Thursday, May 21, 2009

MORE TOKYO


On the left: Healthy shishito peppers. On the right: Grilled salty chicken skin. Balance.

Bookstore, Shibuya.

Tasting Japanese whiskies.

Probably if I lived here I would stop taking pictures in convenience stores of fluffy bread snacks. Probably.

Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) + Tsukemen (dipping ramen) = shirt stains, sweat.

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TOKYO: BESUBORU!


Bobby Valentine to me: "So you're a Yankees fan or a Mets fan or you don't really give a shit?"
Me: Ummm.
BV: Have a donut. [Note: there was a box of donuts on the table]
BV manages the Chiba Lotte Marines. My friend Shun works with him and was kind enough to invite me and another Tokyo pal, Shinji, to the home game last night against the Yokohama BayStars and to introduce us to his boss. The Marines lost but it was a fun night out.

One of the many dozens of beer girls that roam Japanese baseball stadiums, bowing before they make their way up the aisle to dispense draft beer from their keg-backpacks. If you imagine a cross between a st. bernard, a school girl in knee socks and a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger you sort of get the idea.

Chiba Marine Stadium, Chiba Prefecture, outside Tokyo.

This is not the real ball they play with. This is a person dressed as a ball.

Light Up the Passion For Your Team. Other motto, on back of every chair: "A Passion for Our Dream, A Commitment to Our Flag."

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

KYOTO: A VISIT TO THE YUBA MAKER





Yuba is "tofu skin," a delicate, creamy silky thing made by carefully lifting the thin film that forms on top of gently simmering soy milk. I like yuba and have eaten in many times but never really gave any thought to how it was made until the other morning when I visited an old yuba maker in Kyoto. I sat in the back of the room and watched a young guy (a member of the family who has run the place for centuries) presiding over these vats of steaming soy milk, just barely at a simmer. When a skin had formed, he'd run a wooden dowel across a vat and pull up a translucent sheet of yuba and let it dry on a rack. It is slow work, a sort of mesmerizing ritual. Hours and hours and hours, one by one harvesting these dainty, weightless sheets, waiting for another skin to develop on the warm surface. The young tofu maker's aunt gave me a bowl of warm, freshly made yuba, scrunched up in a bowl with just a few drops of soy sauce. Simple, oishii, delicious. The family cat sat next to me in a styrofoam crate. The aunt brought a plate of salty, deep-fried yuba. An old man washed out the giant pots used to soak the soy beans. The young guy kept walking around his vats, watching. The cat yawned off for a nap. After a morning snack, I was ready to do the same.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

KYOTO (DAY TWO AND A HALF)





I'm working in Kyoto for a week. Bright and sunny here a good time to walk the city. This morning I'm going to see more temples, wander through the food market, do some interviews and try to stop eating pillowy frosting-filled white-bread snacks from 24 hour convenience stores. From top: Little, sweet, miso-slathered fish. A famous tofu maker outside his shop. A not-famous tofu apprentice in his hair net. Watering the concrete (wet stone outside a restaurant or shop is a sign of welcome). Kyoto, 5/13–14.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

REFLECTIONS IN A TUB OF DUCK FAT


Perhaps some time ago you could have asked me, "Do you think you might possibly become a person who takes pictures of duck fat?" Then I could have answered you, confidently, No. What sort of person takes pictures of any kind of fat? I might have asked you, What is duck fat for? And: Why would I ever be near a tub of it? I wouldn't have cared about a giant tub of perfectly creamy rendered duck fat sitting in my refrigerator. And just the thought of it resting there for months, concealing in its opaque depths, the color of french vanilla ice cream, salty pieces of confit duck legs, necks and wings, wouldn't have comforted me at all. So I'd have no reason to take it out once in a while just to admire it. But these days I do think about it and do look in on it sometimes. And so I'll take a picture of it now—just so I don't eat the whole thing today.

Monday, May 04, 2009

COUNT DRUNKULA


L to R: me, my colleague Andrew, Count Niccolo Branca of Fratelli Branca, producers of Fernet Branca and the deliciously old-man minty Branca Menta. Today at a press lunch somewhere in Midtown. It's a very food nerd kind of day for me, this rainy Monday. Next up: I'm guest live-blogging the James Beard Foundation Awards all night at http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog. There is apparently a Hendricks Gin bar in the press room. Oh no.

Friday, May 01, 2009

FYI





Have a happy and safe Friday, imaginary readers.

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