Monday, March 27, 2017

out and about in kyoto

Untitled Saturday, we went to Kyoto to visit Satoshi's grandma's grave.

Then we walked to Ichijo-modoribashi to check out their sakura (cherry blossoms)...well, it was only 1 tree, but it was still beautiful.

Untitled We then walked to Demachiyanagi to see the trees at Chotokuji.

There were many tourists photographing the blooms (including us)...

Untitled Afterwards, we went down to Fushimi.

This area has very clean water so there are sake breweries especially two major ones, Gekkeikan & Kizakura.

Untitled We also spotted some early blooming cherry trees inside a school.

All in all, it was a beautiful day despite all the junk in the air.

Friday, March 24, 2017

5-day roast pork butt

Untitled I tried this 5-day roast pork butt a couple of times now from a shop we have in the area called Co-Op.

I like how there aren't many ingredients involved...just pork, shoyu, sugar, mirin, honey, ginger, mizuame (rice malt syrup), thickener & oil.

(sorry, forgot to note that it takes 5 days to make when I first posted this)

Untitled Tastes like char siu without the food coloring.

They don't always have this, nor do I always shop here, but when I do go there, I try to pick it up.

It comes with a packet of sauce.

Untitled To eat it, I usually put some rice in a bowl, then I heat up the meat with some veggies, add an egg and then drizzle the sauce over everything.

Super comforting flavors.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2 more to go

Untitled After taking the zabuton out of their covers...I realized I have 3 blue ones and 3 creme colored ones.

Yesterday, I went back to MUJI to pick up 2 more zabuton and worked on changing the innards.

I'm happy I am getting faster at doing this.

Untitled I will probably go back to MUJI over the weekend to purchase the last 2.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

o-higan

Untitled It's O-higan...around the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes, most Buddhist sects observe this time.

Similar to O-bon, many visit family graves and think of loved ones.

I think it is cool that every year around this time the cyclamen that we had intended to give Satoshi's grandma blooms.

If you don't know the backstory on this cyclamen, check out this post I wrote here.

Anyway, O-higan ends on the 23rd, and we are planning to visit her grave during the weekend.

Thinking of you Hikone Grandma.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

rainy day project

rainy day project: change innards of zabuton My grandma gave us 6 zabuton (cushion used when you sit on the floor) when we moved to Japan.

rainy day project: change innards of zabuton The innards are quite flat, not "poofy" like the zabuton you see here.

I think it may be due to the type of filling that my grandma used to use.

After asking my aunties about changing the filling, I bought 2 zabuton from MUJI and they are "really poofy".

rainy day project: change innards of zabuton My grandma's filling is about an inch or two thick, while the MUJI one is 4 or 5 inches thick...

rainy day project: change innards of zabuton Anyway, after channeling my grandma & mom (both were great at sewing) and "squeezing" the MUJI zabuton in, I was able to change it...whew!

Instead of buying 6 zabuton all at once, I decided to try with just 2...now I know I can do this and will go back and pick up 4 more.

Thanks Grandma & Mom.

Monday, March 20, 2017

shunbun no hi

early bloomers❤︎  #sakura #osaka #minoo #japan #箕面 #桜 #大阪 #nofilter Today was Shunbun no Hi (Vernal Equinox)...I think Japan might be one of the only countries in the world to have a national holiday for it.

Today was really "warm"...I think the weather dude said Osaka went up to 18C (64F).

We did quite a bit of walking today despite there being a lot of "junk" in the air.

While we were at the mall, we noticed these early blooming cherry blossoms.

We'll be back to single digits tomorrow but it was nice to be out and about today.

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Friday, March 17, 2017

made in japan

Untitled Since we had bought that organic green tea from the Shimabara/Nagasaki food fair, I thought it might be nicer to enjoy this ground up like matcha.

While eating the leaves after brewing was an interesting and delicious way, I feel like being able to drink it would be an easier alternative.

I bought the matcha mill by Porlex.

They are the same company that made the coffee mill that I wrote about here.

Untitled With just 1 gram of green tea.

love this #porlex mill that turns green tea to #matcha ...gotta work on frothing milk though...matcha latte❤︎  #matchalatte #osaka #japan #抹茶ラッテ #ポーレックス #大阪 You can make about a teaspoon or so of matcha.

