Gastronomic Cycling in Shizuoka (2)

Today was also a glorious day, even in the second half of the afternoon with blue skies and crisp air. Time to go out!

Bazooka Gourmet will smirk again when he sees that I had to change the basket yesterday as it finally fell apart!

I took the street at the back of the office, running along the Sumpu Castle Park and Moat. Sumpu is the old name of Shizuoka City. The caste which had been leveled down in early Edo Times was rebuilt to two thirds of its original size at the end of last millennium (LOL, not so long ago, actually!).

The city is still asking the country to pay for the repair of the wall which collapsed in three different spots during last summer’s earthquake (do you remember my earthquake bento?).

I was then cycling past the Old City Hall Dome built by Queen Victoria’s subjects in the 19th Century. To think that a former Mayor wanted to pull it down. It is presently used as a museum and local government seat.

A minute later I reached the entrance of Sengen Shrine street, the destination of the day, marked by a giant red torii. A torii is a Japanese entranc/arch erected to allow birds to perch and rest on (Shintoism).

Sengen Shrine is only about 300 metres long but it is one of the oldest street in town. Although it has been renovated over the ages, one can still find traditional shops and quaint sites.
The shop above is famous oden-ya/Japanese pot au feu restaurant.

Shizuoka-style oden is renown all over Japan!

Taking a short peek (I will write a full about oden again soon).
Note that I use my mobile phone camera. A real camera tends to put off people for good reasons….

Narrow but interesting (reason coming in next pic!) entrance of an antique shop.

Although the shop sells all kinds of old sabres and knives, the police notice states you are allowed to carry knives with blades over 5 cm long!

This shop specializes in peanuts only!

They went as far as to designing their own “mon/arms” with peanut plants!

This cafe specializes in organic food, a very real real thing in Shizuoka!

A sign to make sure you know they use only organic vegetables!

A local celebrity: Yamada Nagamasa

Yamada Nagamasa (1590~1630) voyaged to Siam where 7,000 samurais lived in Ayathaya as the personal guard of the Siam King.

The statue was erected in 1991. Note that due to the closure of the country in Edo Times, he probably become the last Japanese sailor of note for the next 200 years!

A grocery selling only organic vegetables!

Would love to taste these!

At the first crossing stands this quaint shop selling miniature cars.

Hundred of them all different!
Did you know that Tamiya Miniature Company is in Shizuoka City?

Real antiques for the collectors!

The City Tourism Bus (names in French…) clearly indicates this is a street to explore.

This street is one of the very last where you still can find shops selling traditional gardening tools, some of them real monsters! LOL

This pet clinic (real vet!) is apparently the best business in the whole street!

End of the street and entrance to the Sengen Shrine (will write a report about it one day!) and it’s back along the other side of the street towards my real destination I ignored on purpose at the entrance of the street.

A soy sauce shop, probably the only one in town.

And an old one at that! These ceramic bottles are over 80 years old!

Local soy sauce brands.

A yeast and miso shop. Only a few shops left in Shizuoka. This is the place to buy artisanal miso!

That shop still sells traditional cookware, kitchen and bathroom wooden and metallic utensils. Almost no plastic there!

Shizuoka is famous for this kind of bamboo craft!

Now, this is the guy I had left for dessert!
Now, what is he cooking on his copper hot plate?

Can you guess? Hot Cakes? Yes and no…

have you heard of Doraemon, the Japanese manga character?
He loves “dorayaki”, the Japanese double hot cake filled with anko/sweetmeats!
This is the only place left in Shizuoka still cooking them every day in the true traditional way!

I did ask for the authorization to take pictures.
The man was real sweet (of course…) and gave me (to prove the great taste…good businessman!) a single hot cake wrapped around anko/sweetmeats!

Hot, simple and so delicious!
The gentleman was beaming all the time.
“If you want to take more picture, come inside!”
????

I only understood when I passed the “noren”/Entrance curtain!
The place for all its tiny size was a real Ali Baba cavern full of antique collectibles!

I almost screamed when I discovered those exquiisite antique glasses,

Cups, saucers and more!
Who could have believed there was a cultured man behind that artisan?
I know I will come for more than one reason!
No wonder customers kept streaming in!

