Cherry Blossoms Bloom So Fast

IMG_1885I’m not sure if you can tell but compared to the other photo I took here, the patchy trees are fuller. In only half a day!

I can’t believe how quickly they bloom. I am so fortunate to live right by the Cherry Blossom canals. It’s only a 15-20 minute walk from my home so I can quickly stroll by to watch the progress.

Today is Saturday. The canals should be avoided at all costs during weekends. I mean, yesterday was only a Friday. Around 3:30PM on a weekday, the cherry blossoms not yet in full bloom, the canals were already packed.

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So many people taking selfies…

Mainly Japanese people – a sprinkle of tourists here and there.

Now, onto the food stands!

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Cherry Blossom Season has Arrived!

I’m still deciding which I prefer: Japan’s foliage or cherry blossom season. They both make me so happy. 

The cherry blossoms are about to blossom so I strolled to the famous Nakameguro canals to check it out before the crowds come hoarding in. This place gets packed. Jam packed. Like Time’s Square on NYE packed. I’m pretty lucky as I can walk there in about 15 minutes. So popping by for lunch is super convenient for me. 

The blossoms are almost there but still patchy. Can’t wait until they are in full bloom. 

 

And another one: 

 

 

Stunning already. 

But the best part, are the food stands that set up during this heavily trafficked time. Yesterday I had lunch from the rotisserie stand. And it was seriously bomb dot com. 

   

  

The chicken is roasted above the potatoes so the chicken juice cooks with them. Yum. 

The skin was so crispy and the chicken so tender and juicy. I almost cried eating this. 

I have more photos – will add later as I’m on the go! 

 

My Ex’s Out of Control Adobo and Kinilaw

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Padada City, Mindanao, Philippines

You should’ve had my baby.

What a way to start a conversation.

Last week an ex almost gave me a heart attack with that text. But he is constantly inconsistent and full of surprises which is why he is, and will always remain, my favorite ex. He is not the first guy I dated but the first who stole my heart.

The year was 2007. May of 2007 to be exact. I was splitting time between NY and LA and visiting the SF Bay Area where I was raised. As soon as I landed, several girlfriends dragged me to “Two Dollar Tuesdays” at a local club. We walk in, grab our drinks and take over the dance floor like we always do at clubs. A group of guys try dancing with us, like most groups of guys at clubs do. A birthday was being celebrated and I end up dancing with the birthday boy.

Out of the corner of my eye I spot him.

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Deciphering Sushi Garnish

 

This is aji from the Mie prefecture, over akazu rice. Aka is red. Zu su or osu is vinegar. Akazu is used in Edomae Edo is what Tokyo was called sushi, the traditional Tokyo sushi. Red vinegar sleeps for three years before it can be used for consumption.

Akazu vinegar sushi basically ruined me from enjoying sushi made with clear vinegar. The acids are toned down and akazu draws out the flavors of the fish. It can only be used in the freshest fish and the results are absolutely magical.

Aji, is a hikari mono shiny fish because the fish are really shiny. In Japanese, hikari mono indicates a more prominent sea taste vs subtle ocean like with shiro mi zakana white fish like trouts and snappers (hirame, tai, hamachi, etc.)

Now the toppings seem complex but really not. It complements the fish and rice instead of taking over the flavors. This one piece of nigiri was a stand-out.

1. daikon oroshi grated daikon
Daikon is a Japanese radish and is in season during the winter. It’s used in grated form added to many foods in Japanese cuisine. It’s topped on grilled or raw fish, added to udon, rice bowls, grilled vegetables like eggplant. In solid form, daikon is added to a lot of our winter dishes like oden, nabe hot pot. Daikon and daikon oroshi is a must in any Japanese kitchen.

This piece of nigiri had a teensy dollop of daikon oroshi.

2. Kujyo negi
Negi is Japanese green onions or scallions. Kujyo negi is just a variation of Japanese green onion. The root portion is a bit thicker and seen in hot pots or sukiyaki whole.

3. Myoga
Myoga is a type of ginger and they are so delicious.

They come in two forms: stick or bulb:

They are commonly used as a garnish for grilled foods – generally fish. Both the stick and bulb can also be pickled to eat with rice. Yum.

For the sushi, the itamae-san sushi chef cut them in ultra thin strips and added the teensy bulb shape on the aji. The nigiri was then spritzed with kabosu (a citrus that is used when yuzu is out of season).

And there you have it – sushi garnish 101.
You’re welcome.

Lettuces Raw & Cooked, Toasted Almond Vinaigrette, Slow-Cooked Egg

This recipe sounded so amazing, I needed to bookmark it here before I forgot. It’s from Central Kitchen’s Michael Gaines. Published in April 2012 on foodart.com

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For 4 servings

Almond vinaigrette:
• 2 cups almonds, toasted
• 6 Tbsps. lemon vinegar
• 2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
• 1 lemon, zested
• 1 2/3 tsps. salt
• 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup almond oil

Place almonds in a mortar; crush with a pestle; place in large bowl; whisk in vinegar, garlic, zest, and salt; gradually add oils, whisking constantly; cover with plastic wrap; reserve.