The package says that 1 gram of tea will be enough for about 1 or 2 cups of matcha...

love this #porlex mill that turns green tea to #matcha ...gotta work on frothing milk though...matcha latte❤︎  #matchalatte #osaka #japan #抹茶ラッテ #ポーレックス #大阪 We tried some this morning with some frothed milk as a latte and think 1 gram is enough for 1 cup rather than 2.

I still have to figure out how to get my frothed milk a little tighter...

Changing the subject...It's St. Patrick's Day and we'll probably be having corned beef and cabbage for dinner since I've not seen fresh corned beef here...

It's also a 3-day weekend here...though Satoshi needs to work tomorrow.

Hope you all have a nice weekend.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

craft burger co.

Untitled The other day, I had intended to have lunch at El.Zocalo Burrito, since it had been some time since the last time I visited.

But when I stood in front of the shop, they had their "closed" sign out and it didn't look like anyone was around.

The wind was icy and I wasn't willing to wait a couple of minutes to see if they would eventually open...

Luckily I spotted Craft Burger Co. just around the corner from El.Zocalo Burrito.

The shop isn't too large, and since they had just opened for business it was still quiet and there weren't any customers.

For 880 yen (tax included), you can choose from their 5 different burgers...

I chose their pulled pork which wasn't an actual burger but a nice sized brioche bun filled with tender pulled pork, bbq sauce and cole slaw.

They gave me a triangle paper sleeve for my burger and told me to put the burger inside before eating...

um, please put the burger in the sleeve for me...since my sandwich wasn't an actual burger it wasn't actually sturdy enough for me to one handedly put it into the sleeve.

I ended up nixing the sleeve and just eating the sandwich with a fork.

Untitled The meal comes with your choice of a side and I am glad I chose these fried potatoes.

The outside was crisp and had a nice amount of rosemary and salt.

For 120 yen more you can order a drink...so I added a cola.

Of course, as I left, I noticed El.Zocalo Burrito had opened for business...

I still hope to go back to El.Zocalo Burrito one day, but if they aren't ready for business, I know where else I can lunch at.

Craft Burger Co.
1-6-12 Kitahorie
Nishi-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6556.6682
Closed Mondays
Hours: 11:30-22:30

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

catch-22

Untitled The other day, I went to Talo Coffee for lunch.

I had intended to try their thick omelette sandwich, but figured I would just miss the serving time (11:00).

When I got there, there were many seats taken and the lunch menu was displayed outside.

The waitress asked me if I was there for lunch, and I said "yes". She then asked, "You aren't here for the thick omelette sandwich?"

(I was actually there for that but figured that they weren't serving it already and said I was there for lunch...)

So I said, "no I'm here for lunch".

She again asked me about the sandwich and I again said I was there for lunch...geez!

I ordered the ladies set which was a daily special...chicken with vegetable italian yaki (which turned out to be chicken, veggies, some ketchup and cheese that was stuck under the broiler)...salad, rice and a mini dessert (which I think was a type of cheesecake) and coffee...990 yen (tax included).

As I waited for my lunch, I people watched...

There was tension in the air from the kitchen trying to fulfill orders and tension from the waitress trying to serve and wipe/wash dishes...

A table with about 3 ladies were having a nice time chatting...

As I was eating...a woman came in and asked if she could order "the sandwich"...they told her she could, but if an order for lunch came in, her order would be put aside until the lunch order was filled...eep!

Apparently in order to make "the sandwich" it takes awhile to make the omelette...still, she agreed to wait if she needed to.

Then, a group of ladies came for "the sandwich" and were told they would need to come back at 13:00 when the lunch crowd died down...

It was then that the owner told the group chatting that they needed to leave in order to turn over their table..

I was shocked to see this as it wasn't overly busy....

It's a kind of catch-22...you want to get your business out there, so you agree to be published in magazines and such...social media adds more "advertising"...the wave hits and you are krazy busy...some go out of business because they cannot keep up...most regulars are unable to visit and this usually leads to your business falling apart...

I can understand that when you are a "one man show" in the kitchen, things can get kind of krazy especially when all the tables are filled...

Untitled I notice that Japan has a hard time saying "no".

If you need to place limits it's what you need to do...

And we should respect these limits...

What I didn't really like about the whole scene was that they were shooing out customers that had just finished eating and were enjoying themselves.

If there was a line out the door waiting for tables, I would understand, but there wasn't.

