Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/16)


Today Wednesday is not a usual “Bento Day”, but sudden commitments making it impossible to come home for lunch, I asked the Missus to prepare a bento. She did not seem to mind and actually appeared content to enjoy a day (morning) in tranquility!


Becsue the rice was plain steamed rice, she fried plenty of thin soft pork slices in sauce and added some boiled and cut salad green pea pods.


As for the garnish, on top of a bed of shredded vegetables (you cannot really see them), she placed cornichons, large plum tomatoes, boiled broccoli, tamagoyaki and Na no Hana/Rape flowers and boiled shirasu salad sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
“Shirasu” is a local Shizuoka fish, a kind of sardine consumed vey young.


Today’ tamagoyaki/Japanese Omelette contained shredded cheese and parsley!


In place of dessert (I still have Yakushima oranges at the office!) she included some “mozuku-su/もずく酢”, seaweed preserved in sweet vinegar for a healthy additive!

A healthy, fullfilling bento!

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Gastronomic Destinations: Yakushima Island (3)

(Flying Fish Sashimi at Yakushima Toruism Center Restaurant)

Day 3: March 10th

Since we were not in so much of a hurry on that particular day,we thought some exercise would do us some good before the “long” bus ride, first Miyanoura and later to Nagata.


As I said in the previous posting, Iwasaki hotel is a located of its own enormous park stretching half way up the nearby mountain.


Haf an hour walk through the forest will lead you to a seclude spot overlooking a grand fall running through the trees in total natural wilderness!

We had in mind to visit Yakushima Tourism Center halfway to Nagat for the simple reason they have the best shop in the island where you will find not only a vast array of local food and products, but also plenty of island crafts.


Now, their restaurant upstairs deserves a visit if you want to taste real local food.
My wife ordered the Tobiuo/Flying Fish Sashimi set. The fish is so fresh it just melts inside the mouth.


I selected a full lunch set of a different kind.


It featured “kubi ore saba/fresh mackerel”. “Kubi ore” means “broken neck”. The fishermen actually break the fish just behind the head to ensure the fish will stay straight and fresh until it is served on your plate. Not easy to find in big cities as most mackerel are a little seared beforehand. In Yakushima it just comes off the boat! A totally different delicacy!
With a glass of Mitake “Aiko” Shochu, just perfect!

Yakushima Tourism Center
891-4205 Kagoshima Ken, Kumage Gun, Yakushima Cho, Miyanoura, 799 (just by the beach)
Tel.: 0997-42-0091
Fax: 0997-42-2081
Business hours: 08:00~19:00
Homepage (Japanese)



The beach along Nagata is renown for sea turtles laying their eggs there in June! Highly protected then you can be assured!
The sea gets deep very quickly there, but there are plenty of natural pools available for bathing!


No way you can miss your destination with such a bus stop!

Tsuwanoya Inn is not only great for its location near the sea and the mountains, but also for its service. A phone call will have the owner come an pick you up at the bus station!


Another reason is the impregnable view from the open-air bath/”rotenburo!

The inn is a family business helped with local smiling staff.
The food is within possibility completely local. Even the bread and jams are concocted in situ!


Thei dinners (always different every evening) and breakfasts (Japanese or continental) are very generous.

Our first dinner included:

Sahimi: Kampachi and Tai.

Kagoshima Black Pork pot.

All kinds of Japanese hors d’ouvres.

Simmered Cuttlefish.

And rice, miso soup and pickles.
A couple of glasses of local Mitake Shochu (tasting notes in the next posting!) and it was time for a quiet evening as we had a long trek planned for the next day!

891-4201 Kagoshima Ken, Kumage Gun, Yakushima Cho, Nagata, 3358-7
Tel.: 0997-45-2717
Fax: 0997-45-2465
Lunch and dinner can be reserved by non-guests.
Credit Cards OK
Dining room no-smoking-logo1
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
To be continued.

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Today’s Lunch Box/bento (’09/15)


After that long trip in Yakushima ( 2 more postings to come!), the Missus concocted a “simple” traditional bento keeping the calories in mind!


Therefore the three nigiri/rice balls were of medium size, one with umeboshi/Japanese pickled plum and a little black sesame, and two with fried salted salmon. She added a few cornichons.


As for the “garnish”, she included boiled brocoli, fresh pimento, a plum tomato, and her excellent Tamagoyaki/Japanese Omelette. She had added sweet pork miso to the eggs, thus creating a new and interesting taste.

