Tag Archives: 野菜

Nashi-Japanese Pears at Ichikawa Garden in Iwata City!

Two generations of Japanese Pear growers: Takeshi and his parents, Toshiyuki and Kumiko Ichikawa/市川、利行、久美子さん!

Nashi/梨/called Japanese Pears, Nashi Pears or Sand Pears and many other names are the fruit of hot summers par excellence!
One has to bite into one of these crunchy and extremely juicy, and absolutely delicious, fruits once to understand why Nashi Pears are also venerated as the true fruits of life!

It was another blinding hot day again yesterday and I was certainly grateful for Takeshi San to come all the way to Toyoda Cho Station and then to take me all the way again to their fields and house!
The same fields are heavily protected by nets for all kinds of obvious natural reasons!

Housui Pears/豊水梨!

The Ichikawas mainly grow two varieties of nashi pear, Housui/豊水 and Kosui/辛水, the former ripening in August and September and the latter in full production right now.
Both are extremely juicy and tasty!

Hosui Pear, still comparatively small.

Kosui Pears/辛水梨!

The Kosui Pears are lighter in color wth a different skin pattern.

Growing nashi pears organically at sea level is practically impossible but all that grass proves that the Ichikiwas use only the strict minimum of pesticides! Actually, they have cut all ties with official “Agriculture Associations” so as to conduct the agriculture they think is right!

A lot of pears fall naturally and they will be included with other natural fertilizer to be mixed with the soil when they till the ground between the trees in winter.

I can assure you it is tough work to keep these orchards clean in their three locations for a total of 40 acres, what with typhoons and other unpredictable weather conditions!

For all the hard work harvesting lettuces in winter, corn in spring, pears in summer and rice in autumn, they never stop smiling!

The crop of the day!

A lot of manual and mechanical work involved!

Takeshi’s father started his orchards 30 years ago and gradually replacing all these trees takes time and care.
The above have a difference of more than 25 years! The old one is actually about to collapse!

The orchards have to be protected not only with nets against birds but also with electric wires against civets!

Takeshi san took me to another field where new trees had been planted 5 years ago and bore their first commercial crop!
A lot of investment is involved there!

These new branches will be bent down into a canopy at head level for better reach and control!

These are actually a new variety called nikkori/にっこり that matures as late as October!

You will not find the Ichikawas’ pears in any shop as they sell them only directly at their orchards or from personal order!
Even so they have a hard time satisfying all the demand. A proof of the extravagant quality!

Already all packed and ready to go!
Don’t worry, I managed to get mine!
Actually I can help you get them personally!

As any farmers worth their salt, the Ichikawas grow all kinds of vegetables for their own use and extra earnings!
I took a big batch of those beautiful okra back home!

To be continued…

ICHIKAWA GARDEN
Takeshi Ichikawa/Chouchou Farm
438-0804 Shizuoka Ken, Iwata Shi, Kamo, 200
静岡県磐田市加茂200
Tel/Fax: 0538-34-0629
Mobile: 080-1614-2271

Lettuce: October~April
Corn: June~July (May for greenhouse)
Japanese pears/nashi: August~September
Rice: Middle of September
Other vegetables (please call for more information!)
Private orders welcome!

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Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Organic Vegetables at Kitayama Organic Farm (2nd interview)

My purchase of the day!

As promised last Sunday I went all the way to Fujinomiya City yesterday to pay a visit to the Hirakakis’ Kitayama organic farm!
Masaaki Hirakaki/平垣正明さん (45) was kind enough to pick me up at the station in his small pick-up truck to drive me all the way to their home across his fields.

Masaaki Hirakaki/平垣正明さん!

Once again it was flaming hot and I certainly appreciated the slight drop in temperature as their fields lie at an altitude of 400 meters at the foot of Mount Fuji (which was lost in the clouds then). Mind you, it can be bitingly cold there in winter!

They grow all kinds of vegetables here and there on plots of land totaling 6,000 square meters!

When you discover all that natural grass (tough to keep in check!) between the rows of vegetables and among them you understand quickly that no insecticides, herbicides or agrichemicals are used there!

I just couldn’t catch all the names of the fancy vegetables, some of them in some kind of Italian. I just sweated too much and was too busy to take pics to jot down all the names! Next time I will take a secretary along…?
Anyway, these chili peppers are a sweet variety!

Common (?) green pepper.

Dwarf violet eggplant/aubergine.

Big and round violet eggplant/aubergine.

The same in its row.
Notice that the ground is protected with black vinyl to keep off insects.

