Today’s Lunch Box/ Bento (‘9/6)

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For once, my Tuesday’s Sandwich Bento featured a real sandwich!

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The Missus had baked new bread last night. She toasted two slices of them and inserted in between lettuce, fried slices of tuna she had covered with deep-fry powder mix and cornstarch seasoned with pepper and a little salt, and two slices of “renkon/lotus roots” she had fried to a crisp (and seasoned with a little mayonaise).
Af airly big sandwich that took me some time to finish!

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The “salad” had enough vitamin C and iron to last me a week:
on a bed of shredded greens, a half egg, brocoli, mini tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cheese, olives, and orange (I must have missed somthing!) on which I poured dressing from the fridge!
Incidentally I keep not only chopsticks at work, but also a fork, spoon and a knife! LOL


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Foodbuzz Postings Presentation

vatel
(Willem Claesz Heda)

Dear All!
Greetings!
The old geezer is at it again!

Foodbuzz bloggers are a great many and they also represent the whole spectrum of our world. But they share only two common factors: the love of good food (and drinks) and the English language (at least for a start!).
The natural consequence is a need for postings not only of high interest, but also of high quality standards.
Accordingly, I would like to share some my views on what would make an attractive page to all visitors.
True to say, these are personal views and anyone has the right to disagree with all of them!

Size:
Out: a webpage stretched all over the screen (and beyond…)
In: A clear-cut webpage with neutral margins

The eyes can take in only 60% of the whole screen as a single image without having to move right or left. If they also have to move up and down as well, they will quickly send a negative image to the viewer’s brain.

Screen wall and wallpapers
Out: Big colorful heading taking over 30% of the screen upon entrance
Overwhelming wall paper.
Loud invasive music.
Too many sponsor banners
In: A simple and precise heading introducing the viewer to the true nature and purpose of the blog.
Music is fine if you invite the visitor to click on it.
The less graphics, the better
A white or light neutral color background.

Having to scroll down a page because the heading is taking almost the whole of the screen will stop many viewers into their tracks.
Big red hearts all over the screen because Valentine day is around the corner, or rainbow stripes slicing across everything are tacky and cheap at the best, and a painful hindrance at the worst, discouraging potential visitors from the very moment they discover a new blog.
A webpage looking like an advertisement billboard will achieve only the opposite result.
If your posting is good enough to be read until the end, only then viewers will be more enticed to peruse through the commercials and eventually click on them. Let’s face it: a conservative estimate would amount to at least 10,000 viewers hitting on any banner at least once a day to make any significant profit.
Unless you are a third-grader reading a picture book, would you expect to read a magazine with the text printed in yellow over a black background, or vice-versa?
A blog is no less than another form of magazine.

Pictures:
Out: Framing.
Staggered alignment.
Very large pictures
Excessive “copyright naming”
In: Pictures of a reasonable size aligned along the left margin border
Pictures used as related reference to your posting.

If your posting is about a topic more than a report, one single picture or graphic should be enough.
If you write a recipe, introduce more pictures (a smaller size that can be enlarged with a click are best, then) to illustrate various steps if absolutely necessary.
If you write about a meal at a restaurant, do not illustrate your posting with a single pic of yourself in the company of the chef unless you are both superstars (in which case your place is in a magazine or on TV!). Visitors will expect a good photograph of each dish you enjoyed! This is where real sharing starts!
Bloggers have a right to protect their pictures (I personally don’t), but enormous names written across the pictures are terribly detrimental to the pictures themselves. Sensible small lettering should be enough (fine, I understand that anyone can “cut out” a photograph!).

Titles:
Out: Pompous declarations.
Empty grand announcements obviously aimed at luring in more viewers
Interminable titles.
In: Short, precise and truthful titles

Your title is the first and lasting impression given to the visitor. The posting will live by it!

Font:
Out: Large fancy lettering
In: Small readable standard lettering

Too large and fat lettering will uselessly expand the article to infinity.
A visitor should be able to size up the first one or two chapters quickly instead of stretching his senses into a painful search.
Large fonts will only conceal a lack of quality or contents like an over-chilled wine or a scalding-hot Japanese sake.
When necessary, bold black or red letters for subtitles should be sufficient.

Syntax, Grammar and spelling:
Out: Lack of punctuation.
Typos.
Poor grammar and syntax
In: Proofread your article before publishing it

If “non-native” English speakers make an effort to write their postings in English, “native” speakers should make an effort to write in style. After all, “non-native” bloggers will learn a lot from their “native” friends!

