Monday, December 24, 2012

Missing Kyoto Kurisumasu...

This time last year I was enjoying my third Christmas in a row in Kyoto town. It's strange to be back in Australia experience a summer festive season. Yes its a beautiful sunny, blue-skied day and the air is scented withs tropical fruits and sea-spray but I miss the snow, and Kyoto's mountains, the misty street scenes and hanging out in cosy cafes writing down my observations and sipping on everything from nama caramel latte to candycane cappuccino..   

Most of all I miss my Kyoto friends. I so wish we could be sharing another silly season with you lot. We shall again one day - soon.  But right now we get to spend a few food-and-fancy-filled days with friends and family down under for the first time in a while.. it feels like the first time in a way...

I'm looking forward to a very Aussie Christmas in a way I never expected but at this very moment it's Kyoto I'm thinking of.... lucky for me I have a truckload of photos to smile over. Here's a few snaps our our wintry Japanese festivities from last year. 


A very merry holiday to you and yours. 

Remembering those who cannot be with us for one reason or another. 
This time of the year can really hammer things home... please be gentle with yourselves. 

Here's to a magnificent 2013. 
Jane xx

PS - Here's a couple of links to previous Kyoto Christmas'  -  a little more detail on 2011 and some Hiroshima shots from  2010


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

3-2-1 We have lift-off... Launching Zenbu Zen


I'm off to BRISBANE to hook up with my friends at Tank Restaurant for the local Media launch (fancy!) of my new book Zenbu Zen at the fabulous Scrumptious Reads - with food by the lovely and talented Tony Tierney. Afterwards I will be lurking instore, no doubt raving about Japan and Japanese cuisine and life in Kyoto (as I do...) and signing copies of the book. Can't wait! If you are in the area on Friday night from 6:30pm please drop by and say ello to me and my newborn - Zenbu Zen.
That is THIS Friday 30 November 2012. from 6:30pm

Thanks for hosting me MELBOURNE TOWN - it was a stupendous affair! Great to see lots of familiar faces and meet some new friends.  I was invited to chat about Zenbu Zen on air with some very cool foodie/radio types including Pete Dillon on Joy 94.9's Cravings (listen to our chat -see Nov 24 2012), ABC radio's Kelli Brett on the Main Ingredient (Listen to the podcast here) and Glenn Ridge on his  Mornings on MyMP programme - plus I signed books all over town (Thank you particularly to  Books for Cooks, The Essential Ingredient and Readings Carlton for being so supportive)!

I was treated to some wonderful meals over a 3 day period - here's just a little taste (and a few hot tips if you are in town!):  Chin Chin, The Meatball and wine bar, Cumulus, Pope Joan, Sake, Brooks, Rosetta, Pei Modern (TWICE!) and Friends of Mine - in no particular order. Also dropped in on the talented Darren and Cath at B&P Sweet studio where I acquired a little extra energy burst to see me through all this excitement.... Heaven!

Meanwhile - back in SYDNEY I've also been hanging around Kinokuniya on Pitt Street  -they have a HUGE stack of ZZ copies and are supporting me wholeheartedly by popping me at the top of their Christmas Cookbook Catalogue (cheers guys!)  - as are Gleebooks who recommend Zenbu Zen in their Summer Reading guide. I've been wielding the sharpie in there too! Thanks for allowing me come in and scribble on your books!

I'll be getting myself out 'n about just a little bit more in Sydney town over the coming weeks so if you happen to see me wandering around a bookstore, pen poised,  please make sure you stop and say hello - perhaps share a few of your own Japanese foodie experiences?

I'm so blown away by the passionate response to Zenbu Zen - Thank  you to everyone who has give me such valuable feedback (and more than a little bit of lurve) !! From time to time I will be posting updates on reviews and the like on  my "news and reviews" page - so if you are interested in knowing a bit more about the book (before buying it naturally...!! cheeky....) and/or my time in Japan - please take a peek HERE.

And if you are very good I'll let you in on a secret.. there are a few freebie recipes from Zenbu Zen  -and one of my other Japanese titles - Yoshoku - on the EATLOVE website. Take a look around - it is NEW and the best free foodie content on the web - credible and beautiful - by highly respected chefs, cooks and food writers!

Don't forget to "follow me" while you are there so you stay in the loop when new content is added!

J x

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Koishi & Kakigori    こいし & かきごおり

As we head into Summer with a balmy 30C Sydney Sunday I'm reminded of the Kyoto Summer I am still recovering from. One form of sweet relief I wish I'd managed to snaffle more of was Kakigori or shaved ice,  topped with a sweet syrup of your choice - one of my favourites made with condensed milk and Japanese black sugar. The version above, from one of Kyoto's most famous sweets shops, includes a good dollop of anko (sweetened red (azuki) beans  - divine. 

