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Multi-headed Pacific food goddess Santos has a further incarnation as The Cookbook Exchange and is sharing the genius. Head over and you can swap books that just ain’t you and swap ’em for something else with someone else. Different strokes folks. You can do cookbook reviews too. Capital Letters! Join us before we join you.
———–And now a spiceblog promotion———-
Not the same is it?
There’s anemptiness isn’t there, as you leave the pixelated glow that lights your face? But imagine spiceblog there in your hands, with you as you fall asleep and still there when you wake-up, right where you left it saying hi there sleepy-head before you go with it to a cafe for coffee and a pan au chocolat to the envious gaze of strangers. Owen Linderholm has lovingly put some fine choice cuts of spiceblog in his new book Digital Dish. Not only here’s, but there are 23 other better food bloggers from around the world like Cook sister! to keep you company through the seasons. With you. Anywhere. Always. Just click on the buttons under the Digital Dish logo on the right.
Hey are Monsieur Camembert any good? Should I go and see them at the The Fly By Night Club? Is anyone else going?
! In spite of the mesmerising involvement of an accordionist, I felt more Rabbi Bagel than Monsiuer Camembert. Apparently gypsy tunes but to my untrained ear I could have sworn Hava Nagila got a hammering a few times but the again I was busy poohpoohing art ideas. Speaking of weddings, what’s with the plastic outdoor wedding chairs at the Fly By Night Club? Felt like a school parent’s night.
If you find making gravy an anticlimactic chore after the thrill of pulling the roast from the oven to rest, this recipe harmonises roasting and gravy making in one action. It’s from the cookbook of Spanish food, ¡Delicioso! by Penelope Casas. Penelope happens to kind of look like the former model wife on DH that was doing the Lawrence on her hired hand. Her real appeal is being like a seasoned Japanese bar hostess in telling tired worker cooks what they want to hear after a long day. The misunderstood man is understood. Rabbit, she says, so few people appreciate it, I! do, of course you do. “The good news is that recent studies show pork fat to have many of the healthful qualities of olive oil” do they really? but so much of the flavour is lost in industrialised processing. I’m in a world where my glass is never empty and my cigarette is never unlit. I trust her implicitly, yet cannot surrender completely to what she says.
The basic principle here is that the lamb is cooked over a roasting pan with chicken stock in it, the stock then has the baste added to it along with the juices from the meat. This becomes your gravy. The meat requires a rub and a baste and here’s the rub:
3 cloves of garlic; 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme and rosemary; 2tbs of olive oil; salt and pepper. Mash in a mortar and pestle.
and here’s the baste:
2 tablespoons of olive oil; 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley; 4 cloves of garlic; 6 tablespoons of white wine (truffles and brandy couldn’t make it). Puree with a blender.
And now for the meat:
1 leg of lamb. You might want to do what I did and bone it. This has two advantages; the rub is on two sides and it’ll cook quicker.
Rub the lamb all over with the rub and put in on a roasting rack (or it’ll stew) in a roasting tray. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock into the roasating pan along with any trimmings from the lamb. Place it in an 180C oven for 15 minutes and then pour the baste over the lamb. Continue roasting until the lamb is done. I use a combination of poking the meat to get a rough idea and then checking to see if the juices run clear when skewered. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Firstly an apology to Ian Cross for this and now the couscous:
1 onion and 1 red chili chopped and sauteed add 3 chopped baby zucchini pour in 2 cups of combined stock, wine, and or some of the pan juices (extracted with a baster), bring to boil, add 2 cups of couscous, turn off the heat, cover for 5 minutes and them fluff with a fork, adding a little olive oil.
Carve the meat into slices and place on a plate on the couscous and pour the pan juices over it all. And serve.
Superb, though the local Moondah Brook Estate 2004 Verdelho (a Portugese variety – Iberian enough) was like being smacked on the tongue with a pineapple. I was also very happy with the way the picture turned out, meat is one of the most dissatisying things to photograph and this captured the glorious juiciness that might even melt the heart of a vegan.
Elise, who gave me top tips on photography back in the early days, is being the host this month with Is My Blog Burning-15 Has my blog jelled?.
