Wednesday, April 30, 2014

we're back

IMG_6533 We're back from a trip to Toyama...lots of photos to sort through...talk to you soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

re-vamped

IMG_6270 I recently re-vamped cabbage mochi by adding some dried sakura ebi (sergia lucens) and green onions.

Got a thumbs up from Satoshi...I guess I'll make this version again.

If I'm not mistaken, Golden Week starts today...

Monday, April 28, 2014

imbibing

IMG_6240 Craft Beers are slowly but surely making their way into the local markets.

I like how they are bringing in more and more Japanese craft beers too.

I recently tried this porter that was made in Okinawa by a brewery called Helios...it went nicely with caramel ice cream.

IMG_6269 And this hyuganatsu (citrus tamurana), a citrus fruit beer made in Miyazaki, Kyushu by Hideji Beer.

This was fruity and a little bitter...love the label too!

The weather is slowly warming up here...perfect for cooler foods and drinks.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

furin

IMG_6294 Satoshi and I recently tried a Japanese restaurant in Umeda Sanbangai called Furin.

I ordered their Nasu-ju, grilled eggplant is put onto rice with thinly sliced omelette and then topped with a delicious minced meat that is seasoned with sansho (Japanese pepper), shoyu and other seasonings.

This really reminded me of the Nasu Kabayaki Donburi I made before, but I really liked their addition of the meat sauce.

IMG_6296 Satoshi had their kaisendon.

Rice topped with lots of seafood.

It is a tiny place but the food is good, we'll be back.

Furin
Umeda Sanbangai B2
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6372.5700
Hours: 11:00-22:00, Closed when Sanbangai is


Saturday, April 26, 2014

jean-paul bigot

IMG_6273 I recently tried some items at Jean-Paul Bigot...their sakura bread.

Preserved sakura leaves are chopped and worked into the french bread dough. The results are nice.

A little salty from the leaves, the fragrance of sakura and chewiness of baguette.

We had these for breakfast, but I think it would be nice with wine!

IMG_6274 The petit pâté..a buttery flaky pastry filled with a moist pâté (reminded me of meatloaf)

IMG_6276 I toasted this before eating and it was so good, I wish I had had another!

I really enjoy their stuff, I'll be back!

Friday, April 25, 2014

happy cup coffee company

IMG_6298 I ran across this brand of coffee recently...Happy Cup Coffee Company.

They are from Portland Oregon and employ adults with disabilities ("People with Potential" as they say) to batch roast and package their coffees.

I loved the naming of the coffees..."Boom Boom Dark Roast" & "Morning Madness Espresso Roast"

IMG_6299 We tried the Morning Madness coffee and enjoyed it.

We also tried Boom Boom and I like this one more than Morning Madness, it seemed a bit smoother, richer.

Love the packaging as well.

It's Friday, I hope you enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

culture shock

IMG_6301 In Hawaii, my parents have a yard man. He uses a blower to blow all the leaves together to pick them up when he is done.

It's noisy, leaves fly everywhere...

He's gotten yelled at by neighbors because the leaves blow over to their side of the fence...well, when these neighbor's yard man comes over, guess who gets their leaves...ahem!

Anyway, I noticed this guy the other day. And thought, "oh no, they have leaf blowers here too"...and then I saw him "vacuuming" the leaves up!

Brilliant!

Now this is something I wouldn't mind seeing or hearing more of in Hawaii.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

alien to resident to fuji

IMG_6283 Recently Japan changed their "alien cards" for foreigners to "residence cards".

Since my re-entry visa was coming up for renewal, we called the Immigration office to see what we needed to do.

It turns out that all we needed to do was come in to change the "alien card" to the "residence card" and we no longer had to renew the "re-entry visa".

Talk about spending less time and money at the Immigration office.

I think we used to pay something like 6000 yen for the "multiple re-entry visa" every 3 years or so.

So, we got there after lunch, filled out the paper work, I took an ID photo in their photo booth....

Paying 800 yen for 4 photos & they only use 1 is a total rip-off! But I'm glad we received the card that day. The next time we need to renew this card is in 7 years...whoo!

On our way home, we noticed a board with a notice for the Noda Fuji Matsuri. Fuji is wisteria in Japanese and Noda is the area which this flower grows in Osaka, Matsuri is festival.

IMG_6285 Since the area was kind of on our way back, we checked out some of the many spots they have listed on the festival map.

Some turned out to be duds because they were located inside of many school grounds or some hadn't started blooming yet, but for the most part, most were located at parks.

IMG_6288 One location was in front of an apartment building this was really nice to see in the concrete jungle.

IMG_6289 I wish they would've given more addresses than just points on their map, we had a "scavenger hunt" of a time finding some of the locations.

IMG_6290 I want to go back to see some of the spots we weren't able to see.

