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BOOK REVIEW: Breaking Bread In L’Aquila by Maria Filice

When Maria Filice conceived this cookbook remarkable for its beautiful practicality she had love, simplicity and knowledge in mind.

Love for the people living in the L’Aquila Region of Abruzzo, love for her late husband, Paul Piccone, who introduced her to their homey gastronomy, love for her guests past, present and future and love for ample, complete and delicious food.

Simplicity in a book eminently utilitarian for all cooks and chefs, be they absolute beginners trying to please their loved ones or veteran chefs in search of inspiration back to the basics.

Knowledge to be acquired about traditional ingredients, new taste combinations and forgotten wines for perfect pairing with her recipes.

This cookbook ought to be left open at all times on the kitchen table of all Italian food lovers, and all food lovers for that matter.
Preceded by an eye-opening introduction on her entertaining philosophy and the wines of Abruzzo, Maria’s work has been organized along the seven days of the week with a full Italian meal suggestion for everyone of them.
Actually, more than a meal, she is taking her guests along a daily feast from the Antipasti, through Primi Piatti and Seondi Piatti to the Dolci via a detour through a Contorni.

I do not wish to reveal all the secrets of her book, but I cannot help recommend my own biased selection:
-Antipasti: Insalata di Mare e Servita nel Radicchio (Seafood salad in a Radicchio Cup)
-Primi Piatti: Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta and Lentils)
-Primi Piatti: Minestra di Farro (Spelt Soup)
-Secondi Piatti: Scaloppine al Vino Bianco (Veal Scaloppine in White Wine)
-Secondi Piatti: Pollo Arrosto con Aglio e Rosmarino (Chicken with Rosemary and Garlic)
-Contorni: Fritto Misto di Funghi (Sauteed Mushromms Madley)
-Dolci: Torta di Caffe (Coffee Cake)

I wrote this review at the counter of Il Paladino, one of the very best Italian Restaurants in all Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. When I mentioned the wines of Montelpuciano to my friend chef, he just went to his cellar to show me a couple of the bottles he had on his wine list (some more expensive of the same name are kept away from the list for special guests!)!
It certainly piqued his curiosity when I told him the reason of my query. Consequently, we went through Maria’s book together all over again at ease (I had chosen a quiet time of the day!) and he was so impressed by the direct approach of the recipes and the accompanying photographs that he requested me to keep the book long enough for him to consult!

Not only this cookbook will help you make your friends and family discover the pleasures of a great regional Italian gastronomy, but the net profits of its sales will be donated to help the victims of devastation caused by the earthquake which recently struck L’Aquila.

For direct purchase consult Maria Filice’s own website at www.telospress.com/foodandfate

Robert-Gilles Martineau

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, Bento Boutique, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento

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Italian Restaurant: Lunch at Il Castagno (’10/02/28)

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: clean
Prices: reasonable
Specialty: Central and south Italian-style cuisine. Home-made pasta. Very reasonables prices
no-smoking-logoentirely non-smoking!

I’ve heard that some countries are suffering from unusually unclement weather (snow drifts in the US and floods in Western Europe), and here we are assailed by sudden chages in temperatures going as far 13 degrees Celsius within 24 hours.
Last Sunday was not a day for sport and I decided to do some work at the office as the Missus is away working for an orthondontist (Sunday is the busiest day).
As usual I felt ravnous at lunch time and decided to have some proper food at neighbouring Il Castagno, a very reasonable and extremely popular Italian restaurant.

They have eminently drinkable wines at very reasonable prices, and I always end up drinking a couple of glasses in spite of the early hour (that is for drinking!).

A bit strange picture as you can see my fist holding the glass in side the glass!
Wine: Chianti, Villa Puccini Riserva, 2004. Grapes: Sangiovese+Cabernet Sauvignon+Canaiolle.
Solid and and pleasant Chianti

I opted for the full lunch set menu.
The antipasti misto consisted of Carrots, large white beans and red onions salad, Squid ink Crostini, Quiche (bacon, onion, potato and cabbage), home-made smoked salmon and pickled lotus root. A very global dish!

now, the pasta dish was worth the visit for itself!
Il Castagno serves exclusively home-made fresh pasta, a luxury in Jpaan!
These particular pasta were tagliatelle (comparatively narrow) in Gorgonzola and Radicchio (a variety of Trevise) Cream sauce. Perfectly balanced and the right quantity. As for the taste, I start to understand why so many local expats have started patronizing the place!