No need for dessert!

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Abondance’s Classic Cakes (3): Noisette/Hazlenut


As promised, this is another cake created by my good friend Bernard Heberle In Hamamatsu City!

In his own words:
“Voici le gâteau du mois ” Noisette” tout simplement un mélange de chocolat noir et de lait avec une dacquoise aux noisettes torréfiées ainsi que base croustillante le tout surmonte d’une chantilly légèrement chocolatée. Très agréable en bouche , un mélange de saveurs et de texture façon criollo.”

noisette-2 noisette-3

“Here is this month cake, “Noisette/Hazelnut”.
It consists of a simple mixture of milk and black chocolate with a roasted hazelnuts Dacquoise as a crusty base. The whole is topped with slightly chocolate -flavoured Chatilly cream and black chocolate.
Very soft on the tongue. A combination of savours and texture in criollo fashion.

As usual, I doubt I need to add any comment!

Address: Hamamatsu Shi, Sumiyoshi, 2-14-27 (in front of Seirei Hospital)
Tel.: 053-4738400
Fax: 053-4738401
Opening hours: 10:00~20:00. Closed on Tuesdays.

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2009/7)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2009 #7

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Do you like your java in the morning? Do you enjoy a beer later in the day? Both of these pleasures are combined in one extremely satisfying Baird Stout: Morning Coffee Stout.

Morning Coffee Stout 2009 (ABV 7.0%):

We brew Morning Coffee Stout once a year for release in late winter / early spring. Each year the recipe differs as does the coffee we use to craft this phenomenal brew. Morning Coffee Stout 2009 combines a blend of three roasted malts, roasted barley and Japanese kokuto (black sugar) with Tully’s Holiday Roast (Guatemala Cupper Reserve) coffee that is cold brewed and added to the stout just at packaging. The secondary fermentation and maturation that occurs post-packaging produces a hybrid stout-coffee elixir that is, in a word, divine.

Morning Coffee Stout 2009 is available on draught and in bottles (633 ml) through the fine family of Baird Beer retailers in Japan beginning Monday, March 16. Its debut also kicks off the annual Lucky Seven Stout Week held at our Taproom pubs.

Lucky Seven Stout Week (Monday, March 16 – Sunday, March 22):

The event coincides every year with St. Patrick’s Day (an Irish holiday celebrated on March 17), and gives us an excuse to celebrate a beer style category long associated with Ireland: Stout. This year the event will be held simultaneously at both the Fishmarket and Nakameguro Taprooms. The lucky seven stouts to be served (in addition to our year-round Shimaguni Stout) are:

(1) Mama’s Milk Stout
(2) Chocolate Malt Stout
(3) Great American Stout
(4) Midnight Oil Export Stout 2009
(5) Morning Coffee Stout 2009
(6) Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2009 (at Nakameguro); Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2008 (at Fishmarket)
(7) Barrel-Aged Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2008

Special Lucky Seven Stout Cards, which include punches for all seven seasonal stouts plus one for Shimaguni Stout, will be available for purchase and use during the week. Enthusiasts who purchase and complete the card will be entered into an end-of-the-week raffle in which seven beer prizes will be given away. The seven prizes are:

(1) Taproom Nombei Pint Drink Ticket
(2) Taproom Nombei Half-Pint Drink Ticket
(3) Mixed 4-Pack of seasonal stouts (Morning Coffee 2008, Morning Coffee 2009, Midnight Oil Export Stout 2008, Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2008)
(4) Baird Beer T-shirt (choose from Wheat King Ale, Red Rose Amber Ale, Rising Sun Pale Ale, Teikoku IPA)
(5) Baird Beer Taproom T-shirt (black or grey)
(6) Set of two Baird Beer logo glasses (pint and half-pint)
(7) Set of 8 Baird Beer Posters

Cards purchased at the Nakameguro Taproom can only be used at Nakameguro. Likewise, cards purchased at the Fishmarket Taproom are only for use in Numazu. Each Taproom will hold its own raffle with winners announced Monday, March 23.

Great stout-inspired cuisine will be served up by the Taproom kitchens and warm Irish-style comraderie and revelry will be in abundance. Friday, March 20 is a Japan national holiday and thus both Taprooms will be open all day from noon then and, as always, on Saturday and Sunday. Please plan on joining us.

