Shizuoka Shochu Tasting: Bandai Brewery-Wasabi Shochu!

Shizuoka Prefecture produces not only 80% of all wasabi grown in Japan, it is also the home of the only true wasabi shochu!
True to say, one cannot make shochu out of wasabi only as it does not contain starch to help the fermentation and distillation, but Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji, Izu Peninsula, concocted it with 75% of top-class rice shochu made from the sake lees of their own sake and 25% of pure essence of wasabi grown in Izu Peninsula!

More precisely, the wasabi is grown on the Amagi Plateau/Amagi Kougen/天城高原 in the northern part of the Peninsula.
At the same time Bandai Brewerry uses pure source water gushing from the Plateau to brew its sake and shochu!

Although it is a true shochu in concept mixed with wasabi essence, Bandai Brewery advertizes it as a sake or liqueur!
It might explain the choice of bottle, a bit unusual for shochu, but easy to handle and store!

Bandai Brewery-Wasabi Sake/Wasabi Shochu

Rice shochu: 75%
Wasabi essence: 25%
Water: Natural source water from Amagi Plateau
Alcohol: 20 degrees

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Transparent
Aroma: Sweetish. Rice, wasabi, faint notes of banana
Body: fluid
Taste: Softer attack than expected.
Very sophisticated, as complex as a sake!
Pleasant and soft wasabi flavor. Almost a liqueur without the sugar and the cloy aftertaste!
No piquancy at all.
Faint notes of bananas appearing later as it disappears quickly warming up the back of the palate.

Overall: A discovery!
A shochu? Yes!
The fact it is made in the simplest manner possible, that is a high quality rice shochu blended with pure wasabi essence makes it both sophisticated and extravagant.
Its comparatively low alcohol content, 20 degrees, makes it eminently drinkable as it is without any ice, water or whatever!
Most appreciated straight at room temperature.
Could definitely be served as a heady and mysterious aperitif!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento

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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Deep-sea Fish Restaurant: Uoshige in Heda, Izu Peninsula!

Service: Very friendly and family-style
Equipment: Old and basic. This is real rural Japan!
Prices: Reasonable
Strong points: Deep-sea gastronomy!

Heda is real rural Japan but it has so many merits making it a must visit in Izu Peninsula:
The small but very efficient Heda Tourism Office will provide you with all kinds of information including the full list of restaurants serving the real local food!
And the local food includes a true local specialty: deep-sea fish!

Some time ago the locals decided to create their own brand of “hanpen/はんぺん/fish patty with the deep-fish caught in their nets chasing other fish. Throwing back these fish into the sea was simply stupid waste and unecological. Some of them found their way on the plates in the form of succulent and rare sashimi or deep-fried fish but the rest were minced and mixed with local vegetables into patties to be first deep-fried into “hedatoro hanpen/ヘダトロはんぺん/Heda Fish Patties before being served cold or heated! The other reason, would you believe, was to find a way to have children eat vegetables! These Hedatoro Hanpen of course are made in every home according to individual recipes!

We decided to visit Uoshige among the 8 recommended restaurants because we found that it was a meeting point popular with bikers who come in great numbers to enjoy the roads and views of Izu Peninsula!

Live Takaashigani/高足蟹/Japanese Spider Crabs in the aquarium just as you enter the establishment!

Poster of the local deep sea food served according to seasons!

I ordered deep-sea fish sashimi set lunch!
All meals are served with “shiokara/塩辛/preserved salted squid”, but they were kind enough to serve my lunch without it as this is one of the very rare foods in Japan that don’t agree with me!

Freshly steamed rice and beautiful miso soup full of local seaweed!

The sashimi that you will not find anywhere else!
On the left very tender, “Mehikari or Torobchi/めひかり・トロボチ/Brighteye” and on the right both tender and crispy with fine soft bones, “Megisu/めぎす/Large-eye Sillago”!

“Mehikari or Torobochi/めひかり・トロボチ/Brighteye”!

“Megisu/めぎす/Large-eye Sillago”!

The Hedatoro Hanpen/Heda Deep-Sea Fish Patties!

They even have a leaflet all over town introducing the 10 restaurants and shops serving/selling them!

Uoshige’s patties are arguably the most celebrated as many TV Channels came all the way to report on them. Very light, tender, healthy and so yummy!

These patties are also made with “Mehikari or Torobchi/めひかり・トロボチ/Brighteye” and “Megisu/めぎす/Large-eye Sillago”!

Tofu, o-shinko/Japanese pickles and local mandarine to finish!

The Missus had the enormous Tendon/天丼/Tempura Bowl Lunch Set.
I did have to help her finish it!
Can you see the shiokara/塩辛/preserved salted squid in front…

Her very generous tempura consisted of large prawns/kuruma ebi/車海老 and two other deep sea fish:

Gehou/げほう, or officially Toujin/トウジン/Caelorinchus japonicus (Temminnck and Schlegel)!

