Sunday Morning Baking

Long time no see blog . Anyways, I went on a bake fest so thought I would share.

Stuffed French Toast with Chicken Apple Sausage.

Butter, apple cider, sliced apples & cloves reduced down to a sauce

Add some Lion Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee and you have a fine Sunday breakfast to enjoy while watching F1 Singapore.

Check out the full recipe here if your so inclined.

they are worth a thousand words

Back in Japan

but not any healthier:

Back into my groove here, so expect more normal updates from here on out!

Yamazaki Distillery

Last week I was able to get over to the Yamazaki Distillery. I have wanted to take the tour for quite a long time, and it  turned out to be a fun afternoon. The factory is located just inside of Osaka prefecture.

They offer a quick 30minute guided tour of the facility, showing how they make their whiskys from start to finish.

The dark, cool, alcohol smelling warehouse full of barrels was huge. The oldest I could find was a 1991:

The distillery is located at the base of a mountain that gives Suntory an endless supply of exceptionally clean spring water.

After the tour, 20minutes of free tasting. Basically, how much can you down in 20mins. My damage:

After the tasting, you are able to spend some time in the “Library”, where 7,000 variety of whisky is displayed from distilleries around the world:

Together in the Library, the bar is housed. I counted 98 variety of whiskys from around the world available, fairly cheap, by the glass for tasting.

I opted to try out the 21y Hibiki blend. Normally $180 a botttle, the 500¥ taste was just right. Check out the full set of pics from my afternoon there.

Golden Week

This past weekend we headed down to Shizuoka to visit some of Mayu’s family there. Fearing the horrible Golden Week holiday traffic, we opted for the more expensive Shinkansen down. It was a good decision, there was a 27km (17m) backup of cars on a key stretch we would have needed to take. Nothing was planned, and we just relaxed and saw a few things around. One being the worlds longest wooden walking bridge:

For lunch we drove down closer to the Pacific, were we had lunch at an ocean front cafeteria that serves fresh seafood from the tsukiji-like market across the street. I opted for super fresh maguro-don:

The area also offered a distant view of Mt. Fuji:

After going for a little rest, we all went and played tennis. Something I don’t pretend to do very well. After working up an appetite, we headed over for some much needed meat:

A failed attempt to relax at a local sento sent us home, we relaxed and headed to bed early. The next morning we decided to go up into the Sumatakyou, famous for green tea, various bridges, and natural hot springs. The rolling hills filled with green tea orchards were beautiful:

We stopped near the small Senzu Staton to see some of their still running Steam Locomotives. A cool sight, and one that Mayu’s 2 year old nephew really enjoyed.

Across the street from the station we sat down for a nice light, cool lunch on the oddly hot spring day. Amazingly good zaru soba and shrimp tempura:

After lunch we started the 30min trek up to the “Yume-no-Tsuribashi” (Dream Bridge).

Mayu and I

And more of the beautiful view. We had some awesome weather while in Shizuoka:

After all the hiking, it was off to a local hot spring to kick-back for a few:

After the refresh we drove back into Shimada and headed to a cool little ramen joint downtown:

and go their famous tonkotsu “maru-yo” ramen. I’m not a huge ramen guy, but the juicy pork and flavor of the tonkotsu were an awesome match. I also need to learn how to make boiled eggs with those perfectly jellied yokes:

And then off to the station for the quick hour or so ride back to Kyoto. I then spent the rest of Golden Week doing absolutely nothing, and loved it.

Syarinmura

This past Sunday I headed West over into Hiroshima for a small event with my guys from Kameoka. Masa and I hopped into the Toppo and started the 3 hour drive:

It also worked out well since we had to leave around 6am….I was able to catch up on sleep in the back using a beanbag:

Misaki in his Carina also made the trip up with us. Mad tucking 14″ like nothing:

Once we got to the event (Syarinmura) we found a decent number of notable cars despite the small size. Like this Corolla wagon:

This Datsun 510 on old style equip 01:

There were also a good number of bikes. This custom Harley using a rear 330/30-17 on air with full digital cluster would be decent to roll around on:

Or even this scooter using a modified hub on a 4-lug 10″ SSR MK2 originally intended for a Mini Cooper:

Without question however, best car of the show was this 1976 Mitsubishi Galant on air. Longchamps for the win:

And lets not forget, there were a good number of trucks around as well. These two caught my eye. The black one on Hayashi would make for a fun daily no doubt:

And of course, the return home must include some fine foods and drinks. This night was a stop for some Horumon Yakisoba, a famous dish in the Hiroshima area.

