Gastronomic Destinations: France (2)

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Saint-Martin du Mont: Restaurant L’Auberge du Moulin

If you want to get yourself lost in some unknown confines of Bourgogne/Burgundy, live the slow life and savour real traditional food at ridiculously low prices, I would strongly recommend you to discover the minuscule city of Saint-Martin du Mont lost in the middle of Bresse east of Louhans, a region which has given its name to the most famous cicken in the World.

If you opt for a set course you have a choice between three dishes for 15 Euros or four dishes from 20 Euros. Children can have their own menu for 8 Euros!

Wines at the Auberge du Moulin are mainly from the Cote Chalonnaise, probably the best value when it comes to Bourgogne wines. We were quite a few for lunch on a Saturday and we opted for a succulent Givry !er Cru (my own village!), La Renarde, Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Red, 2004.
The perfect wine to go with some really hearty food we ordered:

“Jambon persille au vin de Chablis”/Ham in its own jelly containing parsley and Chablis wine. The Chef, Jean-Jacques Martineau who practically works on his own in his kitchen, makes his own ham from local pigs! A typical Burgundian hors d’oeuvres ( a main dish in many homes!)!

“Terrine au poivre vert”/Green pepper terrine. When you see such a big hors d’oeuvres sitting on the table in front of you, you start wandering if you will be able to go through the whole meal!

“Oeufs Meurette”/Poached eggs served in red wine and mushrooms sauce a garlicked toast. Break the eggs in the sauce first! Another typical Burgundian dish!

“Meli-melo d’escargots et moules, sauce au Roquefort”/Marriage of snails and mussles in Roquefort blue cheese sauce. When sea meets land under the benediction of a ewe!

“Rognons de veau”/Veal Kidneys. Tender and juicy in the perfect cognac and cream sauce. An acquired taste? I did not personally oredered it, but I certainly would not mind!

“Cuisses de Grenouilles”/Froglegs. Another Burgundian specialty with a little accent from the South. Sauteed in olive oil, you eat them with your fingers!

“Cassolette de Saint-Jacques au Noilly Prat”/Scallops in Noilly Prat and cream sauce with a crawfish! Another meeting between land (river, actually!) and sea!

“Salade bressane”/Bresse salad. A very local (we are in the heart of Bresse) hors d’oeuvres which makes for a real meal at home: Ggeens, bacon, poached egg, chicken liver and garlicked toast.

“Nous v’la Bien-Quasi de porc mitonne avec un duo de champignons bolets at cepes dans un veloute de cidre legerement creme, accompagne de pommes de terre vapeur”/pork stewed with mushrooms, cider, cream and accompanied with steamed potatoes.
We could not resist the “Cocottes bressanes”/Bresse pots. This is a traditional way of cooking which dates back to many centuries ago!

“Dix sept a point-Jambon de porc fume par nos soins et cuit dans du vin de la cote chalonnaise avec lardons et champignons, accompagne de pommes de terre vapeur”/home-smoked ham and cooked in cote chalonnaise wine with bacon and mushrooms, served with steamed potatoes.

“Travers de porc laque/lacquered pork”. A dish that would tempt the likes of Foodhoe and Gaijin Tonic!

“Profiteroles au chocolat”, a dessert that would start Bill cooking!

Absolutely enormous “Creme brulee flambee!”

“Baba au rhum”. This was my dessert! I had almost to be towed out, as full as I was!

L’Auberge du Moulin
TEL 0385740233

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (23)

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Yesterday, the Missus had to go home and visit her parents for the O-Bon Festival (Japanese Mid-Summer Festival when the deceased are being venered). She made a bento not only for me but for her siblings.
It is both seasonal in the sense it includes eel and tradiional as it is “Chirashizushi”

“Chirashizushi” could be roughly translated as “mixed sushi”. It is very popular with families as large quantities of it can be made. Allison will be glad to know you can also use it for the base of home-made sushi rolls!
The Missus mixed the “shari”/vinegared steamed rice with Japanese sweet scrambled eggs and pickles. She filled the box with one layer and covered it at radom with pieces of broiled eel. She put one more layer and topped it again broiled eel, scrambled eggs and boiled string beans.
She added some home-made baby melon pickles and cucumebr pickles.

The salad was pretty straightforward: Chopped fresh vegetables and boiled shrimps to which I added dressing at work.
She forgot the dessert!

Local Agricultural Products: Agriroad Miwa

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11 years ago, farmers’ wives living in Miwa and in the vicinity of the Abe River in Shizuoka City founded Agriroad (Agricultural Road) Miwa with the help of JA.
A good friend of mine who lives nearby had told me many a time about it and had strongly recommended me to visit it, but it seemed I needed something special prod me into action.

