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2008-12-30

>tomato daifuku トマト大福



I've always wondered about the kind of space the idea of "tomato" takes up in people's brains. Technically a berry, it is a rather ambiguous fruit. (Vegetable??) Whimsical yet grounded. I mean, would you name your bank "Tomato Bank" if it didn't sound practical? Possibly a bit of a fad at the moment, or possibly here to stay, tomato is a joyful presence everywhere, from confectionery to nabe. Viva tomato!

Great fortune series #4: トマト大福 (tomato daifuku) トマト = tomato 大福 = great fortune

>persimmon macaroon 柿マカロン kaki macaron



More teatime treats. Now, if you had something like persimmon macaroon, who'd need anything else? Here's a website where you can find some. (Their blueberry macaron looks yummy, too.)

"Le macaron est un petit gâteau granuleux et moelleux à la forme arrondie, d'environ 3 à 5 cm de diamètre, spécialité de plusieurs villes et régions françaises." - Macaron, Wikipedia

2008-12-28

>cold-smoked toro, mousseron, sauce gribiche, vadouvan...

The pleasant setting at Michelin-awarded (2 stars) Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, complete with croquet-players in white, took me back to childhood idyll on mom and dad's golf courses. It was no Per Se, however. The restaurant was more comparable to Redd, at twice the price.
I believe I enjoyed myself a little too much - I apologize for forgetting to document this chef's tasting menu. I'll just let the pictures do the talking. As you can see, I didn't have a steady hand at the end of the meal.

















2008-11-06

>the "common", the "ascetic", and the "unknown" dates

An offering of a wineglassful of Mujhoolah ("unknown") dates.

Plump and sweet, the gigantic medjools, courtesy of the chef, were greatly appreciated at the end of the meal, accompanied by mint tea, and roused thoughts of an Arabian bazaar بازار, of endless displays of dates (Phoenix dactylifera); sayer ("common"), zahidi ("ascetic"), ajwa (عجوة)... etc. etc.

Unexpected warmth flowed out of newly opened "Zaki Kabob House" on a forlorn stretch of San Pablo Avenue in Albany, California. No doubt it was a fast food location, I thought, but upon looking up, learned that this boxy space used to be "Taxi Brousse", a Senegalese restaurant until a few months ago. I happened to have a hankering for some tabouli (tabouleh? tabbouleh? تبولة‎;?) and baba ganoush (baba ghanoush? baba ghannouj? بابا غنوج?) so this place offering "delectable Mediterranean cuisine" was a perfectly timed discovery. "Zaki" apparently means "delicious".

A garrulous large chef personally greeted his customers, as did the other members of this congenial family. He reminded me of the jolly but fearsome butcher I saw somewhere near Rome. He wouldn't feel out of place in The Sopranos. (Turns out the family is Palestinian.)

Despite the graceless layout and its surroundings ("a new Whole Foods will be coming in across the street") the setting is somewhat softened with drapes and track lighting. We were given a "test menu" (halal), with generic kabob plates, "Jerusalem rotisserie chicken" plates, burgers and falafel wraps, "veggie lover plates". A delicious meal overall. I've decided not to pick on their hummus (houmous? humus? حمّص?) until I try it again, as the chef is planning an ambitious menu with special dishes (including an okra stew called bamya - did I just bury the lede?) and I plan to return.

2008-10-25

>"parent-child" bowl 親子丼 vs. "strangers" bowl 他人丼

What is oyakodon (親子丼)? This donburi dish comes with chicken and eggs. A family assembled in a bowl.

(parent) + (child) +
(bowl) = oyakodon

What is in tanindon (他人丼)? This donburi comes with meat (beef, pork...) and eggs, that is to say, strangers gathered in a bowl.

(other, third) + (person) + (bowl) = tanindon

Don't like parents or strangers? You want to go simply eggy? Then 卵丼 it is.

(egg) + (bowl) = tamagodon

Don't like bowls? Omuraisu, then - not tonight, though, brat.

2008-10-17

>self-heating train lunch box, ekiben, 加熱式駅弁

Self-heating cans existed during World War II. Quicklime added to water produces heat. Apparently its history goes further back, to the turn of the century pioneers.

