Last weekend was our Japanese pop-up in Temple Bar Gallery & Studios. It went very well thanks to all our wonderful collaborators and helpers.
Thirteen courses of beautiful food in a venue without a kitchen is no mean feat. Junko and I worked solidly for two days beforehand on prep for the Saturday night; Pete and Kevin made four kilos of ramen on the Friday for Saturday brunch; the amazing ladies of Hunt & Gather had the room looking amazing, Orlaith sourced us some essential bits and pieces such as the bowls, cups and plates as well as organised the tables and made sure everything ran smoothly on the night; Yann was there brewing delicious Japanese teas; Rincy and Susie were on hand to take photographs. For us is was an incredibly intense event. It was one of those projects where the enormity of the challenge doesn't really hit you until you're right in the middle of it. We all certainly learned a lot.
In this project we able to try a lot of interesting things which will be incorporated in future pop-ups. Kevin and Pete had fun with the brunch, though we all agree that as tasty as ramen is, making and keeping large quantities of the stuff is a challenge all by itself. Unfortunately the weather worked against us, especially for Sunday's brunch which was a pity because Sunday's food was a lot of fun and really tasty. Fear not though, a similar menu on the cards for another future event.
The atmosphere at the supper was great. Whoever thought a concrete space could be so cosy. The H&G girls opted for a bare, wabi-sabi aesthetic leaving the heavy wooden tables and the candle-light to warm the room and took zen gardens as inspiration for their hanging garden centre piece. I called the event 'Manatsu', which means 'midsummer' but the weather felt a bit more mid-October as guests filtered in to the gallery.
It was easy to forget the weather though as one came in to the beautiful recital by musicans Philip Horan and Junshi Murakami. We were incredibly pleased to have them with us for the evening. If you have an opportunity to hear their performances around Dublin definitely do not pass it up!
As for the food, we were very proud to present the fantastic ingredients from our
favourite suppliers in this way. It's difficult to pick favourites but we have to always praise Goatsbridge trout which arrived to us glossy and fresh and smelling of nothing. This we cured in kombu, a technique that originates from Junko's hometown of Kyoto, where fresh fish from the sea was slightly beyond their reach so the fish would be cured to transport it to the city through the mountains. This we paired with a lime jelly made with Agar or kanten as it's known in Japan. Originally I tried a vietnamese corriander jelly but the flavour wasn't quite what was needed so at the last moment we opted for the lime. Which to me was a pity because lime is a compromise already, standing in for the ubiquitous Japanese fruit Yuzu which is extremely tricky to get on this side of the world but is utterly fantastic. If we were to do this again I'd hope to find a more local alternative. It looked great on Orlaith's invisible plates though (and incidentely slightly heartbreaking to plate up in our dim corner)!
We were also very happy with our smoked eringi mushrooms, straight from Ballyhoura
Mountain Mushrooms looking gorgeous, which were then smoked in hay and paired with a fresh pesto made with Irish-grown shiso. Another thing that was striking and unexpected was the tomato jelly. First of the season tomatoes chopped and strained for the juice which was then mixed
with kanten and a little sugar to and let set was amazing. It's unusal here in Dublin to play up the sweetness of a tomato to the point where it's a dessert. However, if there was ever a time to do it, it's now as the sweet new tomatoes arrive. The taste was fantastic. It was super refreshing and balanced by the sourness of the gooseberry sauce. This got us thinking about fabulous tomatoes and what we could do with them. If you too are a lover of tomatoes, check out our News of the Curd July supper but for now we will leave you this recipe to try:
Tomato Jelly (Japanese Style)
- 400ml of tomato juice from raw, fresh tomatoes.
- 1 tsp of agar-agar powder (or you can experiment with carragheen if you're feeling lucky, you won't get that sliceable texture though).
- 2 tsp of honey or to taste.
Chop tomatoes finely and strain through fine mesh such as a muslin cloth or clean tea towel to get near transparent rose-coloured liquid. You can squeeze it a bit but don't be too enthusiastic because you don't want the pulp to get through. Meanwhile, disolve your agar-agar in a little hot water and add honey. Finally combine both liquids and pour into a moulds of your choosing. Leave cool and then leave to set in fridge.
In all it was a fun event. The gallery was a great space to have and it was great to work with some of our favourite people again. Look out for more big events from us towards the end of the summer!
Full gallery available to view on our Facebook page.