Saturday, November 30, 2013

on a walk (or two)

IMG_4563 The other day on the way to the market, I caught a glimpse of these leaves from the pedestrian overpass...

IMG_4581 Then yesterday, the weather was sunny but the wind was icy and blustery.

Still, I got myself out of the house to get some Vitamin D...

This maple seemed a bit darker in color than in the past.

IMG_4584 You can't really tell how blustery it was, but trust me, it was!

During my walk there was actually gingko leaves whipping across the roadway...pelting all of us as we walked along the sidewalk.

IMG_4585 It's the end of November, I can't believe that 2013 is almost over.

IMG_4587 Too fast!

Friday, November 29, 2013

foodie thursday in minoo

IMG_4489 I told you I met up with Fiona to check out Sanshikisaido.

I didn't get a chance to talk to about the food part of our day.

From Sanshikisaido, we walked to Onohara and had lunch at Crocchetta...a shop that makes croquettes.

They also had all sorts of bentos and side dishes to choose from.

Here is the bento I had...500 yen Not bad considering there were two oysters on the kamameshi (left side).

After lunch we went to Fiona's place and chatted until her husband, WR, came home.

IMG_4490 The three of us then went to a cafe, Doux Doux, in her neighborhood that makes really fluffy pancakes....780 yen (with coffee)

It was a great day, lots of walking, lots of talking and lots of eating.

Thanks for a great day Fiona (and WR)!

6-1-16 Onohara-nishi
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.728.8400
Closed Tuesdays, Hours: 10:00-20:00

Doux Doux
3-57-18 Yamada-nishi
Suita, Osaka
Phone: 06.6878.2522
Closed Mondays, Hours: 11:00-18:30

Thursday, November 28, 2013

giving thanks

lj1 It's Thanksgiving in the States today and while we aren't celebrating here, I am thankful for many things.

The many friendships this blog has brought me.

IMG_4352 The thoughtfulness of those friends.

IMG_4230 The kindness during the hard times.

Whether virtual or "in real life" I appreciate YOU and our friendship.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

things I'm liking (disliking)

IMG_4451 Some things I've been liking and disliking...starting with disliking...

This is supposed to be a Belgian white and lists orange peel and cardamom as part of the ingredients, but you couldn't taste any of those things...

Moving onto liking...Remember those Biscot Tea shortbreads? I wrote about here.

DSC02140 Well, I found two coffee versions (mocha & cappuccino) last year but never wrote up about them. (I'm pretty sure they were delicious)

DSC04472 And then recently I found this rose petal tea shortbread and this kona coffee version.

The rose petal tea version is so flavorful, the rose flavor really "explodes" in your mouth...loved it.

I'm glad I tried the rose petal version before the kona coffee one because the coffee one was a bit strong in flavor.

DSC04467 Tried this Tsunami Lager by Mehana Brewing Company.

It was a little fruity but I enjoyed it.

DSC04471 And I've been wanting to try Baird's Beer, a craft beer made in Shizuoka. Their shipping is kinda crazy so I was glad to find it at Hanshin Department store.

I tried their Kurofune Porter, which was smoky and smooth.

Cookies and beer...mmm!

What have you been enjoying?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


IMG_4478 The other week Satoshi and I tried Amaranti in Lucua.

We had both been curious about this place for some time and finally got around to trying them.

Their interior is quite dark and the music quite loud, but we were quite impressed by their food.

IMG_4477 I had their root vegetables & meat sauce spaghetti...1400 yen

I liked how there was gobo, pumpkin, renkon (lotus root) in there (and lots of cheese).

IMG_4476 Satoshi and I shared this grilled seafood and vegetable salad...700 yen It was loaded with seafood!

Satoshi also had their mushroom soup which he didn't think was anything spectacular...500 yen. But, he did enjoy their porchini & bacon spaghetti....1300 yen

We'll be back.

Lucua 2F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6151.1234 
Hours: 9:00-24:30

Monday, November 25, 2013

foodie tuesday in okamoto

IMG_4459 Last Tuesday, I was able to meet up with my Twitter friend, H.

The place we first intended to have lunch at wasn't open...someone please change that info on their Tabelog (Japan's yelp) page!

Luckily, we knew that it wouldn't be open in advance and planned to eat lunch elsewhere...Alba.

A nice restaurant located in the basement of a building, they serve delicious Italian fare.

Our lunch started with a salad, and some fish (I couldn't hear what the waitress was mumbling) on top of an eggplant purée.

IMG_4460 Next we both chose the butternut squash and homemade sausage cream pasta.

Butternut squash is a rare veggie in our part of Japan, so it was nice to have this. Hopefully more farmers will start to grow this so that it will be more common at the markets.

The sausage was really moist and flavorful, it was very similar to Italian sausage....1200 yen.

We both added a piece of bread...100 yen. The bread was really soft and delicious.

IMG_4462 The view isn't thrilling, but at least you don't see cars going past.

IMG_4463 After lunch we went somewhere for tea and stopped in at Manor House Motoyama.

