Monday, December 22, 2008

Miyajima: Thoughtful dining

Miyajima is an island off Hiroshima and is well known for its incredible autumn colours in November. This means hordes of tourists in the daytime who come to take in the amazing colours of red, orange and yellow splashed across the palette of this beautiful island.

We were fortunate enough to stay the night at Iwaso, the oldest and most highly regarded ryokan on the island - which meant that we were able to experience this picturesque place in all its tranquility when night fell. It also meant that we were treated to the most incredible kaiseki dinner at the ryokan in our own private dining room.

This meal was simply stunning and a perfect example of what a great kaiseki meal means - an art that balances the tastes, textures, colours and appearances of food using only fresh seasonal ingredients to reflect the identity of the locality which it is served.

The presentation of each of the 14 or so courses made you feel like you were unwrapping a present at each course, culminating in the highlight of the meal which was an individual pot of mushroom flavoured rice that was left to boil at the table at the beginning of your meal. This was perfectly timed to be perfectly cooked when you reached the end of your courses.

Dining the kaiseki way really awakens you to an appreciation of ingredients and the thought that the chef puts into ensuring that the diner enjoys a meal that satisfies all your senses... and it proves without a doubt that at the end of the day - it really is the thought that counts.


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