Gastronomic Destinations: New Caledonia (’09/09-1)

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View of Noumea from Ile des Canards

Travelling to New Caledonia can easily become a thirsty venture!
Even in “Spring” (September), temperatures can uickly soar over 25 degrees in the shade, meaning at least 10 more in the sun!

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Number 1 Beer and havannah Beer at Le Fun Beach

New Caledonia is not only blessed with sun, sea and great food, but it also offers some of the best natural water in the Pacific Ocean!
No wonder this island has been settled for millennia as the water is slowly filtered through rocks before to gush out at the feet of pretty high (over 2,000 metres in some cases) for such a small island!
A benediction for beer Brewers and beer lovers!

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Tuna Salad at le Fun Beach

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Roast Beef salad at Le Fun Beach.

There are many restaurants in Noumearemisniscent of Southern France. Actually the Caucasian population is mainly from Southern France and Corsica.
Food in such restaurants is very healthy although a missing a little spice. Sauces and vinaigrettes are light in particular.
There are exceptions I will mention in my next posting!

LE FUN BEACH
Promenade R. Laroque, Noumea, New caledonia/Nouvelle Caledonie
Tel: 263132
Credit cards OK
Great View on Anse vata Beach and Bay
Lunch and Dinner

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Sushi and Sashimi: Eat Local!

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Saurel pike/Aji from Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

Very few people will disagree with the notion that Japan is the ideal place to discover and savour sushi and sashimi in the whole world. Nevertheless, there are a few rules of the thumb to respect even in this gastronomic paradise.
The overriding rule is that you should try and eat only local fish or seafood.
Tsukiji might be considered a sushi paradise by Tokyoites, but the cheap prices enjoyed by tourists cannot conceal the reality: the fish and seafood are “imported” from all over Japan and beyond!
More than often, Edomae (Tokyo) sushi is nothing but a clever way to “dress up” ingredients to lure officionados (and customers) into believing they are eating top quality sushi (with the consequent prices).
Now, if you have the chance and time to explore Japan beyond Tokyo, you will discover an unfathomable treasure trove of gastronomic pleasure and knowledge!
After all, this country is a vast archipelago stretched across greatly different seas and climates, making for a diversity difficult to equal.
So, even if you cannot possibly explore all the shores of this nation, make a point to learn about the food available wherever you choose to stay.
The same goes for residents, not only for their own sake, but for that of their visitors and friends!

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Sushi set with fish all caught in Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

You also ought to do some homework. Sushi chefs worthy of their salt will be only too happy to answer questions to genuinely interested customers and come up with revelations of their own.
As an example to illustrate the need for some basic knowledge, in Hokkaido “oyakodon” is not cooked chicken and omelette on a bowl of rice, but raw salmon and its roe spread on top the same bowl of rice!
Likewise, the same fish will more than often be sold under a myriad of names.
Many morsels will not be found anywhere else as “sakura ebi/cherry shrimps” and fresh”shirasu/sardine whiting” in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Sashimi in most cases has to be perfectly fresh as typified by “kubiore saba” in Yakushima Island where fishermen break the neck (“kubiore”) of mackerels (“saba”) to preserve their quality upon catching. The same fish will be served within a few hours, or less, on the local tables.
On the other hand, tuna sashimi is best consumed after ripening for a few days in a refrigerator.
In Hokkaido, large shrimps, especially “botan ebi” will be served only raw, whereas “kuruma ebi” will be first boiled in other regions.

If you ask for “tataki”, make sure it means the whole fish, especially “aji/mackerel pike” that will be served finely cut as tartare atop the dressed fish.

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Flying Fish/Tobiuo sashimi from Yakushima Island

On the other hand, sushi follows different rules.
Fish and seafood placed on “donburi” (bowl) are usually of the freshly brought variety but fish served as nigiri is prepared in a different way.
The greatest sushi (and this cannot be done in Tsukiji!) are made with fish which has been gutted and cleaned live within seconds, then dressed into strips/fillets left to mature in a refrigerator on clean cloth/kitchen paper. This can be done only with fish caught locally!
The same obviously goes with shellfish and other marine ceatures: One cannot sample better “uni/sea urchin” away from Hokkaido or sakura ebi from Shizuoka.

