French Cuisine: Shizuoka Organic Tomato Appetizer at Pissenlit

Service: excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value.
Strong points: Interesting wine list. Great use of local products.
no-smoking-logo!

As mentioned before, Shizuoka Prefecture is famous all over the country for its tomatoes, especially organic and sweet.
These turn easily into real fruit (as they should be), and I just don’t count how many I eat back home just to refresh myself!

Mr. Tooru Arima had finally announced on his menu board outside his restaurant that he received those great sweet tomatoes gron by Mr. Ishitani In Hamamatsu City!

It was very easy to convince the Missus to sample them!

The dish we were served could be classified under many appellations as it could be considered as an apetizer, a salad or even a dえssert.

Mr. Arima placed quarters of tomatoes around the centre surmounted with mozarella slices and organic greens and basil pesto.
The vinigrette was more a kind of gaspacho made of fine olive oil, juice/coulis for the tomatoes and other seasoning!

The whole concept became very interesting with (same) tomato jelly in the very centre, soft and light, with a topping of (same) omato sherbet!

The perfect appetizer for thirsty customers in scorching summer!

PISSENLIT
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo, 2-3-4
Tel.: 054-270-8768
Fax: 054-627-3868
Business hours: 11:30~14:30; 17:00~22:00
Closed on Tuesdays and Sunday evening
Homepage (Japanese)
Credit Cards OK

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Shizuoka Sake Rice: “Azekura Ishin” by Sugii Brewery

“Sakamai/酒米”, or sake rice in Japanese is a variety of riice only exclusively in the making of Japanese sake. You will never find it on your table at a meal.
Sakamai has been traditionally grown only in some regions of Japan.
Shizuoka, for all being arguably the best when coming to Japanese sake, had to “import” its sakamai from other regions.
The problem is that such rice production is not only declining but also unpredictable when it comes to quality.
For example, if the grains of rice are split or broken one cannot make good-quality Japanese sake. The quality of rice will be assessed only upon receipt with the consequent problems if unsatisfactory.
Accordingly, Shizuoka Breweries have gradually come to encourage and rely on Shizuoka-grown sakamai with various success, especially their own brand of Yamanishiki rice or a local hybrid called Homare Fuji.

Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City who has always been willing to experiment, especially in old-style (forgotten) methods, came up with an original (limited) brand.
This sake is made with sakamai exclusively grown by Fujieda farmers.
But since the various batches of rice came in grains of different size, Mr Sugii could not really define his sake. It would qualify as a junmai if the grains were of similar size.
The process, dating back to the Meiji Area is the equivalent of “Yamahai” method, a way avoided by many breweries for its difficulty.

Sugii Brewery: Azekura Ishin

Rice milled down to 70%
Alcohol: 15.5 degrees
Dryness: +2
Acidity: 2.1 (high for Shizuoka!)
All rice being harvested in Fujieda in 2009

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Golden hue
Aroma: Fruity backed by alcohol. Nuts.Custard, Memories of banana and vanilla
Body: Fluid
Taste: Strongish attack, warming back of the palate. Lingers for a short while with a welcome acidity.
Complex: Custard and macadamia nuts. memories of coffee beans/dry grapes/dry cherries.
Stay lighter than expected on its own or with food.

Overal: Very difficult to define. hence a very intriguing and inteesting sake. Completely “out of range” as a Shizuoka sake.
Deserves a second, third and more glasses. Strong ut pleasurable sake. Probably best appreciated as “nurukan/lukewarm”, although it would become drier.
Great with any food, although can be truly appreciated on its own.
definitely a sake deserving plenty of interest!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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Egg Farm in Shizuoka City: Bi-Ou-Ran (Part 2)

Mr. Shigeru Shimizu/清水茂

As explained in my previous article I was back on the bicycle trail on Saturday with the difference was that I reached the place in record time in spite of the oppressive heat!

I wonder how many tonnes of feed are contained in these silos and accordingly, how many birds are inside the coops!
After all, the whole place covers no less than 1,500 tsubos (4,300 quare meters), big for a single producer in Japan!

The whole complex is surrounded by a tall hedge to protect it from the wind and help control the ambiant temperature.

Incidentally, I noticed that the silos were also protected against the variations of temperature.

I finally found the real entrance to the compound which opens at the very back, away from unknown eyes!

