Friday, October 31, 2008

coconut vanilla jam

After trying coconut vanilla jam in Noumea last year, I was interested in finding a recipe for it.

To my surprise as I was flipping through Christine Ferber's book, she had a recipe for coconut vanilla jam.

My problem with the recipe was that she used fresh coconut...yup, crack it open, scrape out the flesh, save the milk....where the heck would I find a whole coconut in Japan?

I decided to ad-lib. I had coconut for baking. I bought some coconut milk. I used the last half of the Lifou vanilla that I had bought in Noumea.

I adjusted the recipe. The taste was just like what I remembered, though the texture could have been a little softer.

I think if I used something thinner like coconut flakes instead of coconut strips it would have turned out softer. I also think it needs to be a bit more syrupy.

We tried it on toast for breakfast yesterday, but I think it may be better baked in a nice flaky crust or maybe with some dark chocolate covering it....

It is Halloween today but it isn't celebrated much here, though the stores surely take advantage of making some money from it. If you are celebrating the day, have fun but be safe, oh we have another 3-day weekend here, hope you have a good one.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

odds & ends

Thank you for your comments on the last post. I was so worried about the cracked dish that I should have been more concerned that no slivers of glass went into the pasta. Luckily, we ate it with no injuries...and I bought a new pyrex dish. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait on the new oven until it actually "dies" (shucks!) Guess I'll have to deal with the wacky element for awhile longer.

Time to clear out some photos...vegetable curry and turmeric rice from SOL...I like the chicken curry better. The vegetable curry seemed watery and the rice had no flavor.

Starbucks has a new food item--mixed nuts with lemon peel. Almonds and hazelnuts mixed with lemon peel. The hazelnuts overpower any lemon flavor. I like the cashew-blueberry one best.

Since the evening have been a bit nippy, I have been trying the Pukka teas...both have a sweetness to it when you sip favorite is the "love" (rose, chamomile and lavender).

Yesterday, my student gave me some edamame and these shiitake...the shiitake on the left was HUGE! (Thank you!)

I bought this dark chocolate with chocolate mousse filling by Rittersport from the gourmet supermarket....very rich and delicious.

When we visited my MIL in the beginning of the month, she had an invitation to a COACH sale at a department store. Since she wasn't interested in going to check out the sale, I went and picked up her free gift for her...two cylinders of incense....she was nice to give me one (Thank you!) It smells really nice and flowery.

With the popularity of Korean soap operas here, Faceshop, a Korean cosmetic company is also quite popular here. Awhile back, I went and picked up their yogurt masks. They look and smell good enough to eat...

Can you believe October is almost over?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm sad because I have to throw out my 8 inch x 8 inch pyrex.

I was baking pasta in it last night. I had it on the "gratin" mode....the element came down to toast the top of the pasta. Apparently, the element came down quite hard and hit the edge and was touching the edge for some time.

By the time I noticed it (was when I smelt the pasta burning), because it wasn't rotating. The element had "grabbed" onto the dish and wasn't going to let it go.

The burnt part of the pasta was actually really good and crunchy....still I hate to throw this dish out.

I probably need a new oven soon too...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

covering more favorites

A shop that I stopped into (but didn't mention in my last post) when I was in Jiyugaoka was called Chube do Chocolat (not sure what it means but it maybe trying to be French?). They had a big sign outside their shop saying, "melt in your mouth chocolate here"....which made me curious to see what they had.

Most of their chocolates are couverture, which means they can be eaten as is, but are mainly used to be melted and used to make bon-bons, dip fruit in, or cover things like cakes, nuts. It is creamier and has a little gloss.

I bought the 100g package...this place advertises their dark chocolate as bitter(which is what the Japanese call dark chocolate), but I looked on their site and it is only 56%, which I think would make it more like a semi-sweet.

Anyway, I melted it all and mixed in 3 graham crackers (broken up), 5 marshmallows (cut into fourths) and a handful of almonds....

Rocky road? s'mores? rocky s'more?.....whatever you want to call it, it was delicious with coffee in the afternoon.

Chube do Chocolat
2-20-5 Jiyugaoka
Meguro, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6383.1328
Closed Mondays
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Monday, October 27, 2008


Friday was a rainy day. It brought back memories of a rainy trip to Tokyo 2 years ago. There were many places that I wanted to check out while Satoshi was visiting his university's new baseball field.

