty Tuna with horseradish sauce - genius. Old-school English horseradish taking the place of the usual spicy Japanese wasabi radish. A tongue teaser - roast lunch or a whole new kettle of fish (sorry)? - my mouth pondered aloud.
Snapper with baby leaf salad, tarro root and pine nuts - nuts, on sushi, I hear you cry?! And well might you question. But a mere morsel of this mysterious nigiri and any worries will be wiped away. A whole plate of palate pleasers in one neat bite.
Lobster sushi - tender, luscious, meaty lobster, sushified.
Mackerel with anchovy paste - let me briefly extol the underrated virtue of the anchovy - 'o tiny fish, how masterfully you boost 'most every dish'. Mackerel flavour is instead brought to the fore, a thousand fold.
Seared Roast Tuna - my companions actually had to ask me if something was wrong after this one. I went into a zombified state of extreme bliss from which I had to be physically shaken. How is it possible that with each sushi they just kept getting better?! No! Stop! I'll pass out!
Seared Cod - delicately teased with a barbeque flavour, the fish flesh becomes a complex web of textures and flavours, exalting in its new grilled persona
Yellowtail with jalapeno - a firecracker of a finish to the evening - an explosion of fresh spiciness lying in wait under the fish.

Stumbling home stupified with more lusty thoughts than I had ever had about sushi, I reflected briefly on the fact that in spite of eating more pieces of raw fish than I have limbs, I still didn't feel horribly and ridiculously full. In fact, I felt quite spritely. Must be all that Omega 3.

Fishy Fare no.2:

East Coast vs. West Coast - Oysters

When I find out that there's yet another field of food into which I've yet to be properly initiated, I get pretty excited. So a night out 'on the Oysters' was a big event. Though I'd previously had a couple of the squirmy suckers, I'd never really experienced an out-and-out tasting test.

They arrived beautifully presented, two East versus two West. Even before the tasting it astounded me the different shell shapes and sizes. There was a whole new education opening up in front of me.

Excuse the pun - they were of course already open...

We shunned the taste veils of lemon, vinegar or tabasco, opting instead for pure, unadulterated oysteriness. We slurped and swallowed, lightly chewed and mused, voting as we went. The great spectrum of flavours quite took me by surprise. Naively, before I had thought an oyster was an oyster was an oyster. Oh how wrong I was!

Drum order of preference...:

1. Eagle Rock (West) - biting, salty, with a convincing kick of lingering sea
2. Yaquina (West) - a bright burst of salt and meat, clean aftertaste
3. Bluepoint (East) - large and sloppy to eat, watery, melon taste with an unpleasant flabby clinging aftertaste
4. Caraquet (East) - drab and tasteless

A clear win by West.

Oyster Tasting 101 - may this be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


Anonymous said...

wow you make food sound sexy. I can almost taste it myself. Its true what you say about the fatty taste of blue point oysters, much better enjoyed with a splash of mignonette. Or lightly poached to firm the sliminess up a bit. We need to experiment with these suckers a bit. Kumomoto is the way to go: small and petite but just right, western, and sexy. Sex in a shell like the the "The Birth of Venus."

Jo Anne said...

12 Malpeque's and glass of proper Champagne. Yum. We are not voting? Oh, I thought we were voting! Help me, here. this is the site that asks "What is YOUR favorite food", isn't it?