Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i ate mugwort today.

oh yes i did. did i know it was mugwort when i ate it? oh no i did not.

it appears that one of the japanese pastries i bought from nijiya market was mugwort flavored sweet pastry.


one would think that a practical person like me would look up what "yomogi" meant before eating it. it never crossed my mind. i just assumed that this would be a bean filled sweet and i picked the green flecked one because i had never seen it before.



it never crossed my mind that this would be a mugwort flavored sweet because i thought (silly ignorant me) that mugwort was something made up for the harry potter books.

as soon as i bit into it, i thought "ummm, it tastes kinda herby and kinda musty at first. hmmmm. then you taste the sweetened red beans".


then i took another bite and thought..."it is different...not repugnant, but i still don't like it. maybe the herby stuff is only in the cake and not the filling." so i tried scraping off some cake and just eating a bit of the sweetened red bean paste. stronger sweet bean taste...but herby taste still there. sigh. i didn't finish it and i immediately went online and googled "yomogi". that is when i learned that yomogi = mugwort. hmmmm, lesson learned.

does this mean that i'm going to stop trying different kinds of
manju or wagashi (even ones that i can't identify)? absolutely not.

i like trying things i've never tasted before...and the experience led me to something else that i'd like to try...or in this case ...a place i want to go to. my online search on yomogi eventually led me to a benkyodo's web site. benkyodo is really close to
nijiya and they make fresh manju. i had no idea that benkyodo existed! yet, the thought of trying fresh manju is very intriguing and i must add benkyodo to my "visit" list the next time i am near japantown or the kabuki.

Monday, April 28, 2008

you don't know my name

yup. i'm about to show you a bunch of stuff that i don't know what their names are. would that prevent me from trying it all? hell no!

as i mentioned in an earlier post, before i went to see the movie 1000 journals at the kabuki, i went into Nijiya Market to grab some lunch. as you can see from this posting, i got a bit carried away...and i'm not even going to show you all of the pictures i took. i know that is a bit hard to believe...but trust me... this is only a fraction of the pictures that i took that day. if i had more time, i would have taken even more! there is something about the way that the japanese do food packaging that sucks me in. speaking of getting sucked in...if you want a closer look at anything, feel free to click on the picture and in most cases you'll see a larger version of it.... are you ready? ok, here we go.

some sweet stuff....











i think this is sweet stuff...


hhmmmm. candy! candy! candy!





some savory stuff...



wonderfully addicting salty sweet sesame stuff on the left..this was the stuff that kept me busy while waiting for c-man to dance.


look fresh quail eggs!


prepared foods togo....



sushi...



it is times like these that i wish i had a metabolism of a hobbit. who am i kidding? i wish i had a metabolism of a hobbit every day. let me rephrase then...it it times like these that i wish i had the metabolism of 100 hobbits that were all independently wealthy.
ahhh, much better. note that "independently wealthy" is an important component in supporting the metabolism of hobbits that eat in san francisco. why not inject a sense of practicality into one's fantasies?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

discovering the sweetshoppe, 1000 journals, and that c-man can dance

so on saturday morning i dragged myself out of bed, got ready at a molasses pace, and loaded myself onto a sf bound bart train. i definitely felt myself dragging along which i know was a result of too much rioja sipping the night before....and you know, i thought i was being sooo good too. the party folks even informed me that my face wasn't flaming red. given my lack of tolerance, the glowing red face is usually the sign of imbibing too much. kind of like my own personal warning beacon. well, the beacon wasn't working. sigh.

the bed was feeling really cozy on saturday morning and i wouldn't have dragged myself out of bed if i

a)hadn't already bought the ticket to see 1000 journals at the san francisco international film festival
b)told the c-man that i'd see him dance at band shell in golden gate park

but i did.

so hence me on the bart train, listening to angie stone via my psp at epically loud decibels, and reading necromancer (the comic mind you...not some guide to necromancy). if i could have read and walked to the bus stop without bumping into people, i probably would have....as such was my mood. i put the comic away and left the music as it was. then right before i arrived at the stop, i saw this...

instantly the music was turned off and i decided this deserved a much closer look.


then i thought, it really is a candy store. a candy store that specializes in english candy.

now dear hearts, many of you know that from my travels to england, the only things i miss are a) the indian food (which was an oasis among so much gad awful food...the only other exception being the english breakfast....although i suspect that i would add teatime to this list but i never experienced "tea" in england) b) HobNobs c) the CANDY

i seriously thought about buying enough english candy to see me through the film and lunch. yet, i only bought some maynard wine gums and rose turkish delight.


the lady working (i think it was fiona of fiona's sweetshoppe) was super nice. she said that she missed the candy so much when she came to the states that she opened her own shop. i can completely understand that perspective. i can imagine doing something similar for certain foods if i moved out of the states...or heck...out of the sf bay area even. it also sounds like she keeps it in the family as she mentioned that her dad works there during the week. the store and fiona were absolutely charming...and no, it wasn't the accent i found charming, it was her as a person and the store itself. i'm a bit impervious to english accents these days. i think i'll make a point to visit this store when i am downtown. it is on 214 sutter street off of kearny.

after that lovely find, i hopped on the bus and made my way to the kabuki. the reason why i decided against buying lunch at fiona's was because i was really looking forward to buying lunch at Nijiya Market...a japanese supermarket that is about a block away from the kabuki.