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

The Japan Blog List

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Gastronomic Destinations: Yakushima Island (2)


Day 2: March 9th

In Yakushima Island, it doesn’t rain, it pours! That is , you are either in for a continuous shower or beautiful clear skies!
Well today was “pour buckest days”!

(ecological bus stop!)

No worries, we had bought our “bus day tickets” (they can be bought at major hotels or tourism offices). People tend to forget this is a large island and bus fares can quickly amount to a lot at the end of a day. As an example tickets cost 2,000 yen for one day, 3,000 yen for two days and 3,000 yen for four days. A single tour (you will have to come back!) of the whole island costs almost 3,000 yen!


Ther are enough artists and craftsmen in this island to make it the them of a single tour.
There is one great potter we missed on our firts visit of the island, and rain or not we were going to visit it and buy some beautiful small plates and sake cups, all different and lovely!
Yakushima Yaki Shinyakugama
891-4406 Kagoshima Ken, Kumage Gun, Yakushima Cho, Hirauchi, 630-4
Tel/Fax: 0997-67-2624, 0997-47-3088 (night time)
They also organize pottery classes.
Although their HP is in Japanese do check it for a better view of their craft and photoes of their life in Yakushima Island!!


We already knew of the place to go for lunch near Anbo Harbour (the major harbour with Miyanoura for voyages to and from Kagoshima).
Tsuruya is an excellent “minshuku/family inn” which serves exclusively local fare. Reserved for in-guests for breakfast and dinner it opens its doors to the public for lunch.


The Missus opted for the Tempura Set Lunch featuring an unusual fish tempura, “yokowa/ a tuna variety”. Obviously tempura, like sushi or sashimi might be the same word all over Japan, but you will be surprised how many different cuisines they stand for!


I was more interested in sashimi than cooked fish and asked for the sashimi set menu.
the sashimi featured “Akihara” (local fish), “Yokowa/local tuna variety”, “Tobiuo/Flying Fish” (local specialty) and “Tamure” (local fish): a truly gasronomic experience at ridiculous prices!
Lunches are generous, even by European/American standards.
If you add a glass of local shochu to help it down, you won’t feel hungry until late in the evening!
Incidentally, Tsuruya is a rare izakaya in the island which serves the three brew varieties by Mitake, the only truly local shochu brewery.
A special tatsing report will come later!

Then it was back in the rain and the buses.
Bus rides are leisurely enough to enjoy the landscapes (and seascapes) along the road. Big families ought to rent a car though. A whole tour of the island stretches over more than 100 km!
Yakushima island 20,000-plus population (they are apparently “recruiting” citizens!), mainly farming and fishing communities, although Miyanoura is a full-fledged “city” with high-school and even a baseball ground!


Fortunately the rain started to let up when we reached the Yakushima Botanical Gardens.
Open all year round, it takes a good half hour to visit and discover all the plants, flowers and fruit cultivated there.
Can recognize the fruit pictured above?


But don’t forget to climb its view platform from which you will dicover one of the landmarks of the island, the Tooroki Falls pourin directly into the sea!

As buses are not that many, we decided to walk back a good half of the way before boarding one, great physical exercise before taking another well-earned dip into the “rotenburo/open-air hotsprings bath” back at the hotel!


Today (actually the day after) was the Missus’ birthday. More elaborate celebrations being planned once back in Shizuoka, we nonetheless opened a Moulin a Vent, Domaine Bonnet Vieilles Vignes, 2006, excellent enough for any kind of food (I’m cheating as it is a wine brewed near my birthplace!) while we ordered for the food:

Assortment of grilled mushrooms.

Pan-fried “Mizu Ika/Aori Ika=local cuttlefish variety” Salad.

Provencal Scallops (sorry, that’s French!)

Her-roasted oasted Kagoshima Pork.

Veal Schnitzel with cheese coating.

We finished with (not featured, sorry!) guava sherbet for dessert.

We were tired enough to imediately back to our room and bed!

To be continued.

