I wasn't actually planning to have a party in Japan as I'd really come over to Japan to brush up on my watercoloring skills via private lessons with a famous watercolor artist in Kamakura, which is about an hour's drive from Tokyo.
I'd been wanting to do this for a long time now, and so I'd decided to take the plunge when I found a relatively free and rainy week sandwiched by holidays in Manila.
One down for my bucket list -- and actually, I'm going to be checking off quite a lot of things off my bucket list this year.
Besides, it wasn't a difficult choice, between all the typhoons in Manila and the sunshine in Japan, although it's actually unbearably hot right now.
Scroll down to read more...
But then, upon arriving in Japan and trying to sort out schedules with friends, I realized there were about 10 friends coming over from Manila to Japan for the four-day holiday; and rather than see them all separately, I decided to just host a Sunday barbecue for everyone, as otherwise I'd never get any painting done.
The weather on Sunday was fine and it was perfect timing because I'd just gotten myself a very nice slab of marbled Koshu beef, which I then cut into very juicy steaks.
TOKYO'S AMAZING SKYLINE
Besides, from my rooftop, there's a rather good view of Tokyo, so it's nice to have people over just to see the pretty amazing Tokyo skyline.
I hadn't done a barbecue in a long time, although I attended a barbecue in Mount Fuji the previous weekend; but at the Mount Fuji barbecue, there had been five guys to do the dirty work so I spent most of the time just eating, and afterwards drinking a very nice 2005 St. Emilion as I sat on a garden swing.
Scroll down to read more about wagyu and pasta with peaches...
So I was rather rusty about how to get a fire going.
Fortunately, two of the guys from Manila apparently had lots of regular practice doing barbecues on the beaches of Batangas, so I turned the flames over to them to start and manage.
Starting a fire isn't that difficult, but keeping it going is harder than many people think.
One of them said: "We do barbecues almost every weekend when we're in Batangas. But certainly not with marbled wagyu. This is one for the books."
Everyone had brought their appetites along, and some had even skipped breakfast in anticipation of a big, long and liquid lunch.
THE JOYS OF BARBECUED WAGYU
Although some foodies might think it a waste of perfectly good marbled meat to grill wagyu instead of cooking it teppanyaki style, I realized yesterday that wagyu is actually particularly nice for barbecues because it's so fatty -- so the oil and at least some of the bad stuff drips away, and you're left with a very nice steak that's not so fatty that you can only have three bites before feeling satiated.
Then I quickly rustled up a pasta copied from a Hokkaido chef and an original dessert which is a version of the New Zealand pavlova; but I made mine with Fuji peaches because they're in such abundance right now and it's a crime not to use them as they're cheap and very good.
MY FAVORITE SUMMER PASTA
In fact, I decided to use the Fuji peaches for the pasta as well.
I'd seen a chef in Hokkaido make this with great success many years ago, and I'd replicated it almost immediately afterwards.
The results had been absolutely delicious. So whenever I have guests in the summer, I usually include this very easy pasta in the menu.
Then I pour the mixture onto freshly-cooked hot pasta, and the result is a perfect hot-and-cold pasta for summer that's just wonderful with a cold glass of rose.
Yesterday, everyone loved it and I almost dare to say that it was as popular as the wagyu barbecued steaks. Anyway, everything was sold-out and it seemed that everyone had fun. This led to discussions about a Round Two Barbecue in Tokyo when there's another opportunity for a four-day weekend in Manila.
INSTANT BEST FRIENDS
Most of these 10 friends didn't even know each other. Or else they'd just heard of each other or met each other once or twice in the small village that is Manila.
But by the end of the long lunch yesterday, they were all best friends and even talking about traveling back to Japan together for another rooftop barbecue courtesy of moi.
Scroll down to read more...
I hadn't even been consulted as I was busy preparing dessert downstairs when all the planning was happening.
When I came back up with my peach pavlova dessert, the schedule for next barbecue was practically a done deal. Middle of November, they all happily announced to me, and regardless of whether there was a four-day weekend again or not.
Everyone thought they could take a day or two off to fly to Tokyo for a weekend of eating, shopping and fun.
But I said: "Sorry, guys. I'm in South Africa in November. You'll have to do it without me..."
Of course, that was impossible. It was my rooftop, after all. But just to tease them all, I said anyway: "But you can go on without me and use the roof. All of you now know how to work the barbecue after all."
Exclamations all around, especially as no one else knows where and how to source that great slab of super marbled Koshu beef we sliced up. They probably would miss that more than my company, although they were all much too polite to say so.
ROUND TWO & CHERRY BLOSSOMS
So we've scheduled Round Two for sometime next spring instead, as my year is already basically full as far as trips are concerned.
One of them said: "Let's go for cherry blossoms..."
This suggestion was met with enthusiastic shouts of approval. But all I could think was: Oh no. That'll make at least 50 guests for cherry blossom season next year, since everyone who came this year wants to go back next year as well..."
I'd better start ordering a really big barbecue set on Amazon.com....
TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook