Friday, November 29, 2013

Back in Japan (November 2013)…Donabe meals in Kyoto

House-cured "karasumi" (salt-preserved mullet roe) at Tokuwo

November 8 (Fri)

Before we left Iga in the morning, we took a walk and visited Iga Castle.

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We had wonderful 3 days in Iga, so it was hard to leave. We rented a car, I drove, and headed to our next destination, Kyoto.

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In less than 2 hours, we were already in Kyoto. It was lunchtime, so I suggested that we go to Ryoanji to have their classic donabe "yudofu" (simmered tofu) lunch. It's a traditional "shojin" (Buddhist temple-style vegan) meal and was perfect. After lunch, we paid a visit to the inside of the temple, then headed to a "samue" (traditional Japanese work outfit) tailor. The tailor was introduced by the chairman of Nagatani-en, because Kyle and Eric loved his "samue" and asked where they can buy. And, they did buy the same denim samue!

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Dinner was at a small local restaurant, Tokuwo. They are known for small donabe dishes including "suppon" (Japanese turtle) donabe soup. So, we got a permission from Tokuwo-san (owner chef) to do professional photoshoot there during dinner. He was so kind!

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The dinner course was so amazing that I almost forgot that we were here for the shooting.

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Then, we did do some work…but we simply really enjoyed the meal there. Their house-cured "karasumi" was fantastic.

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We had 3 donabe dishes total plus many other. Fantastic dinner.

Thank you so much, Tokuwo-san! Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back in Japan (November 2013)…Donabe Photoshoot in Iga…Final dinner (Day 3)

Oysters and shirako in donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe"

November 7 (Thurs)

On the final evening in Iga in this trip, Nagatani family hosted a very Iga-style "omotenashi" (Japanese hospitality) dinner for us.

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Appetizers included donabe-smoked seafood and pork.

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Lots of fun.

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Donabe truly unites people. It's all about communal experience. The donabe steamed dish was very seasonal oysters and "shirako"(cod sperm). Rich and creamy!

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Donabe rice was local matsutake mushrooms, the donabe soup was crab miso soup.

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In the end, Eric became the chairman, and the chairman became Eric!

Super happy donabe life.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back in Japan (November 2013)…Donabe Photoshoot in Iga (Day 3)

Donabe going into the kiln at Nagatani-en

November 7 (Thurs)

At Nagatani-en, the family and the employees start the morning by gathering and greeting to each other every day.

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And, they do traditional Japanese morning exercise routine (it's called "radio exercise") every morning. So, we joined them!

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We spent half day shooting at their production.

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More shooting.

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And, more…

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For lunch break, we drove to a popular Iga pork restaurant.

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And, more shooting!

Whether it's made from a wheel or a a mold, Nagatani-en's every donabe is made with extreme care, and the entire process is super detail-oriented and meticulously-orchestrated. Indeed every one of them is treated like their own baby. They are the works of true artisan.

Happy donabe life.