i figured that i'd buy some lunch there and take it with me to golden gate park for the dance thing. now, i have quite a few intriguing pictures from Nijiya Market....yet, i'm going to wait to post them as i'd like to dedicate an entire post to it. in fact, i was almost late for the movie because i was taking so many pictures. i think once you see my pictures you'll understand why i wanted to save room in the tummy for acquisitions from Nijiya.

the movie 1000 journals, btw, was fascinating and inspiring. i'm glad that it screened to a full house and i hope that it goes to DVD with a wide distribution. i had no idea that this is a project that started in SF. i bailed as soon as it was over though...i didn't want to miss the c-man's performance at golden gate so i grabbed my Nijiya acquisitions, hopped in a cab, and enjoyed my turkish delight on the ride to the band shell.


when i got to the venue, i found a seat in the semi-shade

and started to eat my lunch...



and then dessert, of course...



which was this cake filled with chocolate...i've never had it before, but wanted to try it...i bought quite a few things from Nijiya that i've never tried before....that is one of the fun things about going to Nijiya.


the Douceur pastry was interesting...it was a thin sweet cake and a bitter (not in a bad way or super bitter way like bitter melon) chocolate filling.


it wasn't bad, it was just different. i ate the entire thing. i kept taking a bite and thinking about the bittersweet flavors. hmmm. interesting.

as the dance venue was about an hour or so behind schedule, i decided to keep myself occupied with some of my other acquisitions, like the salty sweet sesame rice crackers (sanko tusubo goma) which are completely addicting. gluttony becomes my favorite sin when i eat these....



i should have bought two bags of these things. after the 10th cracker or so, c-man went up on stage with the rest of the crew


now, for those of you who don't know c-man, i'm not going to say which one he is. the picture is more proof than anything else. so, c-man, here is proof that i really did stay to see ya dance even though the venue was over an hour behind.

nite everyone. until next time. i think next time will be a whole lot pictures from
Nijiya.

Friday, April 25, 2008

getting fortified for the rioja tasting party

alrighty. it's friday and i'm planning to go to a rioja tasting party later this evening. so, this posting is going to be rather quick (and warning...the prose may be a bit jilted) as i still have to get ready and such. yet, before i leave for the party, i wanted to post some of the shots i took of my lunch today.

as i have mentioned earlier, i have an alcohol tolerance of a gnat. one of the ways to combat this is through clever and careful planning. what is this clever plan? umm, well, that is...the plan is to make sure that i don't have an empty stomach when the drinking begins. well, i suppose that is more common sense than cleverness isn't it?

with this "common sense" plan in mind, i decided to have a late and heavy lunch. the main course for lunch today was a porcini pasta tossed with roasted portabella mushroom, red bell pepper, green garlic, and parmesan. it was actually pretty quick to make. quickness is one of my requirements when making lunch during the week...and i really like roasting because you can put stuff in the oven and go work on something else...and well... if you forget that you put it in the oven...the smell of roasting veggies will remind you...it's the veggies' way of saying "we're here! we're ready! don't you want to eat us?"

anyway, to get the dish started, i sliced a portabella mushroom and some green garlic...


then, i decided at the last minute to add a bit of red bell pepper. at the time, i wasn't certain how this was going to work out as roasted bell peppers sometimes overpower other flavors. so i only added a small amount of the red bell pepper...



after chopping up a small amount of red bell pepper, i put the veggies in a glass pie plate with some kalamata olive oil, red chili flakes, sage, and kosher salt. then i placed the plate into the oven at 400 degrees.


while that was cooking away, i decided to make a side of roasted brussels sprouts.

since i wanted everything to be ready about the same time, i sliced the sprouts kinda thinly (but not japanese mandoline thin)...


i grabbed another glass pie plate, put the sliced sprouts into the plate, and seasoned them with roasted hazelnut oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and a teeny bit of evaporated cane juice. then i placed the sprouts into the oven where they joined the other veggies.



i left all of the veggies in the oven until i could smell them....it was the wonderful smell that told me that they were ready. then i took the veggies out of the oven and i put them aside....



then, i grabbed some of the fresh porcini pasta that i bought from the phoenix stall at thursday's berkeley farmers' market


and immersed the pasta in some salted boiling water....and it cooked very quickly...like two minutes....


then i added some plugra butter (i didn't go easy on the butter) and tossed in the 'srooms, green garlic, red bell pepper,


and added the parmesan

then i plated the pasta....


and crumbled some candied pecans on top of the brusselss sprouts...


then it was all done and ready to eat.

wow....this was not a lite lunch by any means but a very hearty yummy one.... hopefully, this plan of heavy eating before drinking will work out and i'll be able to have...like 10 sips of wine instead of 3.

oh yeah, what am i bringing to the party? based on a recommendation that i received from the chow board, i'm bringing a 2001 reserva from lan.


no i wasn't trying to be all arty with my shot. the truth is...i don't have time to clear out the kitchen counter or my office table to get a decent shot. one of the shelves was clear enough (but i couldn't stand it upright)....so i just stuck the bottle there. see how you get "warts and all" on my blog?

well gotta dash. wine waits for no one...especially when you are going to a party with people with HIGH tolerances and i want to get my sip or two in.

nite all!