Peach Strawberry: A First in the World! Toukun/桃薫

Toukun/桃薫 Peach Strawberry!

Shizuoka Prefecture is celebrated all over the country for its superlative strawberries.
But the competition is fierce.
The only way to stay ahead of other producers is to come up with new products of quality.

Two years ago a group of six benihoppe/red cheeks (first grown in Shizuoka Prefecture in 2002) strawberry farmers in Yaizu City put their heads together and investigated for new possibilities.
They called themselves the “Six Berry Farmers” (in English) under the leadership of Mr. Hajime Matsuda/松田肇 (3rd gentleman from the left on the above photograph).
The Japanese Government, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in particular, actively sponsors research for new products.
Our merry band of Berry Farmers checked with the Kyushu-Okinawa Agricultural Research Center/九州沖縄農業研究センター in Fukuoka City, Kyushu Island, and found two interesting varieties for a new venture.
Incidentally, such research centers only do research and announce their results. It is up to farmers to check with them for new possibilities!
These two varieties were particularly interesting as they were not only extremely resistant to diseases, but also easy to preserve for a long time after harvest!

The Six Berry Farmers raise their own bees for pollination!

Ookimi Strawberries plants.

The first they chose was “Ookimi/おおきみ/Large Fruit Strawberry”,a very sturdy, bright red strawberry with a green bottom and a good balance between sweetness and acidity.

Ookimi Strawberries ready for harvest.

For a closer view! Beautiful and deep red color!

Toukun Strawberries ready for harvest.

Ookimi is a great strawberry and it has the merit to be rare in Japan as it is only grown in Saga (Kyushu) and Shizuoka Prefectures.
But our merry band wanted to try something even more unusual.

The Toukun Strawberry!

They decided then to grow the “Toukun/桃薫/Peach Fragrance”, a hybrid Benihoppe originating from a cross with a Chinese Strawberry variety.

Now, talking of rarity, you cannot do better: there are only 3,000 plants (kabu/株 in Japanese) shared in 6 locations!
Well, that is for the moment!
Things will change rapidly when gastronomes discover this beautiful strawberry of a pink-orange color with a strong peach aroma, a white and juicy inside, and a strawberry tasting like a real peach!

The Six Berry Farmers have designed their own style of elevated cultivation away from the soil and at a practical height for picking with pipes regularly providing water to the strawberry soil. Artificial fertilizers are kept to a minimum and pesticides have been greatly reduced with the introduction of pests-eating insects.

The soil under the strawberries is covered with sturdy vinyl sheets to help farmers move easily between rows and to keep any undesired elements away!

Very healthy plants!

Enormous flowers!

Tokun samples ready to be transported away!

For comparison:
the three strawberries in the middle row at the right are Toukun, all the others are Ookimi!

At “Nori” Italian Restaurant in Fujieda City.

The first step is creating a new variety.
The second step is to grow that variety.
The third step is to market that variety!
That is when the farmers need outside help. So Mr. Katsuyuki Ishimori/石森克往 of Agrigraph and I (I also work for Agrigraph) took Mr. Matsuda literally by the hand to introduce him, his colleagues, and their strawberries to a select few gastronomes of our choice: Nori Italian Restaurant in Fujieda City, Pissenlit French Restaurant in Shizuoka City, and Wine Bar whose owner is also a Fruit Sommelier (article coming soon!) also in Shizuoka City.
Moreover, we had Mr. Matsuda send samples to the best Patissier in Shizuoka Prefecture, Patisserie Abondance in Hamamatsu City.

These lucky few will be proud to say later that they were the first to serve them before they were even put on sale.

This is only a first article as I intend to interview all six farmers individually and the reactions from our gastronomes!

SIX BERRY FARMERS
Hajime Matsuda/松田肇
Junya Suzuki/鈴木淳也
Kousuke Takada/高田剛佑
Kazunori Kawamura/川村和徳
Takeo Ikegaya/池谷猛夫
Masahiro Masuda/増田昌弘

Contact:
Hajime Matsuda/松田肇
421-0213 Shizuoka Ken, Yaizu Shi, Habuchi, 774
421-0213静岡県焼津市飯淵774
Mobile: 09012934605
Tel./fax: 054-622-0915
Mail: six_berry_farmers@yahoo.co.jp

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Shizuoka Marine Products at Sushi Ko: Seabream and Cuttlefish

Left: Tennen Madai/天然真鯛/Wild Red Seabream
Right: Aori Ika/障泥烏賊/Bigfin Reef Squid

Last night I had another occasion to visit my favorite Sushi Restaurant Sushi Ko in Aoba Koen/青葉公園/”Green Leaves Park” in Shizuoka City.
I go through many of my own traditional enquiries before choosing my morsels, and one of them is to find out what is on the “sashimi menu of the day”!

