Before I went home for Christmas Mewby and I headed over to the German Christmas Market in Osaka.
We had been there last three years ago on Xmas Eve, and enjoyed the stalls and the mulled wine, but it has increased in popularity since then, the crowds have gotten bigger and the mulled wine somehow wasn’t as good… To escape the crowds we wandered through the Umeda Sky Building and its garden instead. This is ourselves reflected in a window looking out on an illuminated waterfall.
Later we had dinner at Santa Lucia near Utsubo Park (thanks to Eric J. for that tip!). It was pretty good… Though a bit odd that we were seated in a greenhouse.
And the food was a little too salty. Back in Kyoto we went to Kisui and Miu needed four glasses of orange juice in quick succession to quench her thirst. Before heading back though we also took in the Yodogawa illuminations:
On the Sunday, (18th December) we visited Arashiyama Hanatouro (lantern light-up). It was crowded and very cold but well worth the visit.
After that we really needed a hot nabe to heat us up! I was positively dreaming of this on the train back.
Back from our 12-day trip to Thailand yesterday and finding it hard to accept the heat and humidity in Japan already! Thailand was hot but not like this! Our first day, we arrived early in the morning and hadn’t slept much so decided to take it easy with a trip to a spa for two hours of sauna, jacuzzi and massage. Damn those Thai massages are good! They are painful – but in a good way! Afterwards we felt like we were floating! Here are a couple of pictures from our first meal out in Kata, Phuket at the Kampong, Kata Hill.
A big place up on a hill, it resembled a temple from the outside and on the inside was decorated with Buddhist statuary. We wandered into it quite by accident, but later found it was listed in our Japanese guide book as one of the better places to eat in Phuket.
Here’s what we ordered. Our eyes were bigger than our tummies.
More than a journal this site has become an occasional scrapbook of everything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. Here are some assorted scraps and odds and ends that don’t fit in other places or that I haven’t had time to post lately…
That there, is a very famous cherry tree in Maruyama Park. I was there two weeks ago at my school’s cherry blossom viewing party. Now, after having been back at school for but a week and a half – it seems like a million years ago. This next one is a pic of me and Mr. Yamashita. He was a very nice teacher to work with but sadly I don’t get to teach with him this year…
It was extraordinarily cold that night so I drank hot sake to keep warm. I drank a lot of hot sake to keep warm. Hence the beaming red face.
The blossoms have been particularly tenacious this year, there are still some blossoms peeking out between the leaves even now. When you get cherry blossom and green leaves together it’s called hazakura. “Ha” is 葉 meaning “leaf” and the sakura part is 桜 meaning “cherry blossom”. Don’t say you never learn anything around here.
This next scrap is a preamble to a piece I put up on Deep Kyoto last night… I wrote and then decided it didn’t fit on Deep Kyoto so I’m sticking it here instead. I think it fits quite nicely in here, in my scrapbook…
Why Mewby likes Curry
There was a time when Mewby didn’t like curry. Or she thought she didn’t, because all she knew was Japanese curry – which is hardly representative. To be honest, as it invariably contains meat, I’ve never actually eaten the Japanese variety myself.
A serving of Japanese curry.
However, I have to say it doesn’t look very appetizing.
So I sympathised.
“But,” I told her, “Indian curry, real Indian curry, is something else altogether.”
She didn’t believe me. For her curry held no appeal.
But I was determined to teach her the truth about curry – real Indian curry – a life without which was barely a life lived at all – so I persisted, and finally, she caved, albeit reluctantly, as she’s not too keen on spicy food in general. One night I took her to the Indian restaurant just off Hyakumanben, asked them to go easy on the spice and she gave it a whirl. It was a taste revelation.
And now she is a true believer. Or perhaps addict would be a better word. Because after I moved away from north Kyoto and no longer lived close by that fine Indian establishment, she still had curry cravings but nowhere to sate them. Until she found Thilaga that is. About which you can read more here…
…some music. Some time ago I was in Cafe Kocsi and they were playing some music and I thought to myself “That’s nice” so I asked a waiter what it was. He came back with the CD, so I thanked him, made a note on a piece of paper, lost the paper and promptly forgot all about it. Until the next time I was in Cafe Kocsi – when exactly the same thing happened again. I think this happened three times (that I remember) before I finally resolved to order the album off amazon. It’s Yael Naïm. I’ve been listening to her a lot lately. And she’s lovely.