Red bean paste is a key ingredients for numerous Japanese desserts and appears in places such as; taiyaki – a fish shaped crepe popular at festivals; dorayaki – filled pancakes much loved by this robot cat with a four dimensional pocket; and innumerable souvenirs form Kyoto as manju. Eaten it many times but never made it, so it’s a very orthodox attempt, particularly after my two previous adventures with jellied delights.
I’m happy to report that it was easy to make and it seemed that the recipe was very forgiving. I was going to use a sugar-free dessert book I picked in Japan but the recipe called for pureed dates (!) and I was overwhelmed by kanji. I fell back on the old and faithful The Joy of Japanese Cooking by Kuwako Takahashi.
Mizu youkan is nothing if not interesting. I love it but Toni hates and gave the judgement of it tasting like it should which I guess is good. Perhaps the closest thing I could compare it to is the pumpkin in pumpkin pie. Well worth a try for a different texture and a different kind of sweetness.
The sweet bean paste made from azuki beans appears under a number of descriptions in English but in Japanese it’s referred to as either an or anko. The latter has more more potential for unpleasant pronunciation mix-ups, so I’d go with the an. You can soak the azuki beans overnight but here’s the method I followed.
1) Boil one cup of azuki beans in plenty of water for approximately 15 minutes and then drain, this will remove the dark juices.
2) Return the beans to the pot and cover with three times its volume of water, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer over a medium heat until the beans are very soft and can be crushed easily. Remove any froth that comes to the surface while you’re doing this.
3) Drain the beans in a teatowel in a colander and squeeze to remove any excess moisture (it will be hot so do be careful)
4) Return the beans to the pot and add one cup of sugar and one teaspoon of salt. This makes it quite sweet so you could cut back and add more later. Stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat, the sugar should soften the beans and give it a sheen, continue stirring until “you can see the bottom for 10 seconds as you stir”.
And you’ve just made an. You have a choice whether you want it to be smooth Koshi-an and give a spin in a blender, or rougher Tsubushi-an and just crush it with the wooden spoon. As I wanted the more interesting texture of the latter but still needed a smooth surface, I made a compromise by attacking part of it with a bamix. It can now be in the fridge for three days or it can be frozen or made into
Agar agar is used here and goes by the Japanese name of kanten. Some recipes call for “sticks” but as they don’t specify, the correct weight to be used can be guessed by looking at the weight of the packet you have and cutting appropriately (scales schmales).
1) Soak 8gm of agar agar in water for one hour, drain, squeeze, and cut into small pieces.
2) Add to two cups of water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until dissolved.
2) Gradually mix this in with two cups of an. Cook over a low heat, adding sugar or salt to taste, until well mixed.
3) Remove from the heat and mix in another 1 cup of water. Place in in a smaller bowl to go in a larger bowl with cold water and stir until lukewarm. This ensure the colour goes all the way through the jelly. Put it in a pan and refrigerate until set. It should be about an inch high.
Now it’s just a matter of cutting it into slices. I cut it into tuna sashimi size with a slight angle cut. Enjoyed with sencha green tea with enough sunshine to pretend it was a mild summer’s day. I’ll have to defer on Chika on the confusions of green tea. And if anybody could tell me what the tiny back scratchers are in the top pic, I’d be very grateful.
Double the youkan action: with ‘Ono Kine Grindz
Tags: music hall
Sure there are those Fridays when it’s just me and a jar of chocolate body paint but in the end nothing says weekend better than beer. I’ve made a flickr tribute here and you might also like to check out Tokyogoat’s enigmatic pic.
Enjoy your weekend.
His Lordship of Strathmore has popped me in a cradle, punched a yellow GG1 tag in my ear and sent me on my way. How could I refuse a vice regal Book meme request and pleasure of being in fine tagee company.
1) Total number of books I’ve owned:
I didn’t say I could count. Large pic of most of the survivors is here.
2) The last book I bought:
Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia
3) The last book I read:
One for the Money Janet Evanovich
When I’m at the bookstore I usually buy two books. One I think I should read and one I read.
4) 5 books that mean a lot to me:
The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts
– an early source of wonder.
The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman
– oh good morning Princess.
The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde
–my best and worst qualities.
Gravity’s Rainbow Thomas Pynchon
-geeky, pacey, sharp, sexy
Love and Rockets – Jaime Hernandez
-bilingual and biontological
5) Tag 5 people and have them fill this out on their blogs:
I’ll be doomed but I’ll have to park this bus here, having already memed people this week. But if you mailed me and told me that I invited you, I’d probably believe it.