Actually, the opportunity that finally triggered me into cycling all the way on a blistering hot Wednesday morning was a round orange zucchini I discovered last week at Bu-Ichi, a favourite izakaya of mine. When the Oyakata/Chef-owner mentioned it had been grown in Miwa, I had no recourse but to check for myself!
So, I arrived in JA Agriroad Miwa at exactly 9:30, its opening hour (I did not know…).
It is a small establishment by all accounts, but before I talked to anyone I had a look at the wares on sale.

All vegetables are not only grown in the vicinity, making them easily traceable, but all labels featured the name of its grower and the date of harvest!
The place was crowded with local people, but also a few obvious “strangers” (not mentioning the barging expat!) were seen coming in cars apparently knowing well what they intended to buy. I found out later that some of were clever owners of restaurants downtown (a good 10 km away, mind you!).

The quality would have been enough to warrant regular visits and the originality (Shizuoka goya, for example) of some vegetables should attract many a food critique.
But the prices! Absolutely ridiculously low! How do they make business?
Try to decipher the prices on the following pictures:

Most of them are 100 yen (less than 1$ in Japan!) or 150 yen (less than 1 Euro!)!
Even recipes to prepare and serve them are provided for all interested!

Naturally the green tea for which Shizuoka Prefecture (70% of the total national output!) is so famous is purely local!

Great fresh eggs with not only names but also pictures of the farmers!

Even the flowers are local!

That is when I noticed one of the employees (actually they work in shifts on a association basis) cooking “Kin Tsuba” cakes (their name comes from the shape of a samurai sword guard). They are made of a batter containing “yomogi”, a plant common all over Japan and “Anko”/Japanese azuki beans sweatmeats. The lady answered to the name of Natsuko Koyanagi (Small Willow). We quickly started chatting and the “interview” became a real pleasure with lthe dear ady needing no prodding into answering my questions. I actually obtained more than I bargained for!
The cakes were not on sale as they had all been ordered early in the morning. The poor lady had to refuse them to all local customers who seemed to have a developped a particular liking for them! I felt a bit embarrassed (and pleased) when she offered me one when no one was looking!
Hot and freshly cooked, it ate like a delicious pancake!
This was when I mentioned that round orange zucchini that Rowena would like so much to find about.
She knew the lady who grew them and so generously offered to drive me to her place as soon as she had fished cooking all those cakes!

I certainly had a great time visiting her friend’s plots after I had been invited to refeshments in her home!
Unfortunately, this was the end of the season for zucchini/courgettes and the treasures I had been looking for were all gone!
But when I mentioned all those flowers that seemed to go to waste, I asked the two ladies if they knew how to cook them. They did not! Taste Memory Girl will never believe me!
At last I could give something back! I told them at least three ways to cook them, and Mrs. Koyanagi started picking them up in earnest!

Unfortunately again, I could not stay too long with them as work was waiting for me, but you can expect more articles as I plan to cycle there regularly!
Problem is that they might ask me to contribute to their recipes. LOL.

〒421-2114 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Abeguchishinden, 537-1.
Tel.: 054-296-7878.
Fax: 054-296-7878
Business hours: 09:30~15:30 (from 08:30 on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays)

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (22)

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I must admit that today’s bento was a bit of an overkill!
The Missus asked me as I was going for the shower if I fancied “temaki” (make your own maki) bento for my lunch. “Sure”, I replied.
I was looking forward to eating plenty of greens as I knew it would come with lettuce I would use for making my own maki instead of the usual dry seaweed.

She had been hassling me recently on my weight (which has not changed for at least three months…), stressing that I should cut on my food intake. Well, the “shari”/flavoured sushi rice was certainly succulent, but there definitely was a lot of it, mixed with finely chopped cucumber and daikon pickles and “tobikko”/flying fish roe. I ended up with not enough lettuce and had to finish up the lot with chopsticks. Incidentally this was more a full lunch than a bento. I do not know if I would dare make all these maki one by one in front of an audience (I always eat alone in my private classroom!). LOL.
Fresh cucumber, home-made pickled cucumber and a tiny “umeboshi”/pickled Japanese plum completed the “staple part”.

As for the “o yatsu”/accompaniment, a lot of it, she included smoked salmon seasoned with tartare sauce and capers (East meet West?), cut avocado dipped in lemon juice, soft boiled egg, plum tomatoes, processed cheese, sliced and boiled goya and fresh cress.

A grape jelly was added for dessert.
It certainly took me some time it to finish it, which should make her happy as she always complains I eat too fast!
Great bento, but a bit too much of it. Mind you, I don’t complain as I have a long day!

