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 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fireflies and Da Yuki Wood-fired Pizza

Just as life was warming up in Japan, several months back now of course, I experienced two firsts in one night -Wood fired pizza in Kyoto - at the wonderful Da Yuki in Higashiyama (I'd put money on this being the best Pizza in Kyoto) and Fireflies!!! 

oh what childlike pleasure was derived from spotting that first glowing light, floating ghostlike over the Shirakawa canal, under the weeping willows. Whilst waiting for our table to free up at the pizzeria we spent a good half hour giggling and gasping in wonderment.  As soon as we made an approach the tiny green fairies flicked off their lamps in protection and once we finally ignored them the party lights were back on and off they'd levitate.   Now I've seen a glow-worm in Australia but never a firefly - I'm pretty sure they don't exist here ( please correct me if I'm wrong) so that may help explain my excitement.
yep! that is a firefly believe it or not.... and here's another... such fantastic night-time photography skills... 
And on to dinner...
Sensational pizza, fresh salad and above average desserts. A decent wine by the glass and a cosy environment. What's not to like. . 

Such a simple, special evening
You can find DA YUKI by walking West along Niomon street from the giant red torii gate on Jingu-michi ( the street that leads up to the entrance of the Heian shrine). Pass by the river, pass by the wonderful french brasserie and just 2 minutes more will find yourself outside the restaurant - chances are you will smell the aroma before you reach it!

Uzuki- Cooking classes in Kyoto

If you have found yourself here you probably like to eat, cook or travel? And if possible combine the three? If you answered yes to either question you may be interested in doing something a little off the regular tourist route when you are in Kyoto town. 
The charming Emi Hirayama holds seasonal savoury and wagashi (traditional confectionary) classes in her home and I was lucky to score a spot one of her Spring cuisine classes in April this year. 
Including Emi-san there were just four of us in her kitchen, an older American couple and myself and we shared a lovely couple of hours cooking together, learning about seasonal cuisine and the wonders of Kyoto before enjoying a meal around the kitchen table sampling our wares. 

Our simple menu consisted of :
Rice with peas and salted sakura (cherry blossom flowers)
Nanohana ( canola greens) with scallops, mustard dressing and sansho
Sauteed Rolled beef and mushrooms with freshly grated wasabi
Marinated grilled fish
Prawn and vegetable kakiage
Seared Nama fu ( wheat gluten) with sweet saikyo miso and fresh kinome (sansho leaves)

It was a lovely experience - not just for the learning and the food but for the chance to step inside someone's Kyoto home.  Opportunities are rare for foreign visitors to spend time in a Japanese house  - which is a shame as it can really make one feel more connected to the country's culture. I highly recommend Emi san's classes for general foodies and people interested in getting a little deeper with their travel experience. 

Here's the link to the cooking school 

You can even see a little of my own efforts on her blog!

If you make it to Emi's place please give her my regards and who knows... I might even bump into you there one day!