My Husband and I just got back from a two day trip to Vegas. Prior to our trip, all I could think about was putting 10 chips down on 26 at the roulette table, and going to Yellowtail for the Big Eye Tuna Pizza. I have been thinking about that pizza ever since I had it two years ago while celebrating my son’s 21st birthday.
The tuna is frozen briefly so that it can be sliced into pieces as sheer as organdy. (I know it seems weird to compare fish with fabric, but that is what comes to mind.) It is placed on top of a Toasted Flour Tortilla that has been spread with a Ponzu Aioli…are you with me here? Then comes the Micro Shiso, which is like watercress, but more delicate, and the Truffle Oil! Yes…truffle oil, ponzu aioli, tuna….the combined flavors are unlike anything I have ever tasted. As much as I want to try and recreate this at home, I am afraid! I want only that memory in my food bank.
One of the five best things I've ever tasted.
I asked our waiter if we could meet the chef, an ex-pro snowboarder who trained at Nobu. I’m guessing my request comes many times a night, because the waiter immediately said that the chef was too busy in the kitchen. How could I argue with that? But I did some begging and pleading….threw out that I had worked as a consultant on two food shows, and next thing I know, Akira Back is at our table! (Did I mention that 30 minutes prior I had put 10 chips on 26 at the roulette table and won 360 dollars?)
I asked Akira who had inspired him. “My mom,” he said. She knew how to flavor food, he told us, how to make a dish memorable.
I think you either have it, or you don’t, when it comes to cooking. You can go to the finest culinary school and still not know how to make a dish “pop.”
Our sense of taste creates “food memories” that can take us back in time. (I will never stop trying to recreate the mac and cheese I had in Preschool.) Akira…thank you for creating a food memory that will last for years to come. And thank you, too, for coming back to our table and asking us if we wanted a picture with you!
My eyes are closed because I am remembering the Big Eye Tuna Pizza.