Wednesday, June 30, 2010

odds & ends

Some odds and ends (because it is the end of the month)...Lawson's roll cake, they say you should eat it with a spoon and you should because there is definitely more cream than cake.

We halved this chocolate one and a green tea one, I like the chocolate one better, the green tea version seemed really dry.

Pukka's Three Berry tea...love the combination of fruits in here. There are actually more than three berries to make this tea...rosehip, elderberry, hibiscus, licorice, blueberry, amla fruit (gooseberry fruit), blackberry, cranberry, black currant extract & blueberry extract.

A really huge slice of rolled cake (I think this was 2 and a half slices worth) at La Marina de Bourbon was perfect with a pot of their Umeda tea, a fruity blend of pears and other fragrant herbs. (UPDATE: 2011 this restaurant is now closed)

Kazokutei's Java-style curry udon. This curry starts off sweet then the spices kick in and then your mouth is on fire, but it keeps you going back for more.

The first time I tried this, it didn't have soup mixed in, but this time, (I think they made a mistake when they served us), it had quite a lot of soup. It was still delicious, but I would have liked it "drier".

Doutor's chai, way too sweet...blah!

Because Summer is here, many eateries have very spicy foods to make you perspire! (which is supposed to help cool you down) Habanero chicken nuggets from KFC. These are potent.

I tried one without the hot sauce (the sauce is to power up the spiciness) that comes with it and ended up coughing a whole lot. I then put some of the hot sauce on another nugget and it wasn't even spicy, weird, yeah?

Delirium Tremens, a Belgian beer with 8.5% alcohol content. My Flickr friend introduced me to this and I was able to find it in Osaka.

This beer had a lot of foam (which I particularly didn't like) but it was really fruity and light, perfect for hot summery nights and spicy foods. We had this with some gyoza that we bought from the department store.

A wheatberry and pearl barley dish, I threw together with some zucchini and onion I roasted in the oven. Some fresh and very sweet cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of ras el hanout.

There was a little fire in my oven because the cooking paper touched the oven element, I froze and stared at it for a bit, luckily it stopped burning when the flame touched the veggies, but there were bits of ash here and there.

Still, the salad came out delicious and no ash taste.

A new item at the convenience store...Starbucks Andalucia Orange Chocolate Mocha, again orange and chocolate...enough said!

Our June was great, hope yours was too!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

culture shock

In Osaka, you will see bicycles parked anywhere and everywhere they can find space.

There aren't enough parking areas for them and even if there were, they cost money to park there, nothing free (unless you're parking illegally).

Most times there is a "patrol" to check on the illegally parked bicycles. This patrol attaches a paper ticket and leaves your bicycle there.

I think if the bicycle is still there when they come around again, they then load up your bicycle on a truck and take it off to the burbs or under the freeways where they lock it up until you come to claim it (and pay a fine).

Of course, no one claims their bicycle nor pays the fine, so the city has a load of bicycles and people go out and buy new ones...and the cycle repeats...how wasteful, yeah?

Personally, I think the city should re-sell these illegally parked bicycles at 2nd hand bicycle shops in order to re-pay the ridiculous amount of money they put out to haul and store these bicycles out of the city.

Monday, June 28, 2010

n'est ce pas

Saturday before Satoshi's German class, we headed to Umeda for lunch.

There were a couple of restaurants near Nishi Umeda that looked interesting to try.

One in particular was N'est Ce Pas (literally "isn't it so?" in French)

The restaurant has been in business for over 50 years and it is a cozy little place.

The owner has a love for France and there are all sorts of pictures and figurines of the Eiffel Tower.

I think he also loves musicals because there were many autographed show posters covering the walls.

Though there are tons of choices on the menu, his two specialties are colopet and a la mode boeuf.

Colopet is a registered trademark name and was thought up by the owner, I am not sure what combination of words it includes but a colopet is similar to what the Japanese call a cream croquette. The chef uses evaporated milk to make his white sauce which is part of the filling of the colopet.