References:
Out: Constant references to oneself, one’s own past postings or articles
Omission to refer to other postings or articles from which you had a fair reason to borrow.
In: Introducing other bloggers’ work or websites, especially when their postings are directly related.

Referring to related blogs in your posting will become another reason for visitors to come back

Cheers to that!


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Today’s Lunch Box/ Bento (‘9/5)

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The weather has unseasonably cold these in Shizuoka. The water outside even froze outside during the night, in a region where it prctically never snows!
The Missus felt I was in the need for a few more body-warming calories!

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Consequently she prepared no less than five “nigiri/rice balls”, three containing fried salmon and two mixed with “takuan/pickled daikon” and black sesame. She wrapped each in a large “shiso/perilla” leaf and added some pickled wasabi stems.

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As for the “main dish”, she made some fresh “tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette”, fried a few “ika shumai/cutttle fish dumpling” over small lettuce leaves, boild brocli and Brussels sprouts (to which I added dressing at work), Home-made shredded daikon and carrots sweet pickles and a few mini-tomatoes.

Mind you, I still felt hungry in late afternoon!


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The Best Desserts of the Past Year


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One always fondly remembers his/her desserts as the apotheose to a great meal. I thought I would run an anthology of the best desserts I personally savoured for the past and share it with friends before leaving onto new adventures this year!

Read Fruit salad topped with Vanilla Ice-cream and Raspberry Sorbet at Hana Hana Restaurant:
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A favourite end-of-the-summer dessert back in France served in Shizuoka City. I wouldn’t mind eating it at any time of a hot day!

Chocolate Mousse, Mikan Orange Sherbet and Campari Jelly at Sugimoto:
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I was served this simple and extremely elegant dessert by Tetsuya Sugimoto in his former restaurant in Shizuoka City!

Petit Mont-Blanc and cassis Sherbet at Gentil:
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Refined and delicate, it didn’t last long with me!
A celebratedcreation by Gentil, in Shizuoka City, which specializes in small sophisticated desserts!

Creme Caramel Brulee and Caramel Ice-cream at Hana hana:
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Hana Hana in Shizuoka City has become famous for this particular dessert combining two sublime ways to accomodate Caramel. Actually I should say three because the creme is Caramel, the “burnt” topping is Caramel and the Ice-cream is Caramel!

Italian and Japanese Dessert Marriage at Aquavite:
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A very original at one of the best Italian Restaurants in Shizuoka City:
a combination of panacotta, Shizuoka “Benihoppe/Red Cheek” strawberries, “Tama Konnyaku” (Devil’s Tongue Tuber Jelly) from Yamagata Prefecture and at least three kinds of fruit coulis.

Champagne Jelly by Le Cafe-Labo:
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This particlar creation by one of the best confectiners in Shizuoka is a bit of misnomer as they used Cremant de Bourgogne from the Cote Chalonnaise in France. A bit extravagant when you know that Cremant, yen for yen (cent for cent), is better value than overpriced Champagne!
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Ladies and vegans, rejoice! This is a very very healthy low-calorie dessert as the jelly is 100% natural “kanten” or Japanese agar/seaweed jelly!
They come with two different garnish: “kyoho Budo”, a very large expensive Japanese grape variety (usually seedless) as a shown in picture above and:
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Lychee.
Both have a very light but solid consistency. It melts deliciously inside the mouth with an elegant Cremant wine taste. It has a “short tail”, meaning you cannot wait for the next spoonful!
Definitely for ladies or calories-minding couples!

Bourgogne Noir Dijon at Chez Lui:
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Chez Lui is a large “chain company” based in Tokyo and represented at Parco in Shizuoka City, but their cakes have the merit to be made on site.
I could be accused of favoritism as I was born in Dijon!
But I must admit this is probably the best cassisbased cake I ever ate!
It is mainly made up of Cassis Mousse coated with Cassis Coulis and decorated outside with white chocolate. It is furthermore topped with blueberry, blackberry, mint and chocolate.
The inside is pretty complex with a double base of almond biscuit and chocolate short cake.
A small chocolate short cake disc about two thirds of the cake in diameter has been “inserted” inside the mousse with some Creme Chantilly.