We were really full from lunch and their cakes and pies were really generous in size, so we shared this marron tarte. It also came with some fruit and a scoop of ice cream.

We both agreed that they didn't need to drizzle chocolate sauce over everything...1200 yen(with one small pot of tea).

H also ordered a small pot of tea...550 yen.

IMG_4464 The view here is a little nicer, and the cafe is in someone's living room.

I am always amazed at how they have tiny cafes and businesses in residential areas.

I wouldn't mind taking Satoshi to these places...

Thanks for a great day, H!

1-2-12 Tanaka-cho, Deuce Motoyama B1F
Higashinada, Kobe
Phone: 078.452.6086
Closed Wednesdays
Lunch 11:30-14:30, Dinner 17:30-21:30

Manor House Motoyama
2-15-3 Motoyama Kita-machi
Higashinada, Kobe
Phone: 078.441.0041
Check before going as days open are not scheduled
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Sunday, November 24, 2013

more fall foliage

IMG_4500 Yesterday was a beautiful day. Even though I had a slight cold, I wasn't going to let it stop me from checking out more fall foliage.

We headed to Minoo early but everyone had the same idea.

First we checked out Saikoji, only the trees that are able to get sunlight change to bright reds and oranges.

IMG_4517 Did you know that Santa runs a kiosk near the Minoo Falls?

IMG_4518 Well, he does...

IMG_4522 We also went to the area above the falls, which was beautiful as well.

IMG_4528 Coming down, we passed so many people!

I think just about everywhere is really crowded this weekend!

To see more photos, check them out here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

foodie tuesday in kobe

IMG_4412 I got a chance to meet up with my host brother's wife for lunch the other week.

We went to Ha Long Son, a Vietnamese restaurant she'd been interested in trying.

I went with the Pho Ga, the cilantro that came with this was kinda sparse, though they had lots of lettuce and bean sprouts on it.

I liked the broth...1000 yen.

IMG_4413 This came with a side dish. I chose their Cha Gio (fried spring roll).

We both agreed that there were better Vietnamese places out there.

IMG_4414 After lunch we walked a bit and stopped in to Mont Plus for something sweet.

It had been about 5 years since I been to this shop.

I chose the La Plus, a chocolate cake, layered with dark chocolate mousse, milk chocolate mousse & pistachio mousse. On top of this was a strusel cookie topping.

This was perfect with some black coffee.

After talking we walked up to Kobe Grocers and Kobe Halal Foods, where I bought some spices.

Lunch wasn't so great but the company and conversation was.

Thanks for a great day, Kazumi!

Ha Long Son
2-2-8 Motomachi-dori
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.331.0477
Closed Tuesdays

Mont Plus
3-1-17 Kaigan-dori
Chuo, Kobe
Phone: 078.721.1048
Closed Tuesdays

Friday, November 22, 2013

fall foliage

DSC04496 One day the leaves were almost turning and then the next they were at their peak.

Autumn is pretty short and quick this year. The days to check out the leaves are kinda numbered.

Luckily, on Wednesday, Satoshi had the day off.

We headed to Kyuanji to check out the leaves.

DSC04484 There were fewer trees that had changed colors, but at least we were able to see some.

DSC04505 Yesterday, I met up with Fiona to check out Sanshikisaido.

The leaves actually looked like they were curling...still they were pretty spectacular.

DSC04500 At the moment, this photo is my fave.

It's Friday here, it is also "Ii Fufu" day...hug the one you love and have a nice weekend!

p.s. you can check out more photos here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

inaba chicken curry series

IMG_4420 So that canned butter chicken I was talking about is a new item from Inaba. They are the same people who made those curries with the tuna in them. I don't remember how I found out about it, but I have a feeling it was from social media.

Anyway, I was able to round up the 4 types : from top left: chicken green thai curry, butter chicken, bottom left: chicken red thai curry, chicken yellow thai curry.

So far we've only tried the butter chicken. Instead of it having an Indian curry flavor, I think it tasted similar to the tuna thai curries we've tried in the past with chicken instead.

I'm gonna save the other cans for days that we can't get out of the house to eat.

curry1 When we tried the butter chicken was when I made the sabzi and cabbage side dishes.

IMG_4446 Since the veggie recipes served four, I served the other half when I made tandoori chicken.

The mango lassi was bought at the convenience store and doctored up with some yogurt.

The weather has turned a bit icy though we were able to get out to see some fall foliage, I'll talk about that soon.

Hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

sabzi and stuff

DSC04468 The other week I was looking for some kind of veggie side dish to accompany a canned butter chicken.

I'll talk more about the canned butter chicken another time...

Looking through this cookbook, I found two really easy recipes.

The first was a kabocha sabzi. From what I could find on the web, it is a stir-fry of sorts.

Kabocha Sabzi: Serves 4
1/4 kabocha, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
cilantro (to taste), chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste

Steam pumpkin until soft
In a pan put the oil and heat on medium
Add the cumin seed and when it becomes fragrant add the cilantro, salt & dry spices
Toss the steamed kabocha in this spicy oil and coat well

NOTES: I didn't have cilantro, so I omitted it. Also, I didn't add the salt. This was really easy. The sweetness from the pumpkin and spiciness went really nicely with the canned butter chicken.