Mr. Kawauchi make the dorayaki. His smiling wife packs them carefully and individually in cellophane paper printed with”Dorayaki”, the shop name and all ingredients used!

Out of the package.
They are big and sell for only 100 yen/1.10 US $.
Mr. Kawauchi was selling them only 42 yen when he opened his shop 22 year ago!

After a big bite.
The hot cake is unbelievely light and soft. The taste is certainly heads, shoulders and torso above anything sold at higher prices in department stores!

Where next?

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glas, Palate To Pen, Tokyo Foodcast, Good Beer & Country Boys, Tokyo Terrace, Think Twice, Jefferson’s Table

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Japanese Seasonal Fish: Bora/Mullet

There are at least 12 recognized kinds of mullet being caught all over the world.
The flathead mullet in particular is an important food fish for many around the world, and can be both fished and farmed. The roe of this mullet is salted, dried, and compressed to make a specialty food across the world, such as Korean myeongran jeot, Japanese karasumi, Italian botargo, and Egyptian batarekh . In Egypt, the fish itself is salted, dried, and pickled to make feseekh.

Flathead Mullet, Mugil Cephalus in Latin, or Bora/鯔/鰡 in Japanese will reach length of over 80 cm in Japan, although the average length will more around 50 cm.

It is caught south of Hokkaido near river mouths or in bays receiving lots of river waters.
Like any othe fish, it will be called other names depending upon the region: Isegoi (Western Japan), Itanebora (Ehime Prefecture), Mabora (Hiroshima Prefecture), Tsukura (Okinawa), Kuchime, Mejiro, Hebuna, Haku, Makuchi, Kurome, or Merome.

It is a versatile fish:

Served raw as sashimi in Jpaanese Cuisine or,

as carpaccio in Italian style.

It is more unusual as sushi nigiri (front two) and will probably be found as such only locally.

To answer a query from Luke, it is more encountered cooked:
Deep-fried and served with a soy-based sauce is common to many asian countries.

Deep-fried before being served wit a sweet and saour sauce,

or the same again with tofu is popular in Taiwan (and in Japan!).

First steamed and then served with a sauce made with sweet pickled plum and miso is supposed to be of Chinese origin, but can be found again in many Asians countries.

But for all these recipes, the most valuable (and very expensive at that!) is the roe of the female mullets!

It is served as it is extavagantly in Japanese or Italian cuisine sashimi or carpaccio.

The combinations are infinite!

An extravagant salad of Japanese and Italian inspiration!

Grated over an extragant pasta dish!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, Jefferson’s Table

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/06): Pasta Bento

The Dragon is still in a good mood (the bright weater and her day off might explain it! LOL).
For once, she kept away from rice or bread and concocted a pasta bento.

It certainly made for a colourful bento!

The pasta base was made with spaghettini.
After boiling and cooling them she mixed in tinned smoked oyters, and vegetables she had lightly fried beforehand: shimeji muchrooms, red and yellow pimentoe, red onion and sliced shiitake. She seasoned the lot with the smoked oysters oil and smoked salt, and a little dressing. She finally topeed it fresh cress.

As for the garnish: Boiled green asparaguses rolled in raw ham and mini tomatoes lined with lettuce.

The side dish consisted of soft boiled egg, and vegetable sticks with their dipping sauce: carrots, cucumber, and celery.
A few walnuts and a mini banana (not featured) for dessert.

Very healthy, indeed. No wonder the Missus is checking my waistline every morning! LOL

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Japanese Seasonal Fish: Makogarei/Turbot

“Makogarei” or Pleuronectes yokohamae Gunther for the specialists is one of the many kinds of turbot indigeneous to Japan.
You will find it on the markets between June and August.
Depending where you live, you might do well to know its other names: “Aome” (Sendai), “Mushibirama” (Konahama), “Mako” (Tokyo) or “Amakarei” among many.
It is net-caught all around Japan.

It has comparatively a lot of flesh for a turbot, making it a choice morsel for nigiri or sashimi.