Gastronomic Destinations: France (1)

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(Cote Chalonnaise Vineyard/Givry)

Chalon Sur Saone: Restaurant L’Essentiel

Chalon sur Saone in Bourgogne/Burgundy, France, has given its name to the Appelation Cote Chalonnaise, which, cent for cent, has become better value than some overblown Bourgogne vintages. Actually, the city itself stands a good 10 km away from the first vineyards. That might explain why Chalon Sur Saone was rarely mentioned in gastronomic guides until recently.
It certainly was a pity as the very central position of the city gave it the best access to all food ingredients that have made Bourgogne so famous.

But then, about ten years ago, the trend completely changed. The reason is the Saint-Laurent Island in the very middle of the very wide Saone River within easy reach thanks to the bridge of the same name.

Its main street, Rue de Strasbourg suddenly became the place to eat and drink out because of its great tranquility away from the bustling centre. The street presently counts more than twenty restaurants of all kinds.
I’m particularly fond of L’Essntiel, which as its name indicates, serves generous plates of very traditional but precise Burgundian gastronomy. And this at very reasonable prices.
The last time I went there was in the company of five of my siblings and the Missus, which allowed to sample quite a few of their offerings made the more tempting by the genuine friendliness of the owners and staff:

Seabass on a bed of apples and pears.

“Sandre” fish with a potato “curtain”.

Veal Sweetbreads, my personal order. Enormous, but so nice and cruchy outside and so tender inside!

Beef Fillet with baked tomatoes and couscous. This pic does not justice to the real size of the fillet. It was certainly twice a big and as high at the very large tomatoes!

Roasted Duck with its liver and heart.

Escargots with echalottes and garlic confits.
Sorry, after that, I just either could not find the time to take picture,s or I wasn’t “allowed” to do so by my so-friendly siblings.
But have no worry, it will take you quite a few visits to sample everything! And do not forget the desserts!
And the wine list!

Incidentally, Chalon Sur Saone, apart of its very long history as the last port up the Saone River for the last 2,500 years is renown for one very important invention. Can you guess?
-The first-ever picture and camera you can see at the Musee Nicephore Niepce which contains more than two million pictures!

14, Rue Strasbourg
71100 Chalon sur Saône, France
Tel: (33)(0)3 85 42 95 75‎

Japanese Omelette/Tamagoyaki: Presentation (1)

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As promised to Bill in Japanese Omellete/Tamagoyaki: Basic recipe 1 posting, here are some examples of presentation:
Above is a very popular way of cutting and serving cold, especially at sushi restaurants.

The accent here is not so much on the regularity, but on the colour, making it very home-style.

A very “clean and regular” presentation. Served with grated daikon and soy sauce.

Another example of home-made style served with shiitake mushrooms.

A “classical and professional” presentation!

Will come with sushi presentation next time!

Shizuoka Izakaya: Bu-Ichi (revisited)

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Bu-Ichi Izakaya in Shizuoka City has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately I do not go there that often as it is reserved for my nights out with the Missus (well, too many people know me there, too!)!
Incidentally, the picture above was taken quite some time ago. The Oyakata tends to be dressed in white these days, but last night I told him I preferred him in his blue garb!
Apart of the great Shizuoka Sake list, a customer will find all the drinks he might want, including wine and Okinawa Awamori.
But the main attraction is of course the food:

Tempura and Anago/Conger Eel are two Japanese delicacies known all over the world, but when the two are combined in such delicate, crunchy, succulent manner one just shoud not bother about seasoning or even decoration!

Bu-Ichi acquired its fame because of the superlative seasonal sashimi such as “ainame/greenling or rock trout, a rarity brought all the way from Fukushima Prefecture.

Local fish is represented by “sanma/mackerel pike”. Bu-Ichi serves it in what I think the best way to savour it: thin slices with grated ginger, chopped thin leeks and myoga. The Japanese say “abura ga noote iru”, meaning they are fat. I would translate by “juicy”. The fish just melts in your mouth!

Whenever possible, Bu-Ichi serves local produce such as this beautiful round orange zucchini grown by a farmer in Miwa Cho, Shizuoka City. Which reminds me I have to interview this gentleman who has made Zucchini growing his specialty. Rowena, you would not believe it! Incidentally, have you ever thought of selling shiso in Italy? LOL

They were included in the next Tenpura order. To the Missus’ utter dismay I just ate them with my fingers without bothering about the salt and dip sauce provided!

Despite the heat of the day, we could not resist from ordering a bowl of “Gyu-suji-ni”/Beef joints simmered with miso and vegetables and served with a chopped leeks topping. Foodhoe would scream for it!

Although we did have dessert in the form of “matcha tea ice cream”, we usually have “tamagoyaki/Japanese Omelette” at the end of a dinner in a good izakaya. Big Bill should see the sheer artistry involved in making such a seemingly easy dish! And the taste! I can guarantee you you would be hard put if you had to choose between a second helping and a dessert!

420-0032 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho, 1-6-10, Dai 2 Matsunaga Bldg. 2F
Tel.: 054-2521166
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations advisable