The dessert plate consisted of blanc mange, Apricot Cheese Cake (another specialty expats are running for!), strawberries and Neburu Orange (popular Japanese variety) Sherbet/Sorbet.

Coffee and home-made Italian mignardises!

IL CASTAGNO
420-0843 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Tomoe Cho, 48 (along Kitakaido Street)
Tel. & Fax: 054-247-0709
Business hours: 11:45~14:00, 17:30~21:00
Closed on Mondays and second Tuesdays
Lunch: 1,260 and 1,860 yen
Dinner: 4,000 and 5,000 yen
A la Carte menu and wine list available. Wine by the glass ok
Reservations recommended.
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

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Cheese Plate and Wine Tasting at Gentil

Cheese Tray of the day (2010/02/26):
-Top row: Brie de Meaux (4 months, France), Gorgonzola Dolce (Italy), Bleu D’Auvergne (France), Raclette (6 months, Hokkaido, Japan).
-Bottom row: Chevre Noir (2 years, Goat Milk, Canada), Mont D’or (France), Petit Agour Basque (Ewe, France), Cream cheese and Rum Raisins creation by Gentil.

It was about grand time I paid a visit to Gentil, the oldest French restaurant (1964) in Shizuoka City.
It is a great and accordingly expensive restaurant, but if you confine yourself to a plate of cheese and a glass of good wine, it is actually great value.
Ms. Keiko Kubota is THE authority on any cheese in Japan and actually helps mature cheese she acquires all year long in season only.

As for wines, the pairings are just sublime.

As I had oredered the full tray and requested a white wine, I was offered the following:

A white from my country!

Alsace, France, Riesling by Jean Ginglinger, 2008.

Very clear and clean. Bright golden colour
Aroma: Fruity and sweetish, very natural, green grass, Muscat and apples.
Taste: Soft attack, fruity at first with muscat, but quickly taking a very tangy turn with green grass, green apples and peach memories.
Very pleasant and great pairing with cheese. Kept it own all the time in spite of the strong cheese.

Now for the plate!
All the cheeses represented on the tray at the top of this article are feature except one!
Can you guess them all?

The raclette came on toasts!
I will not bore you with the tasting of the cheeses. They are just all top in their own categories and seasonal. The only thing I will say is that start chasing them around wherever you live!LOL

You do need some sugar to balance all the salt ingested with the cheese!
Chocolate cake, Mikan/Orange jelly and Creme brulee (and sorbets!)

Instead of coffee, I opted for the sorbet/sherbet farandole:
Camomille & Milk, Rum Raisins, Maro-Blue/Usubeni Aoi Herb.
The little mignardise is a snow ball bicuit made with chocolate and caraway seeds.

Need I comment more?

Restaurant Gentil
Address:420-0031 Shizuoka Shi, Gofuku-cho, 2-9-1, Gennan Kairaku building, 2F
Tel.: 054-2547655 (Reservations advisable)
Fax: 054-2210509
Opening hours: 12:00~14:00, 18:00~last orders for meals at 21:30. Bar time 18:00~23:30. Closed on Mondays.
Credit cards OK
Homepage (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Social Culinaire, Sushi Nomads, Cook, Eat & Share, Gourmet Fury, 5 Star Foodie, Easy Does It Recipes, Oyster Culture, Once A Chef, All In Good Food, Cooking Stuff, Cheese Monger, Palate To Pen, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Citron Et Vanille, The Cheese Godess

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 3: Le Temps Des Cerises (Languedoc)

CERISE-2

As I mentioned in my previous tatsing I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

This tasting also occurred at Lavigne in Shizuoka City!

Axel Prufer is a yaoung German vigneron who learned his trade before establihing himself in Languedoc, France in 2003.
He is an active member of a new type of winegrower belonging to the “Natural Wine School”.
This “Vin de Table/Table Wine” of his was conceived away from the higher appelations’ restrictions, but certainly has nothing to do with the legal Vin de Table! The alcohol content alone is a good enough indication. As for the price, although deserved, it would make vins de table inaccessible!
Incidentally the design on the label means “Spring has come!”

