Thursday, July 6, 2017

Photos in my blog posts

Hello, friends.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog.
You notice all the images, except for the cover images of my previous blog posts, are blocked now.
I've been using Photobucket as a hosting service for the images in my blog contents, and they suddenly changed their terms of service, and now the photos cannot be seen unless I pay them $399/ year for upgrade service.

I was surprised to find what Photobucket has done to my blog, to say the least. It totally felt like my blog photos were taken as hostage for ransom of $400. Then, I found there has been huge anger from the users of Photobucket, and this incident has been reported by many online media. Here's one of them.

In any case, I have no intention to fall for this almost scam-like upgrade system. So, I apologize you can no longer see my past blog photos. But, I will consider this as my fresh start, and I plan to post more recipes and stories about donabe cooking and happy donabe life. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trip to Japan (May 2013)...Going back to LA

The short 1 week back home was about to end.

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As usual, before I left for Narita Airport, Tomoko and I had soba lunch. I had yamakake soba, hot soba noodle with grated yam topping.

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Flight going back home was United. Their service was especially nice this time, after all the widely criticized incidents happened.

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I came back to LA safely. While fighting with jet lag, I unpacked everything.

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I brought back many old photos and albums. This photo is from dinner at my grandparents' house back in 1978! Donabe always gathered our family.

Happy donabe life.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Back in Japan (May 2017)...Terroir Al Limit wine dinner with Dominik Huber

On my final evening in this stay, I got to join a special wine dinner with Tomoko. My long time friend and wine mentor, Etsuko (she is now a renowned wine journalist in Japan) and a wine importer hosted a special wine dinner for Terroir Al Limit with the winemaker Dominik Huber.

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It took place at Argile, a very stylish modern French restaurant in Ginza. The first segment was a lecture by Dominik himself. He is a very serious wine maker and he talked for a long time!

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Finally, we had a toast with a beautiful L'Origan, Cava Brut Nature. The amuse was carpaccio of prawns with caviar, shiso flowers and tomato gelee.

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Red pepper mousse with sesame espuma.

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"No pie" quiche with mushroom soup topping. Boudin noir with macaron with boudin noir extract filling, and bacon rolled green beans. Sake-lees marinated mana-gatsuo bonito poiree with orange beurre blanc, cauliflower sauce, parsnip puree and sea grapes, fava beans and corn silk.

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Decadent lamb burger! We were instructed to first press down the buns with palms, then enjoy. It was so good.

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And, of course, the wines were fantastic. We had the following wines. Dits del Terra was served from double magnum bottle!
2013 Terra de Cuques (95% Pedro Ximenez, 5% Moscatel de Alejandría)
2013 Torroja (50% Garnacia, 50% Carinena)
2011 Pedra de Guit (Garnacia Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez)
2012 Dits del Terra (100% Carinena)
2011 Les Manyes (100% Garnacia)

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Rhubarb tart, black pepper ice cream with mugwort sauce. I loved the black pepper ice cream!

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Me and Etsuko. Thank you so much for the wonderful time.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Back in Japan (May 2017)...Wine izakaya night

In this very short stay back home, I could still manage to get together with some of very good friends in Tokyo.

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One night, I got together with Isako and Akiyo, the 8th generation sisters of Nagatani-en, the donabe producer. They took me to this super cute and hidden wine bar in Gakugeidai-mae.

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They don't have a written wine list, so I was welcomed to dig in their cellar. I was like a kid in a candy store. I found a lot of gems, such as rare to find natural wines from Italy.

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Lardo, followed by carrot and fig marinade salad.

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All the dishes were made by the owner, Teshima-san, himself. He created very wine friendly unique dishes with Italian influences. I especially loved the bonito "tataki" (lightly broiled only outside) salad with mozzarella and cilantro pesto sauce.

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Frank Cornelissen Rosso Contadino from Sicily, and 2013 Zidarich Teran from Friuli. I was so happy to find these wines. I've visited both producers in my different trips to Italy. Lovely wines.

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White asparagus and eggs with shaved truffles. Lamb hamburger steak!

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Such a fun night with my "sisters"!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Back in Japan (May 2017)...Unagi Festival!

Tomoko and I had some errands to run in Urawa, then we bumped into Annual Unagi Festival.

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Urawa is famous for unagi (eel) and boasts dozens of unagi specialized restaurants in the city. The mascot character of Urawa City is Unako-chan (eel girl, created by late Yanase Takashi, the famous cartoonist who created Anpanman), and the city host a big eel festival every year.

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We stopped by after running an errand, to check out what's going on. Grilled skewered eel was so good.

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Eel masters.

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There were so many other vendors besides unagi, too. So, we enjoyed a little bit of everything.

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Then, I found my favorite local ramen joint, Tori-soba Issa, among the vendors! I got Hiyashi Tori-soba (cold chicken noodle). So good.

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I got to take a photo with Unako-chan!