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Gastronomic Destinations: Yakushima Island (1)

(Sashimi plate at Iwasaki Hotel)

Day 1: March 8th

Tokyo Haneda Airport, 10:30 = Kagoshima Airport, 11:30 = 12:45 – Yakushima Airport, 13:30

This was our second trip to Yakushima Island in 4 years. There are two ways to reach this Japanese World Nature Heritage: either you fly all the way (with a changeover at Kagoshima Airport), or top in Kagoshima City (Kyushu Island) before boarding on a three-hour voyage.
Both ways may become dodgy in bad weather as planes might easily be cancelled due to poor visibility, while the same could happen to the boats due to rough seas during the typhoon season. After all, the yearly rainfall (10,000 mm, yes you read it well!) is four times the average for the rest of Japan!
Our first hotel bus being scheduled at 15:30, we took the opportunity to take lunch at Il mare, an Italian restaurant conveniently located within 10 minutes walk from the very small airport.

(Asahi Crab Linguine)

Il Mare relocated in 2006 to the present spot along a “busy” road running past the airport for the benefit of travellers.
The food is of a surprisingly good level for a tourist resort, with pasta and pizza all home-made!
The Missus opted for Asahi crab ( a local specialty) Linguine and seemed to be pretty satisfied with it.


I, for once, chose a Quatro Formaggio Pizza, which I must admit was a lot better than some served in vaunted restaurants in some big cities!


Actually, Il mare is a good proposition any time you want to treat yourself to a non-japanese meal as the restaurant is located in a small park with its own herb garden!

891-4207 Kagoshima Ken, Yakushima Cho, Oseda, 815-92
Tel & fax: 0997-43-5666
Opening hours: 11:30~15:00; 18:00~21:00
Closed on Thursdays
Homepage (Japanese)

Service: Polite and smiling
Facilities: Very clean, inside a forested park, small terrace.
Prices: Slightly expensive


(View of the park and mountain at the back of Iwasaki Hotel)

891-4404 Kagoshima Ken, Kumamo Gun, Yakushima Cho, Onoaida
Tel.: 0997-47-3888
Fax: 0997-47-3788
Free Limousine service from and to Yakushima Airport

-Service: Smiling, kind, attentive and knowledgeable
-Facilities: Above average for a resort hotel. Shop.
Breakfast: self-service. Both Japanese and Continental style. Good
Lunch-Dinner: set menus or a la carte. Good
Restaurant no-smoking-logofor breakfast and partly so for rest of the day.
-Strong points: One of the best hotel parks in Japan! Natural hotsprings (indoors and outdoors)

As this was our second trip we kept to proven values by stopping in the same hotels.
The Iwasaki Hotel is surrounded by a truly enormous forest/park stretching half way up the neighbouring mountains (over 900 m).


A complete tour of the park will take you almost two hours includind a waterfall, oranges orchard, a small enclosure for deer, and thousands of trees, plants and flowers. Don’t forget your camera!
We were just left enough time until dark to take a good walk before we took a long dip in teir hotsprings baths (genders separated, sorry! LOL). The water directly comes from a subterranean volcanic waterbed. Its water is claimed to help alleviate nervous (physical) problems, painful joints and skin disorders.

Then, it was time for dinner:
Iwasaki Hotel proposes a seasonal menu and a la carte menu for dinner featuring local specialties such as “kuroge Buta/Black Hair Pork”
and seafod sashimi from fish caught in the waters surrounding the island.
Among the dishes we shared (portions are large enough) were:

White Flesh Fish Escabeche, first deep-fried,then marinated. A dish that should please Europeans/Americans!

The Sashimi Plate included (from left to right, bottom to top) Mizu-Ika (local name for Aori-Ika/Cuttle fish variety), Maguro, Tobiuo (Flying Fish), a specialty of the island and Tai/Snapper Seabream.

Tempura with plenty of large prawns!

Finally, the seafood gratin was more of a French imspiration with a Japanese touch provided by the flying Fish Roe topping.

The real eating and drinking were scheduled on the next day for the Missus’ birthday!

To be continued.

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Yakushima Island: Coming posting!

(Asahigani/Asahi Crab at Iwasaki Hotel in Yakushima Island)

I’m going on a short trip to Yakushima Island between Kyushu Island and Okinawa. Yakushima Island is one of only three World Nature Heritages in Japan. Check this website!

(Sashimi from fish caught off Yakushima Island)

Some of the gastronomy there, especially fish, fruit and shochu is enough of a reason to visいt the place!


In spite of a 20,000 + population, half of this island is wild.
During the tourist season (luckily we are avoiding that!) thousands of tourists come to explore the untouched forests which have inspired many artists and film directors:


The island is also blessed with some of the best water in Japan. Many breweries of all kinds from Kyushu and Honshu Islands come to collect their water there!