Donko/どんこ, or officially Nodoguro/のどぐろ/ I could not find the Latin name, rare as it is!

Succulent little monsters that many a Japanese wouldn’t mind crossing the country to taste!

If I have not convinced you yet to visit Heda, look forward to more articles very soon!

UOSHIGE SHOKUDOU/魚重食堂
Heda, Numazu Shi, Shizuoka ken (in front of the bus stop and Tourism Information Bureau)
Tel.: 0558-94-2381
Business hours: 11:00~15:00, 17:00~19:00 (Snack open on the 2F from 19:30)
Closed on Tuesdays
Smoking allowed

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento

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

Shizuoka Seafood: Heda Fishmarket in Izu Peninsula!

Although a small village, not even a city as it is part of enlarged Numazu City, Heda in the north west of Izu Peninsula is nonetheless a major shipping harbor in Shizuoka Prefecture with more than 1,400 years of officially-recorded history!
It is the only place where for example you still can see live Takaashigani/高足蟹/Japanese spider crab, the largest crab in the world!

Yesterday I had the occasion to visit the Heda Fishermen Cooperative Direct Sales Fishmarket/戸田漁協直売所.
It is not big as more than 95% of the fish and seafood caught in Suruga Bay by the fishing boats of Heda will at once been dispatched far and away (especially Tokyo!). But at least that little establishment gives you an idea of what beauties are caught in the vicinity!

Let’s have a good look at what we have here…

Enormous te-naga ebi/手長海老/Scampi/Gambas!

Megisu/目鱚/a variety of sillago found in very deep sea, a specialty of the region!

Aka ika/赤烏賊/Red squids caught overnight! I actually saw the boats coming back home!

Madai/真鯛/True Seabreams!

Kawahagi/カワハギ/Threadsail Filefish/Leatherjackets, a most underestimated delicacy!

Budai/ブダイ/Calotomus japonicus (Valenciennes) and Kasago/カサゴ/False kelpfish; Marbled rockfish (smaller one)!

Ridiculously low prices for such fresh beauties!

Warasa/ワラサ/Young Japanese Amberjack!

Kinmedai/金目鯛/Spledid Alfonsino, a top-class fish on Tokyo tables!

More warasa at ridiculous prices!

Takahasigani/高足蟹/Japanese Spider Crab! A small one, although it already reaches almost a meter from leg tip to leg tip!

Sazae/サザエ/Turbo shells! Another expensive delicacy on Tokyo tables!

Live Iseebi/伊勢海老/Spiny lobsters!

Izu Peninsula is celebrated for its extravagant salt: Ida Shio/井田塩 gathered in Ida near Heda!

Top-class nori/のり/seaweed!

Izu Peninsula produces half of all sun-dried fish and seafood/Himono/干物 in Japan!
Aji no Himono/鯵の干物/Dried Horse Mackerel!

Kinmedai Himono from Heda! Again ridiculously low-priced!

Saba Himono from Heda/鯖/Mackerel!

And this is only one of many reasons to visit Heda!

Access: Go down at Mishima JR Station, take the local train/Izu hakone Line to Shyuzenji at the local station just beside the Mishima Station Entrance (30 minutes, 510 yen). Take a bus from Shyuzenji Station to Heda, terminal No 6 (54 minutes, 1,000 yen)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento

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

Izu Peninsula: Strolling through Shuzenji Hot Springs Resort

If you have the chance to visit Shuzenji in Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture, one of the oldest hot springs resort in Japan whose history has been traced back more than 1,400 years, even a single day return trip would make it worthwhile! There are lots of things to see, experience and taste there! I make a point to pay it a visit at least twice a year at different seasons!
The access is very easy: Change lines and Station at Mishima City, it is only 510 yen and 30 minutes away!
Yesterday I only had a couple of hours to enjoy the place on my way back to Shizuoka City, but I managed to take some pictures just to share a small glimpse of the village (it used to be a city!)!

Many traditional houses along the river, be they private abodes or restaurants or shops!

A beautiful stream bisects the site into two distinctive halves!

Leaves are finally starting to change colors!

Take a stroll across the large bamboo grove park…

and take a peek at old houses though the bamboo trees…

Keep your eyes open and you will surely discover calligraphic designs to emulate!

Talking of design, who might have thought of a car for a cafe ensign? Beautiful cafe, incidentally!

A sight rapidly disappearing in Japan, but there are still at least three of these doll rifle shooting stands in Shuzenji!

You are bound to discover some beautiful noren/暖簾/shop entrance curtains! This one is at the entrance of a busy soba restaurant!

Shuzenji is also a paradise for antiques and collectors!

Restaurants are still built and re-built in the traditional way!

