Monday, July 23, 2012

Natsu Mikan  なつ ミかん

I've been wanting to try one of these for so long but somehow every time I stopped to admire them in the shiny glass cabinets of the local food hall I would shrug my shoulders, turn and keep walking... there was some lingering memory, way in the back alleys of my child-mind that somehow linked to the vision and reminded me of those "healthy" kid's b'day parties from my childhood when some "do-gooder" parent would go to the trouble of making relatively "healthful" party treats - when all we wanted was some cocktail franks, fairy bread and lolly bags filled with all kinds of crap  - and on that odd basis I was worried I'd be disappointed in this delicacy as a dessert.  Particularly odd and ironic as I would be the first one to be "do-gooding" should I be hosting my own children's parties... should I not have forgotten to have kids...  

Natsu Mikan is a particularly large summer Mandarin or Tangerine - they are very refreshing, a little tart but with just enough sweetness. This wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet), from Kyoto's famous Oimatsu in Arashiyama, is available in early summer when the fruit is in season. I was fortunate enough to be gifted one by my friend Tamai san when he came to visit one afternoon. I was extremely happy to receive it as, finally, I would get to taste this sweet that I'd been ignoring for the most obscure of reasons. 

It was delicious - served chilled , the sweet-tart jelly made from the freshly squeezed juice was one of the most refreshing desserts I might ever possibly enjoy on a summer's evening.  I highly recommend seeking one out if you are in Kyoto town during summer. And I might just have to steal the idea for my next book... shhhh...

Milk and cookies at Iyemon Salon

Kyoto's Iyemon Salon is one of those places that's easy to go to any time of the day - they do brekky  - a rarity in Kyoto town, lunch, dinner and pretty much everything in between in the calm but cavernous space.  Plus there is internet available if you need it and a great little design store upstairs.  

One afternoon not so long ago a friend and I stopped in for a cuppa after a long walk and found that they have a delightful little cookie plate on offer with your drinks.. mine this time, an iced Matcha milk. Oishii! The perfect afternoon pick me up. 

More HERE (don't forget to use Google Chrome with auto translator on so it converts to English or your own language. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quick trip home to Australia May/June 2012

A whirlwind trip back to Sydney and Melbourne recently made me feel the teensiest bit homesick. The weather really turned it on for us. Here's a few shots of Sydney's Manly and surrounds. Gorgeous!
Just a little breezy too! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Niti cafe and bar Gion にち カフエ

Hello, we are currently in the process of moving all Japan-related material to Jane's ZENBU TOURS site. This post has already moved to HERE.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sigh... Lunch at Quay. Well someone's gotta do it...

A brief trip to Sydney at the end of May couldn't have ended on a higher high. My lovely friends at Quay restaurant invited myself and partner for lunch before we jumped back on the plane to Kyoto. It was such a pleasure to experience a meal here again after so long and to introduce my ex wine maker boy to the joys of both the food and wine menus, the vista and the wonderful Mr John Fink and Kylie Ball. Thank you guys xx

 Chef Gilmore was on leave at the time but the gorgeous and talented Analiese Gregory did him proud as usual. We love starchef Analiese. Pocket rocket and style queen to boot.

If you have seen my prior posts on Quay you will know that I am more than a fan. So instead of repeating myself with the same culinary superlatives I will simply provide a few shots and descriptions of particular dishes. All of which... needless to say really.. ROCKED!!
Fragrant Jasmine tea poached chicken, shaved hand dived sea scallops, Chinese artichokes, smoked white eggplant cream, pea blossoms, perfumed with Korean virgin black sesame oil
Gentle braise prawns, octopus, diamond shell clams, heirloom radish, pink turnips, baby squid and sea urchin
Smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, shaved scallop, Jerusalem artichoke leaves, juniper, bay
Shiitake, chestnut and nameko mushrooms, root vegetables, aged gouda custard, hazelnuts, white lentil leaves, cumin
Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil
John Fink and Kylie ball - always great to see the crew enjoying a meal in their own restaurant!
Jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets (oh mama!)
Nitrogen frozen vanilla mousse, fresh mangosteen, custard apple, feijoa ice cream, coconut cream
If you are Australian I probably don't need to tell you that above is the Guava Snowegg - one of Quay's now famous signature desserts (partially thanks to its debut on Masterchef) and below is the 8 textured chocolate cake that Mr Fink will have you believe I wet my pants over when I first tasted it...  that story has slightly evolved from the original description of my blushing, tears and laughter - which were actual responses.  Just to set the record straight!  But the pants wetting makes a good story so I am happy for him to sustain the myth - and just pray it doesn't escalate!
Money shot!
These truffles were so good I bagged some and took them home to friends we were staying with - who really did wet their pants....

Thanks again lovely Quay peeps  - especially to the staff who were on duty that day who always make me feel like I am walking into a relaxed but special party at a friend's place. xx

Saturday, July 7, 2012