CERISE-1

Les Lendemains Qui Chantent
Le Temps des Cerises
Vin de Table Francais
Axel Prufer, Vigneron a 34260 Le Mas Blanc (Languedoc)
Grenache Grapes 100%
Alcohol: 13.5 proof degrees
Retail price (in Japan): 3,654 yen

Colour: Ruby red, very deep, clea.

Aroma: Strong, a little pungent, dry red fruits, green leaves

Taste: Soft attack backed by a little tannin.
Strong red fruits: Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries.
Very dry and soft.
Strong and short finish.
Taste lingering for quite long in the back of the mouth.

Eminently drinkable. Goes well with meat and heavy sauces.

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass
Oyster Culture

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 2: Saint-Veran-La Bernardiere

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As I mentioned in my previous tatsing I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

This tasting also occurred at Lavigne in Shizuoka City!

ST-V2

Saint-Veran is still a very new and still raltively unknown AOC from the very southern tip of the Maconnais area in Bourgogne. Longer summers than in vaunted northern Bourgogne give it a different character.

Domaine Combier
Saint-veran AOC (Maconnais, Bourgogne, France)
La Bernardiere in Prisse Village
2005, 100% Chardonnay, 14 degrees proof (high)
Retailed in Japan at 3,000 yen

Colour: Beautiful, clear, limpid gold. Darker than usual Chardonnay.

Aroma: Fruity, flowers. Pleasantly strong. Nutty, honey. Complex.

Taste: dry attack. Longish but light tail.
Nuts, macadamia, butter,memories of smoked cheese.
Turns slightly sweeter with food.
Pleasant finish expanding at the back of the mouth.
Changes little with food.
Pleasant overall impression.
Can be enjoyed on its own as well as with almost any food.
Well-rounded and lively.

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass

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Wine Tasting in Shizuoka 1: Domaine Dupont-Fahn

OC-1

For all my love of Japanese sake, I’m not ready yet to completely forget my roots. When there is good wine around, I see no reason to ignore it.
I thought it might be a good idea to taste the wines (within reasonability) available in this part of Japan!

A great place to that is Lavigne in Shizuoka City, an off-the-track establishment which combines a shop and standing bar offerring exclusively French wines they have discovered and imported themselves. As I visit the place at least once a week for a quick glass, I fially took my pen and notes yesterday!

OC-3

Michel Dupont-Fahn is not an obscure wine maker in France and has incrasingly been praised for his somewhat extravagant single cepage Vins de Pays.
The wine I tasted last night reads as follows:
Vin Du Pays d’Oc
Domaine Dupont-Fahn, 2008, red
Cabernet-Sauvignon, 100%
Alcohol: 14 degrees proof
Vandange et trie manuellement/hand-picked and chosen

OC-2

Colour: very deep, rich red
Aroma: Clean, powerful. Dry cassis/red fruit
Taste: Dry, strongish attack.
Good body
Dry red fruit
Shortish tail
Sharpish and short tannic note
Strong dry finish

Solid in spite of its youth. Surprisingly well-balanced. Soft on the palate with food.
A wine for all seasons.
Needs a little aging.
Retailed at 2,780 yen, 30 US$ (quite steep for a Vin de Pays!)

LAVIGNE
420-0852, Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Kutsunoya Cho, 17-2, 1F (2 minutes walk from JR Station)
Tel/fax: 054-205-4181
Opening hours: 11:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow
5 Star Foodie
Frank Fariello
Mangantayon
Cheese Monger
Rubber Slippers in Italy
Palate To Pen
Tokyo Foodcast
Urban Sake
Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass

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Shizuoka Wine receives national recognition!: Naka Izu Winery

NAKA-IZU-WINE

After 10 years of existence, Naka Izu Winery Chateau T.S. has finally recevied the accolade of wine lovers in Japan!

NAKA-IZU-WINERY
Naka Izu Winery & Hotel

The winery entered 10 varieties of wines in the Japan Wine Challenge Concours 09.
Its Shida Noujyo Nagano Chardonnay 2008 won the Gold Medal in the New World White Wine Wine Section, and its Shida Noujyo Nagano Chardonnay 2007 won another one at the National Homegrown Wines Contest.