Not to forget there are plenty of spots for bathing, rivers, lakes, beaches and hot springs spas!


Looking forward to talk about it all soon!

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Quick Snack: Cream Cheese Tomato Rolls for the Beer!


There are times, be it in Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn, when you just don’t have the will to venture into another cooking expedition, but still want to offer and eat quick, simple and yummy food!

Here is suggestion that you can store inside the fridge just in case hungry friends barge in with some beer (or mineral water! LOL). It can be easily adapted for vegetarians!:

I don’t have to bother with quantities really.
Just know that you need an equal amount (in volume) of Philadelphia (for example) cream cheese and fresh cream lightly beaten to a semi-hard consistency.
In a bowl mix the cheese and cream well. Add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg and whatever spice you fancy. Add some finely chopped herbs!
As for the tomatoes, choose them as large as possible, but not too ripe to avoid them breaking away. Peel them first, by making a light cut near the stem and plunging them in hot water (or holding them over a flame). When the skin starts opening, take them out and plunge them in cold water. They should peel off very easily.
Cut them in half, empty them, “spread” (you might have to help with a few small cuts) them on a kitchen paper to sponge water off.

Note: do not salt the tomatoes, or they’ll give out gallons of water!

On a large enough piece of cellophane paper spread the tomato flesh, fill with an adequate amount of cream cheese mix, and make a roll closing the cellophane paper around. Twist the ends shut.
Leave in refrigearator until served.

Simple presentation suggestion (look at pic!):
A three-piece presentation is easiest with cut sweet pimento and boiled broccoly stems (a good way to use them!).
Cut the tomato rolls half-way at a slant for better effect.
Add lightly boiled turnips, pieces of raw ham, and plenty of greens.
Serve with a pot of vinaigrette or dip sauce.

Simple and appetizing!
Good for hungry kids, too!

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2009/6)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2009 #5

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Today we are releasing for sale throughout Japan one of our annually crafted seasonal stouts: Midnight Oil Export Stout.

Midnight Oil Foreign Export Stout 2009 (ABV 6.3%):

Export stouts generally are rich and roasty in flavor, moderately high in alcoholic strength, and sporting some noticeable hop character (normally registering in terms of bitterness and flavor). Baird Midnight Oil Export Stout enjoys a complexly layered roasted malt character (in addition to roasted barely we add three roasted malts to the grist — chocolate, chocolate wheat and black) and a firm, straightforward hop flavor (bittering and flavor additions of Nugget and Fuggle, respectively). The color is midnight oil black, the mouthfeel is oily and unctuous. This stout will pick up your spirits amidst this dreary end to winter in Japan. In addition to the draught version, bottles (633 ml) also are available for purchase.

We also are pleased to release, today, two small-batch ales made for dispense as ‘real ale’ via the handpumps at our two Taproom pubs: Luck of the Irish Red Ale & Mama’s Milk Stout.

Luck of the Irish Red Ale (ABV 5.0%):

This is a toasty, biscuity red ale laced with subtly sweet notes of caramel. It is brewed in the Irish tradition: i.e. it is malty, moderate in alcohol, and quietly nuanced in hop character. The softness and roundness of this ale is enhanced by the low-carbonation, cellar-temperature dispense via handpumps.

Mama’s Milk Stout (ABV 4.4%):

Milk stouts get their name from additions of lactose either during kettle boil or at packaging or both. They fall under the general category of ‘sweet stouts,’ which tend to be characterized by dextrin-rich wort that is fermented to low attenuation and thus is moderate in alcoholic strength, rich in flavor and robust in mouthfeel. Mama’s Milk Stout is all of these things.

Both of these ‘real ales’ are available on handpump only at the Fishmarket and Nakameguro Taprooms.

Finally, please mark your calendar for our upcoming annual Lucky Seven Stout Week (Monday, March 16 – Sunday March, 22). This year the event will be held simultaneously at both the Fishmarket and Nakameguro Taprooms. The event coincides every year with St. Patrick’s Day (an Irish holiday celebrated on March 17), and gives us an excuse to celebrate a beer style category long associated with Ireland: Stout. In addition to our year-round Shimaguni Stout (which, stylistically, resembles an Irish dry stout), we will be dispensing seven special seasonal stouts:

(1) Midnight Oil Export Stout
(2) Mama’s Milk Stout
(3) Chocolate Malt Stout
(4) Great American Stout
(5) Morning Coffee Stout
(6) Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2009
(7) Barrel-Aged Dark Sky Imperial Stout 2008

Special food, stout cards and an end-of-the week raffle will all be part of the package. More details will be forthcoming shortly.