I quickly met Mr. Shimizu who asked me to wait for a while as he was busy with a small emergency. He offered me to stay inside in the cool, but I declined as snooping around is a bad habit of mine!LOL
It is located very much in the middle of the nature with a beautiful mountain background.

Hand egg-calibrating machine.

I was finally admitted inside, and knowing we were limited in time, I started firing questions.

-When was the egg farm founded?
-1996

-How long have you been actually working in the business?
-Let’s see. I’m 57. I started at 25. 32 years!

-When were you awarded a brand name for your eggs?
-In 1996 (that was quick!).

-How many hens (no cockerel needed whatsoever. I didn’t know!)?
-14,000 (geez!).

I had trouble keeping my hands off these beauties.

-Then how many eggs do you produce a day?
-About 1,200, but that’s little compared to industrial farms. We strive for quality, not quantity (even so, that’ s a lot to me!). We expect each to produce between 280 and 300 eggs.

-You need quite some staff, then?
-We are 10 in all. That’s enough, although we do have to work in shifts (that was said with a knowing smile, meaning Mr. Shimizu was working all day!).
-How long lasts a working day, then?
-7:00 to 7:00, 12 hours. The hens have to sleep. No forced laying here! (good to know!)

-How do you grade your eggs?
-By size first, into 7 different sizes. The largest are reserved for cake-shops and restaurants. The shell quality has to be the same, and the only way to check it is by touch, sight and experience.

-How many kinds of hens do you breed?
-Two only, Sakura and Momiji. It is enough since we strive for only one kind of yolk, whatever the color of the shell.

-That is a lot of hens, still. How long is their life span?
-As far as the egg-laying season is concerned, only one year. Which means an almost constant turn over. Even so, the hens have to be regulary vaccinated after we get the chicks from a designated hatchery. There are many keys to producing a good product (I didn’t have to ask the questions, as Mr. Shimizu warmed up to the subject. I had told him I was born in the country, and that the questions would not be too general, although I would be careful not to delve in trade secrets!):
The hens must naturally stay healthy. We personally check them everyday. This is not an industrial farm where productivity is placed above the animals’ comfort. They are actually penned in smaller numbers than usual.

Interestingly enough, the hens were not nervous at all. Their crests looked so healthy!

-How do you dispose of the droppings?
-Mixed with other ingredients, they will become fertilizer we sell to local farmers.
-Almost organic, then?
-Yes, almost.
-What about the hens which die on the way?
-We ask a specialized disposal company to take care of them.
-What do you do with the hens after the year has elapsed?
-We sell them to a specialized butcher.
-For how much?
-5 yen per head.
-That’s not much, isn’t it?
-You are telling me!

-What kind of feed do you nourish them with?
-A recipe of our own only.
Mr. Shimizu handed me then a pamphlet with all the ingredients clearly stated. I counted no less than 22, 12 of them not found in industrial egg farms. Enumerating them would be fastidious but I have kept the pamphlet for your questions. It is certainly impressive! At least I can affirm that the corn used is not GM and that some ingredients include garlic and paprika!

The egss! I came too late. They had already been collected!
One thing is for sure: a soft shell wouldn’t take that shock. No wonder Mr. Shimizu’s eggs are so popular!

The eggs are transported in a cute van!

Mr. Shimizu delivers his eggs to no less than 21 main distributing shops and to no less than 40 restaurants and cake shops. I counted them, but I’m pretty sure they do not include special customers!

The sign to the original shop!

Please remind me I have to buy some for the Missus’ tamagoyaki!

Bi-Ou-Ran
Shimizu Chicken Farm
421-2112, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Endo Shinden, 41-3
Tel.: 054-296-0064

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Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (end of July)

“Benihoppe” or “Red Cheeks” strawberries is a cultivar which was successfully developped no later than in 2002 in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has since been voted as the best-balanced strawberry in Japan, and Izu Peninsula being near Tokyo, we do not see too many of our fruit on our own market stands!

Now, by sheer coincidence a university student of mine, Haruka Yamaguchi/山口春香, just happened to come from a family, based in Nirayama located in the newly named Izu No Kuni City/伊豆の国市, who have switched to the growing of Benihoppe Strawberries as soon as their cultivar was made available through their cooperative!

To make things even easier, Mr. Izuzawa/伊豆沢秀慶, belonging to the government-sponsored local JA (Japan Agriculture) office, was there on hand to provide me with piles of welcome information. Mind you, I had done a bit of preparation as I had asked Haruka to distribute some business cards to the local farming community!