It can reach a length of 30 cm. Contrary to many other fish, the size will bear no incidence on the taste, but if you wish for extra taste, avoid female specimen bearing eggs/roe, and if possible, although a bit extravagant, choose a live fish (possible at Parche, Shizuoka JR Station!).
A good sushi or Japanese restaurant will deep-fry the bones and head for you, making for a great snack with great ale!

As a sushi nigiri, it is served as it is, and can be savoured with a little salt and lemon juice only as seasoning.

Many people also ask their sushi nigiri seasoned with tare/sauce.

One more way is to present it as konbujime/marineated in seaweed.

being a large fish, it can be easily manipulated into bo sugata sushi/baton sushi with the rice inside the fish.

Small specimens are appreciated grilled whole with some lemon, soy sauce and grated daikon.

Another popular cuisine is to stew/simmer the whole fish in soy sauce, mirin and sake as ni-zakana.

The sperm sacs/shirako of the male specimens are much appreciated in European-style cuisine!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Gastronomic Cycling in Shizuoka (1)

Many friends have enquired why I call myself a “cycling gourmet” (instead of the celebrated “galloping one”).
There is no mystery there for the simple reason that I have never driven, or was tempted to, a car in my life.
Thanks to that, I’m still comparatively in good health in spite of my ever-going battle of the bulge and a blood pressure to keep in check.

As for my bicycle(s), do not expect me to ride the state-of-the-art mountain bike (although I’d love to own one!), great for riding on all roads, but definitely unpractical. I need that sturdy basket in the front!
In any case there is no way you can suddenly stop to take a picture with your car sitting in the middle of the street!
Japan might be a congested, teeming land, but there are millions of pictures begging to be taken of the everyday life of its people, the more for it that it is the safest country in the world. With a minimum of (good) manners you will soon discover that almost everyone is happy to be reported on!

Shizuoka City is a very compact town in spite of its fairly large population of over 800,000 souls. Really big buildings are only to be found near the large Railway Station (this is earthquake country after all). In spite of many wide arteries gridiing the area, there are plenty of side streets to explore.

A typical thoroughfare starts from the Central Police Station onto the Shichiken-cho street through Komagata Street.
I will spare you from all the ubiquitous chain cafes, diners, nonsensical cake shops and the like to concentrate on the places of true interest.
Japanese cities can appear bland and jumblelike to the point of sheer boredom at first contact, but if you know what and where to search there is plenty to discover, big or small, local or foreign, amusing or downright alien.

Shichiken-cho starts with th Isetan Store, one of the major chain department stores in Japan.

The food department is invariably located on the first or basement floor in such buildings.
Isetan is worth some study as they make an (albeit a bit weak) effort to promote truly local gastronomy:

Map of Shizuoka Prefecture and its main fisheries harbours with the fish of the day.

Shizuoka sake!

Shizuoka Green Tea with a map of the main fields!

Shizuoka Wasabi products.

Shizuoka processed fish.

Keeping straight (you must explore the side streets at night with their many izakayas!) you will find Il Cuore Trattoria, a great Italian Cafe where you can enjoy your drink and tasty light fare at a table outside on the pavement (in warm weather!).

The best and most beautiful cappucino in town!

Just keep going on, and you will find Takahashiya Sembei shop.

The oldest rice crackers shop. All sembei are made over a charcoal fire!

To be fair, there are many small cheap restaurants (ramen, yakiniku, etc..), cafes, bakeries, boutiques, beauty salons and whatnot along the way, but they would not have you raise an eyebrow.
You will also find one useful Shizutetsu grocery store along the way, but skip it for the time being.

Now, when entering Komagata Street, you do have to keep an eye open for some intriguing sights.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the minuscule Komagata Shrine,

and salute its dragons (we know this guy, don’t we?)!

Just past the Komagata Shrine you will discover where the true locals buy their everyday needs at ancient grocery stores.

Tomitaya is your typical Shizuoka off license/liquor shop,

offering rare Shizuoka sake, some of which you will not find in any other shop in Shizuoka City!

Have a good look at what is displayed at the shops.

Not only the (very low) prices are clearly indicated, but also the origin of all the veg, meat, fish and fruit!

