Summer holidays give wonderful occasions for unusual experiences. During our traveling time we can taste food that we have never eaten before. In Japan, new experiences are highly valued and it is even said among people that if you taste a new raw material, you will prolong your life by seven years. Maybe seven months or seven days. The important message is that things not yet known and now experienced add to the richness of the gifts of life and are worth daring. At least on vacation!
The Japanese always think about their loved ones when traveling and bring for each and every one presents from their trip, often it is a box with sweets or pickeled vegetables, simply with something that is typical for the places far beyond the horizon. What will I bring for you Miyabi guests? It will be two holiday sushi rolls – our chefs will prepare them for you in September – and stories about how Japanese cuisine is handled by chefs in cultures other than Japanese. Specifically in Spain.
I named the first prezenting holiday sushi roll Foaming Surf. It is symbolic, reminding of the cliffs that we had to avoid when sailing toward the shores of northern Spain. Fascinated by the very thing that my husband and I have crossed safely a portion of the Atlantic ocean on our old ship, we settled in the first city and did not want to sail further. The city is called La Coruna and is beautiful! Of course, I immediately looked on the Internet trying to found out how many Japanese restaurants are here and what goodies they prepare. But the net information was insufficient, so we picked a restaurant that seemed the most creative and went there. The name of the restaurant was Chirashizushi and I imagined that this unusual type of sushi would dominate their menu. Unfortunately this was not the case at all. We found only one Chirashizushi and it was included among the maki and maybe it was a maki, it was just called Chirashi. The rolls were categorized as Tokoshu, and I didn’t know what they meant by that title. They probably made a wrong spelling and it was tokushu, meaing special. Maki were definitely special. Even by names – Takashi, Kotonaru, Watashi, Ryosuke, YinYang or Nyuzai. Besides sushi they also had yakisoba, katsudon, tonkotsu ramen, karei rice, Thai soup, and something called Arroz Estilo Vietnamita. I was surprised that the menu started with a list of 24 types of wine and only then came food. Then beer, sake (just one type) and other drinks to conclude. The whole list of items was only in Spanish and, moreover, only briefly in internet form. We had to picture the menu from the code on the table with a smartphone and decipher it. We were lucky having our phone with us, we always carry it. I dearly remembered Miyabi, where we have for our guests not only a QR code, but also a carefully constructed paper menu and even a picture booklet. And of course our menu is in English too.
To be able to order something, we chose the sushi roll that the customers at the next table had. We were told that the name of the maki was Yuki no Kaze. Maybe because it was with a white fish. I believe I was probably the only who knew the meaning of the word. Snow wind. The roll reminded me more of a rough sea, which I looked at every day with ever new amazement. Now from the shores. In my mind, I rebuked the restaurant for not respecting the seasons, rule which is so important in Japanese gastronomy, and I named the roll according to my taste: Foaming Surf. The second roll we chose from their twenty-two original maki was called Natsumi. It wasn’t written in kanji, so I did not know what they meant, but I thought that „natsu“ is standing for summer, and because my summer adventure at sea was over, this roll won among others. “Mi” may mean to watch. Watching and enjoying – yes, I wanted to look at the Spanish summer with all my senses.
In the end, it didn’t matter that we didn’t know well what we were ordering. We were looking forward to the new experience and the restaurant did not disappoint us. They served each dish on a different ceramic plate or bowl, probably made by a local contemporary potter. Distinctive colors, interesting shapes! I took pictures of everything what came on our table. Just like the Japanese take pictures to keep a record of everything. The Natsumi roll was tuna roll. The tuna was inside as well as outside on each flattened piece of maki and was very dark, like Spaniards‘ bodies on the spanish beaches. Here, the important Japanese rule was honored excellently. The tuna was greased with olive oil, just the right way. Very tasty! As we were in good mood, we added a sushi roll that was from salmon to have triple enjoyment – white, red and orange. We asked our waitress for recommendation. She spoke a little English. Good choice. Inside was avocado, which probably figured in all the rolls as a component, then Philadelphia cheese, and a huge pile of flavored light green algae on top. The roll was called Takumi. I imagined that the one who likes such a roll must be a little takumashii, means strong and determined. I liked the roll, but that’s because I’m a true lover of algae of all kinds and in all forms.
What intrigued us was that the rolls did not come with wasabi. It occurred to me that the beige powder in the ceramic bowl would be wasabi, and I finally realized why they had not only soy sauce but also water container on the table. Everyone had to mix their wasabi themselves. Or add the powder straight to the soy. Or sprinkle sushi rolls? We tried a little of that powder, but the wasabi tasted like mere crushed horseradish. Yes I know, ordinary wasabi contains a large amount of horseradish, but you can definitely get powder, which tastes like wasabi. And it is at least a little greenish. Here again I remembered my Miyabi and our quality wasabi. Gari, means flavoured ginger, so popular with our guests in Miyabi, did not take place in the Chirashizushi restaurant.
But we were excited tasting the food even without good wasabi and gari. I especially liked the Foaming Surf, where the invisible force blew up the katsuo shavings exposing the white color of the lightly flamed Pescado Blanco fish, generously embracing this roll that was almost twice the size of an ordinary uramaki. Inside were pieces of ebi fry, tuna, shrimp and crab strips and the necessary avocados. The roll was richly topped with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise and sprinkled with chives. And of course those katsuobushi. If you like our Sunset Boulevard roll in Miyabi, you will enjoy this Spanish roll even more.
Finally we had dessert. There were no sweets on the menu list or we simply did not find them. Waitress told us they had matcha ice cream. We ordered it immediately willing to compare it with our Miyabi matcha ice. Theirs was a good one and we got two big scoops on a bamboo leaf, but ours is more delicate and elaborate. It’s our perennial! Motherly love is a selfish love. Besides ice cream we could choose between lemon cake or mochi. I immediately longed for fresh mochi daifuku with shiroan, as we make it in Miyabi, and I ordered this sweetness, even though our stomachs were full. They assured me that their mochi are house made. To our surprise, what we got was not mochi wagashi but mochi ice. It came in three colors with different fillings and the balls were placed on some kind of soy powder. Each mochi ice had a tall cap of whipped cream pierced with a tall skewer that had no function, except that it was all bombastic. And … it cost like half a whole rich sushi roll. But it was worth the experience. The cheapest of all was espresso. And it was the easiest to order. The waitress knew immediately what I wanted.
We left satisfied, very satisfied, and decided not to go on our boat right away, but to take a walk around the old town. In the oldest church from the 12th century, the beautiful Igrexa de Santiago, a Catholic priest just welcomed a group of festively dressed people who had gathered to baptize a chubby baby girl dressed in long white lace dress, and we could not take our eyes off from this gathering. I was fascinated by Spanish ladies, both young and old. They know how to dress up! One old madam wore fancy red shoes matched to her long redish summer coat, and yet another wore cyan-blue shoes in the same color as was her belt over light brown dress. The parade of colors and patterns was charming. I admired the women how beautiful they walked in their high heels. Not like young Japanese girls in Harajuku. Somehow I remembered them at that moment. Me and my husband, we wore flat shoes, moreover sandals and were not properly dressed for a special service which was about to start, but we wanted so much to be witnesses of the baptism that we sat quietly on the last pew and, although we didn’t understand anything, we were with them the whole ceremony. We rised up and sat down as everyone rised up and sat down. Hope they weren’t mad at us for being there. Thanks to that little girl being baptized, our souls were wrapped in grace. Through it we were not so foreign strangers any more. We felt rich. We were rich.
And I wish you the same. To make you feel richer with each new experience. Being baptized to love!