This was when I noticed two items labeled “Tennen/天然, meaning “natural/wild” from Shizuoka Prefecture, more precisly from the Suruga Bay:

Madai/真鯛/Red Seabream (English information, Japanese information)

The fish is not only served as sashimi, but being very fresh (actually alive in a tank at Sushi Ko!), it is also served with its skin in aburi/炙り/grilled style!
The flesh is extremely tender and almost sweet. No wonder it is so prized in Japan!

Aori Ika/障泥烏賊/Bigfin Reef Squid (English information, Japanese information)

Sushi Ko serves it in strips that have been indented at regular spaces for an easier bite and for a better exposure to taste.
The cuttlefish is in fact easy to chew and very tasty!

Notice the edible perilla/shiso/紫蘇 flowers and grated wasabi from Shizuoka, too!

Sushi Ko
shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho. 2-3-1 (Aoba Koen)
Tel.: 054-2512898
Business Hours: 17:00~25:00. 17:00~23:00 (Sundays)
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations recommended
Credit cards OK
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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, Agrigraph, The Agriculture Portal to shizuoka!

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’10/88): Oyakodon Bento

The Missus disagreed technically with the term “oyakodon” as she sid it should be a sort of soft omelette in one piece. She didn’t agree either with the term”Soboro” as it is fine and sweet omelette powder.
She just called “Chicken and Eggs”! LOL

What she did was to first fry the small chicken pieces in sauce before steaming the lot with the rice with the chicken on top. She later mixed the lot and added home-pickled Japanese pepper seeds.
She then added scrambled eggs.

For a closer view. She added tiny slices of home-pickled daikon for tatste and looks.

The “Garnish box” was kept healthy and simple:
Spicy fried burdock roots chips salad.
-Rape blossom plants/Na no Hana/菜の花 and carrots salad with gomadare sauce/sesame dressing.
-Shizuoka-grown kiwi fruit slices and tomatoes!

Healthy and simple, I said?

Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK)

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Shizuoka Sake Tasting: Morimoto Brewery-Sayogoromo Tokubetsu Junmai Homare Fuji

The great thing about Morimoto Brewery is the unpredictability of its sake!
All are worth tasting again and again every year as they show different characters and idyosincrasies.

This sake made with Shizuoka-grown Homare Fuji sake rice is another proof of their originality!

Morimoto Brewery: Sayogoromo Tokubetsu Junmai Homare
Fuji

Rice: Homare Fuji (Shizuoka-grown)
Rice milled down to 60%
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Bottled in October 2010

Clarity: very clear
Color: transparent
Aroma: Fruity, alcohol, custard, macadamia nuts. Sweetish and pleasurable
Taste: Very dry attack backed with a little pleasant alcohol and junmai petillant.
Fruity: custard, almond nuts, greens.
Disappears quickly with notes of coffee beans and dry almonds.
Sharpish, straightforward. Devised to accompany and complement food.
Changes little with food, turns only a little drier.

Overall: A very good sake for food, especially winter heavy food.
Contribute a dry note to balance heavy food.
A fine sake on its own, too!

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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Cream Cheese Tiramisu (Japanese style?)

The Japanese are very fond of their cream cheese and cheese cakes, But they are also crazy about tiramisu!
Here is a simple recipe uniting both in a Japanese style!

Cream Cheese Tiramisu!

INGREDIENTS: For a mold 15 X 20 cm

-Cream Cheese: 200 g
-Fresh Cream: 200 g
-Sugar: 100 g
-Rum (or brandy): 1 large spoon
-Soft Biscuits: 150 g

Coffee syrup:
-Water: 100 cc/1/2 cup
-Sugar: 30 g
Instant coffee: 2 teaspoons

Finishing:
-Cocoa powder: as appropriate

RECIPE:

1- Pour the ingredients for the coffee syrup into a large cup and let heat in a microwave oven for 1 minute. If the sugar is completely dissolved, let it cool down completely.

2- In a large bowl drop the cream cheese and work with a spatula until smooth. If too hard warm it up lightly first inside the microwave oven for 30~60 seconds.

3- Add one third of the sugar to the cream cheese and mix well. Repeat the same process once again.

4- In another bowl pour the fresh cream and add the remaining one third of the sugar and beat up until 80% hard.

5- Add and mix the cream cheese into the fresh cream one half at a time and mix well both times. Add rum (or brandy) and mix well.

6- Line the bottom of a mold with one layer of biscuits (half of the total). Brush the biscuits with plenty of coffee syrup (half).
Spread evenly one half of the cream cheese over the biscuits.
Lay the other layer of biscuits. Brush plenty of coffee syrup over the biscuits and evenly spread rest of cream cheese over the biscuits.

7- Sprinkle plenty of chocolate powder over the whole cream cheese with a sieve. Chill well and serve!

Easy, ain’t it?

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Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2010/12/17)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
bryan-sayuri.gif

Holiday Season Release: Jubilation Ale!

