Tonight, we had a most enjoyable dinner al fresco in a garden of a historical house in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido.
|This was basically our "water" for the evening...|
|He took care of everything liquid and alcoholic|
HOST WITH THE MOST
Our host for the evening was Toshiro Higashibara, a big businessman in Sapporo as well as a connossieur of art, music and the fine things in life. The venue was his private guest house -- not his residence, but a historical home that he converted into a venue just for his private dinners and parties.
It's very historical as it was once the official residence of the chairman of the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly; and tonight someone told me that the government of Hokkaido Prefecture had asked him to buy it so that it could be preserved well.
|The welcoming committee, with the sommelier at the door|
ENTERTAINING IN STYLE
So Mr. Higashibara bought it for quite a princely sum, and then he put lots of art and fine decor all over; and now, when he wants to entertain in style, he just calls his private chef and catering team, and his teaching sommelier, who takes care of all the wines for his dinners.
|The assistant chef brings out the Hokkaido Salad|
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Mr. Higashibara has at least about 10 companies, and he owns his own ski resort and vineyard as well. He's also part owner of one of Tokyo's major auction houses, which is where he gets lots of his art.
ART AROUND THE HOUSE
|Pottery by Rosanjin Kitaoji|
Before dinner, he showed us around the house, which was "littered" with fine art pieces including objects made by very famous Japanese artists. I saw a lovely piece of pottery made by Japan's version of the ultimate contemporary Renaissance man, Rosanjin Kitaoji; and lots of old Meisen and Daum glass objets d'art.
But perhaps most impressively, he has at least 10 civic projects going on at the same time, including supporting organizations like the Boys' Rubber Baseball Association, the Sapporo Sports Promotion Association for the Handicapped, and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra.
INFORMAL AND DELICIOUS
Today he certainly entertained us in style.
We had an informal but very good dinner in the garden surrounded by his private chefs and sommelier; and the wine was so good that it wasn't long before we were all in a very good mood and we were toasting to all sorts of things, including to love, passion, and the right timing for everything in life. Don't ask me how we got onto those topics as I don't remember anymore.
The food, too, was excellent -- resulting in my eating way more than I wanted to. For main courses, we had charcoal-broiled Toki-Shake salmon, which is very famous in Hokkaido. Unlike regular salmon, it's a seasonal fish and it's only available right now and only here in Hokkaido.
They also served a special roast chicken that Mr. Higashibara's chefs are famous for, because they marinate the chickens in special sauces for three days before roasting. The chicken was incredibly tender, and his chefs had set up a special roasting station in the garden.
For starters, before I forget, there were huge plates of salad which were called Hokkaido Salad, and the salads contained all the good local ingredients readily available -- thus it's name. There were also plates of assorted cheeses and hams, again because Hokkaido is famous for these kinds of produce.
|The chefs called this the Hokkaido Salad|
|The best of Hokkaido produce...|
SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST
However the piece de resistance was very good wagyu steak, which was so tender the steaks fell apart when we put forks through them; and these were served with a light red wine sauce.
|Yup, this was dessert...|
|A private concert by Mayumi Ohira|
I enjoyed this evening much more than I expected, and I returned to my hotel thinking how lucky I am to be in Hokkaido right now, although I'm leaving this lovely place tomorrow. But it's really just another evening in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.
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