NAKA-IZU-WINE-CHARDONNAY

Both wines made use of a Chardonnay grape strain originally developped in Nagano Prefecture, our northern neighbours.

On the other hand, another white wine made from Chardonnay grape strain developped in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, called Shida Chardonnay won a silver medals in both contests.

NAKA-IZU-WINE-RIESLINGjpg
Riesling strain grown at Naka Izu Winery.

The winery grows all its grapes and the wine is aged either in their own stainless tanks or wooden casks depending on the variety, making a real local winery.
Actually, until 1958 wine was produced in many parts of Shizuoka Prefecture, especially near Numazu City and in the Izu Peninsula, but disappeared when the government decided to support sake instead with very substantial subsidies.
Naka Izu Winery is still the only winery in existence in Shizuoka Prefecture.

About time to interview the winery and taste its wines!

Naka Izu Winery Chateau T.S.
410-2501, Shizuoka Prefecture, Izu Shi, Shimoshiraiwa, 1433-27
Tel.: 0120-818-517
Office hours: 09:30~17:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Warren Bobrow, Tokyo Terrace
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Gyudon: Basic Recipe

GYUUDON

Gyūdon (牛丼) can be literally translated into English as (Japanese-style) beef bowl. It is a typical Japanese comfort food consisting of a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi, soy sauce and mirin. It also often includes shirataki/translucent konyaku noodles. It is commonly served with beni shōga (pickled ginger), shichimi/seven flavor chili pepper, and a side dish of miso soup. Mixing in a raw egg is also very popular.

Here is the basic recipe:

INGREDIENTS: For 2 persons
-Two bowls of freshly steamed rice
-Beef, thinly sliced: 200 g
-Onion: 1
-Ito konyaku/shirataki/translucent konyaku noodles, 1 pack/180 g
-Fresh ginger: 1 medium-sized piece.
-Dashi (seaweed dashi): 2 cups/400 ml
-Soy sauce: 4 tablespoons
-Mirin/sweet Japanese sake: 4 tablespoons
-Beni shoga/red pickled ginger: to taste

RECIPE:

-If you have bought the beef in one block, cut in very thin slices.

-Cut the onion in halves first, then in slices about 5 mm thin slices.

-drain ito konyaku. Cut into 5 cm long strands. Wash well with cold clear water and leave in water for a while. Drain well.

-Cut the frsh ginger in thin slices.

-Bting dashi to boil and add soy sauce and mirin. Stir. Drop in beef, sliced onion, ito konyaku and sliced ginger all at the same tome. Let simmer on strog fire until onion has become translucent. Switch off fire.
Pour on top of a bowl filled with freshly steamed rice. Add some beni shoga and serve with a raw egg in a separate dish.

NOTE:

If you have the time, cook the beef beforehand. Let cool completely.
Re-heat quickly on a hot fire just before serving. It will taste even better!

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Oyakodon: Basic Recipe

OYAKODON

Oyakodon must count as one of the top 5 as far as poplular food comes in Japan.
It is easy to prepare and improvise with.
Bear in mind that depending upon the region you are in Japan, the ingredients are totally different. For example, in Hokkaido you will be served salmon sashimi and salmon roe!
After all, “oyakodon” means “parent and child bowl” (ingredients!)!
Being asked about a recipe, I decided to introduce the main lines of a basic one here made with chicken and eggs, not bothering about quantities but concentrating on the method.

-Rice
Steam rice beforehand.
Oyakodon prepared with freshly steamed rice is miles ahead of reheated rice as far as taste is concerned!

-Chicken
Choose breast or thigh chicken. It is up to you to use or discard the skin. I prefer to discard it, unless I deep-fry the chicken first.

-Eggs
Choose the freshest ones as possible with large deep-coloured yolks.

-Vegetables:
Thinly sliced onion to be cooked together with the oyakodon.
A lot of people feel like adding other vegetables. Keep in mind they have to be cut thin and need to be fried.
Fresh leaved greens for the final and important touch. My favourite is fresh trefoil. If not available, I use flat parsley or chopped leeks.
In many regions they also add chopped dry seaweed for the final touch.