For now, I'm won't be going back...

Sad because it was a really laid-back place before...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

this and that

Untitled Love seeing all the different produce at the fruit stands...like this huge lemon!

Grown in Wakayama it was only 100 yen (plus tax)!

Untitled I recently have been seeing beets, so I tried pickling it raw...yummy!

This particular variety was called Detroit Dark Red.

golgo in japanese, barbabietola...beets This other variety I found was called Golgo (Gorgo, not sure of the spelling).

Love the pink rings!

We ate it raw, pickled...

Untitled and roasted.

found it:) Saw this Rittersport on Rowena's flickr page and kept my eye out for it.

The stores haven't really been bringing in new flavors, but I'm glad I found it and got to try it...salted honey almonds & milk chocolate...so good! I didn't share...

Untitled Tankan, a type of citrus.

They look really ugly, but when you cut them open they are bright orange.

They don't have any seeds and they are really sweet.

Untitled They reminded me of the oranges my mom used to grow.

What have you been seeing in your markets?

Monday, March 13, 2017

happy birthday MIL

happy birthday MIL!  #kyoto #japan #hyattkyoto #京都 #ハイアットリージェンシー京都 Yesterday was MIL's birthday.

It was a special birthday as she turned 88.

In Japan, they call this birthday "beiju" (bay-joo).

In the early days, most people didn't live past 50 so any age past that was considered a joyous occasion.

Beiju is written with the character for rice.

Rice was respected by everyone not only as a staple but also a symbol of their livelihood and happiness.

A fundamental part of Japanese society, rice also symbolizes purity and goodness.

BIL, SIL and nephew turned out for the occasion.

With everyone's busy schedules, it was nice to get together with everyone.

Happy Birthday MIL!

Friday, March 10, 2017

float lemon tea (heart)

Untitled After that krazy lunch...I went to check out the mall up the street, before catching the bus back home.

As I was wandering in my favorite knick-knack shop...I found the tea with the dried lemon hearts!

The green box has tea from Miyazaki Gokase and the red one has tea from Shimane Izumo.

The heart shaped lemon is from Hiroshima.

Untitled Brew the tea then set the dried lemon on top.

Untitled So cute!

I'm glad I found this and didn't have to enter the lottery to get them.

We're back in a cold snap the past couple of days...have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

merci kitchen

Untitled Love social media, so much info out there on new places to try!

I went to check out Merci Kitchen recently.

Got there just as they were opening up and the waitress asked how many were in my party.

I said "just me".

Boy, was she disappointed and sour after I said that...

She said take a seat in the far corner of the restaurant...but I went for a table away from the direct sunlight.

"That" didn't sit with her too well either as she said, "if you aren't planning to take too long, you can sit there"...

And then she added..."when it gets busy, we'll have to breakup your table for the other party"...

GADS!

They have two types of lunches...two or three entrees...

I chose two from their 7 or so entrees...pork cutlet with raclette cheese and hamburger.

Juicy juicy hamburger and the pork cutlet was cooked perfectly with raclette cheese in the middle.

The salad was a nice portion, there was also a tiny dollop of potato salad and some carrot salad.

Lunch also comes with their soup of the day which was a minestrone.

To end you can also order tea or coffee, I had coffee.

Untitled So was there hordes of people just waiting to get in? Nope, in fact, I had the place all to myself.

Not sure if I would return, especially with that snarkiness.

But the food was delicious.

Merci Kitchen
2-21-16 Nishijuku
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.727.2032
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 11:30-15:00, 17:30-21:30

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

il paradosso

Untitled We stumbled upon Il Parradosso when we were looking for lunch one weekend...

They have an all-you-can-eat salad & bread area...all you need to do is order a pasta, pizza or meat dish.

I was impressed that they had veggies like watermelon radish.

The breads that I tried were so-so.

Untitled I ordered their beef tongue ragout which was good, but I think they put more proscuitto than beef tongue in their sauce though.

It was the first time someone put plastic gloves on to shave cheese over my pasta...

There was more sauce than pasta, so I gave it to Satoshi so he could mop it up with bread.

In fact, when he went to get some more bread, I was instructed to keep an eye on the plate so that the waitstaff wouldn't clear it...

The restaurant changes to a la carte for dinner, still, we want to check them out.

We'll be back!