I’m not sure how this got started or whose idea it was (probably Yutaka’s) but we (Betty, Mewby, Yoshida-kun, Yutaka and me) had a kind of impromptu takoyaki party at my house last Saturday. A lot of booze was consumed. And a lot of octopus balls. And then the experimentation began… Shrimp balls were quite popular. And Mewby’s chocolate banana cake-mix balls were an absolute hit. My cheesy tomato pizza balls were not so well received however. Here are some pictures:
Behold the cakeness: I had a really mellow birthday on Sunday. Went to see the Avant Garde Kyoto exhibition at MOMAK. And after feasting my eyes on beautiful things we went to Pontocho and feasted our bellies on beautiful eats at a Pontocho balcony restaurant. Then after the necessary karaoke revelry it was home to stay up far too late watching Roddick & Federer’s epic war of attrition. I finally gave up at 2:00 am when it seemed like the game would never end. Thank you to Mewby for a lovely day (and cake) and thanks to everyone else for their birthday greets, especially my lovely sisters who all remembered and all called even though I was useless this year and somehow managed to forget them all. What a lucky little brother I am.
For the last four years I have taught Business English off and on at the Sumitomo building in Yodoyabashi. Thursday was my last lesson and my students took me out for dinner to celebrate. Here are Mr. Ohta and Mr. Iwasaki.
And here is Mr. Yokoyama and myself.
The food at Girond’s Jr. was excellent. It not only looks great but it tastes good too.
Unfortunately Mr. Sato couldn’t make it but hopefully we’ll all meet up again someday soon… Many thanks to all, especially Mr. Ohta for arranging everything. He is the entertainment maestro.
And here is a close up entitled “Girl Eating a Sandwich”.
But anyway, back to the exhibition – wonderful! The artist has displayed his artwork alongside his collection of fossils and historical artifacts, forming all kinds of thought provoking juxtapositions between the worlds of history and art of course. But also following his concerns with religion, architecture, science, medicine, the exploration of space… in a nut-shell: life, humanity and the world! Anyway, I’d recommend visiting this exhibition, it’s on until June 7th, but give yourself a few hours to see everything because there is a lot and everything is just too fascinating! After that we strolled back along the river towards Yodoyabashi Station and Mewby noticed this lovely old building sandwiched in between all the modern high rises. One word caught our attention on the signage: Organic.
Turns out it was a Solviva Organic Cafe and whole grain rice restaurant. So naturally we stopped and had a bite to eat. I had a cream croquette and Mewby had a tofu stew:
Very nice! Here’s a glimpse of the interior:
And of the exterior:
Satoyama No Shokutaku by Solviva is located here: MAP. Tel: 06-6241-5757 Open: 10:30 – 20:00. We recommend it!
Finally here we are on the train home having fun with reflections:
Actually, it’s my kitchen. But it’s so incredibly small, that I can rarely be bothered to cook in it. As they say in Japanese: mendokusai. Every now and again though, Mewby comes around, steps into this tiny space and works small but tasty culinary miracles. I thought I would document one for you.
Salmon Patties in a Creamy Spinach Sauce
Bread crumbs (you can buy this in Japan as panko)
Salt, Pepper and Vegetable Stock
Procedure: 1. Boil water. Wash the salmon and then soften in hot water. This will make it easier to debone and skin. After that chop it up nice and fine. 2. Put it in a bowl and add egg, some bread crumbs, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix. Keep adding bread crumbs until you can make a nice patty.
3. Pass the patties back and forth between your hands to pat all the air out of them. This will prevent them from falling apart when you cook them. 4. Now let’s make the sauce. Wash the spinach and chop it up.
Then add hot water to soften it.
5. Put some butter in a pan. Begin to add flour when it is thoroughly melted. Put in about one and a half heaped tablespoons. Mix on a low heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Then add a little vegetable stock. Add milk little by little and mix it in. This will take time and requires both patience and elbow grease!
6. When you have a nice creamy sauce, drain the spinach and add to the mix.
7. Now fry your patties in butter. Fry them with a lid and you will keep the insides nice and soft.
9. When nicely browned add the sauce and serve with rice and salad.
Here we see them served with an avocado and tomato salad, takikome gohan (rice mixed with vegetables – in this case broad beans, soya, mirin, sugar and dashi) and lashings of ginger ale. メチャおいしかった！