G.A.'s soaking up the Venetian sun for a few more days, so here's some pics of what we ate before he left...guess where!

Appetizer sampler, including the tiniest baby octopi I've ever seen (those are regulation-sized snow peas); super-fresh shrimp, and lightly steamed veggies

Citrusy, light, great sea bream sushi

I can't remember what this was called, but it involved fried shiso leaves and ground shrimp, and was a texture-fest when dipped into accompanying pile of coarse salt

Perfect bluefin tuna sushi

Caramelized pork cheeks.... look how thin that celery is sliced!

Mixed tempura

Vanilla ice cream topped with sublime peaches poached in cabernet and peppercorns (with cracked black pepper). Why haven't I ever put pepper on ice cream before?

If you guessed Kihachi, you'd be right. It'd been entirely too long since our last visit, and we figured Japanese would be a suitable "bon voyage" meal. The restaurant, experiencing an upswing in business likely associated with the recent airing of the Heartland episode of "No Reservations," did not disappoint. (Chef Hartmut Handke seemed pretty pleased with his meal that night as well!)

And FYI: while you can go the omakase route and put your fate in the hands of the incredibly talented chefs (for a well-worth-it $90/person), you can also order a la carte and get many of the same dishes to share. We checked out for about $120, including tax, tip, a big Sapporo beer and two generous pours of sake. Not bad!

We kept the high-class celebratory ball rolling with some Veuve Clicquot back at home....

Now, do I eat that way when G.A.'s out of town? Nope.

--RJZ