Mitsuo/光雄 and Tamako/玉子 Yamaguchi are the second generation of strawberry growers in their family. Strawberry culture is big in that particular area as it counts no less than 187 registered farms!
The Yamaguchis’ plot covers 1,500 tsubo (4,500 square meters), a fairly sizeable land in this country, and I don’t include other pieces of land here and there they use for re-planting and so on!
As I said, they switched from Akihime Strawberries to Benihoppe Strawberries as soon possible, and this was certainly a good move.
They employ 3 people on a permanent basis and a couple more at harvest time.

Strawberry culture is more complicated than it looks at first, and I didn’t realize how much I would have to go through (and more later) through this interview.
Abroad, for purposes of commercial production, plants are propagated from runners and, in general, distributed as either bare root plants or plugs. Cultivation follows one of two general models, annual plasticulture or a perennial system of matted rows or mounds. A small amount of strawberries are also produced in greenhouses during the off season.
Now, the Japanese seem to do all that at the same time.
End of March every year the original strawberry seedlings are first acquired from Cooperative nurseries and planted under into a “parent soil”.
Runners are encouraged to developped and are re-planted in small elongated pots called “Nira” (as of Nirayama) pots, an idea locally developped.

Interestingly enough, the “nira” pots are not filled with soil, but with a mixture of peat moss and shredded palm fronds and some fertilizer.

The fertilizer is “IBSI 1” sold at the Cooperative. The Yamaguchis were kind enough to show me a bag of it and

its contents. If one can manipulate it with bare hands (Mrs. Yamaguchi’s in this case) there is little doubt the fertilizer is easy on the environment!

The runners are encouraged onto new seedlings into at least 3 successive “nira” pots.

The strawberry plants will be cultivated separately in open air until the middle of August.

Then the vynil covers will be drawn over the greenhouses and ventilators will reduce the temperature as low as 15~18 degrees Celsius to “trick” the strawberries into believing thay are back into winter.

This is the easy way…
Until 15 years ago, when giant refrigerating ventilators were not used, all the seedlings had to be carried by truck up on the slopes of Mount Fuji as high as the Second Trek Station!

By the middle of September, one seedling will be completely cut out and examined to decide whether the time is ripe for re-planting in real soil inside greenhouses.

The greenhouses are already being prepared and this does involve more work and costly specialized equipment.

The method will then be more traditional with plasticulture system. In this method, raised beds are formed each year, fumigated, and covered with plastic to prevent weed growth and erosion.
Holes will be opened for individual re-planting.

The greenhouses along the road crossing the rice paddies.

Harvesting will start in November and lasts until May with up to 6 peaks.

But that is for the next report!

Yamaguchi Benihoppe Strawberry Farm
410-2114, Izu no Kuni, Nan-jo, 8
Tel.: 055-949-2330

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2010/07/28)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
bryan-sayuri.gif

Latest Seasonal Releases; Harajuku Taproom 1-Year Anniversary Party

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Our summer beat-the-heat beer parade continues with the release of two new seasonal brews: 10-Year Sour Fruit Ale and Export Lager.

New Seasonal Releases:
10-Year Sour Fruit Ale (ABV 5%): Continuing with our series of 10-year anniversary commemorative ales, we are releasing today an extraordinarily unique summer session beer. Mild in gravity and alcohol content, this snappy summer ale is infused with only one 15-IBU flavor addition of NZ Cascade hops. Its key attribute, a tartly sour fruitiness, stems from generous additions of fresh amanatsu citrus fruit (peels and juice) picked in the orchard of our Carpenter.
Export Lager (ABV 5.5%): Brewed in the tradition of Dortmund-style export lagers, Baird Export Lager combines depth of flavor with a brisk and refreshing character. Less fragrant in hop character but brawnier in malt body than a pilsner, Baird Export Lager is a supreme thirst quencher. Drink it side by side our Cool Breeze Pils and your tastebuds will experience a demonstration in subtle flavor differentiation that simply can’t be conveyed in words. Our soft Numazu water really stands out in this lager.
Both of these seasonal brews will be available on draught and in bottles (633 ml) beginning Thursday, July 29. They can be enjoyed at one of our Taproom pubs or at one of the many fine establishments retailing Baird Beer in Japan. They also are available for purchase direct from the brewery via our online E-Shop.