IMG_6291 If I get a chance to I'll definitely share the photos with you.

Have a nice week!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

søholm cafe

IMG_6249 We recently tried Søholm Cafe's lunch.

Previously we tried the same cafe in Kyoto, but as I was writing this post, I found out that the Kyoto location closed earlier this year.

I ordered their meatball plate...900 yen plus tax. This came with their salad buffet & drink bar. The pickings were kinda slim when we first went to the buffet line, but everything was quickly refilled which was nice.

The meatballs were moist and the tomato sauce really tangy and flavorful. For the amount of sauce, I think they should've given at least one more cube of foccacia.

Satoshi had their avocado, bacon & tomato pasta...900 yen plus tax. He said he enjoyed it. I thought it would have had chunks of avocado but it was more of an avocado cream sauce. His lunch also came with the salad buffet & drink bar.

They also have terrace seating which should be nice as the weather warms up...we'll be back.

Søholm Cafe
Grand Front Osaka North Building 1F
Phone: 06.6359.2737
Open 10:00-22:00, when Grand Front Osaka is

Monday, April 21, 2014

downstairs coffee

IMG_6243 Located in the Mercedez Benz store is Downstairs Coffee, a cafe.

I recently had their Brunch Set...800 yen.

This came with a salad topped croque monsieur toast (toast with cheese, tomatoes and mizuna), honey granola toast (toast is topped with honey and lots of cinnamon granola) and vanilla yogurt with frozen fruits on it.

Of the choices for drinks, I chose their Americano.

At 9-something in the morning, to have strobey lights and loud music going, isn't the most peaceful, but I really enjoyed this plate...well, minus the frozen fruits...

I'll be back.

Downstairs Coffee
Grand Front Osaka North Building 1F
Phone: 06.6359.1780
Hours: 9:00-22:00
Open when Grand Front Osaka is

Sunday, April 20, 2014

flowers for easter

IMG_6115 It's Easter today. While we don't celebrate this, I wanted to share with you some flowers that I've seen on walks...Shibazakura (phlox). This is great for landscaping.

IMG_6138 Tokiwa Mansaku (Loropetalum Chinense). This one grow really tall but when I saw it they had cut it to hedge size...pretty!

IMG_6162 Kikumomo (Amygdalus Persica)...This particular tree was just filled with blossoms, so bright!

IMG_6206 Nanohana (Rapeseed)

I found these alongside the Minoo River...really brightened up the area.

IMG_6203 Not sure what type of flower this one is.

But I like how it droops down with lots of flowers on the stem.

IMG_6225 Yaezakura, a type of sakura (cherry blossom).

This double cherry blossom blooms after the Someiyoshi, the main type of cherry blossom, love the pom-poms.

IMG_6242 And lastly, some freesia from our lanai.

I think this year we've had more freesia than in the past.

I hope you all have a great week ahead!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

moulin du calanquet

IMG_6186 My host brother's wife recently gave us this bottle of preserves by Moulin du Calanquet, a maker of different condiments in Provence.

She said it could be used for meat and cheese.

I looked at the bottle and it is made from cherries and balsamic vinegar.

We enjoyed it with steak and some brie.

It was a little tart but we liked it.

Thank you!

Friday, April 18, 2014

roca's red vegetable pickles

DSC06180 With the rest of the red cabbage, I tried this recipe in Roca's other book, "Roca no Bento".

The recipe says it serves 2, we don't usually eat that much pickles in one sitting, so it seemed a like a lot to me.

Red Vegetable Pickles from "Roca no Bento" serves 2

160 grams red cabbage
1 bay leaf
1.5 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
pepper

Rinse and cut the red cabbage into small pieces
Add the cabbage to a resealable bag, add the seasonings.
Remove as much air as possible and let sit for at least an hour.

IMG_6200 NOTES: this was so easy to put together and it tastes like the Japanese cole slaw that I've made before.

We had a little of it the other morning, nice and crunchy! Satoshi said he liked it because it reminded him of sauerkraut.

The sausage we had tasted like portuguese sausage too, whoo!

I transferred the pickles from the resealable bag to a jar. The notes of the recipe also say you can use regular cabbage for this too.

I'll definitely make this one again.

It's Friday here, I hope you all have a nice Easter and a nice weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

roca's kiriboshi daikon mustard salad

IMG_6185 My impression of kiriboshi daikon isn't a very good one. Most times when you get it at the sozai-ya (pre-made food shop) or when it is in a bento, the daikon is limp, not a very nice texture.

On top of that, the color is brown because it is simmered in shoyu (soy sauce) and other ingredients.

So, when I spotted this colorful salad in Roca's book, I had to try it.

I'd never cooked with kiriboshi daikon, so using this was a first for me.