Vegan and vegetarians, upon finding a restaurant willing to satisfy their priorities should also ask for food grown locally, a search easier than one might think at first as there are many non-meat eaters in this mainly Budhist country.
The same vegetables will make for the perfect combination when associated with local fish!

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Vegan Tea Buckwheat Noodles: “Tya-soba”

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Shizuoka Prefecture is celebrated for its green tea all the World.
I had the pleasure to taste something of value for many recently.
Vegeterians (and vegans!), rejoice! A company called Ikejima Foods in Hamakita Ku, Hamamatsu City has come up with Tea Buckwheat Noodles/Tya-soba!.
Tea comes from the Kawane area which produces some of the best tea in the Prefecture.
The noodles contain no preservatives and neither the noodles, nor the tsuyu/soup contains any animal extracts whatsoever (no milk or egg products).
One pack contains enough for 4 small or 2 medium portions.

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As for cooking, here are simple instructions:
Cold Noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup in 100 ml of clean water.
In one big pan heat 2 litres of water. Bring to boiling point. Drop in noodles. Lower fire to samll. Stir with long chopsticks. The noodles are ready when they readily come to the surface. Wash them rapidly under running cold water inside a “zaru”/small basket or inside a bowl full of cold water until noodles are cool enough. Drain water and place on a flat dish over a bamboo net if possible. Eat noodles by dipping them in tsuyu/soup to which you can add freshly cut raw leeks and wasabi (or any spices you fancy!)

Hot noodles style:
Dilute tsuyu/soup into 230 ml of hot water.
Cook noodles as for cold style. Drain and drop into bowl full of tsuyu/soup. Add vegetables, freshly cut raw leeks and spices to taste.

“Meicha Soba”
Ikejima Foods
Hamamatsu City, Hamakita Ku, Terajima, 2351
Tel.: 053-587-1025

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(Great) Sex before (Great) Food, or (Great) Food Before (Great) Sex?

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How many times have I read and seen (on screens!) about those great meals being the preamble to great love?
I’ve always wondered about the truth, if not the feasibility, of such perfection…

Now, I fully understand the risks of posting an article on this somewhat contentious issue:
-“He’s doing this to get more views…”
-Some spammers will not resist from jumping on the bandwagon. They’ll be disappointed!
-Some bloggers with overriding precepts will complain (loudly)…
I hope I will not have to erase too many comments! LOL

GIONO-5

In spite of my “maturity”, I enjoy (relatively) good health and endeavour to enjoy my life to the full.
But there are limits.
The Romans might have developped the right way by eating and making love on the same couch, but knowing how these orgies (have you checked the real meaning of this word?) ended up in later years, I’m not really convinced.
Honestly speaking, have you tried and reaaaaallllllyyyy appreciated sex with a full stomach and a swirling head?

Many of us do have to consider inescapable issues:
At some time of our lives we were brainwashed into thinking that sex should occur at night (Shut those lights down, will you?).
The hippies had it right in 1960’s as they were aking love when and where they wanted. That is, until they settled into comfortable lives…
On the other hand, nights ar no longer the frightful period of of your daily life as in the Mddle Ages when humans had to comfort each other.

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One overriding reason for avoiding sex afer a great meal is that strenuous physical exercise after consuming a good amount of food and drink is fraught with high health risks, whatever our age. Ask the doctors!

Now, if you need a more prosaic excuse, have you ever realized that, unless you had a good scrub and plenty of perfume beforehand, how you and your spouse/partner/lover look and smell after ingesting a significant volume of food and drink, whatever the quality of the latter?

TOFU-CARPACCIO

The French might have it right with their “demon de midi/noon demon”, meaning that mature people will skip lunch in favour of (sometimes illicit) sex.