Upcoming Events:
*Harajuku Taproom 1-Year Anniversary Party (Sat-Sun, August 7-8):

We opened the doors of our third Taproom pub, the Harajuku Taproom, last August in our first attempt to marry the culture of craft beer with traditional Japanese pub cuisine. Thanks to your enthusiastic support, the Harajuku Taproom enjoyed a very successful maiden year. The Harajuku Taproom will be throwing itself a birthday party on the weekend of August 7-8 (doors opening at noon each day). Highlights of the celebration include:

Numazu-priced Baird Beer (700 yen pints and 500 yen half-pints)
Debut of HT Anniversary Lager (Dekopon Bock)
A smorgasboard of tasty beer fare all for 500 yen or less (one-coin cuisine)
The Anniversary Lager, Dekopon Bock, is a traditional German-style Bock brewed with the unusual addition of fresh dekopon citrus fruit (peels and juice). It has been conditioning in kegs for several months and was absolutely delightful at packaging. Dekopon Bock will be available exclusively on draught only at the Harajuku Taproom.

Kindly mark your calendar and plan to help manager Naruoka-san and his terrific team celebrate their 1-year birthday in fantastic style.

Cheers,

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE


The Japan Blog List

———————————
Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
——————————–
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日本語のブログ
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Vegan Japanese Cuisine: Nasu Somen/Egg-plant Somen

I’m neither vegan or vegetarian, but I can tell you that the present scorching weather might convince me to become one! LOL
Egg-plants or aubergines (frankly speaking, I orefer the latter!) are abondant in this season, and they are easily available as organic vegetables, too. There are so many kinds in Jpaan, including Mizu Nasu/Water Aubergines that are eaten raw!

Grilled or fried aubergines are very popular, but there are simpler and healthier ways to prepare them!
Somen/素麺 are very thin noodles that are enjoyed cold/chilled in summer.
Here is a simple recipe just in between: Nasu Somen.

INGREDIENTS & RECIPE:

-Count one long-type aubergine per person.

-Peel the aubergine and cut it in very thin strips with the point of a sharp knife.

-Coat the the aubergine strips with cornstarch.

-Prepare one pan full of hot (just before boiling point) and a large bowl full of icy (leave some cubes of ice in it) water.

-Cook the cornstarch-coated aubergine strips in the pan full of hot water (keep the fire low), a small bunch at a time, and as soon as cooked to satisfaction (should not take long, bu experiment!) transfer into icy water.

-Once the aubergine strips have cooled down completely, transfer into a sieve and drain thoroughly. Place on a serving dish as shown on picture above.

-Use vegan dashi and some light soy sauce or ponzu as sauce. Add a little chili pepper if you like your food hot.
Top with plenty of available sprouts and greens as well as grated ginger. Experiment again! There is no end to delicious variations!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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Shizuoka Agriculture Portal: Agrigraph

AgriGraph Japan is an enterprise commissioned by Shizuoka Prefecture.
It is a project aiming at making the agriculture (and also tourism, esppecially green tourism) in Shizuoka Prefecture known to the whole world in real time through IT-related tools.

Shizuoka Prefecture is a region blessed with nature thanks to its famous mountains such as Mount Fuji and the Southern Alps to the north, its rich sea to the south, and also with a great economy due to its privileged location along the east-west axis from Tokyo to Nagoya and Osaka.

Therefore, no less than five reporters will scour the whole Prefecture every day in an endeavor to help everyone discover the agriculture and rural villages of this rich “Fuji no Kuni Shizuoka/Shizuoka, the Land of Mount Fuji” through live blogs posted through iPhone in Japanese and immediately delivered in English, Chinese, Korean, French and Portuguese by qualified native staff translators to convey the true meaning and nuances of the reports. No automatic translation whatsoever!

If you wish to promote your own agriculture and farm(s) and create a new relation with other producers abroad, do please join us through our interactive blogs as guest participants. All blogs about agriculture from any country are most welcome!

Check the following links:

AGRIGRAPH (Entry Homepage with acces to all articles and languages)

AGRIGRAPH ENGLISH BLOG

AGRIGRAPGH FRENCH BLOG (FRANÇAIS)

AGRIGRAPH PORTUGUESE BLOG (PORTUGUÊS)

AGRIGRAPH KOREAN (관하여)

AGRIGRAPH CHINESE (中文)

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, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope

Please check the new postings at:
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