********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************

------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Autumn in Cornwall 初秋のCornwallへ

There are not many feelings like driving through the countryside of Cornwall already full of ambience in autumn. Accompanied by beautiful weather, it was so invigorating that I could feel all my stress lifted off my shoulder. Moreover, I felt refreshed being welcomed by lovely smiles of Dylan and Mutsuko, even though it was already past sunset when I arrived at their home. They took me to a gastro pub nearby, which was situated in a small seaside village surrounded by narrow roads where cars can barely pass each other. I was astonished by its prosperity despite its location and also their sophisticated and high quality foods were divine surprise. I was deeply intrigued by the conversation we had about recent fishing situation and Celtic ethnicity over the dinner.  

Woke up at 4am next morning and went fishing on a boat belong to Mr Anthony Hosking, a Dylan’s cousin, carrying with me Mutsuko’s handmade rice balls with home-made pickled plum filling. The catch was rather disappointing than what we had hoped for, due difficulty caused by gill nets being tangled with algae. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see fish caught in the 3 types of nets, very rich in variety. On the way back, I asked Anthony for his impression on the outcome of the particular catch in comparison to those on usual days, and he summed up to one word: “Rubbish!” Considering the hours and energy he puts in and also the expense of fuel, it was simply not good enough for him. 

After we got back on the land, I watched other ships being unloaded at Dylan’s house before made my way to a hotel. I was a little reluctant to leave, been having such delightful time. Next morning, I headed to St. Ives to collect the ceramics from Leach pottery, which Midori had had them kiln-baked before she went back to Japan for her own exhibition. Mr & Mrs Akira Yagi, a ceramist from Kyoto, were coincidently visiting as well, and I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to hear recent news of fellow chefs back in Kyoto. The finished ceramics made me reflect on not having to spend more time to perfect them, which made my tasks and targets in the future clearer.

Dylan and Mutsuko who arranged accommodation and introduced me to fishermen, Anthony and his crew Darren who kindly and patiently took very inexperienced person like me on the boat with them, Ms Midori who accepted my unreasonable request and actually completing them in limited time, and also a grandpa who entertained me at motorway service area with folktale of Celtic nations: this trip like any other, I cannot end without thanking all the people who helped making it very special.




翌朝は4時起きでDylanのいとこ、Anthonyさんのボート、“Lucy Marianna”でMutsukoさんの心のこもった自家製梅干し入りのおむすびを携え、漁に出かけました。大潮後で藻が刺し網に絡みつき、思うような漁には恵まれなかったものの、多種多様な魚が3種類の網にかかってきて私は大興奮でした。帰りにAnthony に“今日の漁はいつもと比べると?”ときくと“Rubbish!“のひとこと。丸一日の労働と高価な燃料代などを考えると貧果であったようです。




Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Organic Vegetable farmer Namayasai

As autumn is deepening rapidly, I received a call informing me that soon it’ll be time for a break between cultivation of vegetables due to frosting on a field over the winter. Therefore I decided to go visit Robin and Ikuko’s Namayasai LLP, a fully organic farm in Lewis, with some of Umu’s kitchen staff between the hectic schedules. 
Even though distance wise its location is not far from London, considering the lack of motorway, the trip summed up to 2 and a half hour drive. Every one, while letting me - the executive chef - drive all the way, had a peaceful nap in the car… 
This was my second visit to the farm, but comparing to 2 years ago, the variety of vegetables has become richer, and moreover the consistency in keeping the completely organic environment in which the vegetables are cultivated was truly admirable. 
It’ll be shame not to be able to receive their vegetables as we enter the winter, however that’s the real accordance to nature, and that’s why we are given the opportunity to enthusiastically long for the harvest time that will be brought together with blooming in spring. 

秋も深まる中、そろそろ畑にも霜が下りて野菜がなくなるという知らせを受けてぜひその前にと、いつもきれいな野菜を配達してくださるLewisにある完全無農薬栽培の農家、RobinさんとIkukoさんのNamaYasai LLPに忙しい合間を縫って調理場のスタッフ達と行って来ました。