Satoshi ordered the colopet lunch 1260 yen (about US$12.60). This came with two colopets of your choice (we chose shrimp and camembert), a salad, hot or cold soup (Satoshi chose hot = consomme) and white or brown rice (he chose white).

These colopet were deep fried but tastewise were very light. The shrimp colopet is served with a lemon slice while the others do not come with anything. We were told the others were to be enjoyed "as is".

We liked both. I especially thought the oozy camembert cheese was a good choice.

I chose the a la mode boeuf which is a beef stew made with demi-glace sauce (this dish's name also has a registered trademark)...1525 yen (about US$15.25) The demi-glace is homemade and apparently the whole dish takes 2 days to make. This comes with a salad, hot or cold soup (I chose cold = vichyssoise) and white or brown rice (I chose brown).

You know this dish is going to be good when it comes straight from the oven bubbling over with goodness.

The meat was tender and there were also some potatoes.

And what would a dish with lots of gravy/sauce be without being able to pour some of this rich demi-glace onto your rice? (We loved this part)

We'll be back.

N'est Ce Pas
2-4-41 Umeda, Sakurabashi Kitahachi 1F
Kita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6345.7089
Open Monday-Saturday 11:00-15:00, 17:30-22:00
Sundays call for hours
*they also have a shop in Tokyo and another in the Osaka Dai-San Building

Sunday, June 27, 2010

sleepy foodie friday

Friday, Satoshi had the day off and boy, was it a good thing because we woke up at 3:30 a.m. to watch Japan play against Denmark in the FIFA World Cup.

We aren't really soccer fans, (and don't really know the rules), but we were interested to see how they would do.

Luckily they won (3-1), but talk about sleep deprived. Usually on weeknights we go to bed at 1:00 a.m., so to wake up at 3:30 a.m. was definitely a crazy thing to do.

At about 5:00 a.m. when the game finished, we chatted until we fell back asleep.

Then at 8:30 a.m. we headed to our favorite cafe, Hiro for some breakfast.

(Next month there is an election (they sure have a lot here!), but because it is on a Sunday and Satoshi thinks he may have to work, he cast his absentee ballot.)

We spotted this Mini in a driveway on the way to our city hall.

After he voted, we headed out to Kyoto for lunch and then to visit MIL.

It is amazing the things you see while waiting for Satoshi run some errands, I spotted this Japanese figure atop a clock.

At the end of August, the Hankyu Department Kyoto store will close its doors, so I snapped a photo of their sign.

Another thing I noticed was that the kuchinashi (gardenia) are in full bloom, I love the fragrance of these flowers, reminds me of home (Hawaii).
For lunch, Satoshi and I went to Ichi no Funairi. I've been here with Tamakikat in the past and I've wanted Satoshi to experience this place.

We tried to go there during Golden Week, but they were only open to those who already had reservations. Today, they were also quite busy so we ended up waiting over 30 minutes for a table.

Satoshi ordered the shrimp with eringi mushroom set menu (prix fixe)...1500 yen (about US$15) and I ordered the fried chicken with yakumi (condiments) set menu (prix fixe)...1500 yen (about US$15)

This came with a hoshidofu (dried bean curd) salad. This tofu (bean curd) had a texture like noodles cooked a little softer than al dente but not mushy as sometimes tofu can be. It was flavored with a light sesame dressing.

This also came with some siu mai (steamed pork dumpling), har gau (shrimp dumpling) and tsa tsai (pickled mustard tuber).

Satoshi's main dish was garlicky and delicious with lots of mushroom and shrimp. My main dish had lots of chopped onions, cabbage, shiso (perilla) and lemon.

This was the yakumi (condiments) that topped the crispy fried chicken....sweet, salty, a little sour and light tasting with the lemon. There was also a citrus soy sauce under the chicken too....mmm!

The main dishes were very generous in portion.

Our meals also came with some egg drop soup, rice and dessert.
The dessert was a tapioca pudding topped with some honey. It was a nice finish to a great and very filling meal.

After lunch, we walked (rolled out) to catch the subway to visit MIL and on the way, we noticed this sign saying "Sight-seeing toilet"...wondering what the heck it was, we peeked in and realized it was just a public toilet...why they named it sight-seeing was a mystery to us.

