Home party: cherry blossom, German dishes and atelier cheese

The Japan Meteorological Agency gave up this year the traditional announcement of cherry blossoming forecast. I do not know the exact reason for this decision. Maybe because private weather forecast companies are mushrooming recently and competing in making more accurate forecasts for cherry blossoming. Or maybe forecasts for cherry blossoming are so difficult and mis-forecasts incur so much displeasure among people who have to prepare long in advance for cherry blossom viewing. (See 2009)

I invited some friends of the Toranomon Symphony Orchestra to a party at my home to view cherry blossoms, experience German dishes and enjoy Japanese atelier cheese on 28th March. In preparing such an event, the first and biggest question is the selection of date. The average date for full cherry blossom is the 2nd of April. However, all weather forecasts predicted a month ago that the blooming would be earlier this year because of warm winter weather.
Although we felt that this winter was colder than usual, experts said that this was a mis-judgment. Though the temperature fluctuated more widely than usual and it snowed in cold periods, the average temperature was higher than usual. Consequently, cherry blossoms would bloom earlier than usual, they explained. There were two possibilities for the date, either the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April. I decided for the former alternative in the early March when I sent out the invitation, because I believed the forecast of weather experts. But, that was unfortunately a mis-forecast.

I kept watching the weather forecasts for next seven days. Until a week ago, all forecasts promised fine weather on the last weekend of March, though a bit more clouds might float on Sunday. But, forecasts became worse and worse as time advanced. On Saturday they all said that it would rain both in the morning and in the evening and it would be cold and windy all day long! Almost the worst weather we could wish for cherry blossom viewing.

People have their own special ways to express happiness ;-)

Racrette cheese, Salad Caprese and Cream Cheese dessert are waiting for their turn in the fridge.

Linsensuppe -
lentils are hidden under the sausages.
Usually I cook something Japanese dishes for friendly gatherings.

Inka-no-nomezame boiled and
cut for racrette
But, this time I wanted to promote Japanese atelier cheese: Racrette of Kyodogakusha Shintoku Farm, Mozzarella of Shiranuka-Rakukeisha and Cream Cheese of JA Sado. Using them I prepared Racrette with special kind of potato "Inka no mezame" (*), Salad Caprese and Cream Cheese assorted with berries.
"Inka no mezame" literally means "Awakening of Inca". This new type of potato is deep yellow in color and highly sweet like chestnut.
For main dishes I prepared two German dishes: Linsen Suppe (Lentil soup) with sausage and Hühner Frikasse (Chicken Fricassee). Of course, I chose French and Italian wines for such dishes, though I also served a 1.8 litter bottle of shochu.

The meeting time was three o'clock in the afternoon and those who could come in time went out to see cherry blossoms along the nearby river Zenpukuji-gawa. To our surprise cherry blossoms bloomed to 30% or 40% despite the cold weather and many people were sitting on the grass under cherry trees and enjoying cherry blossom viewing in the chilly wind.

Too cold to stay out long
After a half-hour tour we returned home and started a party. Participants also brought something to eat and drink. Kudo-san brought some foodstuffs and cooked a few dishes in my kitchen.

I was slightly worried whether the foods I prepared would be completely consumed. Whenever we organize parties, we always have to take a risk to eat the leftovers for a few more days. This time the number of participants was bigger than usual and I had to take a bigger risk. It was difficult to exactly calculate the total appetite of 16 people. I cooked among others about 1kg chicken, 500g lentil, 1kg potato and 1kg rice and used nearly 1kg cheese for Racrette. Fortunately nearly everything was eaten up and even the leftover was demanded by some women. They wanted to bring them back home and let mothers or husbands try the taste of strange dishes I had cooked.

Not much alcohol was consumed. Kudo-san was fond of Dabada-Hiburi, a very delicious chestnut shochu from Kochi. Otherwise, only 5 bottles of wine and four cans of beer were drunk and no sake.

The party lasted till around 10:30. I was much surprised by the ability of my assistant - my daughter. She helped me for the first time in hosting a party in place of my wife. She was attentive to the guests and did necessary work in time. I had to reward her with paying extra bonus for her part-time job.

We do not have enough chairs ;-) Others are eating Racrette in the annexed room