30.11.12

A Masterful Oden


When the cold starts to murmur in our bones, many Japanese would find culinary consolation in a good serving of oden. 

Oden is a traditional winter dish in which a large variety of ingredients are stewed in a konbu (seaweed)and soy broth. The typical ingredients include, fishcakes, eggs, konyaku and daikon served with mustard as a complimentary warming condiment.

I will be honest with you, I never really cared for oden. I have found it too heavy and the broth far too strong to really enjoy the variety of flavours introduced to the pot. However, Takocho in Kyoto spun my opinion around completely....













How we wound up at Takocho was serendipitous to say the least. We were staying in a rickety old Ryokan just down the road and the slightly forlorn look of the restaurant really spoke to us.

Founded in 1888, Takocho is a tiny counter eaterie that serves 18 varieties of oden in a convivial atmosphere. Generation after generation of masters have devoted themselves to this gourmet art of preparing the perfectly balanced broth with each item cooked and served to perfection.

Like many counter-top restaurants in Japan in which you are served by a master. There are no prices on the menu. The master dutifully serves you himself and decides the cost when you are ready to leave. It is a real exercise in trust.

It was a real joy to experience this dish here. Sadly for me, I enjoyed this oden so much so that I find myself disliking the standard variety even more. Someone slap me!!


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28.11.12

Slanted. Angled. Twisted. Distorted.


Though the boyish lines of my clothes are a blunt contrast to the soft feminine style of many a Tokyo lady, I told myself that my cement shade outfit befitting of the urbanscape of Tokyo. I also told myself that there is nothing wrong with attempting to resemble a building. I don't take myself very seriously.





\\ Wool trousers from All Saints London + Ankle boots from Office + Shirt from B Store London \\




Harsh contrasts appeal to my nature and red lipstick is a favourite way to stain colour continuity. This particular one is Tom Ford's Cherry Lush.





Tokyo is a city of great heights and one can spend much time just looking upwards at the masses of concrete pinnacles. A great way to distort your balance.

Speaking of distortion....







....The newly opened Tokyu Plaza in Omotesando/Harajuku, designed by Hiroshi Nakamura is an impressive feature to look at. The faceted mirrored entrance draws you in and then morphs you into a glossy kaleidoscope. I enjoyed this bit of playful architecture so much that I would have happily spent the rest of my afternoon going up and down the escalators. Due to this fact, I haven't a clue as to what shops are actually in the plaza. :)

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26.11.12

In which we came to be at the Silver Pavilion at sundown...


While in Kyoto, we chose to overlook the ostentatious Kinkakuji in favour of the sublime and in my opinion evermore harmonious Ginkakuji. We reached the temple grounds at sunset when the buildings were gathering shadows about themselves and cavorting with the remains of sunlight.













Ginkakuji was originally built as a palace around 1482 and it came to serve as a temple in 1490. The building's dark exterior was once covered in black lacquer and I can only imagine how magnificent this would have looked by sunset or indeed moonlight. 

Having survived many earthquakes and fires,the main buildings sit stoically silent in their dark-wood splendour and I felt immediately at ease here. There is something about Ginkakuji that strikes at the heart of the elusive meaning of "wabi-sabi" and my own personal aesthetic of beauty which makes this my favourite temple in Kyoto.

Photos taken by Hiro and I using a Canon DSLR and an iPhone.

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23.11.12

Much ado about spooning...





I started my day with an plump o-nigiri (rice ball) suitably dusted with yukari (shiso rice seasoning). Homemade o-nigiri is extra delicious and besides, the purple smudges from the yukari please me.

On the subject of rice, I bought a new shamoji (rice paddle) to go with our lovely new rice cooker!




I particularly like this design because it stands up on its ownsome thus leaving my surfaces free of sticky rice. If you are in UK, you can buy this from|Twenty Twentyone|

On the subject of spoons, I have been picking up some rather interesting ones:



Quite a line up I think!



1st up is my little condiment spoon made of horn. This is a hand carved by the last hornworks in Britain. It is a natural alternative to plastic and will neither tarnish nor taint food. I really like the natural variances that make my little spoon unique.



Next up are my bone china spoons by Love Ceramics lovely for ladling or honey or other lovely things onto dry cereals.