The shaved ice in a quality Kakigori is as fine as freshly fallen snow and dissolves very quickly on the tongue  - similar to the way fairy floss disappears upon contact with saliva. So refreshing on a super hot day, the sugar also giving one an instant boost just when you feel like you can never rehydrate again...

The dessert set above included a a mini parfait with dango (dumplings made with rice flour) and chestnuts with green tea ice cream and as you can see below there was quite a choice of modern style parfait and more traditional sweets and drinks. 

Modern "fusion" parfait including cake, fruit, ice cream, jelly made with kuzu starch, chewy dango made with rice flour, cream...

Above includes one of my favourites -traditional sweet - warabi mochi - on the rhs - with black sugar syrup for drizzling over. 
Koishi, an ame-ya or sweet shop in Gion, is famous for its prettily packaged, boiled candy with pure flavours such as shiso, ume (plum), yuzu, green tea and lemon... I am not normally a "lolly" kinda gal but these are really good  - mostly just sugar with natural flavours but some of the modern varieties include yoghurt or milk. A wonderful treat for both adults and kiddies.  
The salt flavour (only available in Summer and strangely addictive - see pic below) apparently helps replace a little of the sodium you lose in perspiration so its not a bad thing to carry around with you during the hideously hot months.
You will find this fabulous Kyoto store on the north side of Shijo street - a few minutes walk west of the entrance to the Yasaka shrine on Higashioji street.  Below is an image of the shopfront so you know what you are looking for!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More free recipes from EATLOVE

Logo copyright of Eatlove

The fabulous team at EATLOVE have just posted a bunch of new recipes from my book YOSHOKU and they are FREE!! Yep Free!

Hand-selected by myself  - so I hope you like 'em... and if you enjoy the recipes please do check out the book (available in good bookstores and online) for a wide range of easy, interesting, Japanese-inspired dishes. 

Yoshoku, translating as "Western food" is a popular style of eating in Japan - and while it may seem "Western" to the locals - it is uniquely Japanafied!

The book has been around for years and I think its popularity and success are due to the fact it is a fun entry into Japanese cuisine -which can sometimes seem a little daunting. The recipes are familiar yet include Japanese flavours and ingredients - a great way to start to understand how they work! I love it... OK I might be a little biased but I still regularly cook from that book and encourage you to give it a shot!

Please head over and check out the recipes and let me know what you think - heres the LINK .

***Oh and importantly - please don't forget to "Follow me" while you are there to make sure you keep up to date when more recipes or foodie info from me is added!

Cheers, Jane x

Monday, November 12, 2012

Appearance at Books for Cooks

Dear Friends, 

The lovely Tim and Amanda at 'Books for Cooks' in Melbourne, Australia are wonderful supporters of my titles and have invited me to drop in for a visit next Tuesday afternoon. We will be having a bit of a chat about my new book ZENBU ZEN,  signing copies, sipping hard liquor and mud wrestling...things like that... (to be fair they never promised any booze..)

So if you are in Melbourne town please do drop in to Books for Cooks and say "Hi!".

TIME: from 5pm
DATE: Tuesday 20 November
ADDRESS: 233 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Images copyright of Jane Lawson and Cath Muscat

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tapas in Kyoto town and a Kiyamachi stroll

Whilst waiting for a table elsewhere one night we stopped off at a nearby Spanish bar/restaurant on the corner of Kiyamachi and Nijo streets. 

 As it was on one of my walking routes from home into town I'd watched the owners refurbish the building for weeks beforehand wondering what the empty shell would end up containing... this was finally my chance to check it out. 
Having travelled to Espana several times and understandably eaten myself silly on each extensive trip (oh and having written a book on the matter - almost forgot about that!) I guess you might say I am a little fussy when it comes to Spanish cuisine (amongst others..I'm a food/travel hussy..). I have never seen it done very successfully in Japan and this joint was sadly no exception. However, it was pleasant enough - merely lacking the punchiness of traditional Spanish flavours - a lack of understanding perhaps or simply adjusting for local palates... whatever the matter I wouldn't be rushing back for the food. 
Roast onion with Romesco and Sizzling garlic prawns
Bread soup

The wine list however is rather extensive and you could easily sit soaking up the atmosphere for hours over a few tapas dishes whilst you worked your way from Albarino to Tempranillo. 
It  looked the part and we really enjoyed sitting up at the bar watching the locals get a little sozzled and the chef swirling the pans over flame... Who knows, it was early days and perhaps the food has improved. Worth a peek if you are in the area. Certainly at the very least for a few glasses of vino as these cool months approach.. Oh and the Sangria wasn't bad either if you are that way inclined. 
We had time for a stroll along Kiyamachi street before the next event and what a beautiful night it was