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Everything posted by JasonTrue

  1. I can recommend meyer lemon and seville orange, particularly in combination, when yuzu isn't available. Meyer lemon alone is good, too. Seville orange is essentially the same as daidai, so you'll need something more acidic like lime or lemon if you are working with the bitter orange. Meyer lemon peel has an aroma comparable to but still quite distinct from yuzu, and produces more juice. I don't usually make a cooked ponzu when I'm serving nabe, since the nabe has its own kombu and basically makes its own stock. If I'm using ponzu for something other than nabe I'll add a little kombu-dried porcini stock, as porcini comes closest to the depth of flavor of katsuo for a vegetarian stock. But I usually just add the stock to the ponzu base, since it's more "sappari" than cooking all the nice citrus juice.
  2. Gaku Homma's Japanese Country Cooking would fit most of that bill, though he doesn't cover snacks so much... It's more of a folk history than a cookbook, but does have plenty of recipes. There are some errors in the older edition that I have, but it's quite possible that the more recent one has fixed those things.
  3. I've seen this often enough that I now think nothing of it. But, perhaps as a result, I rarely bring any particularly remarkable wine unless it's a fairly intimate gathering of, say, 4-6 people, where it's more likely to be shared and consciously consumed. At larger gatherings, the wine seems to be pooled, and sometimes not consumed if there's an adequate supply.
  4. The fondue place I mentioned was called Bavaria. It's decidedly not cheap, but it was a better experience than the crepe place. And they have other burgerliche dishes, and it's one of the more consistent culinary points of view in Whistler; I always thought it was funny to have the same bready pizzas, oversized pastas and so on at something-something bistro as at something-something pub and something-something trattoria. No, there's nothing that I considered a good value, though Elements didn't strike us as shockingly expensive for the quality... We would have spent a similar amount in Vancouver or Seattle for that kind of small plates experience (though that was with the exchange rates of 16 months ago). I've been to the crepe place, Montagne, and it's not bad; we've eaten there 2 out of 3 times in Whistler, but it wouldn't be interesting outside of Whistler and certainly far from cheap. It beats the ubiquitous Cafe Crepe in Vancouver, but that's not much to aspire to. I think we went to the Whistler Brewhouse in 2004, and it wasn't bad, though it was pretty much ordinary pub food and the same menu you see in most of the casual dining places in Whistler. On our most recent trip we only ate lunch at a unremarkable semi-Italian cafe serving fresh pastas at a relatively low price, but the quality wasn't that good. It was the only time we had eaten an under $10 meal in January, though. This has been a problem for us as well--we certainly don't mind spending $$ on dinner, but not if we don't perceive it to be a good value, and Whistler restaurants seem to be terrible values. Crepe Montagne was recommended her as a good, inexpensive place--this might have been the fondue place you referenced--but when we checked out the menu dinner crepes were $22+, and Raclette was $33 per person. !! (It's melted cheese and sliced ham for god's sake). So I'm interested to hear if anyone does have any mid range good value recommendations. We've given up looking, and just cook in a condo. I've had good beer and decent food at the Whistler Brewhouse--I wouldn't call it a must-visit, but it's nice to at least find entrees in the under $20 range. ←
  5. Most of the Amtrak routings between Seattle and Vancouver are actually buses. Also, the train isn't really that much faster than the bus. Greyhound or a Chinatown bus would work equally well. The bus is about 3-4 hours each way; driving by yourself is about 2.5-3.5 hours. Flying is occasionally reasonably priced if you track down a good deal, but Seattle's airport is a 30 minute bus ride from downtown, and Vancouver's is also about a 30 minute bus ride. Flight time is about an hour, and you'll probably need 30-60 minutes to clear airport security.
  6. I'm not a local, but I live in Seattle, which is almost local I think Hiromi and I were pretty happy with Elements, as Whistler dining options go, and Bavaria, for the whole burgerliche mountain resort fondue experience. Everything else I've tried (we didn't make it to Araxi, but we've been to the sibling West in Vancouver) in Whistler has been pretty sad. Most restaurants in Whistler strive for undifferentiation, as far as I can tell, as 80% of restaurants seems to serve the same mix of burgers, pizza, pasta, and pseudo-Mexican dishes, usually with a French, Italian, or Irish theme. I don't know about cheap accommodations in Whistler, as I've never had any luck with that, except an ostensibly inexpensive room at the Westin in late summer. But you should consider widening your search to condos and timeshares that people (and sometimes entire hotel-like operations) rent out. If you don't mind staying about 30 minutes away from the slopes you can probably expand your options a bit. We stayed in the Whistler Village area, just for the walking distance advantage. If you will have a car, staying south of Vancouver or close to the airport can save you about $40-100/night. However, walking around Robson or Broadway is much more comfortable for me than constantly battling the roads and searching for parking several times daily, so I typically just eat the additional expense now. There are some decent restaurants in the near-Robson area, but it seemed to us like Davie and Yaletown were more interesting as downtown dining goes. In Vancouver, Hiromi and I loved our meal at Cru (thanks eGullet members LauraF and Karen for putting up with us, and Mr. EatBC himself for treating us so well). We also had a very good experience, though not a flawless one, at West. (My Blog has some commentary on both). This time around, we missed out on Richmond. We had very, very decent cocktails at, I think, George, which was unfortunately crowded and noisy but we found a little hidden nook that worked well for us.
