Gastro: Ichi-go Ichi-e / 期一会 at the Fumbally

The Japanese phrase “Ichi-go Ichi-e” (期一会) translates literally as “one time, one meeting” and is applied to the concept of treasuring encounters with others. Sitting amongst a group of diners gathered around the long table at The Fumbally Stables in Dublin 8 on a November evening, I treasured the meeting of our two chefs for the night, Katie Sanderson and Takashi Miyazaki. Over two evenings, the two chefs collaborated on their Ichi-go Ichi-e tasting menu with matching wines, teas and fermented drinks.

“I was at Ballymaloe Lit Fest last year watching Katie do her cooking demo,” Miyazaki tells me at the end of the supper. “I was surprised when she mentioned that my noodle shop was one of her favourite places to eat in Ireland. Aisling Rogerson at The Fumbally introduced us after that and encouraged us to work together on a pop-up dinner.”

 

For those who know Katie Sanderson and Takashi Miyazaki’s food, the idea of them collaborating is a tantalising one. Miyazaki’s humble noodle bar in Cork City serves up bowls of ramen that are so deeply comforting and flavourful, the memory of their deliciousness lingers long after your visit. Before he moved to Ireland with his wife Stephanie, he worked in a five-star Hotel Nikko Fukuaoka in his hometown. He cooked for President Jacque Chirac, Rod Stewart and Sting. He and Stephanie settled in Cork, drawn there by its vibrant food culture. In 2015 they opened up their Japanese take-away with about five stools for those want to sit in on Evergreen Street. They called it Miyazaki.

Sanderson is considered by many, myself included, to be one of Ireland’s most innovative chefs. She’s a key member of The Fumbally family, the chef behind Living Dinners, co-chef of the Connemara pop-up Dillisk and now the maker of the most insanely delicious peanut chilli sauce in her Peanut Rayu.

Sanderson spent three days in Cork with Miyazaki in the run up to the evenings, experimenting with flavours and finding out more about how they could work together. Sanderson’s Peanut Rayu featured on the eight course tasting menu, sitting perfectly atop the billowy yet crisp fried rice balls known as mochi, one of Miyazaki’s specialities.

A Pinot Noir is paired with an outstanding tuna toro, its sweet chunks of fat belly meat paired with a balsamic glazed aubergine and kombu pickle. Glasses of burgundy appear alongside dishes of pink duck served with a gloriously salty miso-laced barley risotto. Dungarvan’s Helvic Gold Irish Blonde Ale is paired with the Mochi and Rayu dish, while many of the other courses feature non-alcoholic drinks. Glasses of black pepper tea are spiked with Teeling’s whiskey for those indulging in high spirits, while for the designated drivers there is green tea and cardamom kombucha, an infinitely comforting rice milk and barley tea, and a nashi pear and apple juice. The flavour profiles in these drinks make a strong case for the possibilities that lie in booze-free drinks as areas for fruitful experimentation.

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There are snacks, too, of crispy fried kale doused in a furikake spice. Sea urchins are served in their prickly shells alongside silken strands of kaisou seaweed, moistened with the bonito-flavoured rice vinegar Japanese dressing known as tosazu. A pickle plate includes a scheuin peppercorn pink radish that have been pickling for three days and a kombu radish has had a four week stint in a jar of brine. There are also portobello mushrooms that have soaked up a balsamic and tamari mix for over a week, and slivers of lemon that have been salted for six months.

Before the satisfying savouriness of our peanut tofu dessert (sort of like a cube of unsweetened peanut butter parfait served with black sesame soil and milk), Dublin musician Chequerboard set up his guitar and loop pedal in the corner of the room. His music is as delicate and absorbing as our food. The guests, who included a film director, chefs and food writers, had been conversing happily in our little groups. But for the three compositions that Chequerboard fills the room with, we’re silent, listening as one single unit.

Tickets were €110 per person, which included drinks. Keep an eye on The Fumbally Stables website for their upcoming events and workshops which are always filled with the promise of ichi-go ichi-e.

 

The Fumbally Stables

Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8

w: thefumballystables.ie

Words: Aoife McElwain

Photos: Killian Broderick

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