There must be good reasons for the local to crowd such grocery stores!
Great places for expats with gastronomic priorities and limited budgets!

Sano Rice(only) shop.

Very good value for very fine rice coming form all over Japan!
A reference shop for vegans and vegetarians!

I’m pretty sure you will have missed a lot on your way out, therefore on your way back proceed slowly and have two or three more looks.

Dotai Kotai Izakaya. They are part of a big chain, but they have the merit to serve a few eminent Shizuoka sake and decent food.

There are some intriguing signs to be put on film.
The shop above sells beef, chicken, pork, sausages, delicatessen all in the same place,….

Scorpion Hearts?
This is not a food store, but a beauty salon!

Amici, a tiny watering hole I definitely will have to investigate in the near future!

A quaint entrance to an unusual cafe.

No comments!
The amateurs of the truly bizarre should come well-equipped!

I just loved that one!

Biwa is a popular “Chinese Fusion” restaurant with ladies but I hold reservations as to that kind of presentation…

Unusual design for a Crepe shop called Roulotte.

But the kids seem to love it!

Osakaya is shop solely selling “katsuo bushi/Dry bonito shavings”. Shizuoka is the main area for ships to bring their bonito catch in Japan.

Ichome, a kitch jumble of a trattoria, which seems to be really popular.
I’ll have to check!

Will meet you soon at the next destination!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glas, Palate To Pen, Tokyo Foodcast, Good Beer & Country Boys, Tokyo Terrace, Think Twice

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/05)

Today was a bright day and the Missus was in a fairly good morning mood (evenings are somewhat different), and the colourful bento proved it!

The Missus? (picture taken at a fashion store in Shizuoka City)

Friends who know my e-mail address know that a dragon and a raabit are featured therein, but have you ever wondered who was which? LOL
If you want to see more pictures of everyday life in Shizuoka with more dragons and oddities, just go THERE!

As I said, the bento was full of colours!

The rice is violet because it was steamed together with pieces of violet sweet potatoes/murasaki satsuma imo. The potatoes were placed on top of the rice before steaming it. They were then stirred together with black sesame seeds when the rice was cooked.

As for the garnish, I got my compulsory tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette (cooked with pieces of sweet pimentoes), lettuce and mini-tomato.

The shiitake and the rolls were fried together and seasoned with wasabi dressing.

The rolls were made enoki (farm-growned) mushrooms rolled into thin pork belly strips and fried together. The enoki being thin, long and tender,they blend in very quickly.

The salad/dessert side dish consisted of a bed of shredded greens covered with pieces of lettuce, celery, orange sweet pimento and cheese, cucumber slices, walnuts, home-made apple compote and wedges of kiwi fruit for dessert.

The real Missus? (picture taken at Komagata Shrine in Shizuoka City)

Thank you, Dragon! (Alright, she is the Rabbit!)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Egg plants/Aubergines & Miso Caviar

This recipe is another/different version form the previous egg plants/aubergines recipe to cater for vegan priorities.
Back in France, we do call aubergine paste, aubergine caviar (probably because of the sometimes reminiscent dark colour).
The process is almost the same, and it is of course open to variations, especially as far spices are concerned.

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

-Egg plants/Aubergins: 3~4
-Rice vinegar: 1 tablespoon
-Miso (of your choice): 1 tablespoon
-Fresh perilla/shiso leaves: enough for decoration. Chop them finely first.

-Salt: no need as enough is contained inside the miso

-Optional: Spices (of your choice), grated ginger, and so on.

RECIPE:

-Grill the egg plants/aubergines directly over the flame on a grill.
Doing it in the oven is fine, too.

-Once the the egg plants/aubergines have been evenly grilled and become soft inside, peel them completely.

-Mash them finely with a knife.
Do not use a food processor as the the egg plants/aubergines will become a messy juice!

-Pour the mashed egg plants/aubergines in a bowl.
Add the rice vinegar and miso.
Mix well.
Served topped with finely chopped shiso leaves.