Long and thin “thread eggplants/aubergines”!

Very crunchy and juicy Japanese cucumber!

Sweet potatoes/satsuma imo!
Again tough work to pull off that grass (used as compost later!)!

Beautiful pumpkin with an impossible Italian name!

The same and its flower!

I love all those healthy pumpkin flowers!

Instead of using insecticides or herbicides Masaaki “burns” the soil under vinyl sheets with the help of natural sun light and heat!

There is certainly no lack of pure water constantly flowing from the slopes of Mount Fuji!

Green okra!
Some plants are marked with a ribbon to indicate they are let grow freely to supply next year’s seeds!

Okra flowers are edible!

Big violet okra grown for their seeds!

Masaaki also grows his own rice, half for his own consumption, half for sale!

Have you ever seen rice flowers?

These tomatoes are not let to grow on stalks. They are for cooking, not to be eaten raw!

Sweet white corn field! It has to be protected with nets to fend off rampant civets!

Incredibly sweet and juicy eaten raw!

The Hirakakis (both 45 and so young!) in front of their home they built with their own hands!

Part of the day’s crop on sale!

Their home is such an intelligent jumble of bits and pieces, including some real antiques!

They do have many friends of all ages from all sorts of locations to help them organize regular parties!
Many of them are producers I will soon visit!

Organic shallots left to dry outside.

Rare organic chicken and quail eggs from a friend’s farm!

We actually went back to the fields to pick my favorite banana peppers! Incidentally these grow upwards!
The Hirakakis, professional photographers, moved here from Shizuoka City 6 years ago.
At the time Kiko had a pet rabbit she fed with organic carrot leaves grown by a friend.
They started to grow organic carrots for the pet, which developed into full-fledged organic agriculture!

Little beauties, aren’t they?

Tomatoes for cooking!

Kiko san fried the same tomatoes with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and cheese!
So sweet and delicious!

We ate them with these enormous organic sweet basil leaves!

I purchased all these for my friends in their izakaya!

Aki Suzuki/鈴木朋さん at Yasaitei/やさい亭 in Shizuoka City!
She does not look too happy, not because of the beautiful vegetables she holds, but because I caught her on a busy day! LOL

Can you guess which ones I brought?

To be continued…. I mean these trips to Fujinomiya City!

Kitayama Organic Farm
Masaaki and Kiko Hirakaki
418-0112 Fujinomiya Shi, Kitayama, 3102
Tel./Fax: 0544-25-2795
Mobile phone: 090-2261-8821
HOMEPAGE
Orders accepted according to personal priorities and seasonal availability!

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Must-see tasting websites:

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-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Organic Vegetables at Kitayama Organic Farm (1st interview)

As the second Sunny Sunday Event was held in front of Parco Department Store, Shizuoka City, yesterday I went to check if I could find new participants to this local market featuring shops and growers from all over the Prefecture.

It certainly paid off as I had the pleasure to meet Masaaki and Kiko Hirakaki/平垣雅章と紀子さん, a very young-minded couple from as far as Fujinomiya City at the foot of Mount Fuji, an area celebrated for its many organic vegetables growers!

Kiko had this great idea to exhibit their vegetables in pots, pans, baskets and boxes and provide customers with osier baskets to choose their vegetables at their own leisure!

These beautiful pumpkins are not easily available in Europe but here in Japan they are very popular!

It is certainly a great pleasure for a lot of people to discover that such common place vegetables are also grown organically!

So cute and so appetizing!

Actually Mr. and Mrs. Hirakakい are also professional photographers who decided to seriously grow organic vegetables 4 years ago!

They were so passionate explaining everyone all about their vegetables, their season, their taste, the best way to cook them and so forth!

They certainly attracted some major celebrities of Shizuoka Gastronomy!
I very much doubt I will be able to take such a picture at ease any time in the future:
Ms. Tokiko Hirano/平野斗紀子さんof Tamara Press
Mr. Testuya Sugimoto/杉本哲也さん, Owner/Chef at Tetsuya Sugimoto
Mr. Tooru Arima/有馬亨さん/Owner/Chef at Pissenlit
Mr. Fujio Satsukawa/薩川さん/Owner/Chef at Chez Satsukawa
It also shows that the Hirakakis have attracted some serious interest!

Look at the beauties I bought and that the Missus is going to prepare for us tonight!

I will have ample opportunity to explain all about their vegetables and varieties as I’m going all the way to Fujinomiya City and interview them very soon!