Kiriboshi daikon is daikon that is sliced and then dried. These days a lot of housewives are cutting and drying their own veggies. By drying them, the veggies are supposed to retain a lot of their nutrients as well as a lot of their flavor.

I also think that by drying them, you can keep them in your pantry for off-season cooking.

When I opened the package of kiriboshi daikon, the aroma of daikon was really strong. The texture looked like the paper that gets stuck in the shredder...

Kiriboshi Daikon Mustard Salad from "Roca no Teishoku" : serves 2

20 grams kiriboshi daikon
hot water
2 teaspoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1.5 tablespoons vinegar
25 grams onion (about 1/8 of an onion)
15 grams red cabbage (about 1 leaf)
20 grams carrot (about 3 centimeters)
30 grams Japanese cucumber (about 1/3 of a cucumber)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or your favorite oil
grainy mustard


Rinse the kiriboshi daikon and then pour enough hot water over it to cover it and let it rehydrate.
Let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
While you are waiting for the daikon to rehydrate, get the rest of the salad ready.

Thinly slice the onion, cabbage and cucumber.
Julienne the carrot.
In a container, put the onion, cabbage, cucumber and carrot.
Sprinkle the salt, mix with your hands and let sit.

After 20 minutes, drain the water from the daikon and squeeze gently (you don't want it totally dry).
While the daikon is still warm, add the shoyu and vinegar, mix and let cool.
After about 30 minutes to an hour, the daikon should be cooled and the other veggies will have released some of their water.
Drain the water from the veggies.

Add the daikon with its "sauce" to the veggies.
Add a little grainy mustard, I used about 1/2 teaspoon, and the mayo.
Mix well and then chill.

NOTES: The daikon is so crunchy! In fact, everything in this salad is. We enjoyed this several times already. I am definitely making this again!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

imbibing

IMG_6073 A little list of things I've been drinking lately...

This tea fruit soda at Corridor. Sweetened tea syrup is added to a glass with fresh fruits and then topped off with club soda. I want to re-create this one.

IMG_6085 Smirnoff's Ice Green Apple.

This one reminded me of a Jolly Rancher's candy, but more on the sour side...

IMG_6096 Bacardi's Strawberry Daiquiri...meh, this one was way too sweet.

IMG_6117 Bacardi's Mojito...I don't think I've acutally had a mojito before, I didn't care for this for some reason.

IMG_6168 Minoh Beer's O-saru IPA, a fruity IPA with a little bitter finish.

This one was created for an event that they participated in. Love the label!

IMG_6176 Otoko Ume Sour, this one really smelled like ume and was a bit on the salty side.

Guess with the warmer weather I've been craving fizzy drinks. How about you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

azzurro verdura

IMG_6092 We tried Azzurro Verdura the other week.

Since Grand Front Osaka opened last year, we've avoided this place because there was always too many people.

Things have sort of calmed down a bit, so we've been slowly checking different places out.

Satoshi and I both ordered the daily pasta lunch.

Our meal started off with a l-o-n-g plate of appetizers for each person...delicious!

After taking the photo this way, I realized I should've done a panoramic one so that you could see all the different appetizers.

IMG_6093 It is after this that our meal kinda went downhill.

Our pastas was a spring cabbage meat sauce. And while it looks really delicious, this was way too salty!

It was so difficult to finish. For us, it is pretty rare for us to walk out on a meal or complain (unless there are bugs in the dish...)

I would go back to try other items on their menu, but am scared that everything will also be oversalted...

Azzurro Verdura
Grand Front Osaka North Building 6F

Monday, April 14, 2014

revisits

IMG_6130 I recently revisited a few places...like Circo D'oro

This time around I had their affogato...470 yen. Hot espresso is poured over vanilla gelato.

The owner let me pull my own espresso. Well, actually he had to help me, their machine is a Fiorenzato and it is a lever type of espresso machine. The lever is super tight because of the spring inside.

Count to 5 and release slowly...out comes your shots of espresso.

It was a cool experience and the affogato was nice too.

IMG_6133 I went back to Boulangerie Goût. This time I bought their earl grey cream bread...which was good but got smashed in my bag.

A brioche type of bread filled with earl grey cream and topped with tons of macadamias.

IMG_6134 Their cinnamon roll. I love how they packed it, the topping was a cinnamon flavored cream cheese frosting.

Satoshi and I shared both of these for breakfast one day.

IMG_6171 And this past Saturday, I went back to The City Bakery.

I had actually wanted to go to All Day Coffee, but they didn't open until 10:00.

This time around I had their cinnamon apple biscuit and the sesame azuki muffin...so good!

Have you been revisiting some of your favorite eateries?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

roca's okara gobo hamburger

IMG_6151 Another recipe I tried from the Roca book was their hamburger.

The picture in the book looks way better than how mine turned out, but it was delicious all the same.