-Experiment with grated garlic, sesame oil and grated ginger!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES
Not-Just-Recipes, Bengal cuisine, Cooking Vegetarian, Frank Fariello, Gluten-free Vegan Family, Meatless Mama, Warren Bobrow, Wheeling Gourmet, Le Petit Cuisinier, Vegan Epicurean, Miss V’s Vegan Cookbook, Comestiblog, To Cheese or not To Cheese, The Lacquer Spoon, Russell 3, Octopuspie, Bread + Butter, Pegasus Legend, Think Twice, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine: Egg Plant/Aubergine & Yoghurt Paste

Aubergines or egg plants were introduced from India to Jpan a very long time ago.
The Japanese since then have adopted them in their gastronomy and lore. Interetingly enough, it has become the symbol of both male virility and utter stupidity! (In Frnce they are a surname given to lady traffic wardens!).

Aubergines are a very versatile vegetable which can be easily cooked/prepared into vegetarian cuisine.
Here is a simple recipe reminiscent ofTurkish gastronomy to enjoy as a snack on freshly toasted bread!

Egg Plant/Aubergine & Yoghurt Paste!

INGREDIENTS: For 2 people

-Egg plants/aubergines: 4 (organic if possible!)
-Garlic: 1 clove (grated)
-Yoghurt: 2~3 cups/400~600 cc/ml
-Olive oIl (EVA): 2 tablespoons
-Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
-Lemon juice: To taste

Optional: spices to taste

RECIPE:

-Grill the egg plants/aubergines directly over the flame on a grill.
Doing it in the oven is fine, too.

-Once the the egg plants/aubergines have been evenly grilled and become soft inside, peel them completely.

-Mash them finely with a knife.
Do not use a food processor as the the egg plants/aubergines will become a messy juice!

-Pour the mashed egg plants/aubergines in a large bowl. Add grated garlic, olive oil and yoghurt.
Mix well.
Season with lemon juice, salt and spices (optional). Check taste and rectify if needed.
The taste might a bit bland to some, so season it to your preferences.
You may add some parmegiano cheese for example.

In Turkey they don’t always include garlic. Actually recipes vary greatly in that country.
The Japanese will sometimes add sesame oil.
Nuts paste or ground sesame seeds are also a great alternative!

Enjoy it on your favourite toasted bread!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES
Not-Just-Recipes, Bengal cuisine, Cooking Vegetarian, Frank Fariello, Gluten-free Vegan Family, Meatless Mama, Warren Bobrow, Wheeling Gourmet, Le Petit Cuisinier, Vegan Epicurean, Miss V’s Vegan Cookbook, Comestiblog, To Cheese or not To Cheese, The Lacquer Spoon, Russell 3, Octopuspie, Bread + Butter, Pegasus Legend, Think Twice, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Tamagoyaki Nori Cheese Roll

Found this easy Winter Ci\omfort food recipe in my notes which for a simple combination of Japanese and American/European (?) tastes!

It is tentatively called Tamagoyaki Nori Cheese Roll/卵焼き海苔チーズ巻!

INGREDIENTS:

-Eggs: quantity depending on the number of servings. Better think big!
-Nori/dry seaweed: a few sheets
-Cheese: slice pizza cheese is fine. Of course you can upgrade!

RECIPE:

-Make thin sheets of tamagoyaki in this way or that way first.

-Spread one sheet of tamagoyaki on workig table.

-Spread nori/dry seaweed all over it.

-Place cheese slices along one end. Think of how wide you want to make the roll when you choose the size of the cheese slices. Cut the cheese to size if necessary.
Season the cheese with black pepper if you wish for more taste.
You could vary by adding some thin ham slices, too.

-Roll the maki from the cheese end.
If the tamagoyaki was still hot, it could be eaten right away.
Better so is to place them aside until your start your meal.
Wrap them in foil paper and heat them.
before serving cut them across and serve them with the cheese flowing out!

-You may of course serve them with a sauce of your making and some greens!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Italian Restaurant: Dinner at Contorno

Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: very reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Very fresh local ingredients extensively used.
no-smoking-logo1 All non-smoking!