Kitayama Organic Farm
Masaaki and Kiko Hirakaki
418-0112 Fujinomiya Shi, Kitayama, 3102
Tel./Fax: 0544-25-2795
Mobile phone: 090-2261-8821
HOMEPAGE

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Must-see tasting websites:

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-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Chicken Meatballs Spaghettini with Marutaka Farm Puree

Cooking, especially at home, shouldn’t be difficult.
The point is to find and use good ingredients

Marutaka Farm/まるたか農園 in Miyakoda, Hamamatsu City makes a truly extravagant tomato puree made with tomatoes originally grown solely to be eaten fresh. Not wishing to throw away good produce during the peak harvest season they started making this sauce with the pulp of the tomatoes with the sole addition of salt!

You can adapt it to any Italian recipes but must keep in mind it is not as concentrated as European tomato purees but more like sauces.
Each jar contains 270 g, enough to devise a recipe for two.

Chicken Meatballs Spaghettini with Marutake Farm Puree

Meat balls:
Minced chicken
Grated garlic
Grated Ginger
Japanese sake or white wine (just enough for taste)
Salt
Pepper
Mayonnaise (to liaise instead of eggs)

Above proportions are up to your taste, so experiment!
Mix the whole and make small balls.

Fry some thinly sliced onions in olive oil first in a large and fairly deep frypan onver medium high fire until they have become transparent.
Add meat balls and fry until they have change color to a light brown. Lower fire to medium low.

Start preparing the spaghettini.

Add a whole jar of Marutaka Tomato Puree and cook for a while. Add 1 large tablespoon of Port wine, 1 large tablespoon of basil sauce, pepper and a little curry mix powder. Add chili pepper powder if you like your pasta hot.

Add plenty of grape tomatoes and cook on a medium fire for a while or until spaghettini are ready.
Drain the pasta and transfer it into the sauce pan. Mix well. Add edamame and sliced black olives and mix again.

Serve hot!

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Must-see tasting websites:

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-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Italian Cuisine: Dinner at Contorno in Mochimune!

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable.
Strong points: Many local products be they from the land or the sea. Organic vegetables. Car park.
no-smoking-logo1 Entirely non-smoking!
Map

Mochimune in Shizuoka City is famous all over Japan for its shirasu/シラス/sardine whiting but it has other treasures to be discovered such as white peaches, oranges, a whole array of fish and seafood and a more than excellent Italian restaurant, Contorno!
I had never visited it for dinner although I had the occasions to enjoy great lunches there.
I finally had the opportunity when the young IT staff of Agrigraph joined me for dinner on a busy Friday evening!

As I had three specialists armed with all kinds of electronic devices with me, for once I didn’t have to worry about taking photographs!

The heat had been hellish that day so a beer was in order!

All vegetables used at Contorno are cultivated organically at Nagomi Farm in Fujinomiya City and the salmon is smoked on site!

24-months old raw Parma Ham!

The same with an organic vegetable salad! Extravagant!

The Italian wine amateurs will be happy to learn that Contorno has a decent list for all tastes and budgets!

For the connoisseurs!

Contorno is also renown for its pizza entirely prepared, fermented and baked in a large oven on site.
The above pizza is a Mochimune specialty: Shirasu and mozzarella pizza!

A second great pizza made with semi-dried tomatoes (organic) and raw ham!

I judge the quality of an Italian Restaurant on its gnocchi more than anything else!
These gnocchi in peperocino sauce and large prawns are a certainly a must in Contorno!

It certainly deserved a closer view!

If you must have pasta, then I would definitely recommend their short pasta!

And don’t go for anything fancy! The tomato peperocino is the best!

Served with a beautiful piquant olive oil for the customers who like their food spicy!

If you can manage some space in your stomach you must try Contorno’s desserts!
The sole lady among us couldn’t resist this chocolate cake in blueberry sauce!

As for the “boys” it was cappucino! Sorry, I had already sipped half when I took the picture!

See you again in the Fall/Autumn!

CONTORNO
421-0122, Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku, Mochimune, 5-1-10, Sunrise Mochimune (5 minutes walk from Mochimune JR Station. Second stop after Shizuoka)
Tel.: 054-2565877
Business hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:00~21:30
Closed on Wednesdays
Credit Cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
BLOG

Lunch sets: 1,480 yen~
Dinner: Appetizers: 500~yen, 1,000 yen~
Pasta: 930 yen~
Pizza (oven-baked): 1,180 yen~
Carte available

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Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Chinese Cuisine: Hana Oto

Service: Very friendly and attentive
Equipment: Great general cleanliness. Beautiful toilets
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Great use of local ingredients in beautiful Chinese Cuisine. Great sake and shochu!

