Umeshu Season!

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This is Umeshu making season in Shizuoka!

I decided to make my own, even if I am breaking all the rules!

Here how I proceeded in the secrecy of my office (even my better-worse half does not know about it!):

Bought 1 kg of green “ume” (Japanese plums) from a local grocery, 1kg of “koorizato” (“Ice sugar”) at Tomitaya Saketen.
To which I added in the most extravaganta manner:

1 bottle (720ml) of Kumpai Meguriai Honjyozo (Kumpai Brewery/Shizuoka City)

1 bottle (720ml) of Sugii Shodai Saisuke Kome/Rice shochu.

I cleaned the ume/plums, dropped them in jar especially conceived for home-made shochu, added all the sugar and poured in the above two bottles.

I closed it tight, marked the date on the lid, put in a cool area away from the light and will wait until next winter!

Blueberries Season

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Blueberries are already being harvested in Sena farms, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City!
For example, Mr. Tsutomu Fujimaki (57) who has been growing the fruit for the last 7 years has started picking 20 varieties of blueberries from no less than 600 plantings.
The ripe fruit reach as much as 1cm diameter.
Apart of the best items found fresh on your tables, a lot will go to make succulent jams.
Some gourmets even preserve in shochu or sake!
Some fine samples can be bought at the Shizuoka JA direct agricultural products sale shop in Shizuoka City.

Open Cafe: Caffe Ciccio

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In this era of fast food and uniform “chain” cafeterias, it is refreshing to find that at least one true old-fashioned (traditional) open cafe has braved the trebds through the ages and still welcomes a slow-food clientele who value quality and good service over speed and cheap prices.

Opening its large bay window-doors onto Shichikencho, Ciccio in Shizuoka City is a small haven of tranquility where you can sit, have a drink or meal and enjoy the spectacle outside on your own or in gregarious company (or make new friends!)

Real coffee lovers will be glad to know that more than 20 varieties of their favourite beverage are available along more than 10 international beers and a plethora of liqueurs. For wine lovers, Ciccio offers all what you can drink from 4 varieties at 1,575 yen per person!
At lunch (11:00~14:30) you can choose either of the two sets of the day. As of June 11th, 2007, they offered a doria set or pasta set for 945 yen with salad, homemade bread, and a drink! as for single dishes, paninin (420 yen) and pizza (650 yen) are available.
For dinner (17:30~22:00), salads and antipasti are on but have a talk with the chef and they will tell what they have in the fridge to accomodate your appetite! (great quiches, by the way!)

Of course cakes and ice-creams are on display for the sweet teeth!

Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, shichikencho, 13-20
Tel. & Fax: 0542528767
Opening hours: 11:30~22:00
Clsed on Tuesdays

The Ale House in Fujieda City

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There are very few pubs, I mean real pubs, British or Irish, worth noticing in our Prefecture.
But I surely don’t mind traveling all the way from Shizuoka City to Fujieda City and come back with the last train back home under the questioning looks from commuters going back to their sleeping town! Fortunately The Ale House is only less than 10 minutes away from the south exit of the JR Station!

It has become one of those “kakureya” (“hidden spots”) that a lot of residents expats talk about, and deservedly so.

But I let my English friend Patrick of Think Twiceguide me along and introduce me to the matser of the Place, Mr. Masayuki Saitou
Mr. Saitou explained us he opened his Pub in 1995 out a search for a new challenge away from the dreary life of a typical Japanese “salaryman”, and indulge in his hobby, namely whisky.
Talking of whisky, he does have an impression collection, but you will have to ask him to show it as it is protected from the spotlights inside wooden cabinets!
Now, if you are a beer lover, he has an extra treat for you, a proof of his dedication:

He has the full range of the beers produced by Bryan Baird at the Taproom in Numazu City! For us ale and port lovers in Shizuoka City, it is a great boon as Bryan’s beer is the one to taste!
Interestingly enough, people here do not know we do have quite a few notable “jibiru”, microbreweries, in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Now if you are into cocktails, no worries, the Ale House has more than you can drink.
And if you hungry, the fare is definitely above average!
Now, when will I be able to go back there? Soon, you can garantee!

The Ale House
426-0061 Fujieda City, Tanuma, 1-4-12 (JR Station South Exit)
Te. & Fax: 054-6362889
Opening hours: 18:30~25:00
Closed on Mondays (Tuesdays are open, even in the case of a National Holiday)

Izakaya: Yukichi

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The city of Fujieda have seen a lot of changes these past years with more people coming to live there due to the crowding of nearby Shizuoka City. The old JR Station has disappeared to be replaced by a whole urban complex around both exits. It means that the city has more or less become the “bedtown” of Shizuoka City. It is not all negative as it has encouraged businesses, especially in the restaurateur’ field, to set shop for the benefit of returning workers and company employees.
And some of them are definitely worth visiting.

