Shizuoka Hotsprings: Atagawa Dai-Ichi Hotel

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Report and pictures courtesy of Patrick Harrington

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Atagawa Dai Ichi Hotel
413-0302, Kamo Gun, Higashi Izu Machi, Naramoto, 1267-2, Izu Atagawa Hotsprings
Tel.: 0557-23-2200
Prices: 10,500~16,800 per person per night, breakfast and dinner included.

You might think that a visit to Atagawa in East Izu City would be solely for the delights of a hot spring soak. But the Atagawa Daichi Hotel is no one-trick pony. Indeed it has its indoor and outdoor spas, complete with scenic views of the sea below. But we had read from customers’ comments that the food in this mid-priced hotel was surprisingly good.
And it was.

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Everything was served together. Two bowls were heated by wax candles, and as these simmered away we tucked into the multitude of dishes on offer.
In one bowl were some skewered gingko nuts with azuki beans. In another were some chunks of radish and carrot in a soy marinade. My favourite was a very small dish containing some fresh seaweed with grated yuzu.
And the chawamushi was full of beans, chicken, and some tasty green leaves.
To be honest, even though there was an enormous array of dishes this kind of meal can be had in any number of decent hotel restaurants in Shizuoka and other prefectures.
Indeed the centrepiece, the sashimi platter, contained only three kinds of sushi: tuna, squid and mackerel. However the sashimi was just about perfect, firm but tender, smooth yet tasty. And this was true throughout the meal, everything was so fresh and carefully cooked.
Then we tried the hot plates that were now ready. in one was juicy pork with cabbage, in the other kinmedai fish, a local speciality, which was so tender, with thin noodles, Chinese cabbage, large mushrooms and assorted vegetables. A complimentary glass of local strawberry wine was also provided.
With unlimited rice there was no room for dessert which was just as well, since there wasn’t any, except a ponkan!

After the meal, which was served in our room, we sat by the window and watched the Christmas firework display, which reminded me of my taste buds.

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Agricultural Products: Banpeiyu Citrus

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(Shizuoka Shinbun, December 28th, 2007)

Shimizu ku has of recent years at the forehead of fruit development.
The latest is the largest citrus variety know in the world, which comes under the Japanes name of “晩白柚”/Banpeiyu.
Originally from Malay Peninsula, it has successfully grown in Shimizu Ku. It can reach a circumference of 65 cm and weigh as much as 3 kilogrammes!
Even so this year’s crop was comparetively small in size and volume. I wonder what would represent a good crop!

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter

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Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2007 #32
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Topic:
-Seasonal Release: Yamanashi Sumomo Ale
-Taproom Countdown Party (Monday, December 31)
-Hatsujozo 2008 Double IPA

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Year 2007 is entering its midnight hour. As we reflect on time past and anticipate the year ahead, we also stumble in our cellar upon one of the beer gems of 2007 not yet to see the inside of a thirsty enthusiasts’ pint glass. Yamanashi Sumomo Ale was brewed way back in the hot summer month of July and has been conditioning cool and quiet in the recesses of our cellar
since packaging in early August. Upon cracking a test bottle, one thought became clear: this is the way the year 2007 wants to end. And thus it will be — our final beer salute to yet another fine year of living and drinking.

*Yamanashi Sumomo Ale (ABV 5.6%):

Yamanashi prefecture is the fruit capital of Japan. Our friends at Four Hearts Cafe in Kofu city make it a point to see that some of this fine fruit makes it over the border to Shizuoka prefecture where it may find its way into the brewing kettles at Baird Beer. A sumomo is a Japanese plum, deep purple in color, juicy in character, sweetly tart in flavor and pleasingly
aromatic. Yamanashi Sumomo Ale is light in body (additions of malted wheat and Japanese korizato sugar see to this), highly attenuated (due to low mashing temperatures), and briskly fruity (thanks to additions of fresh sumomo). Extra zest is provided courtesy of the all-natural carbonation produced during secondary fermentation.

Yamanashi Sumomo Ale is now being served at our Fishmarket Taproom and will be available in both bottle- and keg-conditioned form through the fine family of Baird Beer retailers in Japan beginning Friday, December 28.
Let’s bid farewell to 2007 in the finest beer fashion possible.