Okara Gobo Hamburger Steak from "Roca no Teishoku" makes 2 patties
1/4 onion (50 grams), minced
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 gobo (burdock) (35 grams), whittled
black & brown sesame seeds to coat

100 grams minced meat (pork/beef mixture)
50 grams okara (soy lees)
1.5 tablespoons panko (bread crumbs)
1/4 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper
1 tablespoon oil

Sauce:
pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons shoyu
2 teaspoons sake (rice wine)
2 teaspoons vinegar

Mince your onion and pan fry until transparent, set aside to cool
Whittle your gobo and soak in water for at least 10 minutes. Drain.
When your onions are cool, add them to a bowl.
Add the gobo and the meat, okara, panko, egg, milk, salt, pepper
Mix well
Form into 2 patties
Coat one side with the sesame seeds
Add 1 tablespoon oil to a heated pan and fry the patties with the sesame seed side down first.
Turn over and when cooked through
Add the ingredients for the sauce into the pan
As the pan sizzles turn the patties over to coat well with the sauce.

IMG_6149 NOTES: the hardest part of this recipe was whittling the gobo. When I whittled my gobo, some of my pieces were thick, so these stuck out of the patty. I also omitted the salt.

The recipe makes 2 large patties, so instead I made 4 small ones.

Also, the sauce evaporates quickly, so you need to work fast to coat both sides of the patties with the sauce.

I liked this dish because it incorporates okara and gobo.

I'm making this again.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

botani curry

IMG_6128 I recently tried Botani Curry.

It is a teeny shop and they are only open for lunch.

I went with their Botani Curry, a chicken based curry with 3 types of keema...900 yen (with tax).

You can have them adjust the spiciness but I left it as is.

You can also add toppings, but I didn't.

The curry comes with lots of different pickles. Which was nice.

There was chicken, minced beef/pork and I think tuna for the different types of keemas.

It was a nice spiciness, not "burn your mouth off". There was just enough rice to finish the dish too.

I was mesmerized by the regulars who would come in and rattle off different orders in some kind of code.

I was also surprised at the amount of men that were eating here compared to women.

They also have a shrimp curry (coconut milk based) and a chicken curry (also coconut milk based).

I think the next time I come here, I'll try a different curry and some of the add-on toppings.

I'll be back.

Botani Curry
4-5-3 Kawaramachi
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: none
Closed Sundays
Hours: 11:00-16:00

Friday, April 11, 2014

roca's cabbage apple & sesame salad

IMG_6142 I recently came across Roca's recipes books...this is the same cafe I went to, that recently closed its doors.

The recipes are quite easy and I like that they use a lot of veggies.

I tried the cabbage, apple & sesame salad recipe.

Roca's cabbage apple & sesame salad: from "Roca no Teishoku" serves 2

1 leaf cabbage (60 grams)
1 bell pepper (30 grams)
1/8 red onion (25 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 apple (60 grams)

1.5 tablespoons ground sesame seeds
1 tablespoon vinegar
pepper

Julienne the cabbage, bell pepper
Thinly slice the red onion
Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mix everything with your hands and set aside
Slice the apple, thinly but not too thin
Squeeze out any water from the cabbage mixture
Mix with the apple and add the last 3 ingredients
Mix well.
Chill before eating.

NOTES: super refreshing! it's crunchy, a little puckery. Sweet from the apple and a little bite from the red onion.

Our bell peppers are really teeny, so that is why 30 grams is the size for the 1 bell pepper. I used a red bell pepper and also ground black sesame seeds.

I've already made this twice (once with ground black sesame seed and the other with ground brown sesame seeds) and Satoshi really likes this salad.

Another type of cole slaw...I am gonna make this often this summer!

p.s. made it to the end of the week, hope you have a nice weekend!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

saturday

IMG_6088 This past Saturday, Satoshi's German class started up again.

So, I had my breakfast while I waited for his class to finish.

I checked out The City Bakery. If you remember I ate here on my birthday. I thought I could try their famous pretzel croissants, but they don't sell them THAT early in the morning...boo!

So, I went with their sesame azuki muffin, so good! It seemed like they baked this muffin straight in the tins because there was a slight "crust" to the whole muffin.

I like that the majority of the muffin was sesame seeds and there were only a few beans here and there, giving it a little sweetness. I want to try to re-create this one.

The maple bacon scone was hard.as.rock. but delicious.

With coffee my tab came out close to 1000 yen...a bit pricey.

But, their coffee is good...I'll be back!

IMG_6090 After breakfast, I still had a couple of hours to wait, so I walked around and found some sakura on the top of one of the high risers...

IMG_6091 Our weather is still krazy. Temps during the day go up really high and then temps at night go really low...

I know, I know... in a couple of weeks I'll be griping about how hot and humid it is...