My first stop was Daimaru in Marunouchi. They have the only Boissier in Japan, I went to the counter and was a bit shocked at the prices. I wanted to buy their caramel tea, but didn't want to pay $40 for a tin. I wanted to buy their petal chocolates, but didn't want to pay $30 for a tiny package. So I settled for their chocolate pearls for 1980 yen (about US$20), I hope they are good. (UPDATE: delicious, high quality)

I got back onto the train and went to Ginza to check out their Laduree. It is the only one in Japan and I think the only one outside of France. The shop and cafe are quite small but very elegant. It was lunch time but I didn't want to pay $42 for their lunch, so I had 4 macaron (1200 yen about US$12) and coffee (1000 yen about $10) instead for "lunch". The macaron flavors I chose were cedrat (citron), fleur d' oranger (orange flower), petale de rose (rose petal) and fruits rouges (red fruits). Each was flavored nicely, delicately. It was a nice way to get out of the rain.

After "lunch", I went back into the rain and jumped onto the train and headed for Roppongi to check out Tokyo Midtown. This is a new office complex with lots of eateries and cafes. I wanted to see Belberry, a Belgian confiture (jams & jelly) maker. I was about to buy some marmalade when this caught my eye...purple fig chocolate...I immediately picked this up. Can't wait to try it on baguette and ice cream. (UPDATE: sweet but delicious on toasted baguette)

The rain was still coming down but I still had a few more places on my list and I still had a couple of hours before I had to meet Satoshi. I jumped on the train to Jiyugaoka. When I first got on, I thought I made a mistake but didn't (whew!). The train/subway system in Tokyo is massive, you can easily jump or transfer onto the wrong train. Signage is really bad too.

My first stop in Jiyugaoka was Le Palais du The. I first knew of them when I visited a cafe in Biei, Hokkaido. The owner was serving their tea and I was immediately hooked on the sweet aroma. When we returned to Osaka, I looked on the internet to find that the only store in Japan is in Jiyugaoka.

When I checked their site before this trip, it just so happened that they were having a sale. I noted down the teas that were on sale that I was interested in. It is a good thing that I did this too as when I got to the store, you have to tell them what teas you want and then they weigh everything out for you.

I bought several Earl Grey varieties (Earl Grey Fleurs Bleu, Earl Grey Imperial, The de Lords). The thing that was good about this sale was that you could purchase small amounts starting from 20 grams for a really low price. (When I try something new, I've come to like buying small amounts...just in case I don't like it.) I bought about 7 different teas at 20 grams each. I can't wait to try them. (UPDATE: all are great, my favorites are The de Lords & Earl Grey Fleurs Bleu)

On the other side of the Jiyugaoka station, is a spice shop called L'epice et Epice. They have so many different spices that it was hard to decide what to get. I ended up purchasing a little flask of masala chai for 525 yen (about US$5.25)...mmm chai season is here!!

Since I didn't have a real lunch (again!), I stopped into Paul Bassett for something to eat. I got their quiche plate, but was very disappointed. It was really watery and the crust was burnt, definitely not like the quiche I had in Kyoto. I guess the highlight of the meal was the latte art.

After re-fueling, I went to meet Satoshi at Shinjuku Isetan. I wanted to pick up some things from their gourmet shop. I picked up this French salted caramel chocolate sauce, Italian chestnuts in syrup & some rose petal jam by Christine Ferber. (UPDATE: this rose petal jam is really delicious, a light rose aroma, very nice, texture similar to honey)

It was a long day with lots of walking, but I was happy that I was able to check out everything that I had on my list.

Saturday started out early...we went to check out Tsukiji Fish market. This place is crazy. People rushing around trying to get their fresh fish out as fast as possible. I couldn't help but feel like I was in the way.

After walking around the market, we had sushi for breakfast at Yamazaki. Luckily, we didn't have to wait in a long line. (hint: don't try the place in your guide book--you'll just have to stand in a long line, anywhere that is serving sushi at Tsukiji is worth it!) I had the 7 piece (2100 yen about US$21) and Satoshi had the 8 piece (3150 yen about $31.50)....delicious.

After breakfast, we caught the subway to Tsukishima, Satoshi was interested in seeing this man-made island from a recent television drama. The Tokyo area is known for monja, similar to okonomiyaki but very wet and mushy. Satoshi doesn't care for monja, so we didn't try it.

From Tsukishima we went to Jingu Stadium to check out his university team. The Tokyo Big 6 is similar to America's Ivy League. Satoshi's university, Meiji, is part of the Big 6. The oendan (cheering team) for both sides cheer all through the game. Talk about noisy! Though Satoshi's team lost, it was an interesting experience.

From Jingu Stadium, we went to check out Tokyo Tower. The last time I visited Tokyo Tower, the tour only took us to the bottom area, unfortunately the lines were so long that we didn't get to check out the observatory deck.

Again, I didn't get to eat "lunch", but saw a crepe stand...Marion crepes. I remembered Lori's post(her blog is no longer up). And got the chocolate banana crepe (300 yen (about US$3)....ooey gooey chocolate and banana with a slightly crisp edged crepe....delicious.