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

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Herb-Roasted Quail & Ratatouille


I did publish the pic of this dish I made for the Missus (Yes, Rowena, I do sometimes cook! LOL) some time ago, but never had the time to publish the recipe.
It is pretty simple and straightforward and has the advantage to look appetizing and satisfying! Even kids will love it!
Of course you can replace the quail with any fowl (have you ever tried guinea fowl?)
Natasha will certainly agree with me, if the ingredients are good, you cannot fail!

For 2 persons:

-2 large quails
Finely chopped onion: 2 large tablespoons
Finely chopped shallot or red onion: 1 large tablespoon
Finely chopped garlic: 2 cloves
Finely chopped herbs (of your choice/I usually include fresh Italian
parsley, rosemary, sweet basil and celery): 2 large tablespoons)
Whole pink pepper: 1 teaspoon
Breadcrumbs: 2 large tablespoons
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste. You can add your favourite spices, of course!
Olive oil: 2 tablespoons

Fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary: half a dozen each

Lightly seasonthe whole quail with a little salt and pepper.
Mix all the ingredients of the filling into a bowl and fill the quails with it.
Place the quails on an oiled oven plate. Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs on the quails. Pour a little olive over both quails and tp each with a dollop of butter.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/about 400F.
Cook the quail until you are satisfied (taste vastly differ with people).

This can done the day before. Re-heated ratatouille is even better.
I will not bother with weights and measures as there are thousands of ways.
Just know that I use an equal quantity of egg-plants/aubergines, onion, and courgettes/zucchini.
First cut them to the same (important) wanted size (the smaller, the quicker the cooking). Heat olive oil in a large pan. Pour the lot into the pan and cook until onions have become translucent. Turn down the fir to low. Add chopped garlic, one lemon juice, a glass of white wine, plenty of roughly cut tomatoes. Season with Chopped fresh herbs (the more, the better!), salt (easy on that! You can rectify later!), pepper, nutmeg and others.
Cover and let cook until you are satisfied with taste and texture.

Service and presentation:

Take out quails.
Take out the filling and place on a side plate.
Open the quail and “flatten” them.
Serve the quails on a large plate. Top it with the filling and surround it with plenty of ratatouille.

Bon appetit!

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My Best Italian Food Of The Past Year!


I enjoy reminiscing about some of the best food I’ve ever had, especially in times I have to be craeful about my waistline! LOL
Today was such a day as I will go on a trip to Yakushima next week, and everyone knows it is never a good idea to board a plane with an unfit overfed body!
At the beginning of the year I found myself enjoying the memories of some sublime desserts. I don’t why, but today I feel like sharing my experiences about Italian food. My family and ancestors back in France will ask questions!
Shizuoka City has some top-class Italian restaurants serving very original gastronomy. Let’s see if you would be titillated by the following offerings!


A decadent Saffran Risotto with Foie Gras in Balsamico sauce (same as pic above) as served at Aquavite.


A very unusual plate of Spinach Gnocchi in Wild Boar sauce (Aquavite).


A charcoal-grilled “Hanadai Snapper” (caught off Shizuoka shore) with its herbs. One of my best fish dishes ever (Aquavite).


A Sicilian-style Baked Lamb Chops and its Vegetables Platter so reminiscent of country-style food (Il Paladino)


Deep-fried Veal Sweetbreads with Baked Risotto Balls. A discovery! (Via del Borgo)


“Shirako/Cod Sperm Sacs” Gratin. Tasted like foi gras. Doubt you can enjoy that in Italy! (Il Paladino)


Octopus and Vegetables Jelly Terrine. Such colours! (Via del Borgo)


Another decadent Piemonte Truffles Risotto (Via del Borgo)!


An original plate of “Sazae/Turbo Shellfish”, anchovy, green olives and Puttanesca Tomatoes Spaghetti! (Aquavite)


And finally such a heart-warming Venison stewed in red wine! (Latina)

What do you think?

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New Vegetable: Urui/Hosta Montana


Last Sunday, while visiting my favourite supermarket inside the Shizuoka JR Station in search of unusual vegetables I had the pleasure to re-discover that increasingly popular Japanese vegetable, namely urui.
Its Latin name id Hosta Montana. If someone knows the English name, I would be very grateful to be enlightened!
Now, originally this vegetable was a “sansai/wild vegetable” until it has been successfully grown almost all over Japan.


