Sunday, April 24, 2011

Exploding Sake...

OK so it didn't explode but only because we were forewarned about this style of Sake by a couple of friends.  The bacteria is LIVE therefore as soon as you make the first twist of the lid it starts to fizz and foam with a rush of gassy bubbles. It took Tad about 30 minutes of very gradually, and patiently, twisting then resting the screwtop. With each minuscule turn the whole lot threatened to erupt.  We lost  about a tablespoon of sake onto the footpath all up - a friend had lost 3/4 of a bottle on an earlier attempt, covering an entire room and himself with its viscous contents. 
As you can see below - the sake is thick and chunky and not entirely visually appealing.... but WOW. While it was particularly pungent on first sip it settled quickly and rounded out to become one of the most character-filled sake's I have had the pleasure of experiencing. We couldn't get enough of it and guzzled the whole bottle far more quickly than the three of us had anticipated. Funky, zesty, slightly sweet, exciting. The flavour was unique to say the least and the intoxication was more of a delightful mellow buzz, very giggly, some might refer to it as a "stoned" feeling...  The volatile liquid is unlikely to travel well so if you are in Japan seek it out. Can't wait to get me some more. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Melbourne Jaunt

Last month Melbourne hosted another spectacular Food and Wine festival. I was chuffed to be invited to present at the weekend masterclass with sake master Toshi Maeda san and to moderate Rosa Mitchell's wonderful session on Sicilian cuisine (Rosa's mother and several aunts hand rolled fresh pasta which was immediately cooked and served to class attendees while Rosa demonstrated some of her specialities - including farsamagro and her famous cannoli).  A big shout out to Masterclass coordinator Sharlee Gibb who gave birth just one day later to a mini Matt Wilkinson (immaculate timing). Thanks also to Tim and Amanda and the crew from Books for Cooks (and Shannon from Murdoch) for arranging my books and Sharpies for signing! And of course to Frank and the Movida crew for a cracking closing party and Gerald for the impromptu after party... which I can barely remember getting to let alone getting home from... boy, what a night!

I adore Melbourne and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of lovely meals, escorted by some of my favourite menfolk,  at Raymond Capaldi's Hare and Grace and Shane Delia's Maha Bar and Grill. I also revisited Cornershop - a fab cafe in Yarraville I just can't get enough of. They do great breakfasts and coffee but their lunches really blow me away - simple, fresh, healthy and absolutely pumped full of flavour - perfect day fare!

 It was great to catch up with friends and colleagues (despite being a little shaken by news of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on the Friday night and having only arrived home from Kyoto the day before) and I had enough time up my sleeve to wander a little between meetings,  gathering my thoughts and capturing a few examples of Australiana on film. 
Cornershop Cafe

Some rather dark shots from Hare and Grace.... unfortunately I didn't have a camera at Maha ( next time...)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Takakura  高倉

raw squid with spring onions in mustard and saikyo miso dressing

TAKAKURA!!!  Let me just say this  - Go there!

Another wonderful Ricky and Mitsuko find. Reasonably priced, excellent izakaya fare. You are well advised to book but be warned - only Japanese is spoken. If that doesn't scare you off  - ask a friend, to book on your behalf.

Once you get there - you will find a menu on the wall, also only in Japanese -  but be adventurous and ask them to choose for you "o susume onegai shimasu" or even "o susume" with a pleading look and a sweet smile should get your message across.  You won't be disappointed. 

If you are a fussy eater, this might be a little too big a risk to take but if there is just one item you can't eat -  perhaps let them know before they order on your behalf  by politely saying (whilst humbly bowing your head a little by way of apology)  "gomenasai  xxxxxx wa suki ja nai desu"  - insert 'sakana' for fish, 'ebi' for prawns,  'gyuniku' for beef, 'butaniku' for pork 'toriniku' for chicken, 'goma' for sesame....  which translates as "I'm sorry but I don't like xxxxxx"

You will find the restaurant on Ebisugawa dori, just west of Kawaramachi dori - look for the white paper lantern on the north side of the street. 075 231 5633

The meal below is from early March 2011. 
fried tofu and greens
white asparagus tempura

Unagi (eel) and eggs with sansho
Wasabi greens and katsuobushi
The lovely Paul
Dried tofu, simmered in soy and mirin with sesame sauce
Nama fu flowers in thickened broth with peas

kinome yaki zakana with raw udo and wasabi greens in sake kasu
maitake and spring vegetable tempura

gorgeous friends - Tad, Paul, Michiko and Bridget... I miss you guys.  Be back soon x

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Calling New York Foodies...

Hello my friends, 

I am very excited to be heading to New York City later in the year!! I will only be in town for just over a week but I plan to eat some mighty fiiiiine food during that time... 

Please, pretty please help me to find lovely foodie things - restaurants, good farmers' markets, interesting/new grub-related stores and bookstores, cafes, underground culinary movements, bars, pop up/roving diners etc, etc. 

If you are local with insider knowledge on some fabulous, but less obvious gourmet temples and are happy to share -please drop me a line here! 

Looking forward to being blown away.
It has been way too long - over 10 years since my last visit so I am totally out of the loop! 

Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Cheers, Jane x

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sake Restaurant and Bar - Sydney

In Australia there are, frankly, very few Japanese restaurants I can be bothered with - the food simply doesn't measure up. Understandably, having spent considerable time in Japan during the past 27 years,  I am more than a little fussy.   

Sake Restaurant and Bar  is one of the exceptions to the rule. Under the watchful eye of chef Shaun Presland, who trained in Japan and worked at several high end Japanese eateries internationally before joining Sake, the food is kept true to tradition where it needs to be and the more creative dishes are respectful to their Japanese roots whilst packing an exciting flavour or textural punch. 

I met up with "Shaun-san" in Japan last year where a few of us spent some time with Kozaemon san - the producer of the majority of the restaurant's amazing sake range - eating and drinking and generally getting to know each other. I was stunned by Shaun's knowledge of Japanese food and his language skills - the guy is talented, let me tell you, not only is he a sushi master but he is extremely well versed in formal Kaiseki cuisine. 

On Friday night I sampled some of the dishes from the new winter menu in Sydney. OMG. Oishii!  
Ocean trout tasting plate
Scallops tiradito sashimi with yuzu, chilli paste and coriander
Udon topped with kakiage tempura
The lovely Rupert Sakora - restaurant manager
Tender octopus
King fish double crunch sushi
Marinated and grilled Kingfish with sweet soy
Pan seared Ocean Barramundi with ponzu, buckwheat and tomato
Scampi tempura
S Express sushi

Dessert bento
Mmmm - Molten Chocolate with sesame.