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

The year-end holiday season is upon us once again. As always we take this occasion as opportunity to recognize and celebrate the numerous blessings of life. As brewers, we like to eulogize these blessings in liquid form each December with the release of our special Jubilation Ale.

Jubilation Ale (ABV 7%):

This malty rich, festively red-hued ale derives its special character primarily from the addition of two wonderful local ingredients: (1) fully ripened and freshly picked figs (ichijiku) and (2) cinnamon twigs culled from a Japanese nikki tree. The full bodied character combined with the attendant alcohol strength will warm the flesh just as it brings jubilation to the soul.

Jubilation Ale will be available on draught and in bottles (633 ml) throughout Japan beginning Saturday, December 18. Consumer purchases of bottles direct from the brewery are possible through our online E-Shop: (http://bairdbeer.com/en/shop/).

Holiday Events at our Taprooms:
There is no place where you can better enjoy the jubilant spirit and warm camaraderie of the holiday season than at a cozy beer pub. And wonderful holiday cuisine? We have that for you also.

*Numazu Fishmarket Taproom:
Our chef will be preparing a gorgeous Christmas meal to be served both on Christmas eve (December 24 from 7:30 pm) and Christmas day (December 25 from 7:00 pm). The full meal costs 3,500 yen and reservations are required.

*Nakameguro Taproom:
Wonderful Christmas dishes will be served from December 23 (national holiday) through Christmas day. You can choose your dishes a la carte and match them with the beers of your preference. Reservations are not required.

New Year’s Eve countdown parties will be held on Friday, December 31 at both our Numazu Fishmarket and Nakameguro Taprooms (the Harajuku Taproom will be closed). Event details will be released early next week. The Harajuku Taproom will be open from January 1 for all of you who need refurbishment after an O-shogatsu visit to the nearby Meiji Shrine.

Happy Holidays!

Cheers,

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE


The Japan Blog List

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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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Miso Paste: Made Onsite at Miwa Agriroad

Mrs. Yukiko Mochizuki/望月幸子 and Mrs. Kayoko Mochizuki/望月加代子

“We make miso onsite for better quality, safety and traceability!”

Wednesday is on of the days I usually reserve for on-field interviews. On Wednesday mornings, whenever I have the chance, I try to meet my old friend, Mrs. Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 in Agriroad Miwa, in Miwa, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City.

As mentioned before, Agriroad Miwa is a market run in collaboration by the JA and local ladies to sell all kinds of vegetables, bentoes and processed foods prepared by more than 100 lady members.
There are quite a few of these locally-run markets in town and prefecture, and they are the best bet for freshest and best quality without mentioning the very low prices!

I had noticed for quite a while these big boxes of miso paste on sale at this market. At 650 yen for a kg, this is quite good value.

When I questioned Natsuko about it, she explained that it was made in turns by lady members inside the Agriroad Market kitchen between December and March!

Natsuko hiding behind her mask (she had just caught a cold! LOL)

Good miso should not be complicated to make.
The good thing about this particular miso is that it is not only fresh and free of all preservatives and whatnot found in mass-produced miso pastes, it is also safe, stable and traceable!

The big vat in which the soy beans are boiled.

What do you need, then?
Quantities will be also according to the size of your kitchen snd utensils, but the bigger, the better!
-Soy beans: 30 kg
-Rice: 30 kg
-Salt: coarse salt/arashio/荒塩. Natsuko actually uses rock salt form Nepal!: 12 kg
-Yeast/koujikin/麹菌: one standard pack (can be bought in specialized shops all over Japan)
-Water, water, and more water (lol)

The ladies of the day were kind enough to explain the process with plenty of smiles!
The soybeans are first soaked for a whole night and then boiled until soft. Keep some of the soybeans water when you want to adjust the miso paste humidity later instead of plain water!
Agriroad uses soybeans grown in Hokkaido.

At the same time wash, rince and steam the rice. Old rice, that is from the previous year’s harvest, is best.
Agriroad uses exclusively local rice and salt made in Japan.
Let the rice cool down just a little. Sprinkle the yeast all over it evenly and let ferment for one day and a half (break it and mix it a few times).

Mash the soybeans.

Pour the mashed soybeans, fermented rice, salt, and whenever wanted (use your eyes and tastebuds) the “juices”/soybean boil water (cold) and mix well.

And that’s it!
Pour the miso into jars or other vessels, close tightly.
Some people use it as it is, but is best matured for 6 months at room temperature in winter or in the fridge in summer.

This the basic and delicious recipe.
Natsuko mixes her own with yuzu/lime/柚子!

Agriraod miwa/アグリロード美和
〒421-2114 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Abeguchishinden, 537-1.
〒421-2114 静岡市葵区安部口新田, 537-1.
Tel.: 054-296-7878.
Fax: 054-296-7878
Business hours: 09:30~15:30 (from 08:30 on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays)

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, Agrigraph, The Agriculture Portal to shizuoka!

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