DSC04470 The second recipe was easy as well.

Coconut Flavored Cabbage : serves 4
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon fine coconut
1/4 cabbage, chopped roughly
salt to taste

In a frying pan, heat the oil on medium
Add the cumin seed, when it becomes fragrant add the coconut and cook until a light brown
Add the cabbage and salt and cover, turn heat down to simmer
When the cabbage is wilted, take off the cover and turn the heat up to high to evaporate the liquid

NOTES: I didn't have coconut in the house, so I used my coconut oil in place of the coconut and oil instead, the coconut flavor was really light but still very delicious. I omitted the salt in this recipe as well.

I'm definitely making both of these again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

crazy pantry

DSC04474 There is a relatively new shop in Kawanishi (two train stops from our station) called Crazy Pantry, run by Wakuwaku Hiroba.

You'll find fresh veggies as well as cooking condiments from all parts of Japan.

I've been picking up cherry tomatoes from this place...vine ripened goodness!

This was also the place I purchased the veggies for Masakichi's pickles at.

Yesterday, I spotted something new called "dragon red", a variety of potato.

These potatoes are quite tiny, like fingerlings.

DSC04475 But when you cut them open they are a light pink to medium fuchsia.

I roasted these and they were delicious.

DSC04476 Can't wait to see what other veggies Crazy Pantry will have next.

Crazy Pantry
Mosaic Box 1F
Kawanishi, Hyogo
Phone: 072.724.7078
Hours: 10:00-20:00, closed when Mosaic Box is.

Monday, November 18, 2013


IMG_4440 The weather is all wonky.

One day it is sunny, the next rainy and then freezing the next...

I really don't think we'll get a true "autumn" this year.

Proof...when I went past this neighborhood on Saturday, all the leaves had pretty much fallen.

Hopefully I'll be able to catch "colorful" trees somewhere...wish me luck & I hope the weather is "normal" where you are.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

singapore seafood republic

IMG_4386 We tried Singapore Seafood Republic the other week. If I remember correctly, this restaurant was originally a buffet type, which is why we've never tried them.

I ordered the Mee Goreng. It was my first time trying this so I'm not too sure if it was authentic, but it was spicy and really delicious, though I wish they had had more seafood on it like the picture on their menu.

I really liked the crispy shrimp chips that came alongside this dish too.

IMG_4387 Satoshi ordered their spicy shrimp, this came with some rice.

Both orders came with salads.

We liked the laid back atmosphere of this restaurant and that it wasn't too crowded or noisy.

We'll be back.

Singapore Seafood Republic
Daimaru Umeda 14F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6347.1160
Lunch 11:00-16:00, Tea 15:30-16:30, Dinner 17:00-23:00
Closed when Daimaru is

Saturday, November 16, 2013

made in japan

DSC04463 We've been enjoying these dried apple slices.

The apples are from Aomori, a prefecture in Japan known for their apples. My favorite is the Fuji and these dried apples slices are just that.

I like that these slices are slightly soft and the sweetness just right.

The best part is that they are made in Japan.

What have you been enjoying these days?

Friday, November 15, 2013

giving thanks

gmh3 Around the web I've been seeing bloggers giving thanks for different things as they lead up to Thanksgiving.

Well, I wanted to do something a little similar, so let's back up a bit...

A couple of days after coming back to Japan, my brother emailed that the care giving company that was taking care of my Dad suddenly decided to pull out and referred us to another company.

To tell you the truth, I felt hurt because the day I left to go back to Japan, the coordinator came to visit my Dad and made no mention that they were thinking of pulling out.

Since "we" only had about two weeks to find some other kind of care, I asked around my network of friends. Many gave very helpful information which I passed on to my brother. (Thank you!)

My brother also asked his network of friends, as well as family, who helped him look into different options.

After checking into various options, my brother decided that the best would be to look for a facility to care for my Dad.

Apparently my Dad wasn't too thrilled with this decision and how could you blame him?

Unfortunately his Parkinsons seems to have advanced so more full-time care was definitely needed.

So after many email brother emailed the other day to say that my Dad moved into his new "home".

I hope he'll adjust nicely.

Being so far away from everything has been a bit nerve wracking for sure, but I appreciate everyone who helped in this process.

I'm also thankful for the internet, its help keep me in the loop.

"Thank you!"

It's Friday here, I hope you'll have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

autumn roses

IMG_4360 The other week I went to have my teeth cleaned. Afterwards I took a little walk through Nakanoshima Rose Garden. I was surprised that there were many roses still blooming...Like Mme Figaro.

This one had a spicy fragrance.

IMG_4359 Grisbi

IMG_4358 Mme Albert Barbier

IMG_4357 Mme Pierre Euler

IMG_4356 Mme Melanie Soupert

The weather wasn't the greatest this day, but just to stop and smell these beauties made it a good day.