So, Patrick of Think Twice met me last Friday at Fujieda Station and we went to Yukichi I had a checked an hour before.

Yukichi is an izakaya of a better standard opened in 2005 and it is extremely popular. We were very lucky to get our seats as most were already reserved! Most customers are in their early 30’s.
Now as a general rule, one should patronize only izakaya who serve local sake/jizake. We were not disappointed: Yukichi has some great ones on hand from Aoshima Brewery/Kikuyoi (Fujieda City) and Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)!
I also always make a point to order a chef’s sashimi set recommendation.
The one we were served (see pic above) included not only great fish but succulent chicken sashimi. An acquired taste for some I must agree, but such an unusual combination.

Now, the fact that especially makes you want to come back to Yukichi is that the Lady in charge, Ms. Yoko Naruoka will come to show you a tray with the fresh fish of the day for you to choose from before the “banchyo/chef”, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi prepares your choice either as sashimi or cooked fish as you wish. We opted for “kisu tempura” and “maguro no kama yaki”!

As we had planned to visit another place later, we limited ourselves to a glass of each sake cited above with an extra serving of “tamago yaki” and took our leave with the promise to come back very soon!

Fujieda City, Ekimae, 1-7-21, taiko Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-6469494
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays and every second Monday

Italian Restaurant: Via Del Burgo

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There is a plethora of Italian restaurants in Shizuoka City. But when it comes to consider quality and originality, the five fingers of a hand would be too many to count them!

Via Del Burgo is fortunately one of them!

Do take your time before ordering from the blackboard hung against the wall. This is a slow food Italian restaurant anyway.
They have a good wine list with seasonal recommendations. We decided to try the recommendation:

A Milleuve, very dry white from Venezia Giullia 2003 that was just perfect, if not complex, with the food.
As our order was taking some time, we were offered some grilled vegetables (above) before being served an assortment of antipasti:

Brruschietta, parma Ham, Ratatouille, Tomato salad and rice-stuffed calamari.
Next came a specialty of the house:

Suteed scallops and avocado topped with tomato salad with just enough seasoning. A real find!
As I could not escape from my better half’s pasta order, we had a succulent

Linguine with “sazae” (turbo shell), anchovy, green olives and Puttanesca Tomato. I must admit I was impressed!
It was about time to savour my order:

Deep-fried ris de veau (Veal spleen) with baked risotto.
Now, that was a beauty! Ris de veau requires a perfect timing, so you can imagine the difficulty of the seemingly easy dish that Mr. Takahiko Kato is so expert at preparing!
The fact he spent a whole year in Italy in perfecting his art at famous establishments after a long experience in Japan explain things!
We still have some space left. Mr. Kato proposed something off the menu:

Iberico pork sauteed together with spring potatoes and garlic. The perfect balance.
We were full by then, and as usual we shall have to come back soon again to tackle the desserts!

Via Del Burgo
420-0035 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi-Ku, Shichikencho, 8-26
Tel & Fax: 054-2217666
Business hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:30~22:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Credit cards OK

Baird Beer Seasonal Releases – Numazu Lager & 40-Shilling Ale

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Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2007 #13

Topic: Baird Beer Seasonal Releases – Numazu Lager & 40-Shilling Ale

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Warmer weather means greater thirst and greater thirst demands larger quantities of quenching and moderate alcohol beer. After long, hot days in the brewery the Baird Beer team will be reaching for two newly released seasonal Baird Beers for thirst-quenching nourishment: Numazu Lager and 40-Shilling Ale.

(1) Numazu Lager (ABV: 5.0%): Amber-gold in color, softly floral in aroma and roundly malty in flavor, Baird Numazu Lager strikes a perfect balance between complexity and drinkability. The smooth lager character is accentuated by a long period (four months) of post-packaging cold
conditioning. The pinpoint natural carbonation that is achieved during this long period of conditioning and maturation ensures that the last sip is a fresh and effervescent as the first.

(2) 40-Shilling Ale (ABV: 3.2%): This is the lightest (i.e. lowest gravity and alcohol content) in the trilogy of classic Scottish-style ales that Baird Beer brews (the others being 60-Shilling and 80-Shilling). 40-Shilling weighs in at an amazingly low 8.7 degrees Plato and due to high
mashing temperatures attenuates (apparent attenuation) only to 69%. This is a quintessential session beer whose light character is betrayed by a dark amber-brown color and a fairly heavy malt flavor that is bready and biscuity in character. Baird 40-Shilling Ale would make an excellent breakfast accompaniment to English muffins and strawberry jam!

Both beers will be served on draught at the Fishmarket Taproom beginning Thursday, June 7. Each will be available also through select Baird Beer retailers throughout Japan.


Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan