Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Year Trip to Costa Rica (1)


The first weekend of January, we left for Costa Rica. Our 8-day New year vacation started.

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It was our first time to visit this country. We stayed at a beautiful resort in Papagoya, about 30-minute drive from Liberia Airport.

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Really peaceful. We got a beautiful ocean-view cottage.

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Lunch time on the beach.

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Since we were members of this resort, we got special access to their lounge all the time. Their little snacks were so good.

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First night dinner on the beach-front grill was perfect.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Osechi Dinner at Home (Photo by Emiko)

Happy New Year! I wish everybody a wonderful year of 2017!

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I had such a busy final month of last year. So, I didn't really get to prepare anything for Christmas including even a gift for Jason, my husband! On Christmas eve, I could finally start to relax and actually enjoy the holiday season. We were invited to our friends' home for Christmas dinner. Peggye made rotisserie whole ducks!

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Kabocha soup by Jody.

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The duck was so delicious!

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I made mixed mushroom rice with double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". Then, Peggye sprinkled a generous amount of shaved white truffles and folded into my donabe rice dish. Such a decadent holiday version rice! It was a really nice fun dinner party.

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On the very Christmas Day, Jason and I enjoyed very relaxed home dinner. I roasted chicken in my classic-style donabe, "Hakeme", and it came out really fantastic. This is a recipe I contributed to Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.

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What's great about living in LA is we can enjoy outdoor BBQ cooking in the middle of the winter. Another evening, we grilled 30-day dry-aged T-bone steak in our Santa Maria BBQ Grill.

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It was sooo good.

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Then, of course, we did a lot of donabe hot pot dishes during the holidays. With black cod and oysters, I made sake-kasu nabe (sake lees hot pot). On New Year's Eve, I made kamo nabe (duck hot pot), and ended the meal with the shime (final) course of soba (I used black bean soba, made from buck wheat and black beans from Tanba, Kyoto), cooked in the remaining broth. Eating soba on New Year's Eve is a Japanese tradition and we call it "Toshikoshi Soba". We eat soba to pray for good luck and longevity. For kamo nabe, I used my Kyoto-style shallow donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu".

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On New Year Day, I spent busy time making "Osechi Ryori", traditional Japanese New Year dishes. Among many dishes, I made a couple of dishes in donabe. Chikuzen-ni is a root vegetable stew, and I made it in my classic-style donabe. Then, I also made roasted beef in my soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe". I should write the recipe for this dish sometime in this blog.

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The following evening, we invited a few friends over for our big Osechi Ryori dinner to celebrate the new year.

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I couldn't take any good photos, but luckily Chago and Emiko sent me some photos they took.

Here's the menu.

  1. Hoshigaki, stuffed with moshio-butter and roasted pine nuts
  2. Kurikinton (puree of satsuma sweet potato, topped with sweet chestnuts
  3. Kamaboko (fish cake) with homemade ponzu and wasabi
  4. Datemaki (rolled omelet with fish cake)
  5. Smoked salmon with ikura (salmon roe) and yuzu yogurt topping
  6. Tazukuri (roasted dried fish with walnuts)
  7. Karasumi Daikon (daikon radish slices, stuffed with bottarga and shiso)
  8. Buri (Japanese winter yellowtail) carpaccio with ao-nori seaweed sauce
  9. Kuromame-ni (premium black beans from Tanba, Kyoto, in sweet broth)
  10. Shichi-fuku Namasu (a variety of root vegetables, sautéed and tossed in walnuts-vinegar sauce)
  11. Sukiyaki of beef and pork belly
  12. Udon "shime"

Hew, I did make many dishes! I go crazy every new year.

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Then, Yuko, who is a professional pattisiere made a special dessert for everyone. It was matcha "chou cream" cream puffs. It was so delicious.

I had such a wonderful New Year celebration with friends and feel all the good luck for 2017!

Happy donabe life.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Back in Japan (December 2016)...Winter Kaiseki at Ichirin


Every time I go back to Japan, I can never leave without visiting Mikizo-san's Ichirin. Tomoko and I went there for lunch this time. It was great to see Mikizo-san one last time before 2016 ends!


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How lucky I was to get to taste Kobako crab twice in one week! This was from Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. Mikizo said he went up there to directly buy the best kinds from the market.

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Seasonal hassun, sake, and simmering crab in a mini donabe.

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Buri (yellowtail) and anago (sea eel) over warm sushi.

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I loved the kuri-kinton (chestnut dessert).

Thank you so much, Mikizo-san!

Then, after just a week-long stay, I went back to LA again.

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Returning flight was ANA and in this flight, they were featuring Tofu-ya Ukai's Japanese meal. It was quite good!

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And, the dessert was Pierre Hermé. Yay.

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I came back with a lot of omiyage (souvenirs) as always...now I'm waiting for 2 more boxes to arrive.