Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Snapshot: Brunia Blossoms


Spotted at the TasFarmGate Market in Hobart, Tasmania, these Brunia Albiflora blossoms were too extraordinary not to snap up in photo form. Native to South Africa, these pine-reminiscent "blossoms" must be popular. When I came around again with my regular camera, they were gone.

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Review of El Pato at Metropolis Magazine


Craft beer in Japan is on the rise, and as a Wisconsinite, it is my duty to search it out, sample, and then offer up an opinion. Oh, the hard life of a writer. Luckily, there are places like El Pato in Koenji, a little place a friend recommended a few years ago, and one we've returned to again and again. It just seemed reasonable to share the good news with others. Have a read and then head on over. You won't be disappointed in the beer or the food.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets: Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th

Chris Chamley and friends of Hobart Kitchen Gardens.
Tas Farm Gate, Hobart, Tasmania.

The rain continues to haunt us, although the sun seems to manage to force its way through on occasion. Don't let either stop you from wandering out to enjoy the markets this weekend. Spring is a great time to find the elusive sansai, savor the last of the winter vegetables, and perhaps nibble on the first few of spring. It is also a great time to find seedlings at the market and talk to growers about growing methods and suggestions. It really is just so much fun!

Sunday, April 26th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month the market will be a a three-day wonderland of organic and fair trade goodness not to be missed. Come frolic and enjoy!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out
Map

Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama
Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kanagawa Garden Update

Current state of my Kanagawa Garden.
I've not posted much about this, but I have a garden. While not quite as dramatic a story as my Tokyo garden, it is just as wonderful.

Friends I'd made in a nearby community garden suggested I see about renting a spot. We talked to the manager, and he said some were available. My friends helped me choose one. This was in winter. "You can't plant anything now," said the manager. I said I would just do some planning. Then one by one other members of the plot came over to say hello. They, of course, brought with them seedlings from their own gardens. Within the span of two hours I went from no garden to a garden with a handful of plants (lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and strawberries) and mulch.

Since then I have puttered and potted up seeds, fretted and fertilized with well-composted manure, gathered leaves and grass clippings for mulch. I have a garden journal with a tidy diagram of what I plan to do and on another page is a messy diagram of what actually happened. Seedlings fill the living room, the garden itself, and I'm already planning to order more. I am pathetically happy.

What has been added since that time are potatoes (on the right under netting to help hold the leaf mulch in place), peas to the right of the potatoes, and tulips in the front left by the previous owner. Under the netting on the left are a few cabbage and broccoli as well as karashina, swiss chard, kale, and beets. The strawberries are in the back of the photo on the right side of the netting. Cilantro is there, too, as are alyssum and a sprinkling of radishes here and there. Further back is where the tomatoes and popcorn will go along with the squash and watermelon. The two white garbage bags hold my assorted bits of mulch. I repeat: I am pathetically happy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets: Saturday, April 18th and Sunday, April 19th


Eliza Wood of Mount Gnomon Farm and helper.
Tas Farm Gate Market, Hobart.

After nearly two straight weeks of rain the sun appears to be back. What better time to venture out and soak up some of those lovely spring vegetables, including sansai and nanohana. And what better time for it to arrive than the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! There is a fantastic selection of markets to visit, so use this opportunity to visit a new one or an old favorite. Have fun and see you at the market!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, April 19th
Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that Do One Good, an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you!
11am to 5pm
Map

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, April 18th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, April 18th and Sunday, April 19th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!
10am to 5pm

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, April 19th
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
10am to 3pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out
Map

Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama
Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, April 11th and Sunday, April 12th


Scott of Krumbies and one of his oh-so-brilliant pies.
Tas Farm Gate Farmers Market, Hobart, Tasmania.
Spring is in the air...along with a fair bit of wind and rain. The garden vegetables are happy, but the rest of us would surely be glad for a wee bit of sunshine. Whip up a bowl of houtou udon and then head on out to one of these great markets to find the best seasonal fruits and vegetables in the region.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, April 11th and Sunday, April 12th
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to have a bit of an Italian theme, too. Cheese, anyone?. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out
Map

Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama
Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Farmers Market Review: Slow Food Melbourne Farmers Market - Melbourne, Australia

Second in a series about farmers markets visited during a three-week stay in Melbourne and Tasmania. Oh, the memories...