This is of course cookbook free. The meme of which is ticking along very nicely.
Jo‘s cake that we had on Saturday. Moist and delicious, chocolate and marmalade yet always depressed. It made me think of Grace Jones, Julianne Moore, and Winona Rider all at once. Aberration creates possibilities and I was heartened by 42n81‘s comments on Flickr:
i used to be an expert on this style of cake, but then i quit baking. however, my experience has been that that sinking feeling means there is more concentrated flavor to savor and all in all it’s balanced
So true, but since I shot my mouth off and said I’d get a solution to this, what can be done?
UpdateThe maker appears!
I like Chinese. The problem is that it’s an open ended dinner that doesn’t necessarily have to stop at three dishes, particularly as I usually decide that all major meat groups must be addressed, so it became five. They were:
Pork and Mushroom Steamed Bean Curd Rolls; Crayfish with Spring Onion; Szechwan Red Pepper Roast Chicken with Chinese Sausage Stuffing and Chinese Greens; Slow Cooked Beef and Tofu with Fried Rice; Unsuccessful Annin Dofu.
Afraid I won’t be listing all the recipes (I do have a life you know, no really, well lazy’s a bit harsh, I did make a garden bed the other week, no I know it’s not finished) but would like to point you in the way of Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s comprehensive, well detailed, and most of the recipes follow similar principles so it’s easy to adapt and improvise to use what you have. This allows you to have a rough idea of what you want to cook, go shopping with a bit whimsy, and nlow you’ll be able to make something. A few points.
Tapioca chips are great for pre-dinner snacks as an alternative to prawn crackers. All natural Maxi from Indonesia.
The pork and bean curd rolls were my own creation after I noticed some sheets of bean curd at the Asian grocery store and thought I could do something. It was pork cut into “matchsticks” and marinated in rice wine-splash, peanut oil-splash, sesame oil-teaspoon, soy sauce-splash, and potato flour-teaspoon. Next was a couple of sliced chinese sausages. They come in plastic packs and are sweet and tasty. Very roughly chopped Straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and spring onions. All ingredients cooked together in a wok with some cooked glutinous rice mixed in for volume. Now lightly steam or moistened the bean curd sheets and cut into 15cm x 15cm, place a heaped tablespoon of the mix in the middle and roll like a very fat spring roll. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes and serve. Very tasty but the mix of chewy, crunchy and soft textures is marvellous.
Hmm think I’ll finish this later. Tata! back later
Ah yes. The Szechuan chicken recipe is here. However this time I kept it whole and gave it a stuffing of chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, glutinous rice, garlic, and spring onions. Cooking it flat seems to get a better response but the stuffing was good. Forgot to put oyster sauce on the bed of steamed chinese greens which made them a little dry.
Glutinous rice is great but needs to be soaked for the good part of a day so keep that in mind. Otherwise leave to soak in hot water. I cooked one lot in the steamer to go with the beef and tofu, just wrap it in a towel. After drying a batch out on a tray and stir-fried it with garlic and spring onions in the fat from the chicken’s roasting tray. Yum. Beef cooked slowly with garlic for two hours, well you can imagine how good that was. And the fried tofu held up well.
Crayfish (from Rottnest from Doctor A) matched well with the spring onions, ginger, and rice wine and I like the idea of deep frying the crayfish pieces for 10 seconds before stir frying them.
Finally the Unsuccesful Annin Tofu started as a simple condensed milk and almond essence “tofu” became coconut milk thanks to the free banana giving shop lady’s persuasive powers. Then layers of kiwi fruit and passionfruit but I read that agar agar gives a tougher jelly so I backed off a little and ended up more on the soup end. Ah well.*
As for the dinner, well it was fun. Chris and Crafty came along. As did the doctor and Anna. A thank you to them all for the drinks, gifts and company. A diverse night of chat, neighbourhood yoof threatening (bone tweezers!), and an altercation with a coffee plunger.
Note: Those paying attention will have noticed that many of the ingredients are remarkably similar. Hey? Hey? See what I’m getting at here?