  7. It's not a restaurant, but Lake City has a very decent Persian bakery called Minoo.
  8. There is some Chinese-produced matcha which I've generally found disappointing. The "best" stuff from a Chinese vendor I know of tastes worse than the culinary grade I use from Japan. But sometimes Japanese products use large amounts of cheap, bitter matcha (a lower grade than what I usually use) which, to many people, tastes more "matcha-like". Some people prefer this to milder, higher grades because it is more intensely flavored. Thanks for the clarification, Ling. The reason I ask is because I've always been disappointed when buying "green tea" goods from our local Chinese bakeries here in Vancouver (and moon cakes from HK). I never detect much macha flavor, so I had assumed they were referring to the use of "green tea" as a broad category, rather than Japanese macha. ←
  9. Sure, it seems to make sense in an age of refrigerated transport by truck and air but historically, transporting fresh seafood via land routes more than, say, 20-30 land miles was relatively uncommon. The refrigerated transport is what's changed Japanese dietary habits. Even the distance that boats travel to obtain seafood has changed. I'm not going to go so far as to say it's a terrible thing, but it's certainly contributing to overfishing and increased seafood prices. If, 80-100 years ago, you were living in central Nagano, you would have consumed primarily river and lake fish, rather than ocean seafood, along with small game like birds and rabbits. (apparently also horse and locusts on occasion, but I don't know how long ago this goes back). Of course, refrigerated transport has made the area more densely populated, too. There wasn't historically an economy of scale for transporting highly perishable food. Even the variety of vegetables available in the early 20th century was much smaller than now.
  10. I still find it fascinating that so much ocean fish is served in mountain ryokan... often in portions unlikely to be eaten by someone who lives right on the coast on a typical day. My understanding is that the mountain diet, at least 50-100 years ago, was totally different than now. I suspect urban wealth has also increased the scale of consumption of ocean fish in areas closer to the water, too.
  11. Funny. I made some bagels (born of desperate cravings) when I was living in Germany, and offered to bring some in to the center where I was studying. The professor said, "I've heard that you can eat these with Schinken" (ham). I gritted my teeth and said, I suppose you could, but you'd be unlikely to find that at a bagel shop. Now that Noah's offers andouille sausage on their menu, I guess I can't claim that pork is impossible to find on a bagel, but it still seems anathema.
  12. Funny, when I discovered guacamole in Mexico is often no more than avocado coarsely mashed with lime, I found it a revelation. When the avocados are good, it's perfect. I only make a more complicated one when it's used as a dip for chips, in which case I usually just add salt and garlic; the salsa gets onions, garlic and cilantro). I also grew up on the ricotta version of lasagne, but most of my Italian colleagues had never heard of that until coming to the US. For them, the bechamel version was the definitive one. Though I'm sure there are regional differences, within the US Italian-American cuisine was defined by mostly poor immigrants from the South.
  13. Well, when I've gone before, it was to look for products that might be worth considering importing. I've also had several meetings there with companies that had some connection with the food industry but weren't exhibiting. There are also a bunch of presentations on trends in the food industry, but I've usually not had time for those. The Hoteres show at Tokyo Big Sight, mostly focused on foodservice and hospitality equipment and service items, hosts the nifty Japan espresso barista competition which I caught part of in 2006.
  14. They've always had a fee, though they've never offered a "purchase in advance" option. They've also always had a very-well-buried pre-registration page, which I usually see in the mailing that they send me, but I haven't been looking for that in my mailbox this year, and I might have tossed it already. That pre-registration page is how you get the "registration card" that allows you free admission once they qualify you. Since my company does some food import, I never had a problem, but it's possible they've gotten more strict with casual visitors than previously. Last year, I was in Japan just a little too late to go to FoodEx (and too early for the biennial ceramics festival at Icheon, Korea, alas), so I don't have recent information. Following the path that they link to online leads to a purchase path, and they now seem to charge per day rather than for the whole show. I think you could use your eGullet press card to register as Press though.
  15. In Takayama, wood products and wood dinnerware; sake; senbei; and those aka-kabu pickles would be my choices. There are also some local ceramic artists, some of whom have some interesting things, and you're not that far from Minou. In Kyoto, along the cobblestone road leading to Kiyomizu-dera there are a ton of ceramic shops selling dinnerware and teaware. In Kyoto I do less shopping and more eating. Although I like good knives, I'm not as obsessed with them as some people on eGullet, so I'm not sure what to recommend, but you can find decent ones almost anywhere. Even department stores have good Japanese knives, or you can hunt around Kappabashi in Tokyo.