Whatever the nationality or the genre of the gastronomy, a good chef makes an exclusively use of ingredients not only superlative but whenever possible local! Only then the skills make the difference between a good and a great chef!

The entrance to Hana Oto/華音 is simple and unassuming, always a good sign!

Chef Yuusuke Toozaki/登崎雄介 had recently to move to a larger establishment to be able to welcome all his guests!
It is always a good idea to reserve a seat either at the counter or on the tatami floor!

The man himself (frightening smile!)

First of all he caters for all tastes as far as drinks come!

A shochu paradise!

You may as well as consult him before choosing a shochu if that is what you want!
Of course beer and wine are available!

Nice tokkuri!

As for the Japanese sake, there is plenty to choose from, too!
At least three great sake from Shizuoka Prefecture are catered!

Now Hana Oto is one of the rare restaurants serving Amagi Shamo, arguably the best chicken in the Prefecture and probably Japan!

This chicken is, among others, fed with wasabi leaves and soy milk from Izu Peninsula!

Served with freshly grated Shizuoka wasabi (and maybe a little soy sauce), a rare delicacy!

On that night I had beautiful sake brewed by Eikun (Yui) and Sugii (Fujieda) breweries!

Jukusei Tomato to Tamago Pirikara Itame/熟成とまとト卵ピリ辛炒め/Stir-fried hot ripe tomatoes and eggs!

Toozaki san makes an extensive use of the best quality vegetables of the Prefecture!
These ripe tomatoes were grown at Suzuki Tomato Garden in Shizuoka City!

A fulfilling and healthy dish with a great balance!

Unctuous eggs fried to perfection!

Nasu no Shyouga Shoyu Itame/茄子の生姜醤油炒め/Stir-ried eggplants in ginger and soy sauce!

These eggplants were grown organically in a family garden in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City, proving a great search for the best ingredients!

Matsuki Farm Romeenu Retasu to Hikiniku no Pirikara Itame/松木ファームロメーンレタストひき肉のピリ辛炒め/Hot stir-fried Matsuki Farm Romaine Lettuce and minced meat!

The Romaine lettuce was organically grown at Matsuki Farm in Fujinomiya City!

Well, you can be assured this is only the start of a long relationship considering the untried dishes and the changes with seasons!
Keep tuned! LOL

HANA OTO/華音
420-0032 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Ryougae Cho, 5-8, Shin Kamogawa Bldg., 2F-D
Business hours: 17:30~24:00
Closed on Mondays

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Italian Cuisine: Dinner at Il Castagno!

Service: Very friendly and attentive
Equipment: Great general cleanliness
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Great appetizers. Home-made pasta!.
Entirely non-smoking!

Not many chefs spend their good time making their own fresh pasta in Japan, and that only would be a good enough reason to visit Il Castagno in Shizuoka City!
But Chef Kenji Inami 謙司, who spent quite some time in the South of Italy, also endeavors to use ingredients from our Prefecture, be they vegetables, meat or fish for the best freshness and quality!

I’ve visited his restaurant countless times but only for lunch. Since we have just moved in the neighborhood we finally had the chance to share a full dinner there!

One cannot enjoy a true Italian dinner without (lots of) wine!
This white Lugano was perfect for a start!

We started with the set of appetizers!

Vegetables and Parmegiano quiche!

Deep-fried Parmegiano balls!

Home-smoked salmon!

Home-made ham!

Squid ink pasta!

Pork Pate di Campani with home-made pickles!

Exclusively home-made bread!

By then the white wine had disappeared, so we switched to a fine Montalcino red!

The Suruga Bay in Shizuoka has enough varieties of fish to satisfy any cuisine in the world!

Madai/red seabream~grouper!

We then naturally switched to pasta mode!
I dare say that Il Castagno offers the best (home-made) short pasta in town!

But you must also try his own style of Bolognese long pasta!

For a closer view!
Next time I’m thinking of a pasta only dinner! LOL

Yes, we still had room for dessert!

Fig compote!

Tempting, aren’t they?

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist the cheese!

It is a promise: next time all pasta!

Il Castagno
420-0843 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Tomoe Cho, 48
Tel/Fax: 054-247-0709
Business hours: 11:45~14:00, 17:30~21:00
Closed every Monday and 3rd Tuesday
Credit cards OK (dinner only)
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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