-“But I’m too busy working in day time!” you will say.
There is a solution to that:
Share that great food early enough, settle down for a long contented moment to allow your body metabolism to recuperate (keep talking, don’t doze off!)
Why do you think the “digestif” was invented for?

I just read an interesting survey held by this week’s “L’Express” magazine, which says that, among other data, 61% of ladies attach great importance to a shared meal against 46% of gentlemen before eventual sexual relations!

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Ladies do seem to prefer sex after a great dinner (or a great drink), or at least at night when they can doze off inside their loved one’s arms (who am I to say that?) ….

But women can suddenly wake up with strong yearnings.
Have you ever heard this (allegedly true) story about Napoleon and Josephine:
The Emperor’s first wife was a notoriously highly sexed inividual.
One night she could not wake up her illustrious spouse to assume his marital duties.
She got up and took a piece of particularly pungent cheese from a tray on the bedroom table and brought it under Napoelon’s nose.
The Emperor, not bothering to open an eye, muttered:
-“Soory, not tonight, Josephine!”
When sex can be associated with food…

My own recommendation/preference?
The “noon demon”, of course! LOL

NOTE:
The food and drink depicted in this article have no aphrodisiac properties whatsoever!
Sorry to disappoint those who expected sausages and meatballs!

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Tea as Food!

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(from top middle, clockwise: Salted Cuttle fish marinated in tea leaves and rice yeast, conger eel pike and urchin in green tea jellied fish broth, tea leaves walnut tofu curd, tuna simmered in green tea with tea leaves dumpling cake, matsutake mushroom cooked in tea leaves)

Tea is mainly known as a drink all over the World in spite of puddings and a limited variety of desserts made with red or green tea.
Shizuoka Prefecture where more than 50% of all green tea in Japan has witnessed some gastronomic research by local chefs of all leanings and events have regularly been organised to share the information and skills.

Fugetsuro is one of the restaurants in Shizuka holding such welcome events:

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Above is a view of a dinner Mr. Hitoshi Yamada, Master Chef at Fugetsuro was asked to design for some 120 guests with the overriding concept that tea must be included in all dishes.

Including the first dish described above, the menu ran as follows (I let you judge!)
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Raw fish assortment: Tuna, seabream, sole, seasoned with fresh tea, edible flowers, salt and soy sauce.

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Surugani: tea sob/buckwheat noodles, seabream cooked in whole rice, “kouyou” carrot, tea leaves.

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Oven-baked black pork seasoned with tea, five color vegetables, tea sauce.

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Tofu bean curd and whole rice Pouch, deep-fried tea leaves. Seasoned with
“macha” tea salt.

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Autumn salmon marinate in seaweed and tea, yuuba/bean curd sheet. Seasoned with golden vinegar.

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Tea rice, salmon roe, soup.

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Persimmon, grape, “macha” tea Bavarois, green tea cube jelly.

Fugetsurou
420-0852 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Koya Machi, 11-1
Tel.: 054-2526500
Fax: 054-2528411
Homepage (Japanese)

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Japanese Izakaya: Uzu (’09/09/13)

UZU-4

Vegetables Shabu shabu

Service: excellent, easy-going and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: very reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients especially organic vegetables extensively used.

I said before that Uzu was bound the become an addicton!
The difference is that the Missus shares the same addiction!
Accordingly we felt it was about time we checked the menu as it always a seasonal one.

UZU-1

The “0-toshi”, or a snack served automatically with the first drink order, is clearly representative of Uzu, not only as far as food is concerned, but also because all earthenware and glassware are made by local artists!
Did you notice the size of the boiled peanuts/
Yes, they are eaten boiled in Shizuoka and make for a healthier todbit than the usual roasted variety. These jumbo-sized ones are grown near Mount Fuji!

UZU-2

As for the sashimi plate we chose local fish including beni matsu/salmon trout raised in Fujinomiya City at the foot of Mount Fuji, Hanadai and Hondai, both varieties of groupers.