  16. I have to miss it this year (too much money spent on immigration attorneys and international travel in the last 12 months), but do make sure you have some sort of industry credential in the form of a business card when you arrive. They keep one and staple the other to your ID. If you register in advance they'll waive the fee usually. Because food covers a lot of sectors (wholesale, distributors, restaurant, specialty food, hotel, import/export, retailers, and so on) they're not demanding about what kind of company you work for, of course.
  17. Effigy, perhaps? Too disturbing to contemplate. Though if the client's husband was picky in some way and had some fruit that he would refuse to eat, that'd be a good candidate for the flavor.
  18. The colloquial phrase "tasting menu" seems kind of new. "Menu degustation" is a bit older.
  19. I don't buy that, because there's firm evidence of cultural transfer in the opposite direction: tempura was clearly introduced by the Portuguese to Japanese elites in roughly the 16th century, and things like bread were introduced much the same way. And cooks certainly traveled with merchants who moved to Japan, China, India and elsewhere, and I'm sure at least some of them went home. In the 1500s, Spanish, Dutch, English, and Portuguese set up shop in Nagasaki and elsewhere, and of course, they were almost all sent home in 1639, except for the Dutch in Nagasaki. Certainly at hat time European agricultural technology was introduced to Japan. The tasting menu doesn't revolve around very specific ingredients, but in presentation, portioning and philosophy. All of those things can transfer long distances with the right people behind them. Since most of Japonisme and Chinoiserie was a huge distortion of the context of the aesthetics, it wouldn't seem that far-fetched to me that there's at least some connection. That's not the same as proof, of course. The tasting menu, or menu degustation, is far more modern. That tradition is roughly a hundred years old, and coincides neatly with increased foreign residences (ijinkan) in the Meiji period in Yokohama and Kobe. Foreigners in this period weren't nearly as isolated as the Dutch, either. The nouvelle cuisine movement (the 3rd one by that name) emerged after increased accessibility of air travel, and is certainly post-World War II. The connections between nouvelle cuisine and Japanese kaiseki are far less tenuous. It's also worth noting that the use of unmarinated raw fish is relatively new, and was, prior to refrigeration, somewhat unique to Tokyo, so the raw Hamachi thing probably doesn't apply.
  20. Well, I've only seen it in Ame-yoko in Ueno, so I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it seemed very similar to ika-yaki or tako-yaki at a glance, except that it was about the size of a tennis ball. Normal takoyaki is, of course, only about the size of a golf ball. I might be recalling the name incorrectly. I was curious about it because although I never noticed it before, on my October/November trip there were at least 3 street vendors selling it.
  21. I think she's been around for a while but has only been supplying sweets to the Urasenke school (tea ceremony school) in Montlake while trying to arrange for the money to convert the place to a licensed kitchen. The sign went up just a month or two ago. I think she's been doing open houses about once a month. Neptune Coffee down the street sometimes has her dora-yaki, but I usually just make my own. At the Urasenke school they serve the more complicated sweets that require special equipment, which should vary by season. I suspect, due to the health codes in the US that treat cooked beans and rice as potentially hazardous foods and require refrigeration even though that's the most evil thing you can do to mochi and joshinko based confections, that most of the better sweets will require advance orders.
  22. Just out of curiosity, is anyone a fan of "Ueno-yaki", the massive, tennis-ball shaped thing that seems to be a variant of tako-yaki?
  23. I think I'll stick to my Walla Walla sweets (when in season, anyway), which have less sulfur and don't seem to cause much tearing for me. When I need to chop a lot of onions at once, maybe I'll break out the contact lenses. Nearsightedness has its advantages.
  24. Bonito is just the English word for a katsuo-like fish. Katsuo is usually skipjack tuna. The word bonito isn't used in Japanese. Katsuobushi is used for the dried fish and refers to already shaved katsuo (or at least strongly implies that it's been dried and shaved)
  25. I think my most impressive airport experience was at Copenhagen. I exited customs while waiting for my Dublin-bound flight and ordered some fresh juice and a pastry. The pastry was forgettable anywhere else but an airport, but it made me think that even airports can serve something besides stale freezer-burned crap. The line back in through customs was non-existent, so it was a nice and pleasant distraction. Narita has a bunch of adequate stuff on the 4th and 5th floors of whichever terminal that United usually departs from. I'm less excited about eating once I'm past the passport control and all that, but it's still not as bad as the average US airport, and the convenience stores and omiyage shops inside the departure terminal are a far sight above the average "news and snacks" shop inside a US airport. SeaTac has been getting better, at least if you haven't crossed the security gates, as they've made an effort to bring in local businesses in the last two years or so. Kathy Casey has some project that serves better-than-average-coffee-shop fare; Diva Espresso serves their cafe medici, a mocha with an orange peel; Alki bakery has some sort of presence. None of those are places I'd go out of my way for in the city, but they're a welcome relief from the standardized fare inside. I can't remember actually eating there, but Denver seemed to have some reasonably interesting stuff too. Not so fond of O'Hare, from a food or logistics perspective. Also not so fond of Minneapolis, though I haven't passed through there in about 10 years.
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