Yesterday was Friday. The university having taken a day off before the final exams, there was no lecturing duty. The weather, although a bit chilly and windy, was absolutely glorious. I did not need more reasons to get away from that computer!
Contorno Italian Restaurant stands 5 minutes walk from Mochimune Station, 2 stops away from Shizuoka City.
It became a good opportunity to take a long 2-hour stroll on my own at my pace along the shore to work up an appetite!

I did show a bit early but the owner nonetheless invited me and opened the place for me.
I rewarded his hospitality by ordering a bottle and share it ith nad his sous-chef.

FALCHINI 2007, white, Vernaccha, Di San Gimignagno

Great golden colour.
Very clear and clean.
Aroma: Muscat and raisins.
Tasting: Solid attack.
Lingered longer on than expected.
Deep muscat and raisins.
Holds well with food.
Soft but solid on the palate. Memories of oak
Overall: Very honest, solid, well-balance white wine. Eminently drinkable with any food.
Melinda and Jen are going to kill with that kind of succinct tasting report!

As for the antipasto misti, I can already hear Lou-Ann and Frank scream in the distance!
Look at these fresh oysters! They are called Ako Kaki and they come all the way from Hyogo Prefecture (near Kobe City). They are small by Japanese standards, but I can garantee you they are a mouthful. Fat but vey firm, just perfect. Notice the edible fresh seaweeds around them. These disappeared quickly, too!
The rillettes (pork) are of course home-made.
That with the Parma ham, semi-dried tomato and black olives and my appetite was really sharpened (as we say in French)!

I din’t bother looking at the menu and consulted the small blackboard on which were chalk-written the recommendations of the day.
I first opted for the Duck Breast Roast.
Served with a solid and delicious sauce made red wine and fond de veau, the duck was raosted to perfection, red and soft inside.
As for the vegetables, including yellow, red pimentoes, kabocha, brocoli, carrot, rape plant, sweet potato, string beans and red daikon, they were all organically grown in Fujinomiya City at the foot of Mount Fuji!

But my eyes (and stomach!) had noticed something else which urged me to check the blackboard again after I had finished the duck:
Shungiku Risotto Kaki Soroe: “Shungiku” is a variety of chrysanthemum grown for its edible leaves, “kaki” means “oyster” and “sore” means “topped with”.

One enormous sauteed Ako Oyster on top of the risotto (sorry for the fuzzy picture, butI was desperate!)!
Perfectly balanced risotto, sublime simplicity and that oyster again!
Italian Cuisine with Japanese finesse!

And the dessert!
Shizuoka (Most famous area for strawberries in Japan!) straberry tart conceived on a marzipan base. A real red fruit sauce concocted with red wine, fruit coulis, lemon juice and real red fruit.
Once again sublime simplicity, great balance and perfect volume!

I will have a hard time explaining the Missus what I wa doing in Mochimune! LOL

CONTORNO
421-0122, Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku, Mochimune, 5-1-10, Sunrise Mochimune (5 minutes walk from Mochimune JR Station. Second stop after Shizuoka)
Tel.: 054-2565877
Business hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:00~21:30
Closed on Wednesdays

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Japanese Cuisine: Omelette Ribbons

The Japanese not only make great tamagoyaki/omelettes but extensively use eggs for decoration, especially sushu and salads.
One such decorations are omelette ribbons.

Here is the basic recipe that could help you with future decoration!

Japanese Omelette ribbons!

INGREDIENTS:

-Eggs
-Oil

RECIPE:

-Having beaten the eggs, sieve/filter them through a large piece of gaze (this is the little secret!) into anther bowl as shown on picture above.
Organize yourself so as not to spill egg everywhere. Yse large bowls and plenty of gaze!
No need to season the eggs as the thin size of the ribbons will facilitate the absorption of any environmental seasoning.

-Use a square or rectangular non-stick tamagoyaki frypan.
Pour and spread a small quantity of oil.
Pour the eggs into a thin layer.
Bear in mind that the oil needs not to be sohot or the eggs will “crackle”.
Also bear in mind that not enough egg will ot spread evenly all over the surface of the frypan. Not enough or too much are failure. Practice will soon make you a master!

-One more reason the omelette ought to be thick enough is that, when you turn it over with a long chopstick as shown on above picture, it will not break up.

