Simple Recipes: Ratatouille

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Ratatouille as accompaniment to Stuffed Tomato and Grilled Goat Cheese

In Summer Ratatouille will please both omnivores and vegetarians as it can be served on its own as it is or as an accompaniment to other foods (see pic above).
It can be made in almost any country in the world, but particularly here in Shizuoka Prefecture due to the abundance of great vegetables!

Ingredients (for 4 to 6 people):
Onions: 3 large
Aubergines (egg-plants): 4
Courgettes (zucchini): 4
Tomatoes: 500g
Peppers (pimento): 2 to 4 (mix colours)
Garlic: 2 cloves
Olive oil: 1 cup (extra virgin oil PLEASE!)
Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, laurel)
Salt & pepper to taste
Soft spices to taste (clove, nutmeg, sage, etc.)

Recipe:

Peel and slice the onions, aubergines and courgettes. Cut the tomatoes in pieces. Cit in strips the peppers after ridding them of their seeds.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan. Throw in the onions first and one minute later all the vegetables the garlic cloves , the bouquet garni, salt, peppers and spices.
Cover and let simmer on small fire for one hour and thirty minutes, mixing now and then to prevent the stew to stick on the bottom of the saucepan.
If too much water is rtill left in the stew, half cover halfway. Take garlic and bouquwr garni before serving.
NOTES: This the basic recipe. I usually add some tomato puree. The size of the cut vegetables depend on their purpose. The smaller they are cut, the shorter the cooking time. Can be served hot as accompaniment (side dish) or as main course for vegetarians (add chick peas!) or refrigerated as snacks for beer in summer.

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Tanuki No Ana

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Tanuki No Ana (“The Racoon’s Lair”) is a must if you wish to tell later that you have tasted Shizuoka Prefecture’s best sake wherever you might want to boast about it!
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Mr. Makoto Naruoka and his wife Chieko moved to the present address in 1997, but have been serving Shizuoka Sake since 1980!
Actually, if you check the labels posted on their window, you will find out that some breweries have gone out of existence!
A regular customer there, I hallenged the following brews on that day:
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Denichiro by Kokkou Brewery (Fukuroi City), Hakuin Masamune by Takashima Brewery (Numazu City) and Fuji-Takasago Brewery.
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Served with some hearty food perfect with sake, I had a hard time to limit myself once again.
I will spare you from viewing all thos labels again but just know that Tanuki No Hana has no less than 20 breweries fro the following 18 breweries:
Oomuraya (wakatake-Shimada City), Kokkou (Fukuroi City), Isojiman (Yaizu City), Syosetsu, Haginishiki, Yoshiya-Chummasa, Sanwa-Garyubai, Kumpai (Shizuoka City), Kikuyoi, Shidaizumi, Sugii-Suginishiki (Fujieda City), Fuji-Takasago (Fujinomiya City), Takashima-Hakuin Masamune (Numazu City), Fujinishiki (Fuji Gun), Moriomoto (Kikugawa City), Hatsukame (Okabe Cho), Doi-Kaiun (Kakegawa City).
Sake-lover, what are you waiting for?

Tanuki No Ana
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 2-2-5
Tel.: 054-2556704
Business hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays
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Izakaya: Take Chan no Daidokoro

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Take Chan No Daikoro might have opened in Shizuoka City only two years ago, but you will need to reserve your seats if you are than two of you!
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Why? (silly question, if there was any!)
Because the food is great and very reasonable, they have plenty of local sake, their fish in particular is local whenever possible and service is attentive and easy-going.
I visited the place more on a hunch than anything else last Friday and was glad to notice the following local sake:
Isojiman Hojozo (Yaizu City), Kaiun Honjozo (Kakegawa City), Shosetsu honjozo & Junmai (Shimizu Ku), Shidaizumi Ginjo (Fujieda City), Chumasa Honjozo (Shizuoka City) and Hana No mai Honjozo & Junmai(Hamamatsu City) !
Of course they have shochu, Beer, Awamori and so on!
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I first ordered “kinme”, a fish caught off Izu Peninsula. A beautiful soft sashimi!
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I could not help notice the beef sashimi on the menu for a mere 720 yen, and my carnivorous instincts took over. And I did well to listen to them. So sweet and tender!
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As I needed some more food with the sake I was drinking so fast, I asked the “oyakata/chef” to recommend me a grilled fish. He advised to try “kuromutsu”.
It came cooked to perfection. The flesh came off so easily off the bones and was so soft and juicy!
I had the good fortune to come early as by the moment I was going to take my leave, it was absolutely packed and had all the six staff running!. I also discovered a few pairs of ladies obviously enjoying themselves.
I will have to come again to check the rest of the menu, but the sashimi sets seemed very reasonably priced and the kushiyaki yummy. Parties are possible but you had better reserve a good week in advance!

