Sunday, August 06, 2006

And on the Second Day They Ate Soba

Our little visit with our friends was rapidly turning into a parade of culinary delights.

Margy and I arose in our lovely little guest cottage, plunged briefly into the lake, and then arrived at the main house for a breakfast of omelets (the husband of the couple had picked up the wrong kind of bread, so his wife had to quickly find a substitute for her planned French toast) and fruit. Did I say idyllic? It really was.

Then we cruised around town, took another swim, and -- bammo -- it was time to eat again. Our friends made a great team as they prepared this wonderful lunch spread. Clockwise, starting with the large bowl: Soba noodles, homemade plum wine that was brought up from the basement to be sampled for the first time (light and delicious), shredded shiso leaves and sliced myoga bulb, purple-flecked seaweed strips, wasabi, shitakes, grated mountain yam (which had a slightly gluey yet delightful texture), and dashi-based broth.

We were instructed to mix the other ingredients into the broth and then slurp away at the noodles. It's funny, but we just couldn't nail the slurping part. I certainly gave it a shot, but I guess that after spending most of my life trying to make less noise while eating, it was sort of hard to go back. I did make a few sucking sounds, I'm sure, though Margy was totally silent.

Needless to say, it was a memorable weekend. My only hope is that we're invited back. First, though, I'd really like to treat our Japanese pals to a hearty bowl of risotto alla pescatore, to try, if only in vain, to return the red-carpet treatment that they gave Margy and me.

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