Chock-a-block with good food at Slow Food Melbourne's Market.
Of all the farmers markets I visited in Melbourne, the Slow Food Market stole my heart. The Queen Victoria Market may lie in the heart of the city steeped in history and with no shortage of good food, but it is difficult to beat the charm and atmosphere of this monthly market. Set on the grounds of the historic Abbotsford Convent, the market offers seasonal fruit and vegetables from organic, biodynamic, forest and permaculture growers and producers. Chocolate, meat, fish, pesto, honey, jam, and more baked goods than should be legal in one setting rub shoulders with seedlings (flowers, herbs, vegetables, and perennials), hummus, and eggs. And that’s just a taste of what’s available at this friendly event.

More than ants in your pants...
My husband and I arrived about an hour after the market opened to find it already busy with shoppers coming and going through the gate in the stone wall surrounding the convent. We paid our $2 per person donation and stepped into what can be described as a festival of fresh food. Everywhere we looked stalls overflowed with food, customers and good cheer. We ambled around the grounds admiring apples and squash (it is fall now on this opposite side of the world), ducking under arches and around corners of the old buildings, and I felt as though I’d landed in a fresh food version of the Ludlow Food Festival.

Oh, delightful pears...
Part of a series of markets accredited by the Victoria Farmers Market Association, the rules are that only the grower or producer can sell. It shows in the camaraderie and quality. Queen Vic is big and wonderful, but this market showcased the benefits of small and intimate. Customers spent time talking with the growers and producers sorting out recipes, tasting varieties,or asking about growing methods. More than one baby was passed across a pile of fresh produce or table of carefully stacked honey to be cuddled and admired, and I overheard more than one “So, how’s your family?” This was shopping, but it was also community. Growers and producers chat with their customers and the atmosphere is undeniably festive even on a gray day that threatened rain.

Dr. Marty and those amazing crumpets.
We spent a fair bit of time chatting with Dr. Marty, a chef now immersed in the crumpet business, and his wife. As we munched and asked questions around our toasted-to-order crumpets, we were amazed to hear Marty had only been crumpeting for 18 months. “He made crumpets for one of the businesses he worked for,” said his wife as she toasted a pair of crumpets for another customer, “and then made them at home one night. I said, 'Oh, these are really good. You’ve got something here.'” Marty’s crumpets can be found at a few cafes around town, but the markets are his mainstay. 

“The markets are where we started. It’s a great way to see if your idea will work,” said Marty. As I wiped a stray drop of melted butter from my chin, I felt quite certain his idea was working. 

We sat down for breakfast from the Convent Bakery, one of eight permanent cafes on site, to quiet our still-growling stomachs. We lingered over cups of strong coffee, thick slices of chicken and veg quiche and perfectly moist coconut macaroons (because a good cookie is hard to find and macaroons are one of my favorites.) We felt slightly envious of those who lived here.

Never enough apples for me...



I struck up a conversation with a nearby group of women enjoying a coffee, surrounded by their day’s harvest. One of them had a collapsible shopping trolley I admired. I’d seen similar versions at nearly every market we went to over the course of our week in the city, and asked if I could take a photograph. The wheeled frame unfolds to support two wire baskets that she rolled about from stall to stall. 

The collapsible trolley.


“This is one of four markets we go to every week,” she said as I snapped my picture. “We’ve been coming about ten years. This is one of the best.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Abbotsford Convent
Fourth Saturday of every month
8am to 1pm

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions


Dr. Marty and his lovely crumpets.
Slow Food Melbourne Farmers Market.
Oh, the joys of April. Rain and hamami combine to form the prettiest mess a person could ask for, and farmers and gardeners everywhere are out in it planting seeds and setting out fair seedlings. My mouth is watering at the thought of homegrown potatoes, beets, kale, and Swiss Chard. All of these just sprouted in my garden, and I'm gaily munching my way through a few last winter vegetables. Head on out to one of these great markets and find a taste of Spring!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, April 5th and Sunday, April 19th
Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) It's worth noting, too, that Do One Good, an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you!
11am to 5pm
Map

Market of the Sun
Saturday, April 11th and Sunday, April 12th
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to have a bit of an Italian theme, too. Cheese, anyone?. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, April 18th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, April 18th and Sunday, April 19th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!
10am to 5pm

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, April 19th
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
10am to 3pm
Oiso Port Building

Sunday, April 26th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month the market will be a a three-day wonderland of organic and fair trade goodness not to be missed. Come frolic and enjoy!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out
Map

Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama
Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

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