Ma-cha Mousse by Chocolat Fin:
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This particular might look simple, but not only it is more sophisiticated that one might first think but one has to understand this THE true Shizuoka dessert because Shizuoka Prefecture grows more than 55% of the national green tea crop!
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Chocolat Fin, another great confectioner in Shzuoka City, had the greaty idea to come up with a creation made with ma-cha tea, a superior class of tea used in tea ceremonies and restaurants. As it comes under the form of extremely fine powder it is very easy to manipulate.
This Ma-cha pudding was underllined with a caramel sauce and topped with a fine layer of ma-cha jelly. The whole pudding is a perfection of balance, not too sweet, with a definite tea savour and firm enough for you to dig in with your spoon. Actually, I made a point of leaving it in the fridge for a couple of hours before devouring it. It almost ate like an ice-cream!

Pistache by Le Cafe-labo:
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After admiring this other creation by Le Cafe-Labo (it certainly deserves it!), you can either savour it layer by layer, one at a time, or cut through it to entertain yourself with the combination of the tastes.
And you certainly have quite a few to review:
from top to bottom:
1) Pistachio Mousse
2)Chocolate Cream
3) Chocolate Mousse
4) Raspberry Sauce
5) Chocolate Crunchy
6) Pistachio Syrup

Gateau Basque at Bouquet:
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I’m an unconditional fan of Gateau Basque. Bouquet, another great confectioner in Shizuoka City is the only one I know in the whole Prefecture, and probably in the whole of Japan, who came out with the perfect and authentic cake!
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(cut from whole cake in picture at the top)
It is not easy to prepare, and the owner, a very shy man, makes only two a day if he is in a good mood. It tends to disappear quickly, but it is possible to reserve.
It is a lot lighter than it looks. Ladies and Gentlemen alike will enjoy to its just value!

I did savour many more memorable desserts, but I will have to stop there, otherwise I will have to start a book!

Pervert Daikon?


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pervert-daikon

My usually prudish half turned up triumphantly with this strange daikon grown in her parents’ garden!

I didn’t know where to start cutting it…

In the end I saw gradually disappearing as I grated the whole for a “daikon-nabe”!

French Restaurant: Hana Hana (first visit in 2009)


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Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great and very large washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value

Hana Hana in Shizuoka City has always been a favourite because you can always expect both their classical dishes to be on the menu while seasonal offerings and creations are constantly appearing around the corner for your great pleasure!

Today being Thursday, the Missus and I visited the place for lunch. Instead of choosing one of the very good value “lunch sets”, we opted for the Lunch Course menu which allows you to choose three courses out of a good eighteen with coffee, bread and amuse bouche included!

Here was what we savoured:

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As I said above, the amuse-bouche is included, and we were served a Hana Hana classic, namely “shirako/Cod Sperm Sacs” (sorry, I’m a blunt savage!) sauteed Italian-style. Even the Missus who usually avoid this acquired taste morsel greatly appreciated it. Crispy outside, melting like foie gras inside.

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The Missus next chose a Hana Hana regular hors d’oeuvre, “Suwa Gani Terrine/Suwa (from Hokkaido) Crab Terrine”. A very light terrine served with a cold tomato coulis and crispy fresh greens.

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As for me, I ordered a new dish, Foie gras stuffed blini with cream sauce mushrooms. Lighter than expected, but very satisfying and succulent. A great simple but sophisticated idea!

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The Missus, a duck addict, could not help try the young duck breast roasted and sliced with a delightful sweet sauce (madeira wine?). She somehow managed to leave a few slices for me to taste!

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Being a galant gentleman (who am I kidding? certainly not my better-worse half!), I asked for the scallops sauteed Provence-style as my poor companion could not decide which main order to go for. Actually, I was looking forward to the small exchange cited above! Cooked to perfection with delightful petite ratatouille.

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And it was time for dessert!
The Caramel Creme Brulee topped Caramel Ice-cream would have Rich take the next plane to Japan!

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As for the Blanc-manger, the French equivalent of the Chinese almond curd dessert, I can assure you that the next Chinese (and other Asian) tourists to Shizuoka would not miss it for anything!

Saying that I’m looking forward to my next visit is a gross understatement!

Hana Hana
Open for lunch and dinner.
Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (will change in the near future, so please do call!)
420-0037 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Hitoyado-cho, 1-3-12
Tel. & Fax: 054-2210087
Credit cards OK