Feb 19, 2011

Book Review: Kitcho

I recently hosted a good friend of mine for the weekend and as a thank you he ordered this beautiful book: Kitcho, Japan's Ultimate Dining Experience, by Kunio Tokuoka. Hardbound  ISBN 978-4-7700-3122-8

This is book is the story of Kitcho, a kaiseki restaraunt with a premier reputation in Japan.   Chef Tokuoka relates how is grandfather began serving meals based on historical records of tea ceremonies given by Matsudaira Fumai. Kaiseki was typically not available unless you were invited to a tea ceremony.  Today, thanks to Kitcho's founder, Teiichi Yuki, the principals of seasonality, simple preparation and beautiful presentation of the kaiseki meal is firmly planted in the mainstream of Japanese haute cuisine.

The book is divided into five sections:  Spring Kaiseki, Summer Kaiseki, Fall Kaiseki, Winter Kaiseki and The Kaiseki Kitchen.  The seasonal sections feature exquisite food photography of different seasonal dishes.  The text combines commentary by chef Tokuoka and historical and cultural asides; from Rimpa style painting to court poetry that has inspired the menu. The last section is a look behind the scenes at Kitcho in the kitchen.  This section also includes a recipes for dashi and sauces, food notes to the seasonal dishes presented and a glossary of food terms.

The photographs in the book are outstanding.  Not only are there photos of the kaiseki dishes, but also elements of tea such as chabana, the tokonoma, teabowls, calligraphy, and sweets.  You will enjoy this book as inspiriation for your next chaji, and perhaps learn a little more about the history and culture of Japan.

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