Sorry. I’ve been neglecting my midweek easy meals. This one was cake. A pan sized snapper scaled and gutted at the fish shop. Make diagonal slashes across the fish at half inch intervals. Rub each side with at least a tablespoon of cajun spices, making sure to rub some into the slashes. Leave for an hour, place some lime slices in the cavity. Get the pan as hot as you can and cook quickly on both sides. Had with sweet potato roasted in foil with EVOO, sea salt, and tabasco.
Very enjoyable just picking at it. Make a fish stock when you’re done.
Well anyway thanks to gift bearing Doctor Anonymous and the good people of Spiriva®, the weekend, well we call Thursday weekend’s-eve here, began with a new Spiriva® cappuccino frother. Do they work? Do they! Arrivederci steam power. Down to the local Indian/Pakistani restaurant the Royal Shalimar to celebrate the latest addition to our kitchen range and found it mad tasty good value in an often overpriced restaurant genre. Do you know what’s funny, they call them chillies but they’re hot. What a language! Subcontinental dance music up nice and loud and the cosy atmosphere is great for imposing my conversation on people. Washed down with Italian Nastro Azzurro beer which is Italian but tastes like a Czech Corona. Finished the evening with cappuccino.
Friday arvo meant the Queens in Mt Lawley for a work related morale booster. Party of one but tried a new Matilda Bay Ale and did some furious doodling. Saturday brekky was eggs on toast with haloumi cheese cooked in chillies and garlic with a cappucino. Yum. Afternoon baking was Katherine Hepburne Brownies. Why are they Katherine Hepburn brownies? Because the secret ingredient is, get this,…….walnuts! I added a couple more secret ingredients with the recipe to be passed on to Liz Smith in the event of my death. Uh ah – ain’t telling, you’ll have to kill me – literally! A plentiful supply is guaranteed through the winter thanks to Ask Santos and her freezing tips from toasty Guam.
Sunday was Mothers Day. I found out my sister and my mum aren’t talking and my Dad nearly put his head through the windscreen of the Landcruiser. My family! Anyhoo took my Mum to Leaf in Cottesloe Napoleon Street cafe where Mum, Toni, and I had the Parisian Rose Tea Set. The snacks came out like a great chain of being with lowly cucumber sandwiches on the bottom, savoury smoked salmon snacks and mini-quiches above, topped by heart-shaped cup cakes and tiers, to be trumped by turkish delights and strawberries on the top. Did I say Chain of Being? I meant Tower of Babel. With food. Not talking to each other obviously. The food not my Mum and my sister. Don’t know what’s going on there. Well anyway lovely, but all the pink made me woozy and the sweet rose tea made me want to rinse my mouth out with frothy home made cappuccino. What was that? The telephone.
Why hello Robbie? Little Creatures Brewery? I’d be delighted. Off we went with each wheel of the Subaru Legacy tenaciously gripping the tarmac while at the same time thrusting us forward. For a Sunday it certainly lived up to it’s name and that’s not just because it has 24 hours, it was also “Sunny. So I had a Pilsner but then felt guilty because Graham told me that no-one could drink it after they had had a Pale Ale and I had had one before so I thought I’d better have one then and I did and could relax and enjoy the band and Ken’s kilt. I love kilts but then again I love everything Scottish, even haggis. I’m mad I am. Don’t get me started about that Ewan McGregor. Oh yeah the band, they were great. Just goes to show you don’t need a lead singer and a guitarist, just impressive organ work. Ooo er Mrs Slocombe. And then the sun set and it was time for home and isn’t it great to be in city where you can still be impressed by a large orange container ship. Some places they’d be all blasé. Not here.
X-large for the curious.
Chubby Hubby twists my arm in comments.
OK here we go ahm meme thingy. Post a picture of you cookbooks and answer the following questions that I’ll make up now and ask myself –
1. Rationale behind what we’re seeing?
Sorted by height with mags getting the heave ho into the pantry or “the reading room”. Try to get one general cookbook per genre but can’t resist French and Japanese cookbooks. I’m cheap so I love second-hand books and try to shy away from celebrity books (unless Frank Black were to do one)
2. Most recommended?
Not the wind beneath your wings but will help avoid a lot of novelty specialising – Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson. All you’ll need to know for Western style cuisine.
3. Cookbook that made you what you were?
Le Cordon Bleu at Home. My first cookbook when I was at University. Kind of set a standard while at the same time being completely accessible.