Big Spendin’

I decided to take Mayu out for her birthday…like 2 months late. I’m not a total jerk, there were just things that kept getting in the way of our plans. Mainly me only being in Japan for about 2 weeks out of the last 2 months. But anyway. I decided to take her out to one of the highest rated, most popular Italian places here in Kyoto, Lista Giorgio Pinchiorri. Being in the Pontocho area of Kyoto, it has an awesome view of the Kamo river…..as well as the pricetag that goes along with that. We started with a nice glass of white wine, the brand of which I sadly do not recall. But went well with the small snack you see there next to my glass, while we went over the menu.

After we ordered, while we waited, were were given this small plate of goodies. On the left is a cherry tomato wrapped in a white pasta in some sorta delish sauce. The cube in the middle is a chocolate coated bit of foie gras that despite my somewhat iffy thoughts on the stuff, turned out to be amazing. And on the right was a pea souffle that I wish I had gotten more of:

We decided to stay away from the courses, and just split some dishes to get a better taste of what they had to offer. We started with an appetizer, warm asparagus & clam salad with a topping of melted parmesan cheese. The clam I thought would put me off, but the taste was quite subtle and the cheese was awesome.

Next up came the pasta, this fine dish was a pasta alla Chitarra with veal shank in a ragu sauce. The pasta was cooked so perfectly, and the veal too was super tender and made for some of the best pasta I think I’ve ever had.

The fish plate popped out next. This was a good cut of white fish with a basil puree and black olive sauce along with rockfish clams and mussels. Not a huge fan of clams and such, but the sauce for this was delish, and I ended up using as a dip for the bread at the table.

Then was onto the main dish. Black wagyu fillet with mini eruca and macadamia nut salad. I have no qualms in saying that this was the best cut of meat I have ever had. So tender, it virtually melted like butter. Although the pictures shows otherwise, there was actually a good portion there, and I made sure to take my time. I’d almost go back just to order this dish alone. I may have issues going to $20 all your can eat bbq after this….

Fishing up the meal, was this variety of strawberry dolce. The jello looking deal of the left and the sorbet on the right were fantastic. And that says happy birthday in Italian btw.

And as if we weren’t already overly full, they also brought out this assortment of candies and sweets. That handmade caramel thing in paper was possible my favorite. The orange slice dipped in dark chocolate maybe? Not sure, but all of them where good.

And you have to end with a nice tiny glass of espresso:

And a shot of the bday girl and myself.

Last few days in the Chi

So lets get caught up. I headed up to Madison for the New Years with M&C as well as Maggie to chill with Phill. He was spinning at a local Cigar bar, Maduro, so we all headed there for the countdown. It was super kickback and a welcome change from the typical drunk-laden parties most bars promise.

The following morning Phill took us to a cool breakfast spot at the Madison regional airport, Jet Room. I opted for the eggs benedict smothered in gravy, rather than the normal hollandaise. A highly recommended variation.

Back down in Chicago, I spent many a night at the GG house wasting time playing Call of Duty MW2. On the weekend however the ladies of the group decided to make up some food and have a little get-together for, among other reasons, John’s bday. Calories were plentiful no doubt.

And as one last hurrah before the 24hr marathon of flights, layovers, delays, crying babies and the like….I had one last jem; the Jonnie’s beef combo:

I did also have time to run to the storage locker and visit the black cars. The cleanest FC in the world is, well, still freaking clean, and my NB started right up after having sat for nearly 2 years. Impressive. As a side note (and a sad one) both of these cars are for sale. Get at me if you are interested.

’till next time; stay classy Chicago

Holidays in the States 09 Food Edition

It’s no secret I eat a lot while home here in Chicago. So here is some of the things I have been eating over the past few days. Lets start with last night’s dinner, BBQ Beef Brisket on texas toast with cheese grits, jambalaya, and coleslaw as sides from Heaven on Seven:

When I 1st came in, Mom made me her famous spaghetti:

Of course Portillo’s is a must. Jumbo chili dog and a Combo (Italian been & Italian sausage on one bun):

Peaquods is also a must. Amazing caramelized crust:

And nothing is better than a 3am breakfast at Golden Nugget after some drinks at Green Mill:

Trip up North

This past Saturday I flew up to the twin cities to hang out. Sumo met me:

Got some awesome food, including this juicy blucey along with the best tater-tots in the world, from the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul:

And then headed out to a Heiruspecs show, always good to see Chris up on stage.

And Sunday was spent watching football, eating pizza, and nothing more. One of my best Sundays in a long while. Thank you to my hosts, I hope to see you again sooner rather than later!