Friday, January 27, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: January 28th and 29th














Sally forth this weekend into the sunny and clear days of Tokyo winter to find some of the best food in town, whether as fresh ingredients for dinner or as prepared by the regions growers and producers. Miso making season nears (February is the traditional time to whip it together), which might mean the opportunity to add it to the collection of shus - yuzu, sumomo, and ume - tucked away in some corner or another. (Or is that just my apartment?)

Earth Day Market
Sunday, January 29
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!

Every Saturday and Sunday in December
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 vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.)
10am to 4pm
Every Saturday in January
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in January
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kichijjoji Market Back on the Radar

A few months ago the Kichijoji Farmer's Market seemed to fall off the radar. I couldn't find a listing for it in the usual places, and worried it had folded for a lack of customer interest or leadership. Imagine my delight this past weekend then when I happened by in the pouring rain to find a slightly chilled but incredibly cheerful group of growers and producers (primarily from Tohoku) on hand with an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and sweets. (Those who follow me on Twitter will have had a preview of the photos here and my exuberance at finding the market.)

Held the third weekend of each month, the market thrives. (Even as I chatted with market manager, what's-her-name, I had to keep a careful eye on the "strawberry cats" I'd spotted earlier.) Small but with good variety, visitors will find fifteen to twenty vendors set up under bright red awnings. Kids are guaranteed a bit of fun as well with a hands-on crafting activity.

The market may be done for this January, but watch for it as part of the monthly schedule of Tokyo farmers markets and plan to head on over.

Kichijoji Farmer's Market
Third weekend each month
10am to 5pm
Map
Directions: Head out South Exit of Kichijoji Station toward Inokashira Park. Cross the small street and continue south to the park. You'll see the market at the next large intersection just in front of The Body Shop on the first floor of the Marui Department Store.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: January 21st and 22nd

Asakusa Festival Bean Sellers

Not to be missed this weekend is the rocking UN University Night Market and the ever-lovely Ebisu Market along with Gyre's cozy market. While there are more possible places to go this weekend, the selection on offer won't be remotely limited. Catch the bounty of winter while you can!

Sunday, January 22*
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.
*A bit of a guess as the calendar on the site has not been updated for January as of this publication. I'll confirm as I can.

Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22
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

Every Saturday and Sunday in December
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 vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.)
10am to 4pm

Saturday, January 21
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
8pm - ?

Every Saturday in January
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in January
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ume Hachimitsu Jam

 One of the leftovers of umehachimitsu are the plums or ume. Last year I made marmalade with the yuzu peels I removed from the yuzushu, but I never quite sorted out what to do with the ume from the hachimitsu or the umeshu. This year I decided to try making jam.

Remembering the damson jam served from the larder of good friends in England and those sampled at Ludlow, I perused a few recipes. These simple ones and this one for plum butter caught my imagination, but for the first batch I thought I would keep additions to a minimum. The flavor would be different as these weren't fresh dark damsons plucked from the tree by Daniel's Mill, but rather these little fatties had loitered in honey and vinegar for a handful of months. In the end, I based my experiment in the Ball Blue Book recipe for damson jam.

The resulting flavor is tart, salty, and sweet, and not quite what one might expect on morning toast. I think with cheese it would be lovely, although I am enjoying it very much on its own. It's also not an overly attractive jam - nothing like the octopus-resembling eggplant pickles - but it's still darn yummy.

Ume Hachimitsu Jam
1 kg ume from the bottom of the umehachimitsu jar
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water*

Place ume, sugar, and water* in a saucepan, and slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves, and stir regularly to keep it from burning. Once it boils, then continue boiling rapidly until the jam reaches a gelling point. Remove it from the heat, and lade the hot jam into hot jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Caveats
Water - I opted to use some of the ume hachimitsu liquid for no reason other than the fact that it was on hand. It may have made it stickier and the flavor stronger overall. My next batch I will opt for the water and see what happens.

Pits - Ume are a stone fruit, and while some folks opt to leave them in I decided they represented a high enough dental hazard that I should get them out. The ume skin proved rather resilient even after a fair amount of cooking, so I brought out my antique potato masher from America. (Pictured with the pits at left.) It crushed the ume nicely, which released the stones for me to spoon out. My husband later took them to the office as a unique sweet treat, and a co-worker said the taste reminded her of tamarind.

Amount - By morning's end, I found myself looking at about three pints of jam. I was a little disappointed, to be honest, as I come from the land of big batches for big canners. Next year, I may commit a canning sin and simply double the recipe.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: January 14th and 15th

Heirloom kabu at December's Earth Day Market 
The list for this weekend might be small, but sometimes having fewer choices is a good thing. And remember, it's only the possible locations to visit that are limited. The selection of items - from crafts, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to pickles, to jams, to a big, beautiful bag of rice or a small package of tea - knows only the boundaries of the shopping bag in hand and the creativity of the growers and producers present that day. If you ask me, there's no better way to spend a winter weekend.

Every Saturday and Sunday in December
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 vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.)
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday in January
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in January
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tokyo's January Farmer's Markets


A new year, and a new calendar of markets and food events! As this goes live I'm savoring my last days of Hokkaido snow, but looking forward to getting back to my garden chores (seriously) and making a list of markets around the country that I want to hit. (There's one near Osaka that a new market friend put me on to, so I'm dreaming a road trip there. We'll have to see.) Meanwhile, perhaps I'll see you out and about at one of these!

SUN Grocery in Shinjuku
Saturday, January 7
11am to 3pm
A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers.

Shinonome Earth Day Market
Sunday, January 8
9am to 2pm
A great little market worth a visit not just because it's all organic all the time, but you'll have those free samples all to yourself as well as a great opportunity to meet a small handful of growers and producers who don't necessarily make it to the larger market in Yoyogi.
Map

Sunday, January 8 and Sunday, January 22*
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.
*A bit of a guess as the calendar on the site has not been updated for January as of this publication. I'll confirm as I can.

Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22
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

A December visit to Tokyo's Earth Day Market revealed the occurrence of a new occasional organic market in Kichijoji. This one takes place in Inokashira Park - a perfect spot for a market if ever there was one - and promises only to grow. I remain hopeful that some of our Mitaka growers will move in and strut their stuff.

Another sad note here as C-Cafe's building is undergoing demolition. The cafe will be closed for about a year, but may resurface periodically for fun food events. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Sunday, January 29
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!

Every Saturday and Sunday in December
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 vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.)
10am to 4pm

Saturday, January 21
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
8pm - ?

Every Saturday in January
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in January
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!