-Stock soup/sauce:
You may use water, but dashi is a lot better. I pesonally use seaweed dashi. One might use chicken stock, too.
I add a little soy sauce, sugar, Japanese sake and sweet Japanese sake/mirin.
That is where improvisation and personal taste come in!
You may season with salt and pepper, but bear in mind that soy sauce already contains salt, so easy on that one!

METHOD:

-Cut chicken in small enough pieces. Fry or deep-fry them first. If you fry/sautee them, just season chicken with a little salt and pepper. If you dep-fry them, season them with salt and pepper and cover them with plenty of cornstarch, unless you prefer the flour, egg and breadcrumbs method.
Once the chicken has been fried to 90%, take out and leave in another plate or on a metallic grill to get rid of excess oil.

-Using only a little oil (that left by the chicken is fine), fry the onion (and other vegetables) until almost properly cooked.
Add soup/stock. bring slowly to boil on a small fire. Add chicken and boil for a minute just to let the taste penetrate the chicken.
During that time, beat eggs (quantity is up to you!) with chopsticks to leave some parts white (some people like well beaten).
As soon as the chicken has completely cooked, dicard some soup if too much of it, and add the eggs.

Point 1: the chicken should be tender, not overcooked.
Point 2: Too much soup/stock will prevent the eggs from cooking fast, or you might end up with scrambled eggs
Point 3: the “real” (debatable) recipe calls for the eggs to be only half cooked before transferring the lot onto the rice.
In Kyoto, for example the eggs are most of the time well cooked and topped with a raw egg yolk.

-As soon as you are satisfied with the eggs, transfer the lot on top of a bowl filled with steamed rice.
Decorate with trefoil and serve.

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Wine-marinated Scallops and their Red and White Wine Jelly

SCALLOPS-WINE_0001

It’s Summer.
That is when French and Japanese cuisines tend to fuse in a new natural dimension with the need for lighter gastronomic ventures.

here is a simple recipe that will impress your friends:
Wine-marinated Scallops and its Red and White Wine Jelly!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 persons

-Scallops: 12 large
-Red wine (Chinon, or a wine both spicy and solid, but not too heavy): 450 ml
-White wine (Loire or Vouvray, or a slightly sweet white wine): 200 ml
-Gelatin: 6 sheets
-Olive oil (EV): 2 large tablespoons
-Green leaves of your choice: ~250 g
-Salt & pepper to taste

RECIPE:

-Marinate the scallops in 250 ml of red wine for 2 hours.

-Drop the gelatin sheets in a bowl filled with cold water.
Separately heat both wines slowly to lukewarm in two pans.
Take gelatin sheets out of cold water bowl, drain them and add 3 of each to each wine pan.
Wait until gelatin has dissolved.
Pour the wine jelly into two deep plates or molds.
Put in refrigerator until jelly has completely solidified.

-ake the scallops out of their marinade.
Cut them into thin slices.
heat and reduce the marinade down to one third. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to marinade.
Let cool completely.

-Clean the vegetable leaves and place at the centre of plates.
Make a rondo/circle of slices callops. Cut the jelly into small cubes and place them over or with the salad.
Pour a spoon of the sauce over the salad.

Enjoy the rest of the wine with it!

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Peach Clafoutis

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-1

Peaches being in season, it is only a queation of finding enough recipes to accomodate them!
Here is a simple recipe:
Peach Clafoutis!

INGREDIENTS: For a baking mold of 15 cm diameter
-Sugar: 6 g
-Rhum/rum: a little (to taste)
-Peach: a large one, 200g
-Egg: 1 large/52 g
-Fresh cream: 45 g
-White chocolate: 45 g
-Ready-made 15cm tart (of your choice)

RECIPE:
PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-2
-in a frypan drop in sugar with some butter and heat slowly until they turn into caramel.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-3
-Cut peach in appropriate sized wedges and fry them coating with the caramel.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-4
-Just as the edges of the peach wedges start losing shape pour in rum.
Switch off fire and let cool.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-5
-Drop egg in a bowl and beat well into a uniform omelette.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-6
-Add fresh cream, beat. Heat and melt white chocolate inside microwave oven for 30 seconds.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-7
-Pour in the egg/cream mixture into the bowl containing melted white chocolate and mix well.