4. Porniest cookbook?
While I do find the Culinaire France highly arousing, it’s also quite functional so not porny. Cold Appetisers gets to be hidden in the heat vent because it’s fabulous and I’ve never actually cooked anything out of it as it’s the master of the unobtainable ingredient.
5. Sophie’s Choice cookbook?
Little blue notebook on the furthest point left with all my scribbly little recipes in it in a time before blogging.
6. If you were a cookbook, which cookbook would you be?
and for Santos
7. If your cookbook we’re extremely valuable, so valuable you might hide it with other valuables, where would that place be?
….under the Big W
Hmmm now I feel all demystified. Actually you could just post a pic and we’ll speculate. Whatever. Now ermm meme away, go meme, go!
Flickr pool: check!
Meme! Meme! :
-Stephanie! Dispensing Happiness: Joining the ‘Fun’.
-And the Ra! Ra! Cookbooks pool is going nuts. Books! Models!
-Chubby Hubby! has a great mountain of cookbooks
– Sylvie! at Food- Got To Love It
– Bramble! crosses the barriers at akatsuki talks rot: My cookbooks
– Santos! is hot with book ’em and cook ’em
– Jeanne! tart’s with tops on at –Cook sister!: Read ’em and eat
– Andrew! Yes it does at Spittoon – Cookbooks.
– Nicky! bathtubs at delicious:days – On Cookbooks
– Alan! sorted but loose at ma’ona: Cookbooks
– Elizabeth! is bandwagonesque at blog from OUR kitchen : Cookbooks Meme
– Kitchen Queens! has consumer psy-ops in Something’s cooking: Cookbooks galore
– Cenzina! invito tutti i cibo-blogger italiani…il cavoletto di bruxelles: Libri di ricette!
– Crafty! knicker draw at Craftapalooza: Porniest Cookbook
– Paul! has the anti-cookbok at Food Blog
– Kitchemage! reach out and grabya at kitchenmage: Cookbook Meme
– Lara! Dragon(shaggin?)wagon at cheap veggie gourmet: Jumping on a Meme
– Lyn! meet Russ at Lex Culinaria: Spiceblog’s cookbook meme: the cookbooks of a crazy intercontinental jet-setter
– Jennifer! dreams of some kind electronic brain for the kitchen with Taste Everything Once: Cookbook Meme 2005
Sue! no way a kitchen spaz at Snackish.
Petula! la cucina bruta atla cuoca petulante: Un libro di cucina come una fiaba
Rabbit as meat evoke a number of different responses but my position is this, they are furry vermin and I have no qualms whatsoever about eating them. In fact, I looked forward to it.
The opportunity was number four (previously: Cassoulet de Castelnaudary; Bouillabaisse; Canard laqueau miel)of our reasonably regular French Dinner Party series on Saturday. I was to make the main again and Veronique would do entree and dessert. I chose a rabbit and tapenade recipe from Provence in the Culinaire Francais. The accompanying vegetables were left a little later being distracted and all by afternoon adventures with Robbie with a quick-cut saw and a sledgehammer. At the mercy of the half an hour til closing supermarket, working through budget shoppers, I had a rough idea and it obliged. Baby carrots, stuffed zucchini, and mushroom pouches.
Working with a whole rabbit, the challenge is to get it into four fillets and a sheet of thin torso meat to wrap them in. The remaining bones become stock. I can only advise what I did and that is to work under the meat in the parts closest to the bone, popping bones at the joint to work the meat out. You should eventually get four largish pieces of meat from the hind legs and the side (the saddle). The sheet of meat around the torso require care so it doesn’t tear or pierce. Trim at the front and back and slowly work it off. It became two sheets as I couldn’t detatch it cleanly from the spine. It slow and fiddly, the bones are tiny and the sinews are like parcel twine. Any meat left will flavour the stock and you can also add small pieces to the fillet roll.
Season the sheets with salt and pepper and spoon tapenade over them (I used a local Wyening Mission Farm kalamata olive tapenade). Place the fillets inside and roll it up and secure with string.
The rabbit stock is much like any stock with carrots, leeks, and celery as the aromatics and a bouquet garni of bay leaf, rosemary, thyme wrapped in the green part of a leek. In this a glass of white wine is added to the ingredients, reduced and then water is added to just cover. Cook for 20 minutes and then strain. Reduce to taste, this will become the sauce.
