How would your significant other respond if you told them you were headed to Harrods after work on Friday, and they would be coming with you? Some lucky ladies and gents might have received an enthusiastic nod of agreement but nope, not me. I’d settle for a ‘yeah, sure’ shrug, but instead got the ‘you’re on your own there’ smirk. And people think I’m the harsh one.
A certain someone doesn’t like shopping, he doesn’t do crowds, so a combination of both with the added bonus of tourists walking way too slowly, would mean that going to any department store like Harrods would be pure torture. Even when administered by his beloved girlfriend, still torture. But what if she threw in the promise of freshly made sushi…?
I’ve been meaning to go to Roka for quite some time now. Since Taste of London 2014 to be precise; I never forget a meeting, first impressions do count, and Roka’s cod and crab dumplings made quite the impression on me. After fighting a certain someone for the last one, I made a mental note to book in a proper meal at the restaurant soon but that plan fell by the wayside. It was my first year in London so all the old restaurants were new and shiny to me, and all the new restaurants were even shinier… Roka was soon forgotten.
Until Taste of London 2015; same delicious gyozas, same mental note, and even more conviction in my vow to book in a proper meal as I had since learnt of its excellent reputation and IT-restaurant status amongst fashionable food bloggers who dabble in a fair bit of Japanese fine dining! However, once again I was thwarted by my fickle and forgetful nature and it took me almost another year before I finally set foot in one of Roka’s four London restaurants.
Those silly relationship self help books will say it’s unhealthy to be jealous of your partner but I can’t help it, certain things make me very jealous of a certain someone. We all have our crosses to bear so this might as well be mine. I’m jealous of his commute to work, from the bedroom to the home-office in under a minute, and that includes the getting dressed time. It irks me that since taking up the role as Connie Consumes’ Official Dining Companion he’s suffered none of the perils that come with the territory, in fact, he claims to have lost weight while I have definitely suffered the opposite fate. Jealous. Don’t get me started on those eyelashes.
And last but certainly not least, I’m completely, utterly, painstakingly jealous of the fact he’s already been to my dream food-travel destination: Japan. Everything about the cuisine and traditions of Japan entice me and… a certain someone has already been there… without me. The green eyed monster rages. Except he hasn’t really experienced Japan, not in the way I hope we will soon. You see, a certain someone went years ago for the football World Cup, so I don’t think the sights were high on his priority list and the food definitely wasn’t. Japan didn’t make him fall in love with Japanese food, I did.
The prospect of weaving up and down aisles filled with stalls exhibiting new or unique produce might not excite the mass population, but boy does it tickle my fancy. I love, I mean love, going to the supermarket or farmer’s market, particularly specialty or overseas ones with all those shiny new food products to discover! Last month I popped along to the London Produce Show and got the same giddy-glutton feeling as I wandered around the Great Hall in Grosvenor House, checking out the range of fresh produce on show from around the world.
Then when one had enough of oggling the fresh-food-porn, there were seminars on food trends, marketing and emerging markets or chef’s demonstrations to pass your time. I wish I could have spent more time there but alas, that real life job got in the way, and the main event I was here for was the Media Masterclass featuring Jeremy Pang from the School of Wok and the Nikkei Boys, Jordan Sclare and Michael Paul from Chotto Matte. With my glass of champagne in hand, I sat back and watched Jeremy tell us the difference between a bok choy and choy sum, and the Nikkei Boys explain how to prepare their beef tataki, then sampled the fruits of their labour!
Do you remember your first time? Or maybe you’ve never even tried it before…
I remember mine; my hands were getting a bit warm which is less than ideal, my eyes darted around the room searching for reassurance, I was starting to get nervous. Anxious thoughts went through my mind at every step- is it supposed to be this sticky? Am I holding it too tight? Should I give it a squeeze when I’m done? But in the end I needn’t have worried, my first attempt resulted in a pretty passable roll of sushi.
A couple of weeks on and I still remember that moment fondly… none of the embarrassment usually related to first times (like those rock-resembling bread rolls or the raw in the middle but burnt on top lasagne) this was surprisingly triumphant and stress free! Given my love of sushi, which I’ve proclaimed to you at least once or twice before, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never really got my hands dirty and made my own so when the food-loving folk at Zomato invited me to their latest Zomato Meetup, a sushi-making class at Kuriya Keiko, I cleared the diary. Coincidentally, this meetup was another first for me but was far less daunting because what’s not to love about spending an evening with other food fanatics who don’t bat an eyelid at taking five shots of that plate of sushi from all angles.
If faced with the cruel conundrum of only eating one thing for the rest of my life I think I’d choose sushi. It’s quite a clever choice if you think about it because there are so many different types, in all shapes, sizes, and flavours. Of course traditionally each of these variations has its own name- nigiri, temaki, sashimi, but outside of Japan most would consider ‘sushi’ to be an acceptable catch all. Well that may be a push but it’s what I’d argue anyway to the person who made me choose.
You’re sitting there thinking I’d get sick of it pretty quickly but honestly, it would take a while. There was a time when I almost did eat sushi everyday; during my law school years I was a Midland Sushi devotee but in a moment of fickleness, shafted them for Sushi Bi and their crispy chicken roll topped with Japanese mayonnaise. Even when I moved to a different office in Wellington’s CBD Siberia of Molesworth Street I made the regular trek to Woodward Street for my beloved sushi lunch. Those were the days indeed. I hadn’t realised how lucky I had it until I got to London and was faced with the prepacked, cold and sweaty sushi of Wasabi and Itsu. It’s edible but not as enjoyable to eat as those individually selected pieces which were only rolled minutes before being placed in the cabinet.
Do a quick google and you’ll see that San Francisco has inspired probably over 100 songs- and why the heck not? After spending a couple of days there, I could find a few good things to sing about too… we both agreed it was a city we would happily live in (if the American healthcare system and a few other things improved). I daydreamed about living in one of the charming terrace houses in the leafy downtown suburbs, wining and dining in the Mission District, shopping in the glitzy stores of Union Square, walking my dog (a prerequisite here it seems) in the Golden Gate Park or Presidio, and hitting the beach in the summer. Dreams are free eh?
But what did we actually do when I wasn’t daydreaming…