PEACH-CLAFOUTIS-8
-Place peach wedges inside tart.

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-Pour clafoutis mixture onto peaches.

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-Bake at 120 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until you are satisfied.
Let cool completely and chill before serving.

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Blueberry and Red Wine Ruby Mousse

BLUEBERRY-RED-WINE-MOUSSE-1

Here is a seasonal dessert for adults with a wicked liking for wine!

Blueberry and Red Wine Ruby Mousse!

INGREDIENTS: For 4 cups (to share?)

-Blueberry Mousse:
Powdered gelatin or agar agar: 5 g
Water: 2 large tablespoons
Plain yoghurt: 200 ml/1 cup
Honey: 40 g
Frozen blueberries (or fresh in season): 7
Lemon juice: a little
Fresh cream: 50 ml

-Red wine jelly:
Red Wine: 100 ml
Sugar: 15 g
Lemon juice: a little
powdered gelatin or agar agar: 2.5 g
Water: 2 large tablespoons

-For decoaration:
Blueberries: to taste
Mint leaves

RECIPE:

-Blueberry Mousse:
Pour water into a bowl, add gelatin and mix in (in that order, please otherwise you will fail!)
Drop yoghurt, honey (liquid) and blueberries in a mixer/food processor. Mix until smooth.
Beat up fresh cream until it “horns” stand. Add to mousse mixture. Season with lemon juice.
Dissolve gelatin in water by gently heating it. Add to Mousse mixtureand mix. Pour the the blueberry mousse into 4 recipients of your choice and leave inside fridge for 30 minutes or until properly solidified.

-Wine jelly:
As for the bleberry mousse, add gelatin to water.
In a small pan heat red wine and sugar together to dissolve. Stop fire as soon as you think that the alcohol has evaporated. Season with lemon juice.
Let cool completely.
Dissolve gelatin in water by gently heating it. add to red wine jelly mixture and let cool completely.
Pour jelly over Blueberry Mousse and put v\back into refrigerator to solidify.
Only when the whole mousse and jelly are firm enough decorate with blueberries and fresh mint leaves.

BLUEBERRY-RED-WINE-MOUSSE-2
Make a point to scoop both parts for top enjoyment!

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Wine Tasting at La Vigne

lavigne-tasting-1

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value
no-smoking-logo!

As I found myself not busy with cricket due to heavy rain the night before I took the opportunity to visit la Vigne, the new French wine shop in Shizuoka which is conveniently equipped with a standing bar.
As usual I had the opportunity of making new from vastly different regions and ways of life as I tasted one of the dozen wines on offer:

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Region: Alsace
Grapes: Pinot d’Alsace
Year: 2007
Producer/owner: Laurent Barth at Bennwihr

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Clarity: Very clear and clean
Colour: Golden hue
Aroma: Light and fruity. Muscat. Elegant
Taste: Light, fruity, well balanced by pleasant acidity. Shortish tail. Light impression lingering at the back of the plalate. Muscat, memories of sweet raisins. Fleeting.

Overall: Would do well as an aperitif. Would marry well with light vegetables hors d’oeuvres and white flesh fish.
On the other hand, was subdued by the cheese I ate with it,
Probably best drunk on its own, very slightly chilled.

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The “cheese tray” included (from top left around the clock):
Laguiole, Brie de Meaux, Bleu de Gex and 25-month Gouda.

LA VIGNE
420-0852 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Gofuku-Cho, 17-2, 1F (within walking distance for Shizuoka JR Station in front of Fugetsuro!)
Tel. & Fax: 054-2054181
Business hours: 10:00~22:00
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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Italian Restaurant: Aquavite (first visit in 2009)

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(pics by Haruka Yamaguchi)

Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great and very large washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable to expensive.
Specialty:Top-class Italian wines, Charcoal grill.

Last week was my first “visit” to this old favourite Italian Restaurant of mine in Shizuoka City, namely Aquavite.
A ever-solid reference, I have introduced it time and again, therefore I will keep to the basics, that is the food I enjoyed in the company of my good friend, Haruka Yamaguchi, who was kind to help me with the photographs!

