Again this year, we got an osechi box 御節重箱 from. In addition to the box, we also got hand-cut “Juwari-soba” 手打ち十割そば for “Toshikoshi soba” or “End-of-the-year soba” 年越し蕎麦 and even a desert. The desert was a Japanese style black bean steamed bread with “maccha” green tea 抹茶 and white sweet bean paste (I may be wrong just a guess, see the last picture). This was how unwrapping and unboxing went on new year’s eve.
The menu is in both Japanese and English. The soba and steamed bread are not listed on the menu.
The upper box looked like this (picture below). All the “good luck” new year foods and more. Miso marinated kazunoko 数の子の味噌漬け, and baby mackerel nanban 豆鯵南蛮漬け were among some of the new items this year. I have never tasted miso-marinated kazunoko. It had a nice sweet nutty flavor. This one also had a really nice crunchy texture.
This was the lower box (picture below). Among the simmered dishes simmered conch/whelk バイ貝の柔らか煮 was new and very good. This year’s daikon namasu 大根なます included sweet dried persimmon. This combination is also a first for me and the sweetness and soft texture of the persimmon created a good contrast. (I made a more traditional daikon namasu, myself, this year).
The plate below shows the first serving of the new year’s eve feast. Everything was good as we sipped cold sake. The monk fish liver terrine あん肝豆腐 (front row second from the left) was our favorite as before. But everything on the plate was a treat.
And we went back for seconds. The version of matsukaze-yaki 松風焼き (square chicken loaf) was sherry flavored. Indeed, we could taste the sherry and it was a pleasing variation. This year, we ourselves tried a variation on matsukaze-yaki including one with dried fig and Gorgonzola cheese (subject for future post). The daikon namasu with dried persimmon 干し柿 is shown on the right in the back), we really liked it
Although I was thinking about serving the soba as an ending dish or “shime” 〆 we had to pass on it because we were quite full. (We never seem to be able to eat soba on new year’s eve for the same reason every year–too full).
On the second day of the new year, we had the soba. We knew Chef Kitayama 北山料理長 was into making hand-cut “Juwari” soba from 100% buckwheat flour without any binders or “tsunagi” つなぎ such as wheat flour or mountain yam. “Juwari soba” is indeed the pinnacle of soba making prowess that only a real soba master can accomplish. His soba was just such an accomplishment. It was slightly thicker than usual soba, but had a more delicate texture with subtle soba flavor. I made warm soba with cooked vegetables or shippoku soba しっぽくそば but in the haste of enjoying it before the soba got soggy, I completely forgot to take a picture. The soba was fantastic. But I did take a picture of his steamed bread or “mushi pan” 蒸しパン which we had as a dessert with our short-drawn espresso (green beans are from, home roasted to full city roast).
This was a perfect combination. Although I am sure green tea instead of espresso could also have been an excellent accompaniment, the contrast of the coffee really accentuated the flavor of green tea in the bread. This was indeed an elegant desert.