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Showing posts from November, 2011

Eggplant Pickles: Summer's Official End

It feels absurd to write that title near the end of November and just after friends and family in America celebrated Thanksgiving. But there is a grain of truth of in it as the eggplant field still remains at the farm, home to the summer vegetable of Japan. Since arriving in Japan in the 8th century, it's made itself right at home. The exact road it traveled I don't know, but this is a country that loves it with a fervent passion. The first eggplant of the summer is met with a joy that merits a holiday of its own, and the last of this deep-hued favorite is similarly mourned. Even though it is not my favorite vegetable and summer is nowhere near my favorite season, I well understand the sadness that comes with the end of the season. I am sorry to see one of the grandest of our fields and crops come to a close. The low slant of light this time of year always engenders a certain nostalgic feeling in me, not in the least I'm sure, because it makes everything around m

Tokyo's Farmer's Markets: November 26th and 27th

December approaches and the winter bounty continues. Head on out to one of these most excellent markets to see what the season has to offer. And don't hesitate to share a recipe or two, too. I'm always on the look-out for something new to make! Gyre Market Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y. 11am to 5pm Map Earth Day Market Sunday, November 27 I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. 10am to 4pm, Rain or shine! Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in November A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan

Chestnut Liqueur ala Tokyo

I am an imperfectionist. At times I refer to it as laziness, i.e. not removing the pith from the yuzu when making yuzushu , and while other times I imply a certain creativity. Really, it's a blatant disregard for direction. Even as I read a recipe I wonder if a step is really necessary or if a particular ingredient could be switched with something I have or can easily find in Japan. Even so, despite faithfully-made shopping lists, I change my mind in a flash as I catch sight of another potentially scrumptious addition, and the original formula carefully concocted by professionals and those much more experienced than I is lost. Such is the case with my first ever batch of chestnut liqueur . Spotted on Twitter the concept sounded like a perfect fit with my year of shus. How could I not add this one to my little family of blueberry , rhubarb , plum , and two varieties of ume shus? It was no surprise then that one late October afternoon found me parking my bike in front of a

Tokyo's Farmer's Markets: November 19th and 20th

Quite a few more markets than last weekend, including the most excellent UN University Night Market. Lots of good stuff to be had as always at all of them, so make a list for the week and make your way. It's a great chance to practice Japanese, learn new recipes, and get a peek into Japan's evolving food scene. Ebisu Market Sunday, November 20 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for introducing me to dried natto and tea seedpods . Map C-Cafe Organic Brunch Sunday, November 20 Another hidden gem, but this time over in Mitaka and of some of the best local organic eats around. Wear your elastic-waist pants and make the trek! 11:30am to 2pm Access UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in November A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, the curry I had during my last visit from one of the

Tokyo's Farmer's Markets: November 12th and 13th

Only a small handful of markets this weekend, but that only means it will be easier to decide where to go! As temperatures drop, dishes like oden , houtou udon , or sweet potato stew sound more scrumptious than ever, and the best part is that all the ingredients are in season at this very moment. Why, it might even be time for a fresh batch of kimchi , too! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in November 10am to 4pm Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday in October A recent first visit to this market was good fun, and the covered roof means its perfect for damp days, too. 10am to 2pm Map Kinshicho Market Every Saturday and Sunday in October 11am to 5pm Map Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list! Taken at the Roppongi Farmer's Market in October, these apples got me dreaming of all the tasty ones I sampled during our trip to England. And got me thinking about my yuzu-apple-ginger marmalade , too. You can probably hear my stomach growling fro

Himomo Sprouts New Life

The brilliant himomo or ornamental peach tree , a much admired spring bloomer, showed signs of new life recently. Blown down by Typhoon Roke in late September, the farmers left a somewhat tall stump standing in hopes new sprouts would grow. These little leaves are the first signs of new growth, and since taking this photo two weeks ago a handful more dot the trunk. A quick count of the rings showed the tree was a mere ten-years-old when the storm arrived, which means with any luck we'll work again in her shade again soon.

Ishinomaki's Tsunami Gardens

This past Saturday we returned from a week of volunteering with Peace Boat in Ishinomaki . Devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, Ishinomaki presents another facet of the disaster. These days the majority of media attention focuses on the Daiichi Power Plant and Fukushima Prefecture's efforts to emerge from that radioactive shadow . Yet, what's not covered is the continuing struggle of Tohoku's coastal communities - large and small alike - to emerge and rebuild. What we saw was both uplifting and heart-breaking, and I struggle to wrap my mind around it all much less find the words to describe it in a meaningful way to others.The water forced its way into each and every home and business without exception, and left behind a jumbled mass of debris large and small. Many buildings have been cleared and cleaned, but many more remain broken and jumbled. Trees stand mostly dead with branches still full of debris, and the landscape is mostly

Tokyo's November Farmer's Markets

November is the beginning of my favorite season wherever I live: winter. I thrive in cooler temperatures and crisp winds. Tokyo's trademark blue skies this time of year are bonus material of the best kind, and if snow crunched underfoot I'd be the happiest of citizens. In lieu of that crunching snow, though, I get what I firmly believe is one of the best growing seasons here. The absolute bounty of greens , fantastic root vegetables, as well as dried fruits and crafty concoctions like miso is an eater's delight. And what better place to find all of these and more than a local farmer's market? SUN Grocery in Shinjuku Saturday, November 5 11am to 3pm A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers. Map Ebisu Market Sunday, November 6 and Sunday, November 20 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for i