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(Haruka Yamaguchi)

I’m slowly introducing my (young, and don’t start gossiping! I know her whole family!) friend to wine, and I’m sure that friends like Jen would approve! Haruka wanted white wine.
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(Haruka Yamaguchi)
Aquavite had this (for a reasonable price!) 2002 Tenuta Castellino, Terre di Francia Acorta in Coccaglio (12.5 proof). Rowena, have you heard of it?
A very pleasant aroma of Muscat, dry and fruity was rediscovered in tasting it, fruity, dry flowery with a gentle lingering. Proved as soft, elegant and complex for the whole meal. Haruka was not holding up this time!

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The first hors d’oeuvre was a succulent Iwate “Sanriku” Oyster served with just enough sesaoning.

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The second hors d’oeuvre,”Shirako Gratin” did not make my friend blush! (“shirako” is what male cod fish are proud of!). Light, eminently tasty, I wish I could serve it online!

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The pasta dish was a beautiful creation in its simplicity: Shizuoka-grown mizuna with “Taragani” Crab Peperocino Spaghetti!
Light, elegant and the perfect amount of spiciness!

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Grilled scallops with mizuna and Parmeggiano. Need I comment?

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The Milano Risotto and its Foie Gras! Perfect balance with a very light risotto and rich foie gras sauteed with balsamico!

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Charcoal-grilled “Shamo Niwatori” Chicken (extravagant in Japan!) with grilled new potatoes and its ramequin of liver and heart!

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And then it was time for dessert:
Tiramisu for me (let’s keep things simple! LOL)

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(Haruka Yamaguchi)

Haruka kept very silent as she devoured her Torta di Bosaiola with prunes and nuts!

Well, well, where are going next (actually expect something soon about Italian Cuisine!)

Address: 420-0034 Shizuoka Shi, Tokiwa-cho, 1-2-7, Tomii Bldg. 3F
Tel. & fax: 054-2740777
Opening hours: 11:30~14:00 (on reservations only), 18:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Homepage (Japanese)
Credit Cards OK


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French Restaurant: Hana Hana (first visit in 2009)


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Service: Excellent and very friendly
Facilities: great and very large washroom, great cleanliness overall
Prices: reasonable, good value

Hana Hana in Shizuoka City has always been a favourite because you can always expect both their classical dishes to be on the menu while seasonal offerings and creations are constantly appearing around the corner for your great pleasure!

Today being Thursday, the Missus and I visited the place for lunch. Instead of choosing one of the very good value “lunch sets”, we opted for the Lunch Course menu which allows you to choose three courses out of a good eighteen with coffee, bread and amuse bouche included!

Here was what we savoured:

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As I said above, the amuse-bouche is included, and we were served a Hana Hana classic, namely “shirako/Cod Sperm Sacs” (sorry, I’m a blunt savage!) sauteed Italian-style. Even the Missus who usually avoid this acquired taste morsel greatly appreciated it. Crispy outside, melting like foie gras inside.

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The Missus next chose a Hana Hana regular hors d’oeuvre, “Suwa Gani Terrine/Suwa (from Hokkaido) Crab Terrine”. A very light terrine served with a cold tomato coulis and crispy fresh greens.

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As for me, I ordered a new dish, Foie gras stuffed blini with cream sauce mushrooms. Lighter than expected, but very satisfying and succulent. A great simple but sophisticated idea!

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The Missus, a duck addict, could not help try the young duck breast roasted and sliced with a delightful sweet sauce (madeira wine?). She somehow managed to leave a few slices for me to taste!

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Being a galant gentleman (who am I kidding? certainly not my better-worse half!), I asked for the scallops sauteed Provence-style as my poor companion could not decide which main order to go for. Actually, I was looking forward to the small exchange cited above! Cooked to perfection with delightful petite ratatouille.

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And it was time for dessert!
The Caramel Creme Brulee topped Caramel Ice-cream would have Rich take the next plane to Japan!

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As for the Blanc-manger, the French equivalent of the Chinese almond curd dessert, I can assure you that the next Chinese (and other Asian) tourists to Shizuoka would not miss it for anything!

Saying that I’m looking forward to my next visit is a gross understatement!

Hana Hana
Open for lunch and dinner.
Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (will change in the near future, so please do call!)
420-0037 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Hitoyado-cho, 1-3-12
Tel. & Fax: 054-2210087
Credit cards OK