These can be bought from |ARIA|

I had no idea that spoons could be as fun as they are useful!

>>> Meanwhile in my Fushigi Shop >>>

Many of my dearest customers, have much bemoaned the scarcity of a pretty lookin' Oyster Card (travel card) holder here in Blightly. And so, to please your requestings my sewing machine has been whirring and humming a merry tune as I have been making this new collection of envelope cases for your consideration.



|FUSHIGI SHOP|
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22.11.12

In which I didn't buy as much as I thought...


I surprised myself with the level of restraint that I showed whilst in Tokyo! I barely visited any makeup counters for myself and I came away with a small amount of goodies for myself.



More or less essentials no? I have a penchant for red blush so the new offerings from Canmake Tokyo was a must have.



I bought a new BB cream from Muji and a very nice SPF too. I will do proper reviews of these as well as the rest of my little loot as time passes.

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20.11.12

Much ado about chicken karaage


Everyone has their own way of doing things and their favourite recipes to follow. This is a mix of an old firm favourite chicken karaage recipe and a twist. The basis of the twist is supplied by Koukentetsu but then played with to meet our own tastes.

I don't often eat deep-fried dishes as more often than not they are too greasy for my taste. However, karaage is doesn't leave me feeling greasy or yucky afterwards. I think this may be down to the batter.



\\ Chicken Karaage

Ingredients:
400grams chicken thighs (skinned)
1 Egg (beaten)
Salt + Pepper
1 teaspoon Japanese soy sauce
5-6 tablespoons of potato starch
The juice of a chunk of grated ginger
Salad oil for frying

Method:

  1. Make the batter by combining the egg, starch, seasonings and soy sauce together and adding in the potato starch bit by bit before mixing well to make a smooth runny paste.
  2. Rinse chicken with a bit of vinegar then cut into bite sized chunks. Don't worry about removing all the fat. A little fat will keep the chicken moist and juicy when frying.
  3. Add chicken into the batter and mix well so all the pieces are well coated.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan (add enough to cover the chicken) and test that it is hot enough by dipping chopsticks into the base of the pan. When it is hot enough, bubbles will appear around the chopstick.
  5. Add chicken into the pan one-by-one, taking care to ensure than each piece is well coated. Be sure to give each piece enough space to move around and not stick to another piece. You will need to do this in batches.
  6. Once evenly golden brown, remove and place on oil absorbing paper or on a grill rack.
Once done, the karaage can be eaten which ever way you choose. You can dress it with with a simple soy dressing. You can eat it as a drinking snack with your favourite tipple. You can save a bit for tomorrows o-bento or if you like, you can try it with a twist....



\\ Karaage with Chunky Cucumber + Tomato Soy Dressing

Ingredients:
3 Small/pickling cucumbers (Turkish cucumbers work well). Crooks work brilliantly too.
2 Tomatoes
Any other crunchy green veg you may have in your fridge. We used sugar snap peas. 
1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)
Small lump of finely chopped ginger (to taste)
3 Tablespoons of Japanese soy sauce
3 Tablespoons of sushi vinegar
1 Teaspoon of sesame oil

Method:
  1. Bash the cucumbers until the split and break but still hold their shape with a rolling pin or whatever.
  2. Cut the cucumber into halves and then lengthways quarters. Chuck into a mixing bowl with the sauce.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into eighths and add to the bowl with the cucumbers. 
  4. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic and oil into a microwave friendly bowl. Mix and then zap in a microwave for 30 seconds to release the flavours
  5. Quickly fry the sugar snap peas in a wok for a few minutes. Add the cucumber and the tomatoes and the sauce into the wok and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Remove and plate.
>>> The Crunchy Plate >>>
If you would like your karaage crunchy then plate the vegetable dressing to the plate and then top with the karaage

>>> The Succulent Plate >>>;
If you would like your chicken to assume the robust flavour of the dressing and prefer a more succulent bite, then mix the chicken in with the dressing and then serve.



Enjoy! Dressing karaage in this way adds delicious textures and a rounded sharpness that compliments the deep-fried dish.

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19.11.12

Green silk and beige


Shadows are my friends but I like it when fuzzy light interrupts the haze. 









Whilst I headed for Tokyo, ready for a long day of walking. 