Simplicity made beautiful in a noren!

What’s left hanging in front of this big electric fan?

Squids!
The Izu Peninsula produces half of the whole Japanese sun-dried seafood/himono/干物 in Japan!

There are plenty of mysterious lanes, streets, passages and stairs to explore!

This “tower” is the actual entrance to a public (for a fee) hot springs bath!

This public and free foot hot spring bath in the middle of the river has a 1,400 year-long history!

A welcome dip for my tired feet!

The best way to finish the day: a cold beer in one of the many cute cafes!

Hoping to meet you somewhere else very soon!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento

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

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2011/10/28): Celebration of the Life of a Country Girl

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
bryan-sayuri.gif

Celebration of the Life of a Country Girl

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

For many Japan craft beer enthusiasts, an annual autumn rite of passage is the release of a deliciously down-to-earth Baird Beer: Country Girl Kabocha Ale. Country Girl marks her 10th annual debut on Friday, October 28.

My mother, Sally Eshelman Baird, is the ‘country girl’ who inspired this earthy and elegant ale. Born and raised in pumpkin country in central Ohio, Sally embodied all of the great Midwestern virtues: modesty, honesty, earthy elegance and simple sophistication. She was the most earnestly forthright and candid person I have ever known. I remember during her final visit to Japan in 2005 to help us celebrate the opening of our new brewery, she opined to me while sipping a Baird Beer at our Fishmarket Taproom: “I’m not sure how much I really like Baird Beer, but I sure do like and appreciate the hard work and integrity that goes into it.”

I think she was proud of our efforts. She passed away on August 30, 2011 at the age of seventy-six. A son’s profound and eternal love for his mother is the spirit which has imbued the brewing of Country Girl Kabocha Ale over the past decade. That spirit is deeply manifest in this 2011 goodbye batch.

*Country Girl Kabocha Ale 2011 (ABV 6.2%):

Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin-like squash the taste of which is elegantly sweet. The kabocha we use is grown in the Heda garden of our carpenter-partner-friend, Nagakura-san. We first cook it in order to gelatinize it, then we add it to our mash where the enzymes from the malt help to further break it down into simple fermentable sugars. Several characterful varieties of malted barley produce a hearty wort that when married to the kabocha yields a flavor partnership of great depth and balance. After fermentation, re-fermentation and conditioning, the result is an earthy, rustic beer that manages to deliver an extraordinarily sophisticated yet subtle complexity of flavor. It is, to many resident beer enthusiasts, the flavor of fall in Japan!

Country Girl Kabocha Ale 2011 begins pouring from the taps of our Taproom pubs beginning Friday, October 28. It also will be served at other fine Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants in Japan beginning the same day. Bottles (633 ml) can be purchased direct from our brewery E-shop and through the family of Baird Beer retailing liquor shops in Japan.

Cheers!

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE

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

Today’s Bento/Lunch Box (11/57): Cress Udon Bento!

Shige Chan is a famous producer in Shizuoka City who not only grows top-class cress and tomatoes but also makes and sells udon seasoned with them!
They do make not only for great taste but also for great health!

So the Missus having prepared and cooled down a batch of cress udon, she seasoned them with tomato puree and a secret ingredient she refused to reveal. She lightly stir-fried large shrimps cut into small pieces and added them to the udon before tossing the whole lot and filling a bento box with them. Naturally she decorated the udon with fresh cress for design, taste and welcome fibers, iron and vitamins!

As for the side box, she prepared an avocado and walnuts salad she placed in cups formed with Trevise leaves and completed the dish with boiled egg halves seasoned with black sesame seeds and a few fresh radish and their edible leaves beside a couple of French pickles.
Dessert? The walnuts! LOL

Once again a very healthy and tasty Autumn/Fall Bento!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento

Today’s Bento/Lunch Box (11/56): Healthy Prawn Sushi Bento!

Good bentos do not have to be complicated.
The Missus today came up with arguably the simplest and healthiest bento of the year, and a very tasty one to boot!
And apparently it didn’t take too much time either!

While the rice was being steamed she prepared “soboro” eggs, that is, Japanese scrambled eggs. The main difference with European/American scrambled eggs is that they are sweet and milk is not included. She uses only olive oil, sugar and dashi.
She boiled some large shrimps from the refrigerator with a little vinegar and sake and let then cool down before cutting them in halves.
Once the sushi rice was ready she mixed it some soboro eggs and filled the main box.
She then made a rim of fresh cress and filled the top with soboro egg on which she placed some of the cut prawns.
She put the finishing touch with some lime and cut Ameera Rubbins Pearl Tomatoes.
Simple and beautiful!

For the dessert box, Autumnal fruits: fresh figs, persimmon and nashi pears!

Simple as it may look, I was full and really satisfied!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
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); Ohayo Bento