Il Paradosso
Aste Kawanishi 3F
Kawanishi, Hyogo
Phone: 072.744.2631
Closed when the mall is
Hours: 11:00-22:00

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

frozen konnyaku

Untitled Awhile back I posted about using konnyaku in my cooking...here.

In that post, I mentioned that by freezing konnyaku, it is supposed to have the texture of meat.

Well, I tried freezing some.

Untitled Doesn't it look like meatballs?!

Well, I cooked it in the shogayaki sauce I posted about recently.

Untitled NOTES: Funky texture...like eating gristle...maybe if you use sliced konnyaku it would be more "meat-like".

It was an interesting experiment though.

Might give frozen sliced konnyaku a try...maybe.

Monday, March 06, 2017

mikan rice

Untitled Interested in recreating the mikan onigiri that we tried in Matsuyama, I looked online to see if there was a recipe online.

There were many...

I chose one that would be simple and that probably everyone could replicate too.

This one is adapted from the one on the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries site...

Makes 1/2 cup of rice

1/2 cup rice, washed
1/2 cup mikan juice, fresh squeezed or your fave
about 1 teaspoon of mikan peel, diced

Put everything into the rice cooker, let everything sit for about 30 minutes then cook.

NOTES: super easy and the mikan flavor isn't too overpowering.

The first couple of tries I had put in some maitake in, but feel it turned the rice a brownish color.

I served this with chicken, but you can serve with your favorite main dish.

If you up the amount of rice & juice, keep the peel to the 1 teaspoon.

I think this would look nice in bento for Spring/Winter.

I'm making this again.

Friday, March 03, 2017

cafe jiji

 After lunch, Hiromi and I went to Cafe Jiji.

We both had their chocolate parfait...super chocolatey and I loved that semi-dried orange that was dipped in chocolate (hidden behind the parfait).

I ordered coffee while Hiromi had tea.

This tiny cafe was super quiet.

I'm glad Hiromi invited me to lunch with her. It was nice chatting, laughing and eating.

I definitely want to come back to try their lunch menu.

I'll be back.

Cafe Jiji
2-17-10 Ishibashi
Ikeda, Osaka
Phone: 090.8829.5816
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 9:00-18:30

Thursday, March 02, 2017

the loaf cafe & bakery

Untitled Earlier in February a new cafe/bakery opened up...The Loaf Cafe & Bakery.

When I walked past on opening day, the line was krazy, so a week later, I went past again and there wasn't any line, so I picked up some breads for us to have for dinner with some wine.

Gorgonzola with honey & a bacon epi.

Untitled Then last week, I met up with Hiromi for lunch there.

Luckily she had made reservations...boy, was the line long to get in for lunch!

I ordered the pot-au-feu..which came with a huge salad and all-you-can-eat bread.

Untitled The portions are so huge though that we didn't get any refills on bread.

Untitled This past Saturday, Satoshi and I went for breakfast.

You can choose from their baked items and order coffee.

Loved the pain au chocolat croissant (chocolate in every bite!) and tuna danish.

Since we ate there for breakfast, most items have just come out of the oven so everything is still warm!

I know we'll be back and hope this place will be able to make a go of things (the past establishments weren't too lucky)

The Loaf Cafe & Bakery
2-4-23 Seifuso
Toyonaka, Osaka
Phone: 06.6842.2217
Open everyday
Hours: Bakery 8:00-20:00, Cafe 11:00-23:00

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

good cacao 33.8

IMG_9793 While in Matsuyama, we stopped into Good Cacao 33.8, the first bean to bar chocolate maker for this area.

Apparently 33.8 degrees is the temperature (in Celsius) that chocolate melts at and 33.8 is also the north latitude of where Dogo Onsen is located in Matsuyama.

We picked up two bars to try.

Untitled The crushed almond is 70% cacao with crushed almonds. The cacao comes from Haiti.

I thought the almonds had no flavor, but I liked the chocolate...a little bitter and fruity

Untitled The second bar was a 70% cacao from Vietnam.

This one had slices of iyokan peel (the citrus of the area).

I think this chocolate was fruity also.

I'm glad we got to try these and it made a nice souvenir from the area.

I hope more bean to bar places will catch on in the years to come.

Good Cacao 33.8
20-14 Dogo-yunomachi
Matsuyama, Ehime
Phone: 089.934.4833