From Tokyo Tower, we went to see Satoshi's friend in Asagaya. This area has a huge shopping arcade. They were having a jazz festival and it was quite lively.

On Sunday, our last day in Tokyo, we went to check out Shibamata. This area was a location for many "Otoko wa Tsurai" movies. The shopping arcade is quite tiny, but there are many retro looking shops. I am not too familiar with the movies but since Satoshi wanted to see this area, I went along to check it out.

There is a very old temple called Taishakuten, for 400 yen (about US$4) you can see the intricate carvings on the sides of the building as well as the beautiful Japanese gardens.

There is a Tora-san (the main character in the "Otoko wa Tsurai" movies) museum as well as many Japanese sweet shops.

One interesting sweet shop, Ishii, was selling shio dorayaki (salt dorayaki). They filled the inside of the dorayaki with buttercream and sweet bean paste....addicting.

Our schedule in Tokyo was packed, we didn't get to visit many friends (sorry!) but we did get to see a lot!

Hope you have a great week.

Boissier (UPDATE: no longer at this location)
Tokyo Daimaru-B1

Ginza Mitsukoshi 2F

Tokyo Mid-town B1
Roppongi UPDATE: as of 9/2010 seems to have closed

Le Palais du The UPDATE: they moved to Akihabara in 2012?!
5-24-2 Okusawa
Phone: 03.5701.8750

L'epice et Epice
2-2-1 Jiyugaoka (UPDATE: 2019 moved to 2-9-6 Jiyugaoka)
Phone: 03.5726.1144

Paul Bassett (UPDATE: no longer at this location)
2-3-12 Jiyugaoka
Phone: 03.5731.5820

Isetan Shinjuku Gourmet Shop B1

Yamazaki sushi (UPDATE: no longer at this location)
inside Tsukijimarket
Phone: 03.3541.1105
Open 5:30-14:00

Taizankan (UPDATE: no longer in business)
Asagaya Shopping Arcade
Phone: 03.3314.1286

Ishii sweets
Shibamata 7-6-20
Phone: 03.3657.1749

Takagiya sweets
Shibamata 7-7-4
Phone: 03.3657.3136

Yabuchu soba
Shibamata 7-7-8
Phone: 03.5668.6658

Saturday, October 25, 2008

covering a favorite

The other day, I covered some of my favorite nougat with some leftover melted chocolate....delicious.

Friday, October 24, 2008

kinoko and kaki

It is mushroom season here. The supermarkets are filled with all sorts of different kinoko (mushrooms).

Satoshi had to work on Saturday, so I made dinner. I used to meet him in Umeda for dinner, but his job doesn't always end on time, and sometimes I would have to wait until 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm, so instead of waiting around for him to finish, I started making dinner so that I can eat when I was hungry.

Saturday's dinner was beer clams...except that I used white wine and added some maitake (hen of woods) mushrooms. I served them on toasted french bread. (The best part was dipping the toasted bread into the sauce...)

I also made some carrot cucumber salad and marinated some red onion and red bell pepper in the mustard seed vinaigrette.

Monday's dinner was adapted from the French Market.

Pork with eringi and porcini mushrooms (Serves 2)
213 grams (7.5 ounces) thinly sliced pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 eringi mushrooms, thinly sliced
handful of dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted, saving some of the mushroom "juice" (strained)
pinch of dried garlic slices
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
flat leaf parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the thinly slice pork.
In another pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil and add the mushrooms.
Cook the mushrooms for about 4 minutes then add the vinegar and garlic.
Add the mushroom mixture to the pork after the pork is no longer pink.
Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with flat leaf.

Serve on toasted french bread (again dipping the bread in the sauce was the best!).

Simple and delicious.

It is also kaki (persimmon) season here. Recently my MIL gave us 3 bambucha (huge) kaki...each was about 300 grams (about 10 ounces).

Actually, I've never purchased kaki in the supermarkets because I didn't really like them. I think I've had persimmon in the past that was not ripe and really hard.

But after eating them over the past couple of days, they sort of reminded me of ripened papaya. I'll try picking some up the next time I'm in the supermarket.

We've started the weekend early here, be back to tell you about it soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

foodie wednesday in kyoto

Ummm....My little blog which only had a little over 300 visitors per day...had over 5,000 hits yesterday....thanks again blogs of note!

So, onto the foodie adventure...Apparently, it is 50 years that Paris and Kyoto have been sister cities. To commemorate this (I think), the Kyoto National Museum is having an exhibition of the art of Paris from 1830 to 1930 which runs until November 3rd.

I had never been to the Kyoto National Museum, and am not too familiar with French art, so I was interested in checking this out.

The museum is located in a part of Kyoto called Okazaki. It is semi-next door to the Heian Shrine. (I didn't realize it but they were preparing for the Jidai Matsuri Parade (one of three big parades in Kyoto) to be held later that day.

