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  • Archive | February, 2008

    Kampachi kona blue…superb

    kampachi kona blue sushi and sashimi

    This was a a special treat brought to us by the lovely people at Kona Blue, a sustainable, open-ocean fish farm that raises Kampachi, a species of fish native to Hawaii. We are absolutely not fish eaters, mostly because I always botch it and turn it into a disgusting mess. So when a Kona Blue rep contacted me via my blog and offered to send me a sample of Kampachi I almost turned her down. But then I visited their website and read that it’s a sushi-grade fish, similar to yellowtail and since I never, ever, get offered free stuff, much less sushi-grade fish…well obviously I couldn’t say yes quick enough.

    I and the rest of my family are totally apathetic about fish. However, we are crazy in love with good sushi and sashimi…the key word is good…defined as great, fabulous, life altering sushi with perfectly seasoned rice, cooked to its toothsome best, fresh fish (of course), and minimal other toppings. Sashimi is always either fantastically good or awful…in my mind there is just no in-between. That said, it is difficult to get good sushi in Madison. There is only one good sushi place (Sushi Muramoto) and it is expensive, naturally…because bringing fresh fish to the Midwest is a costly enterprise.

    kampachi kona blue sushi and sashimi

    The kampachi arrived 2 days after it was harvested, in a large box securely wrapped and surrounded by ice packs. Unwrapping it brought an uncanny smell of brine and ocean into my kitchen. I admit I kept sticking my head in the box just to sniff the pacific…oh, it was divine and brought back memories of strolling through the fog on North Beach at Point Reyes. The “sample” was a whole fish filleted into two pieces and it weighed in over 2 pounds.

    The rest was easy. I trimmed it up and discarded the area around the pin bones. I sliced up a round of sashimi and it disappeared down our gullets to a soundtrack of contented sighs and smacking lips. I sliced up more, and it was a repeat. I think in total we did three plates of sashimi and then I rolled up a few sushi rolls, trying my hand at an in-side out configuration that was deliciously successful. The kampachi has a high fat content that gives it a rich, buttery mouth-feel. It’s flavor is delicate, briny, and clean…pure fishy excellence.

    Will I order Kampachi? I might…it is an excellent product but it’s expensive. The actual cost of my sample would have been $74…$34 for the fish and $40 for the shipping. Considering a sushi dinner for GH and I usually costs at least $150 with martinis and service I guess it’s an option. But for me, I love sitting at the sushi bar, ordering omakase, chatting with the chefs as the prepare our meal. When I’m the chef it’s not quite as much fun. But it would be the perfect thing to take to a holiday party, a platter of sushi and sashimi…that’s a party I want to go to.

    Kona Blue Sustainable delicous fish
    Sushi Monsters tips on making those rolls
    Sushi Links recipes for sushi rolls
    The Zen of Fish, Trevor Corson’s book on sushi

    What  geeks eat...

    Some Scotland Photos






    Above the Kiln

    Yeah, but...still


    $50k Whisky

    A Call for Whisky Help: North American Version

    It’s once again the time to see if there’s anyone out there who wishes to be part of this book that I’m writing.

    If you or anyone you know work in the whisk(e)y industry in the areas of North America listed below, and you would like to have your voice heard in a book that is to be published by St. Martin’s Press, feel free to contact me at kate AT accidentalhedonist DOT com.

    The areas I am looking at include:

    • Western Pennsylvania
    • Kentucky
    • Tennessee
    • Nova Scotia
    • Ontario

    I’ll listen to anyone involved in the industry. For example, in Ireland an Scotland I interviewed company presidents, tour guides, master distillers, PR folks, shop owners, and innkeepers. I’ll talk to anyone if I feel that they can add to the book.

    A Full Scottish Breakfast

    Lordy, lordy, lordy, do I love breakfast here on the Isles. Pictured above is a full Scottish Breakfast consisting of (starting at the noon position and going clockwise):

    • A fried egg
    • Sauteed Mushrooms
    • Black Pudding the size of a hockey puck
    • Lorne Sausage, a sausage prepared in a loaf pan. This one is a beef sausage.
    • 1 Slice of Bacon (aka “Rasher”).
    • Fried Tomato
    • Potato Scone, which is quite unlike what I was expecting a scone to look like (having been to a few too many coffee shops in the States).

    Not seen, the bemused hostess of the house we were at when I asked if I could take a picture of her food.

    We could use a few more breakfasts like this back home.

    An English to Scottish Dictionary entry: Pheasant

    Pronunciation: \ˈfe-zənt\
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural pheasant or pheasants

    1 : any of numerous large often long-tailed and brightly colored Old World gallinaceous birds (Phasianus and related genera of the family Phasianidae) including many raised as ornamental or game birds.

    2 : A game bird served at many higher end restaurants in dishes such as Supreme of pheasant and Pheasant under glass.

    3 : An extremely stupid bird

    4 : Road Kill

    * * * * * * * *

    In driving around the Highlands and in the Speyside area, it was remarkable just how many pheasant we had seen flying about. Even more remarkable was how many we saw that hadtheir lives ended on the road.

    In talking with the owner of the hotel where we are currently located, he mentioned that come hunting season, most people can’t give away the game birds, as there are so many. He has heard of many local hotels here in Speyside purchasing a handful of birds for as little as one pound. To put that in context, imagine buying a whole chicken for two dollars, and you’ll get a good idea on just how many of them are around this area.

    Address to a Haggis

    by Robert Burns

    Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
    Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
    Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
    Painch, tripe, or thairm:
    Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
    As lang’s my airm.

    The groaning trencher there ye fill,
    Your hurdies like a distant hill,
    Your pin wad help to mend a mill
    In time o need,
    While thro your pores the dews distil
    Like amber bead.

    His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
    An cut you up wi ready slicht,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
    Like onie ditch;
    And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
    Warm-reekin, rich!

    Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
    Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
    Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
    Are bent like drums;
    Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
    ‘Bethankit’ hums.

    Is there that ower his French ragout,
    Or olio that wad staw a sow,
    Or fricassee wad mak her spew
    Wi perfect sconner,
    Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu view
    On sic a dinner?

    Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
    As feckless as a wither’d rash,
    His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
    His nieve a nit:
    Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
    Oh how unfit!

    But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
    The trembling earth resounds his tread,
    Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
    He’ll make it whissle;
    An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
    Like taps o thrissle.

    Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
    And dish them out their bill o fare,
    Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
    That jaups in luggies:
    But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
    Gie her a Haggis!

    New Poll – Would you eat Haggis?

    Today’s Poll is an easy one, and one that I think I could probably guess the percentage answer – Would you eat Haggis? (real haggis, not vegetarian).

    The reason I ask this is due to a conversation I’ve had with the owner of the hotel we’re currently staying at here in Speyside. It seems that he has, on numerous occasions, had to convince people that haggis is good. Even then many of them were not compelled by his arguments.

    At the risk of biasing this for-fun-only and completely-unscientific survey, I find this a fair bit surprising. Travel is the perfect time to try things that are unfamiliar or unavailable in your regular life. For example, last night I was finally able to have sticky toffee pudding. Of course it wasn’t made in a sheep’s stomach, so it’s not a fair comparison.

    Feel free to vote in the left column, and leave any comment in this post.