The real name of this mountain plant is Oobagibooshi, too long a name to be marketed, hence the “new” name “urui” for the cultivated species.
At full maturity it can reach imposing height and width.
Like asparaguses, it is harvested early before it extends over a foot/30 cm height.


The leaves are still small, thin and tender then.
The whole plant, unless cooked as tenpura or fried, needs to be lightly boiled in lightly salted water beforehand.


To prepare the plant for the evening snack I had in mind for the Missus (Natasha, Tangled Noodle, do you remember? LOL) I cut the plant into 3 equal lengths and boiled the two bottom ones first as they would take longer. Once boiled to satsifaction I took theme out and cooled them under cold water, cut them lengthwise to thin enough strips and laid them onto a sheet of kitchen paper.
I boiled the leaves just long enough to make them tender, cooled them under cold water and spread them on a sheet of kitchen paper.


I had cooked a fine ratatouille beforehand, let it cool completely and added a dressing of my making with soft Dijon mustard, tarragon white wine vinegar, walnut oil, pepper and salt.
Now vegan and vegetarian friends should proceed directly to the dish I created as the rest ill not suit them!


Next I lightly fried small scallops (after marinating then in lemon juice for a couple of minutes) just enough to keep them almost raw inside and put them aside to cool. I did the same, marinade included with some white shrimps.
Note: to attain their “standing shape” is very easy. First “peel” them leaving the tail ends for better “handling”, make a shallow cut along their back, take out the innards and fry just enough to cok both sides to a nice color and keep them almost hlf raw inside. This way they will be firm but extremely tender.


As for the dish itself, vegan and vegetarian friends can forget the seafood and replace it with more ratatouille and edible flowers for example.
I built an “enclosure” with the cut urui stem, filled it with ratatouille. I placed the seafood geomatrically above the ratatouille. Around it I alternately placed urui leaves, trevise with edible flowers and watercress.
I made a point to take a pic before we sprinkled the lot with dressing (I leave the choice to you!)
Great with a Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wine!

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’09/14)


Today’s bento could have been called “leftovers bento”!
And for once I did participate to its making, unwittingly I must admit!


First the rice part consisted of rice steamed with curry powder, spices and a little olive oil. The Missus mixed it with some of the fine ratatouille salad I had made for last night dinner! Quite tasty, I must admit! LOL

As for the garnish, she provided me with a boiled egg, plum tomato, cornichons, trevise, lettuce, and water cress.


The meat part was a bit of an innovation. The Missus thawed pieces of frozen tuna, seasoned them a little first, then fried them on one side, turned them over and while they cooked she placed cheese on one and spiced veg tomato sauce on another one. Once cooked they formed an interesting “sandwich”!
No dessert this time. I expect a big dinner back home tonight! LOL

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Vegetables Facts and Tips (7): Edible Flowers

(5 edible flowers and water cress salad)

Yesterday, while I was shopping at the big supermarket at the Shizuoka JR Station I was reminded of a recent post by Natasha at 5 Star Foodie when I noticed edible flowers on sale.
Edible flowers have been on the Japanese markets for quite a few years already.
They tend to first appear in late winter, although it is only a question of time when they will be sold all year long!



They come in very cheap, at 98 yen a small box (1 US$), but they ought to be used as early as possible.
Aichi Prefecture, our neighbour Prefecture seems to have become the largest growing area in Japan.
Thai, Indian and Persian citizens, as far as I know, have been using flowers in food for quite some time. The Japanese have served mini-chrysanthemum and perilla flowers since immemorial times.

flowers-3 flowers-4 flowers-5 flowers-6 flowers-71

Most edible flowers are of the pansy, snapdragon, primura and so on varieties.
Do you recognize some of them above?

Now, the great news is that they contain an enormous amount of Vitamin A carotene:
1,100 to 9,400 micrograms per 100 grams as compared to 390 micrograms for tomatoes, 720 micrograms for broccoli and 3,100 micrograms for spinach.
as well as Vitamin C:
230 t0 650 mg per 100 grams as compared to 20 mg for tomatoes, 100 mg for spinach and 160 mg for broccoli!
The Japanes will use them either in flower or vegetable salads or on cakes.

One small advice for caution: don’t overeat them as they have purgative powers!

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