In our time,
flameless chemical ration heaters appreciated by soldiers on the field are mostly ignored by pampered civilians living in office and home microwave cocoons. We don't need this portable source of heat in the kitchen.

A company which is trying to apply this ancient technology to our modern lives,
OnTech (Ontro), seems to be concentrating their efforts on beverage. Coffee, mostly, and it seems to me their effort is slightly misguided.

Think of a place where you'd need this convenience the most. Long hikes (not camping, necessarily - it is fun to fire up that little butane stove), long train rides. it's not too hard to carry a little hot thermos, and I don't mind cold drinks in any case.

It is still pretty neat to ponder, however, a self-heating lunch box.

In Japan (and China - 自熱式, self-heating style), there are actually enough people on the trains for this convenience to be viable. And here they are, the self-heating meals, mistaken for a brand new technology, "latest invention" according to this WSJ.com video caption.

熱式駅弁 (kanetsushiki ekiben) added heat style train station lunch box
過熱式駅弁 (kanetsushiki ekiben) superheating style train station lunch box



2008-10-14

>a kuppa soup, クッパ, 국밥

Kuppa is a huge East Asian tradition.
Decidedly more generous than a mere cuppa,
as common as pizza and paella,
enjoyed in Japan by way of Korea,

this versatile dish has so far
eluded detection by savvy foodistas.


If you like a hearty bowl of soup/stew, see for yourself. Try googling kuppa (クッパ). You will find virtually nothing in English, but numerous entries are written for クッパ, and
the dish (料理) appears ahead of the Nintendo game character (ゲームキャラクター) Koopa, also written as クッパ.

It is sometimes called クッパスープ,
"kuppa soup", and there are hundreds of recipes online. (クッパレシピ, クッパの作り方, etc.). 국밥 sounds like "cook bop" ("cook Bob"?), and might explain gukbap's relative obscurity, as opposed to, say, bibimbop♪(비빔밥, ビビンパ, bibinpa, bibimbap).

The dish means "soup rice", so naturally
rice is used in the stew instead of noodles. Beef (소머리국밥 and karubi kuppa, カルビクッパ) seems to be the meat of choice, but depending on regional origin, you may see pork (돼지국밥, デジクッパ) sausage (순대국밥, スンデクッパ) bean sprouts (콩나물국밥, 豆もやしクッパ) or tofu (두부국밥, 豆腐クッパ) featured as the main ingredient. Pictured right is a seaweed kuppa. (미역국밥, ワカメクッパ)

You may be able to order this dish at 焼肉 (yakiniku, "grilled meat", 불고기, bulgogi) BBQ restaurants, but your best bet, of course, is to find a restaurant that specializes in this dish. The broth is key.


2008-05-14

>Happy Blue Day to you ♪♪♪

I have proposed that today, May 14th, is "Blue Day".

If Ophelia was born in the era of modern greeting cards, and was honoring March 14th instead of February 14th, AND IF she was less ruefully inclined and more tartly or mathematically inclined, she might have been persuaded to sing of Pi Day, as well.

Pi day, yes, March 14th, is also designated as "White Day", when you are supposed to return the favor with a gift sufficiently white-chocolaty or marshmallow candy-coated.

Baloney?

Not a bad candidate for the next month, but it would be a wrong color. April 14th has been appropriated by some people as "Black Day", when you could gather to indulge in black food together to either celebrate your chic singledom or to wallow in dark gooey sauce.

(This is nutty... so what is May 14th, then?)

It would depend on what you're celebrating.

Let's see. The curiously over-eulogized Frank Sinatra, Ol' Blue Eyes, died the same day Seinfeld aired its final episode after 9 years, on 5/14, 1998. It is Independence Day in Israel - their flag is blue. You are still alone and blue after all these cheerful get-togethers.

"Blue Day", it seems, at this point.

No, really, I am not making fun of any of these. Bring on the Blue M&M's and Jelly Belly Berry Blue Jelly Beans. :)


2008-04-29

>yummmmmy bar code design

Noodles with chopsticks - brillllllllliant. (Courtesy of Bar Code Revolution)