-Fry both sides.

-Spread the omelette sheet on a working table while you eventuall fry more.

-First cut the sheet into wide strips/bands. Think about the eventual lenght of your ribbons.

-Finally cut across into thin ribbons.

-Enjoy the fun of easy decoration later!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Vegetables Tips & Facts 7: Edible Flowers (amended & expanded)

flowers-8
(5 edible flowers and water cress salad)

The other day, 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!

flowers-1

flowers-2

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, roses, Cosmos, nasturium and so on.
Do you recognize some of them above?

FACTS:

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!

TIPS:

The Japanese will use them either in flower or vegetable salads or on cakes.
Perilla flowers/shiso no hana are regularly served with sashimi or many kinds of fresh foods!

HEALTH FACTS:

-Edible Chrysanthemums combined with shiitake or mackerel enriches the blood, helps combat ageing and stress.

-Edible Chrysanthemums combined with wakame/seawedd or ginger helps combat muscle/body swelling and helps lower blood pressure.

-Edible flowers combined with oil is a generally beneficila combination.

-Edibke flowers combined with grapefruit or strawberries are beneficial to the skin and helps combat ageing.

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

The best season for edible flowers is from September to December in Japan.

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Japanese Cuisine: Oysters steamed in Rice/Kaki Meshi

Winter means a large supply of fresh oyters in Japan and many other countries! But we certainly need some fresh and simple ideas to consume them, even if raw oysters are the norm.
Oyster chowder is a traditionla option for example.
Have you heard of this typical Japanese dish called “Kaki Meshi/牡蠣飯, or oysters steamed in rice?
It has the advantage of beiing a hearty, simple and very healthy recipe.

Here is the basic recipe. There are plenty of options open for it!

INGREDIENTS: As I often do with basic Japanese recipes, I leave it to you as for exact quantities to accomodate personal preferences and priorities.

-Oysters/蠣
-Rice/米
-Soy sauce/醤油
-Japanese sake/酒
-Dashi/Japanese soup stock/出汁
-Grated daikon/大根おろし
-Ginger/生姜/cut into very fine strips
-Lime/yuzu/柚子/grated zest
-Thin leeks/子葱/コネギ
-Trefoil/Mitsuba/三葉

RECIPE:

Oysters:
Using fresh oysters in their shells (don’t forget to take them out!LOL) is a bit too extravagant for this recipe, and hard work.
In Japan they can be found in any markets sold packed in water. This country being very strict on hygiene rules, I have no problem using them.

Rice:
Prepare the rice before opening the pack of oysters.
3 “go”, or about 540 cc (liquid measure) should be enough. Use Japanese round rice. Check if it has to be washed first or not, as both varieties are available.
(After washed the rice, if necessary) let soak the rice in clear water for 30 minutes.
Drain thoroughly.

Massaging the oyters in grated daikon:
This is a very important step which will ensure that the oysters are properly cleaned.
Prepare enough grated daikon.
If you use oysters just taken out of their shells, massaging them with salt might be better.
Wash quickly under clear clean water and drain thoroughly.

Pre-cooking the oysters:
In pan pour just enough sake and soft soy sauce variety to simmer the the oysters in for 2~3 minutes.
The more sake, the better!
Do experiment!

Sieving/filter the juices:
Take oysters out with a sieve ladle and keep aside.
Strain/filter the juices into the rice cooker.

Preparing the rice steaming liquid/soup:
Add dashi/Japanese soup stock so that the total liquid is the equivalent of the rice volume x 1.2=about 650 cc.

Steaming:
Pour the rice into the steaming liquid.
Place oysters and ginger on top.
Close rice cooker and switch on.

Wait until the rice is cooked.
DO NOT OPEN the cooker at once, but leave it closed for 10 more minutes!
Open the cooker.
Drop in 90% of thechopped thin leeks, grated yuzu zest and cut trefoil.
Mix in quickly.
Serve at once sprinkled with some more thin leeks, grated yuzu and cut trefoil.