\\ Green silk shirt by Mardi Jeudi, Trousers from Vivienne Westwood, Shoes from Dr Martens, Socks from Tabio. Bag from Oasis.

Photos taken at our friends home nr Machida.


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17.11.12

In which it all gets a bit flashy...


I know that flashing GIFs really bother the good nature out of some folks. Whilst I am not a fan of GIF ads, I find myself uncontrollably and irrepressibly drawn to the work of rrrrrrrroll where everything goes "kuru-kuru"(round and round) in her beautiful warm photographs. 









Step into the world of RRRRRRROLL_gif
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16.11.12

In which I must explain that it was not a fire....


Our train chased the setting sun. By the time we reached our destination on the shores of Lake Biwa, we were met with a alarming explosion of a blazing sunset the likes of which none of us had ever experienced before. It was magnificent. 





I assure you that this was not a fire and these photos have not been touched up.



That evening we faded into our private bath soaring over the distant city lights and the dark shadow of the lake. Rich in mineral content, the natural hot spring waters of the bath did much to alleviate our travellers aches and strains. 

Sleep came easy that night.


>>> In other news >>>

I watched a film called Departures recently. It is a Japanese film that explores a less understood profession. It bears so much heart, quiet humanity and other such delicacies and the music is just beautiful. The actor actually learned to play the cello for this solo:



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16.11.12

In which I announce the KitKat Japan winner...


Thank you soooo much for entering my little giveaway. The winner is: 



Please contact me with your address and I shall send them out to you!

>>>> Just letting you know that there will be another little giveaway very soon.
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15.11.12

In which I have many bits on the side.....


Dinner is the favourite meal in the House of Worshipblues. I suppose you could say that our dinners frequently consist of a selection of side dishes and rice.

Here are a few bits on the side that have filled our bellies recently. 



\\エビマヨ - Prawn mayonnaise.
Our version of a Japanese favourite ebi-mayo. Made using edamame, fresh peas, garlic chives, fine beans and sugar snap peas.



\\里芋の煮物 - Simmered eddoes and fine beans.
Simmered dishes are a regular feature on Japanese dining tables. This version simmers hearty veg in a stock of sake, shoyu, mirin and dashi topped with bonito flakes and toasted black sesame.



\\しそつくね - Chicken meatballs in perilla.
Pan-fried, moist chicken meatballs made with spring onion and yukari then wrapped in perilla leaves. Perilla is often referred to as the Japanese basil. 





\\いんげんとひき肉のみそいため - Stir fried beans  and pork mince in miso.
We like a lot of ginger at this time of year, it is warming and good for us so a good deal of the stuff, finely chopped goes into this dish. Miso is another common feature on our table.

We try to have 2 or three side dishes each meal of varying textures and complimentary flavours. This doesn't always happen! The above dishes are quick and easy to make and they contain a lot of beans because our supermarket was doing a deal on them :)

>>> I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in recipes for such humble home cooking. If you would like to see some. Let me know and I will add them to this post for you.

Oh and Hiro bought us a Japanese style rice cooker at Duty Free in Japan!!



I can't tell you how happy I am with it! I have wanted one for yonks and yonks but always held back as we would need to get a big ugly transformer thing due to the different voltage. However, this nifty bit of kit is made for UK voltages!! YIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

The extra fabby fing about this so called "fuzzy" rice cooker is that it can be used to make other things such as cakes!

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14.11.12

In which Madame Fushigi is introduced......



I have a new collection in my little Fushigi Shop to tell you about today. It is inspired by an odd woman who lurks in my workshop.......

Created from the playful muddling of the concept of a tie, these purposeful and delightfully appealing bandeaus can be used as elegant hair bands or to add a charming flourish to your bags, necks, wrists or even your furniture. Each and every one is handmade by me using some of the highest quality and most beautiful cotton print fabrics available. I’ve taken great pleasure and pride in using exceptionally fine Liberty Tana Lawn and superb traditional Japanese patterns. Each tie is 100% cotton and measures about 80cm long.










There is a peculiar woman that lurks in corners of the Fushigi Shop. She is industrious and determined in all she does. Thoroughly eccentric, she is often heard muttering to herself or seen exploding into a wild jig for no reason at all. We call her Madame Fushigi and she is never without a swishful adornment.

Visit the Fushigi Shop
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