Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ah Miso Hungry

Saikyo. Hatcho. Mugi. Aka. Shiro ?? 

If none of these ring a bell you might not know quite as much about miso as you thought you did.  And no... it ain't just for soup.

If you feel like a little chat, cook, dine session with me then head straight over to
where you can book in for my class on 31 August 2014.

It will be a fun session about the what, why and how of miso.
I'll also be touching on a couple of other Japanese fermented foodstuffs! 

Hope to see you there. Cheers, Jane 

PS - thank you to hand model Tad McN! In the image above  you can see him in the beginning stages of his home-made miso crafting.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blanc Pierre

One of my favourite little French spots in Kyoto town (and yes there are a few) is Blanc Pierre or as I keep calling it Pierre Blanc.  I must be dyslexic in French.

Housed in a clean, modern space it is a joy just to sit and breath in the cooking aromas. I like to perch myself at the counter with a glass of wine and watch the chef work, occasionally glancing towards their tiny garden through the glass back wall. 

I seem to have come over all Francophilian this week with what will amount to 3 French restaurant posts for Kyoto within a very short span . Needless to say I love the French-Japanese communion. 

And with Kyoto being sister city to Paris... well there are some pretty wonderful French eateries, boulangerie and patisserie to get stuck into .

I'll be brief, as I'm supposed to be working, and just give you a squiz at the kind of dishes you might expect in their lunch course  - for 3200y pp.  All very good. 

Above is a teensy Wagyu fritter amuse bouche
Chilled silken sweet potato soup with vanilla oil.  I could eat this every day.
Very well executed pork terrine with mustard (starter)
Seared Foie Gras on sauteed mushrooms (starter) 
The famous foie gras haambagu - foie gras encased in luscious, garlicky beef mince. 
Tender Duck from France with honey and  local vegetables
Chocolate gateaux with vanilla ice cream
Refreshing citrus ice cream, jelly and fruit

Comme Chez Michel

Hello, we are in the process of tranferring all Japan-related content over to Jane's ZENBU TOURS site. 

This post has already moved - you'll find it HERE

Thank you!  

Sumibi Kushiyaki Torito

Hello, we are currently in the process of transferring all Japan related posts over to Jane's ZENBU TOURS site. 

This post has already moved - you will find it HERE.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

La Famille Morinaga

A quick peek into the elegant La Famille Morinaga. 
Hard to find without using the little map on the website a a guide - but worth a look if you are west of Karasuma street.
How cool are the flying saucer plates above? 
As far as I can tell they were only used as decoration upon arrival.  
But cool all the same. 
I think.
mini gratin

The set course lunch is 4500 yen per head - ie about $50AUD.

The food was well executed and the flavours most pleasant if a little confused in parts. I wish I could remember exactly what we ate but to be honest we had so much going on that day that I didn't take notes and now it is gone... at least I have pics so you have an idea of what was on offer - perhaps a little vague - but an idea all the same.  
Seafood salad
I was pretty impressed by the ice dome over the soup.  I do remember that much. And the truffle.
Lamb is rarely seen on menus in Japan as it is not a well-loved protein in them there parts so this was a lovely surprise.  And Aussie as it happens.
This little apple tart with milk ice cream was rather excellent.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tanabata Festival

Hopeful romantics start your engines - Tanabata Festival, also known as the Star Festival, is nigh.
Although  - to confuse things slightly it is celebrated on either July or August 7 depending on where you are in Japan or who you are with.
The extremely abbreviated version of  ONE of the fables behind the festival is that two young lovers not of this earth (let's call them dalliancing deities - in this case represented by stars) were forced apart by father/god, as penance for neglecting their chores due to spending too much time together. Sometime later, feeling sorry for the couple who were desperate to hang out  - the father/god agreed to allow them to meet just once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month. Yes July is the 7th month to us but according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar February is the first month meaning August is the 7th. All clear now?
The streets are lined with long paper streamers representing the notes written to each other across the milky way (or possibly the tails of a shooting star - that's my personal interpretation anyway)  and long strips of fabric or textiles (the chick star apparently had to do a lot of catch up on her weaving to prove herself worthy of re-meeting her star lover) - or is that from another version of the story? Smaller paper notes with messages of love and hope - or wishes for good handwriting or sewing apparently - are tied onto branches. As are paper stars - and twinkling lights - very pretty.
There's yet another rendition of the fable which involves burying some sandals under bamboo or some such thing - hence the green tubes... but now I'm even confusing myself.  No matter what it's a fun, glittery party! And it is free - all you have to do is go for a walk. 

In Kyoto there is an especially lovely gathering along the Kamogawa river (as you will see from these photos). Young women in summer kimono ( Yukata ) wander about hoping to meet the man of their dreams  - although I'm not sure exactly how successful they are with all those stars in their eyes....  boom-tish!
And of course there are couples canoodling in corners, swept up in the romance of it all. And possibly casting smug glances at all the single ladies... all the single ladies 
And if it rains on the 7th it is said that you will have no chance of finding your mate so pack up, go home and wait for next year. How festive....
 And if you do happen to snaffle a new love there are plenty of yuka (restaurant decks constructed only for the summer months) for sharing a drink or meal together.  Could be the start of a beautiful thing?
We didn't do the yuka thing on this occasion  -instead we ate nearby on Kiyamachi dori at Toridori - a place we'd walked by a few times and were keen to try. The split leveled restaurant sported an attractive fit out 
but sadly the food wasn't amazing. And more expensive than it should have been. 
Spring onion salad with crisp yuba above was just ok.
Summer oden below  - with overly fishy dashi jelly and tomatoes - did not float my boat. I did however think it was a great idea. Just not well executed. 
 The grilled chicken bums and veg was ok but nothing to write home about.

Nara - a path less wandered

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from my 'home away from home' Kyoto town is the charming city of Nara. Although famous for its history, giant Buddha, Kasuga Shrine and free roaming deer I often prefer to leave those with the first time visitors and simply wander the compact old town, shotengai (traditional shopping arcade) and back streets. 

Here's a visual homage to the lesser known parts of Nara - do yourself a favour and spend a day here.  And do also buy the cookies for the deer or they will eat the contents of your handbag. 

For details on how to get from Kyoto to Nara take a look HERE.
Now if you find this place above make sure you stop for a wee restette and to taste the local sake and fruit wines below
Kankan and Yuzu (both citrus), ichigo (strawberry), momo (peach), kaki (persimmon), ume (plum). 

Speaking of sustenance there are plenty of nice cafes and restaurants in Nara. How sweet are the little faces on these cakes?
We stumbled acrossed the brasserie below (ce magasin) and stopped in for a well priced and very decent French lunch. The break also helped shelter us from a sudden torrential downpour.