UZU-3

As for tempura,wewere told that a batch of wild mushrooms had just arrived.
No need to say we needed to be asked again.
Giant Enokitake, Shimejitake and Maitake!

UZU-4

But the star of the evening was the organic (all local) vegetables sgabu shabu (you will served seaweed/konbu dashi for it if you order so!)
Frankly speaking I did not havethe time to ask about thevegetables in detail as the Missus could not wait! Jut let me say they included red sweet potato and that they were a discovery!

Looking forward to the next one!
Incidentally the Missus had beer and white wine while I sipped local sake…

UZU
Shizuoka City, Otowa-cho, 3-18
Tel.: 054-249-6262
Business hours: 17:00=23:00
Closed on Mondays and first Tuesday
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK

HOMEPAGE (Japanese)
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Marine Life Sustainability and Stock Preservation in Japan

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Foodbuzz never asked me for such an article. I just wrote it first out of concern for some of my Foodbuzz Friends!

It was Lou-Ann‘s surprise in particular which originally prompted me into investigation to back up knowledge acquired though many years spent in this great country, Japan. It is the second time I publish this article as it has become more of actuality and new information has been made available.

I use the word “great” when applied to Japan for a simple reason:
Japan is the one country which most extensively conducts and sponsors research and development of fish stocks.
This country has also come up with some momentous discoveries related to the fishing environment:
-Japanese fishermen south of Kyushu Island discovered that planting trees on small islands increased manifold the amount of vegetal plankton carried into the surrounding sea resulting in an immediate increase of the fish population.
-Japanese researchers found out that building small pyramids on the sea floor with concrete or plastic (a beneficial dumping at last?) blocks attracted corals, sea anemones, seaweed and shellfish, thus creating a food chain for fish. Such pyramids will surely prove more beneficial to mankind than all the Egyptian pyramids put together!
They have also realised that dragging out sunk ships was not needed as the same lost vessels were populated by all kinds of marine life!
In the north of Japan crab stocks are been replenished by simply sinking giant scaffolds to the bootom of the sea, thus providing the delicious critters with the subtarreanean geography they love best!
Sakura ebi/Cherry shrimps fishermen in Yui (Shizuoka Prefecture again!) syphon the shrimp out of the nets before opening and releasing all other marine lie safely back into the sea!

The Japanese have been (unjustly) accused of emptying the seas. Actually Spain holds the world record for fish catch and consumption.
I already have written an article on whale meat. I find it galling that Japan is villified for eating whale meat by the very countries which depopulated the globe of sea-mammals in the 19th Century: US, Canada, Russia, Australia and New Zealand (alright, Great Britain for the last two maybe!) in the Pacific Ocean. US, Canada, Norway, Great Britain, France, Spain and Russia in the Atlantic Ocean. And most of them again in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. What do you think Commodore Perry was before he was delegated to order Japan to “open its doors”?
This country is repeatedly thrown into the same basket of evils. I was recently “told off” because the Japanese kill sharks for their fins before throwing the dead fish back into the sea. Sorry, mate, but you will have to ask the Chinese! The Japanese eat the whole fish when they catch it and make kamaboko from it!

It could go on and on, but this was never the real purpose of this article.

Now, to illustrate and justify the heading of this posting, here is a list of the fish and seafood raised in Japan as opposed to being caught in the wild:

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Blue Fin Tuna/Honmaguro

Yes, you read it, Blue Fin Tuna! After 23 years of experimentation, a Kyushu fishmonger has finally succeeded in producing the fish from natural mating inside giant offshore sea parks. The fish is already sold over the counter at supermarkets.
No later than last year the Tokai Marine University in Shimizu, Shizuoka City (I live in a great place, don’t I?) also succedein a more sientific manner the raising of the same tuna from the egg, promising that domestic Blur Fin Tuna will roam the same waters in Suruga bay as their wild cousins!
With a ban on tuna fishing in the Mediterranean Sea being pushed through legislation by the EU, Japan will find itself one day in the rich position of actually exporting tuna!

