Thursday, August 27, 2009

"And, of course, the funniest food of all, kumquats."

Sundry items about food:

While in Tokyo I visited the Berry Cafe in Ginza. I'd wanted to go for a while, but when I looked at the building map and realized it had a floor to itself I felt a thrill of terror. The elevator door would open right into the restaurant, no lobby to back out of, and the waitresses would be bowing and beckoning me in. It was exactly as I feared. I even attempted to retreat into the elevator but one of the hostesses held the door open.

It's a very fancy cafe. There's this circular glass compartment with stacks of fruits that you can just barely see over to a pair of bakers making the edible works of art. There is a seating area, but they must have decided I didn't fit the decor and immediately packaged mine as take-out. Someday when I have more time, more money, better clothes, and a nice escort who can speak the language, I want to go back again. They have the most incredible cakes, piled high with fruit, juicy and brightly colored. After some deliberation, I chose a cheesecake with mango and fig. And ate it with my fingers on a sidewalk bench a few blocks away like the uncultured alien I am. Nom.

But if you have more class than me, definitely try it at Ginza 3-2-15, in the Glasse building.


I love when they feature a specific recipe on a cooking show, especially when it's one that I've no idea how to use. Moyashi, the big white bean sprouts, are perfect for summer, cool and crispy, and ridiculously cheap at 19 cents for a two-serving bag. I know you can use them in stir-fry but I usually just eat them by the handful. This show had a female guest with three teenage sons. The narrator gushed, "Bet you can't guess how many packages she'll buy for one meal!" and counted dramatically while she put twelve in her basket. Well, they're not terribly filling so I'm not surprised.

She spread them flat on a hotplate, and put a layer of thin beef slices on top, and sprinkled that with some kind of ground seasoning. Then she put the lid down and let it cook. That easy? So I steamed a mini-portion of same in my rice cooker. It's tasty but a little boring somehow. Only the meat gets a flavor, the sprouts are the same. I'll keep experimenting, tho.


I tried to eat as much hummus as possible while I was home, but it did not stave off the cravings more than a few days. I'm not letting myself go to the mall and the import food store, however, so I can't do it homemade. Chesnuts, however, are readily available, and affordable, and I thought, "chesnuts taste slightly like chickpeas." Well, it wasn't quite the same. Still rather good, though. They crumble more than mush, so the texture is different, and I think I prefer them just whole and sweet with salt to the garlic/lemon combo I tried for my substitute.


I also brainstormed food that made me nostalgic for "mother's cooking." One that occurred was this cauliflower dish over rice, with cheese and tomato sauce on top. It's possible I liked it as a child when served as the whole cauliflower because it resembled a delicious brain. Kids are morbid, Y/Y? So we had that, and I was lamenting how there are no cauliflowers in Japan. And then at the supermarket yesterday I found them. Tiny, barely bigger than my fist, and expensive, but cauliflower!


In other wondrous "Japan's cuisine becoming more international yay" we have... root beer. I adore root beer, it's pretty much the only soda I'll drink (with occasional forays into cream and melon sodas). Japanese people, however, have a well-documented loathing for it. Much to my delight, it is now available on in cases of 24 for $19. That could last me months.

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