********** 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 ------------

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

First hanting in Cornwall 初めての狩猟

Game is often featured in the menu at the restaurant during the months between Autumn and Winter, the ingredient I adore and caught using Western tradition. Most come from huntsmen in Cornwall, however depending on the type of game, come occasionally from Northern Britain or European countries nearby.
Grasping the last chance before British’s bird hunting season closes at the end of January, Geoff, one of the supervising personnel over fishermen and huntsmen of Cornwall, generously took me along to hunting. Between his busy days as a president of family-owned company mainly dealing fish and game, also a reliable supplier of Umu, Geoff travels, sometimes miles and miles, to enjoy hunting every Monday.
Left his St. Ives home in the morning and headed to hunting spot nearby Dartmoor National Park, where we were joined by his hunting crew.  I, being totally unaware of manner or method of hunting, was surprised by the size of the pack and number of hunting dogs that they brought along.
After a short briefing, we split into groups of beaters and shooters, and beaters would hustle game out of woods located between meadows, moving into the woods from each boarder. Shooters would wait patiently for an alarmed bird to fly out with a shotgun in their hands, and at a moment of opportunity, aim and shoot.
It was after we had passed through several woods, Geoff offered me to join the shooters. In spite of my love for fishing and number of experience catching various fish, I had never killed game with my own hands before and I, quite naturally, felt uneasy stepping into new field. Nonetheless, new experience is always a blessing and I decided to take up the challenge.
I fired a shot into the air, my very first shot, to try and learn the correct posture as well as how to handle a gun. A female pheasant flew up towards my direction being chased by the hunting dog, instantly I aimed (at least I tried) then I fired my second shot.  Without a hassle, the pheasant continued to fly away, with the dog also still running after the bird. Geoff said the shot I fired had grazed its back, to which I laughed assuming he joked out of kindness not to disappoint me, but next moment the hunting dog came back with a pheasant in its mouth. As I had never imagined I could make a hit on my first trial, I was both shocked and overwhelmed.
Along the while, Geoff educated me on the method of traditional British hunting, the state of Royal family-owned forests, and a system that can preserve the nature and the hunting culture to coexist with it. He, by including humors here and there, simplified his words for me to understand better.

In the end, we caught several pheasants, pigeons, woodcocks/beccases and snipes. The catch was unexpected success despite our assumption based on the closing of season and the unpleasant weather.

After returning to St. Ives, I was invited to join a birthday party hosted by Naomi, Geoff’s daughter who also sends us fish on daily basis to Umu, for her husband at her home. Geoff looked blessed surrounded by members of heartwarming family and relatives enjoying Naomi’s delicious homemade food, and I had such blessed experience. 



朝、St.Ives の彼の自宅から出発Dartmoor National parkのそばの狩猟場所に到着し、彼の狩猟仲間と合流しました。猟の仕方など何も聞いていなかったので人数の多さと連れてきている猟犬の数に驚きました。




最終的には多くのキジ(pheasant)、山鳩(pigeon)、ヤマシギ(Woodcock, Beccase)、シギ(Snipe)が獲れました。シーズン最後で天気も非常に悪かったので皆あまり期待していなかった割には大収穫でした。



Sunday, 2 February 2014

Fish Fish Fish! 北大西洋の魚たち

Almost 2 years have passed since I began dealing personally and directly with domestic fishermen, and over the course, we have built a great relationship to an extent that, time to time, they would send me rare fish that are accidently caught to give me enchanting surprises.

Finding a joy in encountering new delicious fish, having a laugh at funny looking ones, and being amazed by the fish’s completely unfamiliar taste despite its similarity in looks to those found in the Pacific Ocean near Japan; these occasional gifts brings amusements and excitements to me and the team between our hectic days at work. Moreover, I feel most delighted that our discoveries of new fish and its characters enable us to bring better experience to guests.

On the other hand, those fish much alike to or of the family of gadid that are often seen on fishing boats, though diverse preparations have been tried, are yet to be perfected for us to present to the guests. One by one, I wish to overcome this new challenge.
I am always thankful for the blessings of the sea and the fishermen who courageously continue to challenge unpredictable nature of the sea.