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Big-eyed Tuna/Mebachi Maguro

Human-raising Research is conducted and nearly brought to fruition.

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Albacore Tuna: Kihada Maguro

Human-raising Research is conducted and will soon be sucessful.

Note:
Indian Ocean Tuna/Indo Maguro: Human-raising Research is conducted abroad and such fish are imported to Japan.

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Yellowtail/Buri

Over 62,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

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Amberjack/Kanpachi

Over 49,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

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Striped Jack/Shima Aji

Over 3,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

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Horse Mackerel/Ma Aji

Over 3,500 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.

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True Mackerel-Japanese Mackerel/Ma Saba

Human raising succeeded and fish are already sold over the counter.

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True Sardine-Pilchard/Ma Iwashi

Human-raising Research is being conducted and could created a real revolution as the same fish also become feed for above tuna.

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Isaki/Grouper variety-Parapristipona Trilinoatum

9 tons of human-raised fish consumed in Nagasaki Prefecture alone last year. Shizuoka is also coming up with them!

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Silver Salmon/Gin Sake

Over 8,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.
Production very fast.

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Porgy/Madai

Over 71,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year as opposed to 15,000 tons caught at sea.
Al kinds of seabreams are actually on the line.

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Seabass/Suzuki

382 tons tons of human-raised fish consumed in Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku) alone last year.

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Sand Borer-Sillago/Kisu

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

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Bar-tailed Flathead/Kochi

Human-raising is being conducted.

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Ainame/Alexagrammos otakii

Human-raising has succeeded and some fish is already sold over the counter.

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Kelp Bass/Kue

A success story in Shizuoka and Nagasaki Prefectures where human-raised fish are already sold over the counter.

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Globefish-Tiger Globefish/Tora Fugu

Over 5,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year.
Shizuoka is rapidly becoming a major producer, especially inhamana (sea) Lake in the Western part of the Prefecture.

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Large Prawn/Kuruma Ebi

Over 1,700 tons of human-raised prawns consumed last year.

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Spiny Lobster/Ise Ebi

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

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Ark Shell-Bloody Clam/Akagai

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

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Gaper/Mirugai

Human-raising Research is being conducted

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Large Cockle/Torigai

Human-raising Research is being conducted

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Hard Clam/Hamaguri

Very large amounts of half human-raised shellfish consumed last year.
All the clams picke by tourist in Hamana lake have actually been planted young there!

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Surf Clam/Hokkigai

Human-raising Research bein conducted

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Abalone/ Awabi

32 tons tons of human-raised abalones consumed in Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefectures alone last year.
Now, knowing the price of such shellfish and the enormous consumption in other countries, it promises to become a very lucrative business!

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Scallops/Hotate

Over 270,000 tons of human-raised scallops consumed last year.
The shellffish being hermaphrodite, it will become easier and easier tomake and sell. Here in Shizuoka it has simply become ridiculaoulsy cheap!

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Oysters/Kaki

Over 220,000 tons of human-raised oysters + over 35,000 tons of the same out of the shell consumed last year as opposed to 1,600 tons of wild oysters.
Actually soon or later the catch of wild oysters will become strictly regulated as many other shellfish. Poaching both by Japanese and “foreigners” is being fought off in earnest.

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Sea Urchin/Uni

7 tons tons of human-raised sea urchin consumed in Hokkaido Prefecture alone last year.

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Conger Eel/ Ma Anago

Human-raising Research is being conducted

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Common Eel/Unagi

Over 21,000 tons of human-raised fish consumed last year as opposed to 610 tons caught in the wild.

In some places, notably Mishima City, eel restaurants refuse to serve wild eels.

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Oike Conger eel/Hamo

Human-raising Research is being conducted.

The Japanese have also starting research on different varieties of octopus/tako and squids/ika.

Probably more coming soon or later!

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