Friday, February 22, 2019

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24

Ebisu Marche awesome every weekend!

As the month winds down, the markets become a little scarce but not impossible to find. Head on out to one of these lovely spots and see what you might find! The farmers will be there, bundled up, and ready to answer any questions you might have. Enjoy!

Kamome Marche
Saturday, February 23
Set on the upper level of the Yokohama Bay Quarter, this little market offers nice variety given its size. Vendors from Yamanashi, Yokohama, and other parts of Kanagawa brave the steady ocean breeze and offer everything up from fruit to wine to fresh vegetables.
11am - 5pm
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17

Happy Valentine's Day!
Salty sweet snack from Kichijoji Marche.

Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! There are no shortages of great markets to visit, awesome growers and producers to meet, and, of course, heaps of good food to be had, too. Peruse the list, take your pick, and head out the door!

Koenji Farmers Market

Saturday, February 16*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there. I haven't been wrong yet about the date, but there is always a first time for everything.
11am - 6pm
Map

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, February 17
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
9am - 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, February 17
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler!
7am - 10am

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10

Snacks and cool soap at Kichijoji's Asaichi! Get up and get down there!

A tidy little handful of markets this weekend. Snow is forecast for Saturday, so be aware that things may get slowed down some. Be patient with yourself and others as you hunt for veg for whatever tasty dish you've got in mind. Be careful, too, as Tokyo and environs are populated with people who don't always know exactly what to do when it snows. Check market websites before heading out to make sure they are still going or going the full amount of time.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10
It's hard to believe this 'new' market is already five years old! Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche) professes to be one of the largest, and it is certainly a good one. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Winter Recipes: Greens

The riot of greens going on in my garden right now.

You might be surprised that I still visit farmers markets in winter, or that winter is my favorite season for vegetables in Japan.

"What is growing now?  It's too cold, isn't it?" you ask with eyebrows raised and often leaning back a bit as though afraid of what I might say next. When I talk about winter vegetables, you may lean even further back, and I'll worry that you might fall off your chair.

It is then my pleasure to tell you (or anyone else within earshot, frankly) of foods you already know: daikon and kabu, komatsuna and hourensou (spinach) as well as some you may not - norabo and kale (including the ornamental variety in pots just now), shungiku (edible chrysanthemum greens) and karashina. Mizuna, too, is on the list as are negi (long onions) and hakusai (Chinese cabbage) plus those old friends, kabbetsu (cabbage) and broccoli. Many of these are available real round in grocery stores, but winter is the season when they really shine.

Each of these vegetables can grow at warmer times of the year, but many actually taste better during the winter. Kale, broccoli, cabbage, and norabo, for example, become a bit sweeter with a good frost. Their natural reaction to the cold is to pump sugar into their leaves and stems to keep them from freezing. So, even though those leaves may be tinged a bit red or purple, they are delicious.

If these plants grow at a warmer time of the year, they may rush through their growing cycle, flower, and go to seed. Again, the doesn't mean they aren't edible. They are still delicious but in a slightly different form. Think of it as steak versus hamburger. Both are beef, but delicious in either form.

By this time, you're wide-eyed and nodding your head as this new world opens up before you. Later, you might even tell me that you shared this information with friends, who were just as pleasantly surprised. That's my hope, at least, which probably means I am evangelizing for vegetables. I'm glad to do it. If you understand what is available at this time of year and why it looks the way it does, then chances are good you'll buy it and eat it. That, in turn, is good for the growers and good for the plants. If we eat those things, then farmers will keep planting them.

However, I digress.

The next question is how to cook these vegetables. Most Japanese people know, but they are often curious what I, a foreigner, do with these items, and other foreigners are often wishing they had some idea of what to do. They would like to eat them, of course, but they hold back because they don't want to invest in something they don't know the first thing about. Here are my suggestions, ranging from full-on recipes to simple tricks.

Goma Ai Shungiku
This is a very simple traditional recipe for making shungiku, but with a minor adjustment of the boiling time you can substitute any of the greens found at farmers markets or chokubaijo (direct sale stands). Shungiku spends less than a minute in the boiling water, but other, more tender greens, like komatsuna and spinach, should only be in about ten seconds of so. Sturdier greens like norabo, kale, and broccoli leaves should be about the same as shungiku.

Mottainai Tip: Save that vegetable water for a broth or cooking rice. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it for later.

Kimchi
Don't turn up your nose or shy away from a dish that might feel intimidating. Making it is not difficult, and unlike my recipe for it, you don't have to keep it in the bathtub. There is also a Bulgarian version I learned last year, but I don't know the recipe off-hand. I'm on the hunt and will add it here when I've got it and tried it for myself.

Nanohana no Kurashi
This is truly a classic spring dish, but folks can cheat a little bit and serve it up early with komatsuna, spinach, or norabo.

Salad
Well, there is no recipe here, actually, but this is easily my favorite way to eat winter vegetables. I simply gather stems from whatever greens I have, whack up the leafy parts, and toss it together with vinegar, olive oil, and shouyu (soy sauce). Throw in carrot, daikon and kabu, if you like. If you have edible flowers like violas and pansies, both winter hardy bloomers, add those for visual delight. Sprigs of habotan (ornamental kale) can get snipped and tossed in, too.  (It's edible and decorative, bless its' leafy little heart.)

Blanching Greens
If you have a garden of greens and a limited capacity for eating them in a timely manner, you can blanche and freeze them. I don't have a pressure canner or a dehydrator, so this is the best method I've found for preserving. I should mention that I get a little lazy and don't cut them up perhaps as much as I should. I then end up with long stemmy bits in my soup. They are quite edible but not attractive.

Soup
OK, so there is no recipe here, either, but just some advice. I often cut up our fresh greens and place them in the bottom of our soup bowls. When the soup is ready, I just ladle it over the top and serve. The greens become the most beautiful shade of green and are softened just the right amount.

Have other ideas or suggestions? Please share!

Friday, February 1, 2019

February Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Tasty chai mix at Kichijoji Asaichi!

This short month is off to a tumultuous start. Warm, then cold, then warm, then snow. Who knows what each day will hold?  Luckily, each one can hold some tasty food! Head on out to one of these lovely markets and see what wonders you can find.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10
It's hard to believe this 'new' market is already five years old! Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche) professes to be one of the largest, and it is certainly a good one. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, February 16*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there. I haven't been wrong yet about the date, but there is always a first time for everything.
11am - 6pm
Map

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, February 17
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
9am - 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche

*No market until March!)
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, February 17
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler!
7am - 10am

Kamome Marche
Saturday, February 23
Set on the upper level of the Yokohama Bay Quarter, this little market offers nice variety given its size. Vendors from Yamanashi, Yokohama, and other parts of Kanagawa brave the steady ocean breeze and offer everything up from fruit to wine to fresh vegetables.
11am - 5pm
Map

Osonbashi Marche
**No new dates scheduled yet**
This new market in Yokohama is one I have only seen a poster and website for, but not been to yet. The venue should be beautiful, and I have no doubt the offerings will be good. Keep in mind that it is relatively new, so it might be small. However, markets don't get bigger and better if you don't go to them and support the people there. I can't go this month, but I'd love to hear from anyone who does!
10:30am to 3:30pm
Nihon-Oodoori Station
Look for the exit for the International Ferry Passenger Terminal and follow the signs.

Greenmarket Sumida
**No market until March 2**
How will we manage?!?
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Earth Day Market
**No New Dates Scheduled**
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!