The ajisai (hydrangea) were in full bloom too, it was nice to see them mixed in with the gardenia along the sidewalks.

I threw in the last photo of a popsicle that Satoshi had before the World Cup started...This blue popsicle is a limited time item to root for Japan's team which they call "Samurai Blue".

Anyway, it was a long day, we got to visit with MIL, and had some great food.

Hope your week will be a nice one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

damasareta

Awhile back, I wrote about being deceived by some nice looking corn.

Well, it happened again, this time with white peaches.

These peaches were packed in those mesh styrofoam sleeves to keep them from getting bruised and then placed in a plastic box to prevent more bruising.

The thing I hate about all this packaging is that 1)it is bad for the environment and 2)you can't smell the fruit to see if it is ripe (or if they are hiding defects).

I noticed there were some holes here and there on the plastic box, so I checked for ripeness by putting my nose to these holes.

They smelled sweet, so I bought a box of 2 for 498 yen (about US$4.98)

The next morning I was ready to serve them.

I took out the bigger of the 2 peaches and noticed...mold! (say it isn't so!)

I cut it open and...blah! rotten (not even salvageable!)

Luckily, the smaller peach was okay, so Satoshi and I split it for part of our breakfast (but it was not as sweet as the white peaches in Japan could be).

I had been kind of avoiding this market for some time now because after a big company took them over, their prices had gone up and quality down.

Even though they are located very conveniently to where we live, they are usually my "last resort" place to shop.

Guess I'll go back to avoiding them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

trying new recipes

With the weather being weird as it has, one day rain, one day clouds, all around humid, I stayed indoors and recently tried a couple of new recipes.

The first one was adapted from "The French Market" by Joanne Harris. "Thon aux deux haricots" (tuna with two beans).

This recipe was really easy to put together.

Instead of olives, I used capers.

Steam some green beans and sear some tuna in some olive oil, I did about a minute (or less) on each side.

Take the tuna from the pan and replace with the rinsed white beans to heat through. Add the zest of a lemon plus the juice, garlic, capers, basil and some cherry tomatoes.

Serve tuna on top of the veggies.

(I split a piece of tuna the size of my palm between Satoshi and I, I figured since I was serving it with beans, we didn't need to have a whole piece of tuna each (plus the price of tuna is kinda crazy!))

This dish was so refreshing and light.

The second recipe was from my blog friend, Pocky.

She suggested I try a splash of lime juice on my feta-watermelon salad.

Yum! another refreshing dish.

Satoshi kept commenting on how well feta and watermelon go together.

The last recipe was something I've made in the past, a wheatberry salad from Ina Garten.

This time around, I used pearl barley and wheatberry.

I roasted a red bell pepper and some zucchini.

For the dressing I used the juice of 1/2 a lime and a tablespoon of olive oil. I also added some minced white onion, tomato, Italian parsley & feta cheese.

I'm making these again! (soon!)

It's Friday, hope your weekend is a nice one.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

mizudashi

The weather is hot, it is humid, you'd like some iced tea or iced coffee to drink but you don't want to heat up the water to brew it.

After brewing it, you then need to chill it, it would take some time, but remember it is hot, it is humid.

The Japanese have a method called "mizudashi" or extracting with cold water. (I think in the States they call it cold brewed.)

These days I usually fill a jar (about a cup) with water, add a scoop of tea and let it sit in the refridge overnight.

I usually do this with black tea and have tried it with some chinese, herbal and green teas with success.

I do this with coffee also (putting the coffee grains into a disposable tea bag).

Before drinking, I strain the tea.

Easy, saves on gas/electricity (to heat the water), takes a little planning but at least I won't have to perspire more than I already am.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

on a walk (or two)

The weather has been humid and gloomy. Still, if it isn't raining, I try to get out and walk.

Here are a few things I've seen...A Nissan Be-1 (bee-one). Found this on a car lot. Doesn't this look like a fun car?

This jazzed up motorcycle.

