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

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Vila Vita parc Fine Wines & Food Fair and Fishing with Portuguese fisherman ポルトガルAlgarve でのイベントと伝統漁師と、またまた活けジメ

A world’s leading resort Vila Vita Parc, a 5-star hotel in Algarve I’ve stopped by during my last trip to Portugal, hosted a unique gastronomic event that gathers internationally awarded chefs, “Fine Wines & Food Fair 2015”, for a second time.
I RSVP’d to the invitation jointly with Masato Nishihara, a head chef of Umu for 3 years, moreover an irreplaceable comrade of mine who I’d been cooking side by side since the apprentice era at Kitcho in our 20s. He usually stays back and be the backbone to Umu in my absence, thus this was a rare opportunity for a trip together.
During my visit in the last winter, I toured the port of Sagres guided by a local fishmonger Pedro, and discovered few local fish yet I must admit the disappointment for a hiatus in fishing season due to the Christmas holiday. This time around, I planned our trip with a day to spare, allowing us to create again a setting to learn from traditional thread fishermen. I recognise their interest towards Ikejime as a promising reliability. Most fish at Umu comes in from Cornwall, but Portuguese fish recently added to our selection, mainly warm current varietals, is showing remarkable stability in quality.
Arrived in the afternoon 2 days prior to the event, and immediately began prepping in the kitchen right after we checked-in. We were invited to a wine-pairing dinner in the evening, at hotel’s 2 michelin-starred restaurant, held as a part of the culinary event and hosted by a 3 starred guest chef, Gert De Mangeleer. All the plates, mainly vegetable oriented, simply had nothing to fault. 
The dinner commenced at 7.00pm, nonetheless, the clock was ticking to 11.00pm by we reached a dessert course. We rushed out without having a cup of coffee, to get ready in time to be picked up by Pedro at midnight. He was right on schedule and we arrived at Segres by 1.00am. Stuffed with all the courses and glasses of wine, I felt a little skeptical to go on board out to the sea. Yet I gulped down motion sickness pills, snuggled into a corner of a tiny interior and took a much-needed nap for 2 hours during a journey to the fishing point.
Having said that, the open sea that surrounds the port of Segres receives swelling waves, and I couldn’t pull myself together due to dizziness even when we arrived at the point. It was a long fight with seasick for me, while roughly 6,000 long-line hooks were being thrown in. Masato seemed to be completely knocked down, being nowhere to be found.
Red rockfish was hauled in from the dark deep sea, one by one as the lines were tagged. It was an unique scenery, and also a beautiful one; shining red body of the fish appearing from 600 meters below the sea level. Within the red bunch were a few black-silver objects, Stone bass. This highly priced fish within European markets is also one of my favourites, and this fishing trip served to create a possible breakthrough solution to have it shipped to London, pre-treated with Ikejime. Despite being in the condition that even hard to stand, perceptive crews mastered the technique in no time.
While being thrown back to the floor again during the return trip, an inviting aroma tickled my nose out of blue. Regardless to my almost non-existing appetite, Pedro brought a pot brimming over with a Portuguese style fishermen’s stew. A stocked that filled with the smell of the sea, and potatoes soaked up the sea essence, and more than anything, fresh seafood that still vividly stuck in my mind; I cleaned the pot with sickness totally out of the window, yet I was soon in an immobile state, again. 
Masato appeared from nowhere as we arrived at the port after being down for 16 hours. Being a beginner at the sea, the trip must have become a precious experience for him… right?  
In addition to the ship we went on board which targets relatively deep fishing points, Pedro had spoken to a crew of a boat that does thread fishing at rather shallow points and arranged to keep live sea bass and red sea bream. According to Pedro, young boatmen showed profound interests toward Ikejime, and were looking for an opportunity to see it first hand.  Whipped my body, still in agony even back on the land, and demonstrated Ikejime in the corner of the port. I am delighted every time I see many fishermen gathering and listening with such eagerness. They were staggered by a quick transformation in colour of the sea bream, from blight red to silver-ish hue. The technique is, in fact, a simple process if the logic behind is fathomed, and thanks to Pedro’s professional translation, I could work feeling extra-rewarding with their speedy comprehension.
Next day was finally the day of the event. This trip was entirely blessed with weather and the day did not see one cloud in the sky. My condition was back to perfect, and began preparing from early morning. Each and every staff of the hotel was collaborative and I was allowed to work in an open environment. Special thanks goes to Juliana, a mediator since the receipt of the invitation, whose ample generosity was apparent in her responses, liaised and met everyone’s need precisely and in timely manner, moreover with kindness. Her dependability, not only as a manager but also as a person, let me work freely.
Bonito supplied by Pedro, in quantity that sufficient for serving 300 guests, was more than adequate in its freshness. Smoking them with abundant charcoal and straw had a rustic bliss. To that rusticity, Masato added delicate spices and seasoning of Japanese cuisine, many guests kindly left us with compliments. Only unfortunate thing was a decoration Masato and I created, out of a fallen tree and straw we found on the way back from fishing trip, could not stand out under the dimmed light. All the same, I enjoyed the frenetic, battle-like chaos with an army of fellows.


I send my gratitude to the hotel for the invitation, the kind-hearted staff, and the associated chefs. Last but not least, I send my biggest thanks to Pedro who helped to discover fishermen with passion for Ikejime and spent one whole day with us between his hectic schedules, moreover served the delicious and bewitching fishermen’s pot.


昨年の冬に遊びに行ったポルトガルのAlgarveにある五つ星リーディングリゾートホテルVila Vita Park からの招待で ミシュランの星付きレストランのシェフが一同に集まる今年が二回目のイベント、 Fine Wines & Food Fair 2015”に行ってきました。
2日前の午後にチェックインし、すぐに厨房でイベントに使う食材の仕込みをしました。夜はホテル内にある2つ星のレストラン“Ocean restaurant”で今回のイベントの一環であるベルギーからの三ツ星招待シェフGert De Mangeleerによるワインペアリングディナーにも招待してもらいました。料理は野菜がメインで非の打ちどころのない素晴らしいものでした。
7時から始まったディナーもデザートを食べるころになると 11時を回ってしまい、Pedroが迎えに来る0時に間に合わなくなるのでコーヒーも飲まず、準備に行きました。時間通り0時にピックアップしてもらい、Sagresに着いたのは夜中の1時でした。フルコースで腹いっぱい、ワインも回ったままの乗船は非常に気が引けましたが、酔い止めの薬をいっぱいのみ、狭い船内でかろうじて仮眠をしました。漁場まではおよそ2時間の行程です。
はえ縄を回収していると沖カサゴが面白いように上がってきました。600メートルの深い海から上ってくる赤色の魚体はとてもきれいでした。その赤い魚の中に大きな黒銀色の魚、Stone Bass(イシナギ)が時々混じってきます。ヨーロッパでもとても高級な魚ですが私の大好きな魚の一つで、今回漁に同行した目的はこの魚を何とか活けジメにしてロンドンに送ってもらえないかということでした。立っているだけでも大変な状況でしたが船のクルー達は物わかりが早く、すぐにマスターしてくれました。




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