The weather was overcast and there was rain forcasted for the afternoon, but I went anyway.

When I got there, there were already several groups of older ladies looking at pieces. I didn't see this, but apparently no pens were allowed, as I was jotting something down I was given a pencil (you know the kind that you get when you fill out an entry form?) As I didn't know many of the artists, I walked through quite quickly. I guess the most interesting part for me was to see photos of the building of the Eiffel Tower. Of course at the end of any exhibit or tourist attraction in Japan, there is the gift shop...there were cafe au lait bowls, postcards and other items, unfortunately nothing was made in France :(

So after checking out the gift shop, I walked across the street to Au Temps Perdu for lunch. I had seen this cafe on a local television show and was interested in eating lunch there. I ate on the terrace though it would have been better if the weather were nicer.

For 1500 yen (about US$15), the lunch plate came with Quiche Lorraine, Pate de Campagne, a green salad, Ratatouille, carrot rape (grated carrot salad), part of a baguette & a madeleine. The lunch also came with a drink. You could choose from a set list--various teas, juices or alcohol. I chose tilleul (linden flower) and verveine (verbena) herb tea.

There were many housewives lunching and chattering, some were turned away when all the seats inside and outside were filled. Everything was delicious and filling. I loved the flaky crust of the quiche and was happy that the dressing for the salad was a vinaigrette and not Japanese-y.

Feeling quite full after lunch, I walked around a bit and picked up some wagashi (Japanese confection) at Heianden.

The kurikinton was a whole kuri (chestnut) covered with chestnut paste---360 yen (about US$3.60). Not too sweet, good with green tea or coffee.

A little way down from the wagashi shop, I went into a tsukudani shop, Sanmikouan. They had all kinds, I thought that the ko-dako (tiny octopus) 840 yen (about US$8.40) looked interesting as well as the tenjinume. The octopus was tasty and good on rice and since Satoshi liked tako, he enjoyed this too. The ume (apricot) was huge (315 yen about US$3.15 for one ume) not too sweet or too sour.

After buying the Japanese sweets and tsukudani, I decided to walk to the Hankyu Kawaramachi station via Sanjo. On the way, I went into my favorite gamaguchi shop and window shopped then I went to my favorite Kyoto macaron shop, Patisserie Kanae.

Since my theme for the day seemed to be French (well, besides the wagashi and tsukudani), I picked up her Paris set--citron (lemon), lavande (lavender) & caramel sale (salted caramel)--though there were some autumn flavors like sweet potato and mont blanc that I was interested in. Each were 200 yen (about US$2). I was pleasantly surprised as each one had a chocolate flavored ganache, all were nicely flavored not overpowering or fake....just delicious. It was a great day and I made it home just before the rain.

Au Temps Perdu
64 Okazakienshoji-cho
Phone: 075.762.1299

Heianjingumichi, Horiike-machi, Sanjo-agaru
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.761.3355

Jingumichi Sanjo agaru
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.771.0952

Matsuhiro Shoten
3-12 Sanjo Ohashi Higashi hairu
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.761.5469

Patisserie Kanae
Kawaramachi Takoyakushi Higashi hairu
Phone: 075.212.4771 (UPDATE: closed 8/2011)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

nishi umeda

Just want to thank "blogs of note" for featuring us today. We sure have a lot of nice comments. Thank you!!

Yesterday was my 2nd French class. There were more students but the class was still a bit confusing for me.

After class, I went to Breeze Breeze in hopes of trying a new cafe, but because it was peak lunch hour, I couldn't get a seat, in the process though, I was able to help a fellow foreigner understand the seating system of the cafe...(the waiter was mumbling while moving his hands and the foreigner was saying, "what? what?") I explained to him that he had to find a seat before standing in the line to order (which I must rant that it is NOT written anywhere!!) So since I also couldn't get a seat (because I was standing in the line to order without finding a seat first), I went to La Marina de Bourbon instead. I've eaten here before and the menu changes quite often.

I ordered the apple camembert panini. This came with salad and broccoli. The salad had a Japanese sesame seed dressing which sort of didn't match, but it was tasty all the same.

I enjoyed the combination of the sandwich. Crisp sweet apples and saltiness from the cheese. The lunch set came with tea...1470 yen (about US$14.70). I ordered Amour (a blueberry flavored tea), the aroma was sweet and tasted delicious. (UPDATE:2011 this restaurant is now closed)

After lunch as I was walking to the train station I passed the Bulgari and Tiffany clocks. They are huge.

I also went to my favorite gourmet supermarket and picked up this dark chocolate with salted caramel by Marquise de Sevigne (the chocolate wasn't really dark, I think it said that there was only 51%, but the salt and sweet combo were good) & chocolate covered kakinotane by Naniwaya (again salty and sweet) ...delicious.