Last time I went to Osaka for work I took a very sad walk along Midosuji Dori. In the end all worked out and I got some pretty pictures too.
No idea what this building is, but the lighting hit it too well to not take a photo of it anyway.
To compare my attempt with the Japanese method, I decided to take a seasonal macaroon class at my cooking school. While they look very pretty, these strawberry sandwich cookies aren't nearly as good as the first batch two weeks ago. But it was a fun experience and a good opportunity to meet people at a different school location.
Moo Cow moved back to Canada in October. Long-distance relationships certainly are rough. To alleviate some of that stress, we cook dinner together over skype when we can. Sure, it's not the same as actually cooking together, but it's a far cry better than what people were able to do 20 years ago. The internet saves me every day.
This is the "brunch" I made for our dinner date. In the future it'll be relevant to the time, but I wanted Italian. The fresh fettuccine was tossed in a pecorino romano, parmigiano reggiano, gorgonzola and marcarpone Alfredo sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions and broccoli. The steak was rubbed with salt and pepper and seared in olive oil with mushrooms and onions. Originally I wanted to serve the steak on top of a bed of pasta but they both smelled so good separately that I couldn't mix them... The spring greens salad has shredded orange and yellow carrots with a yuzu salad dressing.
No recipes, just tossing stuff into pots and pans.
This seasonal sushi is quite delicious. It has a rich, creamy texture, but can be difficult to eat if you think about what it is. Soft roe isn't common in the US, so I hadn't had it before coming here, and thankfully I tried it shortly after coming to Japan, before I found out what it was.
Free gifts and samples are a part of life in Japan. It's a necessary part of getting the following to survive in the market. Sometimes even bars will hand out samples, if they make sense in a bar setting. This little box contains a hangover prevention drink. Basically, it's turmeric and tastes awful. Some are intended for drinking before you start your night, while others are at the end. The jury is still out on whether they work, but salarymen swear by them. As you can guess, I saved mine for later.
A cafe that I go to every two weeks to teach private lessons has very interesting decor. Despite the lovely foam on the walls, it is rather noisy in this cafe, and I'm trying to find a better place to have lessons. Still, it's interesting, to say the least.
Today I was craving tomato pasta for some unknown reason. When trying to figure out how to use the fresh mozzarella balls I picked up on sale at the grocers, a mozzarella pesto wrap came to mind. Then when looking at pesto, pizza came to mind. In the end I got my tomato sauce, mozzarella and pesto all in one.
Another month, another model lesson with friends. This time we made lava cakes, although they certainly weren't made like any lava cakes I've ever made. Interestingly, I'm not overly fond of these because they're made with bittersweet chocolate. Still, they're a simple recipe that I'm sure people will appreciate when brought to gatherings.
Today I had friends over for dinner and a movie and made kabocha--Japanese pumpkin--risotto. When Moo Cow was still in his old apartment he had an Italian roomie for a month who made risotto for us one day. She had a bit of trouble with the Japanese rice but overall it was pretty tasty. It inspired this recipe, which is garnished with mascarpone and chopped fried ham. Pancetta and shredded parmesan would also work, but I was working within the materials I had as much as possible.
There are a lot of cats in Tokyo. More than simply a lot, really. Some are actually pets but most have gone feral and romp around the city begging whenever possible and screeching in the night hunting and fighting the rest of the time. Cat screams can sound like a wailing baby, so it's rather unnerving to listen to all night.
It's been a long time since I've seen "normal" garden decorations. There were two of these, but they were being used like the tops of newel posts on the wall surrounding the yard. They get points for creativity.
As mentioned before, the kids at the kindy I teach at are making dolls for the Doll Festival in March. These are some of the finished products. Kids' crafts are so cute, but it seems like these guys make a LOT of crafts...!
Happy Valentine's Day, all! Today I'm lacking my voice and took a day off from work, which is rather annoying following a 3-day weekend.
Anyway, despite being off work I was unable to cancel my cooking class and ended up going anyway. These montblancs were fun to make, although it seems they have a lot more rum in them than I expected. Maybe I'm a little weird for not wanting to use all of the rum given to me for the recipe.
In Japan on Valentine's Day, women give men chocolate. Typically it's expensive or handmade, depending on what kind of message the giver wants to send. In Japanese offices women usually pool together to give all of the men chocolates. Then on March 14th (White Day), the men are supposed to reciprocate. It's expected that the gifts returned should have a greater value than the initial gifts.
For romantic couples, gifts are given only if he reciprocates, and jewelry and other gifts can be returned. In offices it's similar to Valentine's Day but from the men.
Honestly it's confusing and strange, but the lack of romance involved can provide some insight into how Japanese observations of international holidays develop...
In preparation for Valentine's Day at my office, here's a pile of origami hearts wearing dress shirts and ties. Not sure if the guys will like them, but hopefully it will show that I made my gifts by hand. If I'm lucky they'll get it...
The kids at the kindergarten I teach for are making their own dolls for the Doll Festival next month. With any luck I'll be able to get photos of the finished products too.
EDIT: Indeed, I got a photo!
Decided to try something different today; instead of always making normal cakes, why not make individual cookie cakes for everyone? Sure, the ones for the guests were just decorated cookies, but the cookie cake was a hit with the birthday boy, and he seemed to enjoy blowing out the candles too.
Went to a Persian restaurant with a friend tonight and forgot to take photos of all of the food because it looked and smelled so good. Unfortunately, all I took was a photo of this unremarkable ice cream. Blah.
Back when I went to the cheese festival there was also a bowl made of parmesan, filled with parmesan chunks. How awesome. People pushed, shoved and practically climbed over each other to eat this cheese.
Continuing with my cooking classes, this is the second in the bread series. The Maple Almond bread has orange peel, almond powder and maple sugar to give it flavoring. Hopefully the recipes will get more difficult as I progress...these are too easy. Still, they're pretty and taste good.
The kindergarten I teach English at had these on the counter in the library where I prepare for my lessons. My best guess is the flower garlands were made in preparation for spring. It's only February, but spring is coming.