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Insects & Bugs Gastronomy in Japan

From bottom cntre clockwise:
Inago/locusts/いなご, Hachi no ko/bee larvae/蜂の子, Kaiko/Silk worms/蚕のさなぎ, Saza Mushi/Trichoptera/ザザ虫

The Good Beer and Country Boys made the mistake in provoking me to write something on the various insects and bugs eaten in Japan!
These little critters have been eaten since time immemorial for their high content in animal proteins.
They definitely are an acquired taste, but escargots (snails), ecrevisses (crayfish) and cuisses de grenouille (froglegs) also are.
Don’t ask me if I like them or not, I’m just writing about them!

Inago/locusts/いなご

Locusts are generally eaten dry-fried, stir-fried, fried with soy sauce. mirin and sake, or

as tempura after having boiled them!
Pick your choice!

Kaiko/Silk worms/蚕

Like locusts, silk worms can be eaten after having stewed them in soy sauce, mirin, sake and spices.

They are ven found as sushi!

They are popular just dry-fried, making for a crsipy snack!
It is said that a single silk worm has the protein equivalent of three chicken egg yolks!

Hachi no ko/bee larvae/蜂の子

Bee or more aptly honey bee larvae have been eaten all over the world since men (animals) prowled our planet.
They are of course sweet and healthy (yes!), so it is only a matter of finding a way to make them look appetizing.
They are very popular deep-fried (see picture above) in Japan,

where they are also stewed with soy sauce, mirin, Japanese sake and of course, honey!

Saza Mushi/Trichoptera/ザザ虫

Now, these are real buggers/critters (how about feeding them to spammers? LOL)!
The plate above featur: カワゲラ/kawagera, トビゲラ/tobigera and ヘビトンボ/hebitonbo. Could not find their names in English!

They have been “popular” in Japan for a long time. Most are caught near rivers in clean areas (!).
They are cooked/stewed in mirin, Japanese sake and soy sauce for a long time, I cantell you!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-

Japanese Cuisine: Ika-Meshi/Rice-stuffed Squids

Squids and rice are cheap anywhere in the world, and many gastronomies combine the two.
In Japan rice stuffed squids are called Ika Meshi/烏賊飯.

The best squids for this kind of dish are spear squids or Yari Ika/槍烏賊 in Japanese. But any kind of long squid variety, large or small should be fine with this basic recipe!

INGREDIENTS: This is the basic, therefore I leave the exact quantities to you!

-Squid (or small squids)
-Rice: normal Japanese round rice
-Glutinous rice: Mochi Kome in Japanese
-Japanese sake (if unavailable dry white wine)
-Soy sauce
-Sugar
-Water

RECIPE:

Take the head, tentacles and all innards off/out.
Don’t forget that the tentacles are edible raw, or cooked!
Clean the squid thoroughly under running cold water.

Wash the rice.
The rice should be an equal quantity of normal rice and glutinous rice.
Soak in clean cold water for a whole night inside the fridge.
Before cooking drain thoroughly.

Fill the squid with rice.
Don’t overfill it as the rice will gain in volume upon cooking and will break the squid if too much is pushed inside. Just fill the squid pushing the rice in gently without expanding the squid.

Close/lock the squid with a wooden toothpick to prevent the rice from spilling out.

Fill a pan with enough water for the squid to “float”.
Add Soy sauce, Japanese sake and sugar. That is when you have to experiment. You may also add spices but do experiment there., too. Chili pepper should be ok!
Cover with lid and let cook over a small fire.
Stew until the squid is cooked. The rice having been soaked all night should be ready.
Take the squid out carefully. Peel off the thin membrane/skin which be broken in places by then.
pull the toothpick out.
Serve it whole or cut as in top picture. Decorate with green leafy vegetables.

Here is what you can do with smaller squids!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Comestilblog, Greedy Girl, Bouchon For 2, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet, Warren Bobrow, 5 Star Foodie, Frank Fariello, Oyster Culture, Ramendo, Alchemist Chef, Ochikeron, Mrs. Lavendula, The Gipsy Chef, Spirited Miu Flavor, Wheeling Gourmet, Chef de Plunge, Sushi Nomads, Island Vittles, The French Market Maven

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi,
—————————————-
日本語のブログ
—————————————-