Saturday, August 05, 2006

Lakeside Dining

This was a real treat: Margy and I were hosted by a couple of friends for an idyllic afternoon-evening hang by a clear, peaceful lake. Sometime before dusk, the food began to appear -- a long, leisurely Japanese feast that lasted until well past dark. Whenever we felt the urge between courses, we just jumped in the water.

It really is the perfect arrangement, grilling and eating on a dock by the lake. Our friends told us they're the only ones who do this on a regular basis -- people sunning and swimming on the other docks that dot the little lake's perimeter always head inside as dinnertime approaches.

We started with a bowl of dried daikon and shitakes, followed by a vegetable salad with soy dressing. Margy and I brought a few cucumbers from our garden, and those were served simply, with just a little miso paste for spreading. Then the grill was fired up for a rousing round of shrimp and scallops that had been marinated in a soy-sauce-based mixture. I'm not normally wild about scallops -- cooked ones, anyway; I love them as sushi or sashimi -- but I couldn't stop eating these. They were meaty and charred and a little sweet, and they went down like candy.

Then came rice balls with shiso leaves, which we wrapped in seaweed and tore into. Again, I got ahead of myself and ate three of them. I couldn't stop! And then came the soy-ginger marinated chicken. Wow. It was bliss. The beer and wine flowed along with lots of fun little conversations, and there were plenty of laughs. Before the final course of grilled corn, Margy and I eased ourselves into our gracious hosts' old-fashioned wooden canoe and did a nice lap around the lake, followed -- naturally -- by a quick swim.

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