The stuffed zucchini were based on a recipe in the Cordon Bleu at Home and making an effort for visual presentation, they added a vertical element. Slice the zucchini into 5cm lengths and hollow out a tunnel that leaves about 7mm of wall. Keep the leftover bits for the stuffing and the ends to top. I made the stuffing by cooking finely chopped bacon, leek, parsely, chives and celery with the leftover zucchini and pumpkin seeds in butter and mixing it with fresh breadcrumbs and an egg. Parboil the zucchini in salted water for 5 minutes, rinse under cold water, and fill with the stuffing. Place vertically in a buttered bread pan and cover with foil.
The carrots were part elgiacally inspired by Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn:
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet,
and part me being a vindictive bastard. Peeled with a few cm of the the greens left on. Traditionally cooked in Vichy water, I susbsituted with a suitably interesting Italian sparkling mineral water.
The mushrooms pouches are flash and easy. They would have to be considering the state I was in when I successfully made them at The Dinner Party that was a Complete Shambles about 12 years ago. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in warm water and then mince with field/portobello mushrooms. Cook in butter with chopped chives and drain out the excess moisture. This will prevent the pouches from breaking. Cut filo/phylo/phyllo pastry into bread plate sized rounds. I used three sheets to get the required amount of strength. Fiddly stuff, my kitchen looked like writer’s block circa 1950. Place a spoonful of mix in the middle, gather the edges around, and tie with string. The string will be replaced with the green part of chives quickly softened in boiling water. Liberally brush with melted butter and place on a baking tray.
Bundle everything into the car with camera and tripod and off you go
The times all fit together nicely for minimal stress
-Bake the zucchini for 45 minutes, removing the foil to baste and finally brown.
-The rabbit is quickly seared on all sides in olive oil and then roasted for 15 minutes at 190c, basting regularly, and allowing to rest for 10 minutes.
– the mushroom pouches cook in the oven in 15 minutes
– the carrots take about 10 minutes to cook in the boiling mineral water.
Slice the rabbit into equal portions, place on the plate with the vegetables and pour the stock over.
Very civilised. Seemed to be a much shorter aperitif time so the poonk CDs stayed in their cases. I really enjoyed Veronique’s entree of pesto of flat leafed parsley and roasted garlic on toast. Should get the recipe. I was very proud of my mains. The vegetables rewarded me for the attention I paid them and after my misgivings about the doneness of the duck at the last dinner party, I was thrilled that the rabbit was cooked to juicy perfection. Given it takes about 30 minutes to get from bench to plate, it’s a good choice for a low stress dinner meat. Cheese followed, as is the custom I was told, then finally Veronique’s pear cooked in a vanilla sauce with double cream. My only regret was the Barwick Estates Pinot Noir, only made it as far as the entree. Light and tasty, it would have made for a great pairing with the rabbit. Ah well, I’ll just have to do it all over again.
The simple egg/toast algorithm of EoMEoTE is developing at such a pace, predictions are for sentience by #8. You’d then best get over to Cook sister! for the EoMEoTE#6 round-up before we’re all made to slave in their calcium mines under their cruel reign of egg terror.
You can also check and add to the EoMEoTE – End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza Flickr group.
Many thanks and bravo Jeanne and all contributors. Diversity, quality and humour. [sighs contentedly]
Being a classic “plus one” personality type with the added disadvantage of being a secular animist tends to make me very prone to suggestions from friends instead of omniscient beings (witness this whole EoMEoTE thing). The Voices.
Admittedly an egg based tribute to an aged doctrinal heavy wasn’t on the top of my list of things to, but as it was for my favourite lefty, Robert Corr, how could I refuse? Despite spiceblog being typically oblique and asynchronous to the goings on of the world (I mean the last five posts were all a thinly veiled commentary on the Crimean War) I thought I’d give it a go anyway. May the eggs provide a guide for the church into the 20th century. This one’s for you your Wholebreadiness – Pope Benedict XVI.
The parsley, green for Irish Catholicism. The hollandaise sauce, gold, always believing. Does it come from Holland? You’d think not, hot-bed of Reformists, libertines, and Jewish emigres called Rodrigues. No lemons so a dash of vinegar.