I looked on the website of the shop which this was parked in front of and those diamond shaped motifs are kamon (family crest).

I'm not too certain as to what type of motorcycle it is though.

Look at this poor car.

I don't think it runs and the two cars around it are parked so close to it that even if it did run, the driver would have to go in through the hatchback.

(I've actually had a similar experience in Hawaii, makes me mad just thinking about it)

A Fiat 500 I saw in a parking lot.

I love how the Japanese are able to choose the number on their license plates...this person chose, "500" (sorry my finger got in the way)

A Mini I saw in a parking lot. This one chose "32" for its license plate which in Japanese means "mini"

Near the river, there is an empty lot next to a garden.

On a recent walk, I noticed that the empty lot is now filled with these green and red flowers.

I surfed around and found out that they are Alstromeria Psittacina, which I think are also called NZ Christmas Bell, Peruvian Lily and Inca Lily.

More cars than nature on these walks, hope your week is going well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

creating sunshine

The weather has been gloomy. Dark, humid and gloomy. Some days it rains, some days just overcast.

I've been envious of those people blogging about picnics, summer and sun!

I decided to make my own sunshine. I bought some hamburger, added some chopped green onions and white onion. Added an egg and mixed everything up.

Then, since we're not allowed to cook on our lanai, I cooked up 4 patties in my frying pan on the stove.

I toasted some french rolls, and spread some mayo on them after they came out.

Then I put some sanchu (Korean lettuce), the patty and some kim chee. (I actually put a LOT of sanchu. Be sure to eat over your plate as the juices from the kim chee and burger will drip like crazy!)

I served this with some potato salad, leftover 3-bean salad and Leffe Brown beer.

I liked the beer (smokey and easy to drink but not watery) and it went nicely with everything.

Though the weather will be cloudy or rainy over the next week, these picnic foods cheered me up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

hoikorou

Awhile back I tried to re-create a dish we had at a Chinese restaurant, but wasn't satisfied with the results.

I looked through a Chinese cookbook that I have and found a recipe for "hoikorou" (not sure of the spelling but this is the word phonetically.) It is a spicy miso stir-fry.

With my first try, I had used Japanese miso, but for this version I used tenmenjan (which is a red miso that is cooked with sugar) and used in Chinese cooking.

This version also uses tochijan (which is black bean sauce).

Here is the recipe for the sauce, add your favorite veggies and some protein.

Spicy Miso sauce : Adapted from Szechuan cooking "Tenyu"
Serves 2

1 tablespoon tobanjan (chili paste)
1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
1 teaspoon tochijan (black bean sauce)
1/2 teaspoon tenmenjan (chinese miso)
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

Combine first five ingredients and mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil in a pan and saute protein and veggies until well coated.

Add miso sauce and cook until veggies are cooked to your liking. I cooked mine until the protein and eggplant were cooked through.

I used 1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 zucchini
1 eggplant
1/2 onion
6 thin slices of pork

NOTES: This was good and really close to the one we had, but the next time I will cut back the tobanjan (chili paste) to half a tablespoon. The heat from the chili paste came from the back of your throat until it made its way to your lips and then stayed there for a bit. (I coughed several times)

This dish is especially nice with rice.

We had this dish with Anchor's Summer Beer, which I found at the gourmet supermarket, Seijo Ishii...399 yen (about US$3.99). It supposedly goes nicely with spicy foods.

Yamaya, which normally has an assortment of imported beers, seems to no longer be bringing them in (boo!)

We liked this beer, it has a nice foamy top and was kind of fruity.

The weather has been quite gloomy, hope your week will be a nice one!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

coconut milk banana muffins

With the last of the coconut milk, I made some muffins.

I used my favorite muffin recipe (minus Earl Grey), and subbed coconut milk for regular milk.

Since the coconut milk was sweetened, I also left out the sugar for the muffins.

The recipe also called for a banana and lemon juice, but I left the lemon juice out.

For a nice twist, I also added a handful of 60% chocolate chips. (gotta have chocolate)

When these muffins came out of the oven there was a nice coconut fragrance. After it cooled though, you couldn't tell that there was coconut in there.