*Taproom Countdown Party (Monday, December 31):

As tradition now dictates, we will be partying out the current year and partying in the next on December 31 at The Taproom’s annual Countdown Party. Per our custom, the party will be organized around a delicious Mexican-style fiesta buffet that features a do-it-yourself taco and nacho bar as well as a host of other Mexican cuisine-inspired original Taproom dishes. Best of all, you can gorge all evening for only 1,000 yen per person! The buffet will be served from 5:00 PM until 11:00 PM. Reservations not required.

*Hatsujozo 2008 Double IPA (ABV 8%):

At the stroke of midnight, Baird Beer Year 2008 will be inaugurated with the tapping of Hatsujozo (“First Brew”) 2008 Double IPA. This year’s version sees a reduction in the use of Maris Otter in favor of lighter bodied Pilsner and Vienna malts, the replacement of korizato sugar with the elegant character of sudakito sugar, and a cleaner and more floral hop character (combination of Simcoe, Magnum, Horizon, Vanguard and Sterling).
Dry-hopping is conducted with loads of Vanguard and Sterling hops. A complimentary glass of Hatsujozo 2008 will be served to all patrons for the inaugural toast of 2008. Please plan to join us for a most special and festive evening.

Hatsujozo 2008 Double IPA will also be available through Baird Beer retailers in Japan. The bottle-conditioned version has been packaged in large 633 ml bottles (as opposed to our standard 360 ml bottles). Beginning in 2008, virtually all seasonal Baird Beer will be bottled exclusively in 633 ml bottles.

*Remainder: The Fishmarket Taproom will be closed on January 1-2. It will
re-open on Thursday, January 3 for a special Shogatsu celebration (noon – 6:00 PM) featuring special shogatsu dishes cooked up by Sayuri and Kyoko (300 to 600 yen) and 500 yen pints of Hatsujozo 2008 Double IPA. The Taproom will return to normal business hours beginning Friday, January 4.

Happy New Year!

Bryan Baird

Takoyaki: Yokoyama

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On Chritsmas Eve, of all dates, I paid a visit to an old favourite, Yokoyama.
This is the only place serving not only delicious, but authentic “takoyaki”.
“Takoyaki” are dumplings filled with boiled octopus cooked on a hot plate and later served with sauce and dry bonito shavings/katsuo bushi.
Yokoyama, an unpretentious minuscule shop, has a history dating back to the first days after WWII when they first offered “daigakuimo”. I cannot recall when they changed their prices, a sure sign of their popularity. At 420 yen a plate (a dozen dumplings), they do make for a great body-warming lunch or snack for anyone, Japanese or expat.
Now, people usually buy them as takeout, but I would definitely advise you to eat them freshly cooked and hot from the grill. You will have the opportunity to smear them them with plenty of their delicious home-made sauce. The owner told me he has to fence off insistent questions and queries on a daily basis about their sauce from people coming as far as Tokyo. It is and will be a well-kept secret.

Yokoyama
Address: Shizuoka Shi, Koya-machi, 13-1, Yokoyama Bldg, 1F
Tel.: 054-2520312
Opening hours: 10:00~20:00.
Closed on Mondays and third Tuesday.
Takoyaki, 420 yen. Daigakuimo, 210 yen. Kaki Koori (Crushed ice flavoured with syrup in Summer only), 320~470 yen.

Natsu Mikan Sour/Summmer Orange Sour Drink

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Here is a soft drink that should please both young and old without the usual fears associated with junk drinks.
30% of it is juice from mikan/sumeer oranges harvested in the Izu Peninsula. It contains loads of Vitamin C and carotenes.
They are sold in Shimoda City, but also can be bought at Sumpu Raku Ichi Store in Asty, Shizuoka JR Station.
A good drink for your trip!

Natsu Mikan Sour
Izu Taiyo Nogyo Kyodokumiai M (Izu Agricultural Cooperative)
Shimoda City, Higashi Hongo, 1-12-8
Producer Tel.: 0558-368316

Wasabi: Winter Harvest

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Wasabi harvest has started in earnest in Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Utougi (along the Abe River), the birthplace of wasabi (c. 1600).
Growers have anounced that this year’s crop (it takes one to two years to nurture wasabi roots to maturity) is excellent witn a strong taste and aroma.
Not only the roots, but also the leaves and stems are edible (the latter are very popular as tenpura or pickled).
They will soon appear on the markets and Internet all over the country. A sizeable amount is also directly exported to South Kore and theU.S.