The bread, New Norcia Seven Grain Sourdough. Why seven? Black Francis says that God is Seven. Seven grains, one loaf, many slices. What’s in it? St. Paul, in his first Letter to Corinthians tells us “a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind” [15:38] . Take that gnostics. Who’s responsible for this bread? None other than Benedictine monks. And despite leavened being symbolic of our sinful nature they’re giving it too us anyway. Well not exactly giving it to us but it’s a nice thought in a long tradition of good work and public good. So whether you’re munching on some Cistercian cheese or knocking back a couple of Trappist coldies, we foodies have much to appreciate in this smart sacred-profane/member’s lounge-public bar combo and look forward to future ventures.
Which brings us to the bacon. Not not-Catholic thinker Francis Bacon, (secular saint of preserved goods, martyred by dying after research into freezing chickens), but amoral bacon. In certain other major religions you’d be forced to have the relatively lackluster Eggs Florentine, for no better reason than because because. This is a courageous decison and to be respected, it’s not like pigs were particularly well regarded. Unlike bread and fish which were something to be shared, pigs got to be cliff jumping demon dumpsters, leaving a very large question mark over their qualities. This was the kind of thing that could split a church and tie up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for centuries, but it hasn’t. Is it healthy? Should it be crispy? Do pigs have horrible lives before being slaughtered? Unless it’s hillbilly style congress, we are forced to live in this tremendous moral void. How are we doing? Well, surprisingly enough, great.
Finally, the eggs. Symbols of reproduction and womanhood… ah well at least they’re not gay eggs.
My last night in Tokyo, several days of frantic eating, drinking and shopping had ground me down to the point where not even the shop based joys of Shibuya could stop me from wanting to throw up and go to some quiet dark place. Not the ideal prelude to a final evening in Tokyo but I was ahead on points. I fell upon the mercy and wisdom of tokyo goat who had so far provided a roof over my head, a camera in my hand, and a suitably undisciplined voice of reason. Destination was an izakaya in Ikebukuro that had a big door but with a little door. Through the rabbit hole then. Personally I expected to be clubbed on the head but all turned out much much better.
Reading a Japanese menu is always a challenge, so I usually pick the easiest to read one’s first and interpret/guess the rest at my leisure. First from the specials menu was hanpen (fish cake), and kurogomadoufu (black sesame tofu) served with a sprinkling of sea salt. Quite delicious cold with a savoury pannacotta texture.
The beers finished and we moved quickly to the business end and some sake. Asking the waitress she recommended one, Ginban sake from Toyama, but eventually confessed to not having a clue but we thought we’d try it anyway, the place was clearly good enough to take a punt on their sake list. Bought by the glass, a 1.5 litre bottle is bought out and poured into our o-choko overflowing into the small laquer masu it sat in. Lovely dry and clean.
The vegetable dish arrived, I’m not sure what it was but it was written as ninnikuyasai (garlic vegetable), tasting more like spring onion, grilled and served with (dengaku?) miso. Tsukune, yakitori made from minced chicken, which came out unusually on a paddle. Fish next and the choice was hokke (atka mackeral). This is a whole fish flattened out and then grilled. Very Japanese but so often done very badly, typically luke warm after having had the life cooked out of it. This one wasn’t, it was beautifully moist. The scattershot menu choice of the Okinawan dish of goyachamporu( bitter melon with eggs, tofu, and bacon) had the many textures and tastes in this dish blended well.
Next sake, Hakkaisan, which is possibly the best regarded sake in Japan. We had the Genjou [looks at scribbly notes flower? Seymour?] and the Shibori. Both smooth and tasty but the Shibori’s taste was boosted by the higher alcohol content. We had half an hour to enjoy them while our takenoko chahan (rice with bamboo shoot) slowly cooked in front of us. And we finished with this, miso (goat is right, the good stuff is subtle) and the Tengumae Ginjou sake. Being good sports, the staff let us finish off the bottle, bless.
And that was that, we squeezed our way out of the door. To have such a wide range of food, done so very well, in charming setting with friendly staff and good company capped and exceptionally good trip to a wonderful place.
Teshigotoya has a website and a map here.
The three exceptional photos here were by the talented and prolific Andrew Mc Lucas, the first guest photographer here none less. There are still more pics of the night by two snap happy Aussies at Flickr.