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sake, shochu and sushi
11 years ago, farmers’ wives living in Miwa and in the vicinity of the Abe River in Shizuoka City founded Agriroad (Agricultural Road) Miwa with the help of JA.
A good friend of mine who lives nearby had told me many a time about it and had strongly recommended me to visit it, but it seemed I needed something special prod me into action.
Actually, the opportunity that finally triggered me into cycling all the way on a blistering hot Wednesday morning was a round orange zucchini I discovered last week at Bu-Ichi, a favourite izakaya of mine. When the Oyakata/Chef-owner mentioned it had been grown in Miwa, I had no recourse but to check for myself!
So, I arrived in JA Agriroad Miwa at exactly 9:30, its opening hour (I did not know…).
It is a small establishment by all accounts, but before I talked to anyone I had a look at the wares on sale.
All vegetables are not only grown in the vicinity, making them easily traceable, but all labels featured the name of its grower and the date of harvest!
The place was crowded with local people, but also a few obvious “strangers” (not mentioning the barging expat!) were seen coming in cars apparently knowing well what they intended to buy. I found out later that some of were clever owners of restaurants downtown (a good 10 km away, mind you!).
The quality would have been enough to warrant regular visits and the originality (Shizuoka goya, for example) of some vegetables should attract many a food critique.
But the prices! Absolutely ridiculously low! How do they make business?
Try to decipher the prices on the following pictures:
Most of them are 100 yen (less than 1$ in Japan!) or 150 yen (less than 1 Euro!)!
Even recipes to prepare and serve them are provided for all interested!
Naturally the green tea for which Shizuoka Prefecture (70% of the total national output!) is so famous is purely local!
Great fresh eggs with not only names but also pictures of the farmers!
That is when I noticed one of the employees (actually they work in shifts on a association basis) cooking “Kin Tsuba” cakes (their name comes from the shape of a samurai sword guard). They are made of a batter containing “yomogi”, a plant common all over Japan and “Anko”/Japanese azuki beans sweatmeats. The lady answered to the name of Natsuko Koyanagi (Small Willow). We quickly started chatting and the “interview” became a real pleasure with lthe dear ady needing no prodding into answering my questions. I actually obtained more than I bargained for!
The cakes were not on sale as they had all been ordered early in the morning. The poor lady had to refuse them to all local customers who seemed to have a developped a particular liking for them! I felt a bit embarrassed (and pleased) when she offered me one when no one was looking!
Hot and freshly cooked, it ate like a delicious pancake!
This was when I mentioned that round orange zucchini that Rowena would like so much to find about.
She knew the lady who grew them and so generously offered to drive me to her place as soon as she had fished cooking all those cakes!
I certainly had a great time visiting her friend’s plots after I had been invited to refeshments in her home!
Unfortunately, this was the end of the season for zucchini/courgettes and the treasures I had been looking for were all gone!
But when I mentioned all those flowers that seemed to go to waste, I asked the two ladies if they knew how to cook them. They did not! Taste Memory Girl will never believe me!
At last I could give something back! I told them at least three ways to cook them, and Mrs. Koyanagi started picking them up in earnest!
Unfortunately again, I could not stay too long with them as work was waiting for me, but you can expect more articles as I plan to cycle there regularly!
Problem is that they might ask me to contribute to their recipes. LOL.
〒421-2114 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Abeguchishinden, 537-1.
Business hours: 09:30~15:30 (from 08:30 on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays)