Autumnal

In the past week we have seen both Eastern Spinebill’s and White-eared Honeyeaters in the garden, a sure sign that the season is turning and birds are migrating from the mountains down to the warmer coastal regions for winter.

Wehoneyeater

White-eared Honeyeater

(Of course several weeks of below zero overnight temperatures have also indicated as much).

With the wonderful bounty of mushrooms growing in my mushroom kit we decided to host an Autumn dinner and invited Variegated along to enjoy the feast. TB decided on a Japanese meal so I did my best to follow the seasonal theme.

I used one of my Serizawa print cloths on the table

Serizawa

and was pleased to see that the chopstick rests I’d bought in Kyoto were suitably autumnal as well, ginko leaves turning yellow.

Ginko

We also had seasonal red leaves (momoji), in this case maple leaves from our garden, on the table.

Setting

TB excelled himself as usual with the food. We started with a chawanmushi, a savoury egg custard which featured the shimeji mushrooms with chicken and scallops hidden at the bottom.

Chawan

I love the various textures of this dish. The top is covered with a silky jelly flavoured with dashi, rice wine and soy sauce, thickened with kuzu starch (kuzu is a member of the pea family and is also used in Vietnamese and Chinese cooking). Underneath, individual morsels of food are hidden in each spoonful of custard.

Our second dish was the action item of the night as we went into the kitchen to cook our chicken skewers, or yakitori, over the charcoal brazier on the stove. Extractor fan on maxiumum Mr Scott!

Charcoal

We also had skewers of mussels and mushrooms. While Variegated and I were having fun with lots of smoke, TB was cooking garden vegetables in a tempura batter. All of these were served alongside a bed of soba noodles.

Soba

Of course they came with a range of condiments, including a dipping sauce (in the laquer bowls), some seaweed and a range of pickles including our home-pickled radish and  ginger.

Condiments

Our meal was washed down by a 1997 Red Hill Estate Chardonnay which Variegated re-discovered when she was clearing out a defunct freezer in her garage! Turned out to be emminently drinkable and it’s golden colour certainly fit the seasonal bill.

For dessert we had that Japanese favourite Creme Caramel. No really, it is extremely popular in Japan, we’ve even had it served to us as part of breakfast!

After that all that was necessary was to sit back and pass the rest of the evening in pleasant conversation.