Take Chan No Daidokoro
420-0024 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Naka Cho, 22, Saitouya Bldg
Tel. & fax: 054-2215065
Business hours: 11:30~13:30 (Tuesdays ~Saturdays), 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays.

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Umeshu Season!

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This is Umeshu making season in Shizuoka!

I decided to make my own, even if I am breaking all the rules!

Here how I proceeded in the secrecy of my office (even my better-worse half does not know about it!):

Bought 1 kg of green “ume” (Japanese plums) from a local grocery, 1kg of “koorizato” (“Ice sugar”) at Tomitaya Saketen.
To which I added in the most extravaganta manner:

1 bottle (720ml) of Kumpai Meguriai Honjyozo (Kumpai Brewery/Shizuoka City)

1 bottle (720ml) of Sugii Shodai Saisuke Kome/Rice shochu.

I cleaned the ume/plums, dropped them in jar especially conceived for home-made shochu, added all the sugar and poured in the above two bottles.


I closed it tight, marked the date on the lid, put in a cool area away from the light and will wait until next winter!

Blueberries Season

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Blueberries are already being harvested in Sena farms, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City!
For example, Mr. Tsutomu Fujimaki (57) who has been growing the fruit for the last 7 years has started picking 20 varieties of blueberries from no less than 600 plantings.
The ripe fruit reach as much as 1cm diameter.
Apart of the best items found fresh on your tables, a lot will go to make succulent jams.
Some gourmets even preserve in shochu or sake!
Some fine samples can be bought at the Shizuoka JA direct agricultural products sale shop in Shizuoka City.

Izakaya: Yukichi

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The city of Fujieda have seen a lot of changes these past years with more people coming to live there due to the crowding of nearby Shizuoka City. The old JR Station has disappeared to be replaced by a whole urban complex around both exits. It means that the city has more or less become the “bedtown” of Shizuoka City. It is not all negative as it has encouraged businesses, especially in the restaurateur’ field, to set shop for the benefit of returning workers and company employees.
And some of them are definitely worth visiting.

So, Patrick of Think Twice met me last Friday at Fujieda Station and we went to Yukichi I had a checked an hour before.

Yukichi is an izakaya of a better standard opened in 2005 and it is extremely popular. We were very lucky to get our seats as most were already reserved! Most customers are in their early 30’s.
Now as a general rule, one should patronize only izakaya who serve local sake/jizake. We were not disappointed: Yukichi has some great ones on hand from Aoshima Brewery/Kikuyoi (Fujieda City) and Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)!
I also always make a point to order a chef’s sashimi set recommendation.
The one we were served (see pic above) included not only great fish but succulent chicken sashimi. An acquired taste for some I must agree, but such an unusual combination.

Now, the fact that especially makes you want to come back to Yukichi is that the Lady in charge, Ms. Yoko Naruoka will come to show you a tray with the fresh fish of the day for you to choose from before the “banchyo/chef”, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi prepares your choice either as sashimi or cooked fish as you wish. We opted for “kisu tempura” and “maguro no kama yaki”!

As we had planned to visit another place later, we limited ourselves to a glass of each sake cited above with an extra serving of “tamago yaki” and took our leave with the promise to come back very soon!

Yukichi
Fujieda City, Ekimae, 1-7-21, taiko Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-6469494
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays and every second Monday

Agricultural products: Biwa/Loquat

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The Loquat season has reached us in Shizuoka Prefecture at last!
Called “Biwa” in Japanese, it is considered as a fairly expensive delicacy as the beginning. Fruit sold at stores are carefully chosen. The bigger, the better it seems.
The most noted growers are located in Okitsu where 20 of them have formed the Okitsu Biwa Association. They particularly sweet and juicy.

Whenever I can, I pick the small ones you can find almost everywhere and either make sorbet of “biwa shu” (preserved in Shochu and sugar).

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