Warm lettuce cream:
• 1 head butter lettuce, blanched in salted water
• 15 seconds and shocked
• 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
• 1 Tbsp. salt

Squeeze water out of lettuce; place in a blender; add cream and salt; blend until smooth; strain through fine chinois into a saucepan; heat over medium heat until warm; remove from heat; reserve (keep warm).

Assembly:
• 4 lg. eggs
• 5 to 6 varieties firm lettuce leaves or lettuce hearts
• salt
• black pepper, freshly ground

  1. Heat plancha to high.
  2. Place eggs in vacuum-sealable plastic food bag; vacuum seal; cook sous-vide, maintaining water bath at 150°F, 1 hour.
  3. Remove from water bath; crack eggs; separate yolk from whites; reserve (keep warm).
  4. Sear half the lettuces on the plancha; reserve (keep warm).
  5. To serve, spoon lettuce cream on the plate in a circular motion; place the seared lettuce on the plate; season; place egg yolk in the center of the plate; garnish with an assortment of raw lettuce leaves; dress with vinaigrette.

…I don’t have a sous vide machine so I’d most likely just use the dressing and top the salad with a poached egg.

 

Old, Used Food Books

Back in the US, I was obsessd with old cook books. I’d troll eBay and the used book stores in NYC hunting dingy yellowing paged vintage cook books, usually spiral bound. I specifically looked for the ones written by a random person or community collections of recipes put together for church or local organization fundraisers and most likely end up on eBay or used bookstores because generally, people feel bad discarding something that has meaning and stories behind them.

The recipes were never used for cooking – most retro foods are terrifying. Like this gem found on Bon Appetit:

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Uhhhh holy horrifying – it’s apparently a glazed potato ring with floating carrots in Jell-O. Wow. source 

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Never Farewell

 

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“I saw you from the podium when you walked into the room.” he said. “Mmhmmm.”  I respond skeptically. He looks back at me amused. We exchange smiles.

I am seeing him for the first time in a couple of years, yet I never tire of his boyish charm and sweet, soft spoken demeanor. Every time I see him I wonder how someone changing the world, can stay so well-mannered, humble, gracious and kind. I’m glad I made the trip out to see him in the mean rain. It was an unforgiving rain, slamming against our clothes, hair, faces. I can’t remember the last time I disliked rain so much.

The night progresses full of good conversations and fun times. It was getting late and we escape from the group. Safe in the warm comfort of his massive suite, we quickly forget the beating we took from the rain, talking about anything, everything in between endless laughter and playfulness. The hours are flying by too quickly and it’s soon time for him to leave. We look down onto Tokyo’s dawn from the window. The soft fog caresses the city. The sight is breathtaking. “Thank you so much for helping navigate such a strange place and making time in Tokyo so special.”  he says and departs to his next destination. I crawl back into bed.

Tokyo is a city of frequent good-byes… but not farewells. I hope.

(From the archives – originally posted last year, around this time.)

London Daydream

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They say short-term memory lasts only for 20-30 seconds but long term memories can last a lifetime. Daydreaming helps me remember unforgettable moments and I spend more time than I care to admit daydreaming.

At least once a day, I think of that perfect London Sunday. The sun was out, the sky bright blue and the rays were illuminating down onto London’s stunning city scape. It was the perfect day to spend outdoors.

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Science Explains Why Grateful People are Happier

This has nothing to do with food or travel, Fish Markets and Japan but I wanted to get it up on one of my blogs. (Well, I only have two.) Since I’m updating here more than PixelBits (my original blog that’s been around foreverrrrrrr) I’m just going to leave this here.

Apparently it’s common knowledge that grateful people are generally happier — I had no idea. I just assumed grateful people are usually more positive and positivity attracts more positivity, leading to overall happy states. This may sound hokey and almost tree-hugger-hippie-nonsense but it turns out, there are scientific reasons.

First and foremost, it starts with understanding the heart and how it affects others:

  • the heart creates an elctromagnetic field that expands up to five feet from the body
  • this electrical field is 60 times stronger in amplitude that that of the brain source
  • with positive feelings, the heart’s frequency changes
  • with the changes, the waves become smoother and more consistent
  • anxiety and stress causes waves to be shorter and less organized
  • gratitude changes the heart’s rhythm easily and faster than any other feelings

The rhythm and frequency can rub off onto hearts and brains nearby – which is why positivity and happiness are contagious. So neat!

Gratitude, positivity and happiness are becoming – who doesn’t want to be around someone with good energy? – but not only that, a positive attitude and graciousness can change the way others feel too.

I loved this so much, I just had to share.
The original piece (that is extremely well written) is here, so make sure to check it out. A majority of this blog post is taken from that article, hopefully it’s not plagiarizing…