These muffins are quite moist due to the olive oil and banana that was used.

Also they aren't overly sweet...perfect for breakfasts or snacks.

We had rain and humidity over the past couple of days, hope yours was better.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

che chuoi

Another wonderful adventure with my "jotting"...

The said jotted recipe was for Che Chuoi, a Vietnamese treat with tapioca and banana.

Here is what I wrote down..."Che Chuoi...coconut pearls with banana....add banana + unsalted roasted peanuts"...That was it.

I didn't write down the magazine I got it from, though I have a feeling it may be from "Saveur".

And I sort of remembered that in the article they served this warm.

Anyway, after making these treats I had some leftover sweetened coconut milk and tapioca, so I added some sliced banana.

I didn't have any unsalted peanuts so I just chopped up some unsalted cashews.

Instead of having this warm, I ate this cold. Though this version probably wasn't authentic, it was a great snack and nice way to beat the awful humidity we're having.

Then on a rainy day, I made some vietnamese coffee and ate some che chuoi topped with chopped unsalted almonds.

While I loved the cashew topping, I think I like the chopped almonds on top of this dish a little more.

I think it was because the almonds added a roasted flavor.

I am definitely making this again...ooh and by the way, I am amazed that this is my 1500th post...I can't believe I have kept up with blogging for as long as I have.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Friday, June 18, 2010

starbucks

Recently at Starbucks I came across their Dark Chocolate Orange Frappuccino...not sure if it is new or a seasonal item....orange and dark chocolate go so well together...enough said!

They also have a Praline Eclair...loved the oozy caramel, cream and chocolate.

Plus, it was small...perfect for a snack.

Another thing I tried was their Berry Clafoutis.

I didn't like the crust, it was too hard but I did like the filling--raspberries, blueberries and strawberries with a custard filling.

A bit different from the clafoutis I have had in the past.

We had a sunny day yesterday and are forecasted for more rain, I hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

odds & ends

Just a random post on some of things I've been eating...Okahijiki (saltwort) is the thin green stuff in this photo, as I looked online for info on this, apparently this is a relative of the plant that turns into tumbleweeds....okay.

This particular plant reminded me of spinach and was mixed with other veggies and seasoned with sesame seeds, shoyu and mirin.

With Ferdinand's chocolate chiffon bread, think chocolate brioche, I made some bread pudding for our breakfast one morning. I added some chocolate chips, almonds and dried cherries.

Also at Ferdinand, I like their bbq pork sandwich.

It sort of reminds me of banh mi with a Japanese twist to it as they use an oriental spicy sauce for their pork.

Black bean burrito. Using Ellie Krieger's Black Bean Dip recipe, I wrapped two tablespoons of black bean dip, some cheese, lettuce and cilantro in a flour tortilla.

On the side I added some cherry tomatoes and olives.

At Burdigala a couple of weeks back, I enjoyed their Fava Bean and Red Bell Pepper Quiche. I was surprised at how generous they were with the fava beans. This was perfect for lunch.

On one of my walks, I could actually hear this bullfrog through the earphones of my iPhone.

They make a really low pitched sound which reminds me of belching (sorry if you were eating).

Tropicana's Seasons Best, a blend of pineapple, grapefruit, mango and papaya. Super refreshing.

Mariage Freres' Summer Snow, a flavored tea. Red and black berry with a hint of lemon, this one smells like Japanese bubble gum.

A women's magazine (Hanako) paired up with Ohayo, a beverage company and came out with this smoothie. Only 33% fruit and the 2nd ingredient in the list is sugar (boo!) but I loved all the bits of fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, peach and apple)

Made my own boba coffee. Iced coffee with a couple tablespoons of sweetened coconut milk (lite) and a heaping spoonful of colorful tapioca...yum!

A variation on the coffee adzuki dessert I love...instead of condensed milk, I used sweetened coconut milk (lite)....yum!(again!)

I thought the gradation was neat. Satoshi really liked the taste of this too.

Hope you are having a great week, we had rain for 2 days straight....and now we have gross humidity.