First, I want to extend my apologies to anyone who was looking for my post from Loving Food and Life in their inbox this last Monday. I unexpectedly did not have Internet access that was strong enough to handle posting to my site. I decided to chill out about it. Unexpected things happen. I was on a magnificent island at the time. What else was I to do?
I have at least 20 tales to tell you about the last month of my life. I have been making some leaps. I have been having a blast. I have been on vacation. I have been laughing or crying tears of joy depending on the moment. I have been appreciating these human-ly emotions that I have been feeling.
This post is about exhibiting one of the finest meals of my life (so far). What lands it on the list of the finest? For one, I decided to take a leap and go explore the city of Boston by myself. This meal was a magical benefit of my decision to take this trip. There was no way that I could return to Boston (my 2nd visit there) without a meal at o ya. To make it even more special, my friend and past colleague from the days of working at the Magnolia Grill, Maggie Warren now lives in Boston and works as a server at o ya. She wanted to wait on me, and I was thrilled to have her share a dining experience with me.
It might be redundant for me to say this, but I dig deep into the beauty of a meal. By the time I left o ya, my eyes were filled with tears of joy. I was full of gratitude to all of the people who participated in running this restaurant. Each one contributed to making my experience grand. I was appreciative of how thoughtful Maggie chose each course for me with a perfect sake pairing to match. I almost felt like I had been transported to another world. Then I became deeply in touch with my own creation of this experience. As the tears uncontrollably fell down my cheeks, I realized how it felt to be responsible for all of this.
I went to o ya early on a Friday night. When I made my reservation, I asked to be seated close to the “pass” at the chef counter where I could see the food coming out. I went in feeling thrilled to be there again. This was my 2nd time dining at o ya. My anticipation of many exquisite bites was bubbling over.
I sat at the chef’s counter thrilled to have Maggie as a dining companion, while I would be the only one eating. I told Maggie to feed me whatever she wanted. I told her that I would let her know when I needed to slow down. She brought me a beautiful flute of champagne to get things started.
Here’s what happened next: (I have posted the dish and then the picture)
Kumamoto Oyster watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette
Hamachi spicy banana pepper mousse
Salmon unfiltered wheat soy moromi
Santa Barbara Sea Urchin and Russian Ossetra Caviar
Karikari Crispy Sesame Chicken Skin yuzu-honey pickled ginger, schmaltz powder
Artic Char yuzu cured, sesame brittle, cumin aioli, cilantro
Fried Kumamoto Oyster yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles
Wild Bluefin Maguro soy braised garlic, micro greens
Kyoto Style Wild Morel Mushrooms garlic, soy
Line Caught Ishidai Usuzukuri spotted knife jaw, ponzu, green onion, spicy daikon
Scottish Salmon Belly cilantro, ginger, hot sesame oil drizzle
Hamachi viet mignonette, thai basil, shallot
Bluefin Toro Tartare ginger kimchee jus
Chilled Maine Lobster Salad avocado, creamy yuzu dressing, micro greens, cucumber gelee
Tea Brined Fried Pork Ribs hot sesame oil, honey, scallions
Grilled Chanterelle and Shiitake Mushroom Sashimi rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy
Kushiyaki of Kobe roasted onion, yuzu kosho, maple soy sauce
Foie Gras Miso Spoon tempura bits, preserved yuzu
Chilled Daikon Dumpling miso nut “cheese,” homemade kimchee, wakame, spicy pine nut mayo
Yuzu Curd almond, blackberry-jasmine, meringue and Aged Sake Gelato miso-hazelnut caramel, vanilla cremeaux, financier
I am not a restaurant critic. You can find all sorts of amazing reviews of o ya here from critics all over the country. Please check out o ya for yourself if you’re curious in learning more about them. If you’re in Boston, make a reservation. It truly is a “don’t miss!” They pay attention to every detail you can imagine. When you are there, you will see beauty at every turn. I definitely had moments when I thought I could’t bear to lose the taste that I had just experienced. In his review of o ya in the New York Times in 2008, Frank Bruni said that he ordered a 2nd piece of one dish right after the first. There was no way he was leaving o ya with the memory of just one.
Lesson: I have been in the process of stepping into a new way of living. To give you contrast, I spent many years often expecting the worse or not having much expectation because I was afraid of being disappointed. I am learning to trust that life is joyful and full of beautiful experiences. This dinner at o ya was indeed aesthetically beautiful. The presentation of the food was an exhibit of art. The smells and tastes of each plate were inviting and expansive. This dinner was an exhibition of how beautiful life can be. It served as a reminder that I am an artist to the depths of my soul. I have the ability and the power to create anything that I want in this life.
I am going to continue to practice this art of creating. It is bringing so much joy into my life. It’s not that fleeting kind of feeling that comes and goes. It is hanging around. It is flowing through me and into each encounter and experience that I create. It is hard to put into words what this is like. It is my wish that you can feel what I am saying.
What steps are you taking to make room for more joy in your life?