Saturday, November 29, 2014

cocoro

IMG_9176 The other day I found myself needing to kill some time, so I went looking for a new bakery to try...Cocoro.

They are a teeny shop but they had all sorts of breads to choose from.

I picked up their fruit bread...385 yen (tax included) for half a "loaf".

This bread is packed with figs, walnuts, raisins...more fruit than bread.

It was good with cream cheese and smoked salmon one morning.

I hear they also make bagels...I'll be back!

Cocoro
8-1 Higashi Kozu-cho
Tennoji, Osaka
Phone: 06.7896.1438
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Hours: 8:00-19:00

Friday, November 28, 2014

omiyage from awajishima & akashi

IMG_9186 Here's the omiyage (souvenirs) we brought back with us from Awajishima...instant onion curry...

IMG_9187 mixed kodaimai (rice) & onion taberu ra-yu (chunky chili oil) with habanero.

The habanero that they use is grown in Japan.

IMG_9188 onion senbei (crackers) & assorted seafood senbei (crackers) (squid, squid ink, seaweed, octopus, crab & shrimp).

IMG_9189 And the omiyage from Akashi...assorted takosenbei (octopus crackers).

Can't wait to try all of these goodies! Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

awajishima-akashi-osaka

IMG_9088 Day 2 of our adventure started with breakfast at our pension.

After that huge dinner the night before, this breakfast was perfect...actually, this post should be titled "kuidaore" (eat until you drop) because this is what happened after breakfast...

IMG_9096 We checked-out and went to the Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park.

This is the area where the huge earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995 apparently originated. The purpose of this park is to preserve the memory of the earthquake and also to educate for larger earthquakes in the future.

There is a preserved house that sits on the fault. You can walk into the house and view the damage of the kitchen area and see the damage to the outer property wall when the property shifted.

There is a display area to educate you on topics such as active faults and earthquakes. There is also a video showing tsunami simulations.

The area that was the most freaky was the earthquake simulation room. For 40 seconds, you sit inside a "home" to experience a size 7 earthquake and then for another 10 seconds a size 4 aftershock.

Super scary experience but important to know about.

Since we had some time before the bus we needed to catch, we shared this...takopuri burger. Octopus and onions fried up like a croquette.

The onions were sweet and there were bits of octopus here and there, I think they could've put more octopus in it.

IMG_9106 We then went to the Michi no Eki Awaji. This is actually a parking area. There are tons of these places all over Japan. If ever you see "michi no eki" you'll know this is a rest stop where you can eat and buy souvenirs...some of these rest stops even have hot spring facilities.

It was so cool to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge up close!

IMG_9111 We had seen a poster for Awajishima Gyu-don (beef bowl)...can you believe there are 61 different bowls around Awajishima?!

They have some rules...in order to call it an Awajishima Gyu-don, the beef, onions & rice must be grown/raised in Awajishima.

And all other ingredients used should try to be from Awajishima.

From the list of 61, this was number 1...Awajishima Yakiniku Bowl...1280 yen.

Satoshi and I shared this. Garlicky tender beef with lots of green onions. They serve this with an onion potage and pickled onions.

This was so good!

IMG_9124 After "lunch", we went up the mountain to Matsuho no Sato, an onsen (hot spring).

The view from the mountain is breathtaking!

This is where lunch #2 happened...Hitsumabushi-style Beef Bowl...950 yen.

Just like when you eat unagi (eel) hitsumabushi, you add some dashi to the gyu-don to eat this like "chazuke".

Of the two beef bowls, I liked the first one at the rest stop.

IMG_9126 Satoshi had their nama-shirasu (raw whitebait) bowl...950 yen.

You can only get this during between April and November...they actually have 48 versions all over the island!

IMG_9136 We then caught the ferry to Akashi.

It is only 13 minutes. The boat passes under the bridge so it is nice way to see the bridge "up close".

Once in Akashi, Satoshi said he wanted to check out Uontana shopping arcade. Akashi is known for tako (octopus) so there are lots of takoyaki places as well as vendors selling tako, raw and prepared.

Akashi has their own type of takoyaki called akashiyaki. We tried some at a place called Gallery Deai...10 for 500 yen (lunch #3)

I personally don't care for takoyaki. I find the insides to be a little to mushy/raw. After trying Akashiyaki though, I think I could like this version.

Akashiyaki doesn't use flour, just egg seasoned with dashi (stock)...so it is like eating a tiny dashimaki tamago (omelette made with stock and egg) with tako in it.

Put it into a bowl of dashi (stock) and add green onion and pickled ginger. Satoshi liked it with only the dashi and green onion. He thought adding the pickled ginger didn't match.

I thought it was delicious!

IMG_9162 Satoshi mentioned that he has never been to Akashi, so we went to check out the park.

In this park are the remains of the Akashi castle. There is also a large pond where you can rent paddle boats and a large sports facility too. There were also some beautiful maple trees too.

Another day of beautiful weather, lots of walking and way too much eating.

I hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as we did. Satoshi is hooked and wants to go back to Awajishima in the Spring!

Hokudan Earthquake Memorial Park
177 Ogura
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.82.3020
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (closed during the end of the year, please check)

Michi no Eki Awaji
1873-1 Iwaya
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.72.0001

Matsuho no Sato
3570-77 Iwaya
Awaji, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.73.2333

Gallery Deai
1-2-11 Honmachi
Akashi, Hyogo
Phone: 078.914.5728
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

osaka-suma-maiko-awajishima

IMG_9020 From our place to Suma, it is about an hour on the train.

We stopped at Suma Rikyu Park to check out their fall foliage.

The last time I was at this park was back in 2011 with my host mom. There wasn't anything blooming at the time, so it was nice to come back to see the rose garden as well as the autumn leaves.

IMG_9042 A couple of stops from the Suma Rikyu Park is Maiko.

This is where we caught the highway bus over the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge to take us over to Awajishima.

IMG_9045 You literally have to go up on top of the bridge to get the bus, boy was that escalator steep!

IMG_9049 About 10 minutes later you arrive on the other side of the bridge.

The view from the parking area is breathtaking. There is also a Starbucks that gazes at this view too!

IMG_9057 Satoshi had a vanilla-chocolate soft serve, while I tried the Awaji Mojio (a type of sea salt) soft serve, my cone was a waffle cone and there was also a little scoop of sweet bean paste. The sweet-salty combination was delicious, the soft serve actually reminded me more of butter.

IMG_9068 After finding our pension, we went to explore the port area.

There is a tiny island called Eshima which is believed to be the first island of Japan. There is a little folk story about it.

"At the beginning there was only one god sitting in the center of the Universe.

The Sky and Earth separated, appearing in human form as man and woman respectively. The first man, Izanagi, and the first woman, Izanami, descendants of the god above, got married and gave birth to all the Japanese islands and gods. Sadly, the last offspring was the Fire God, who caused his mother's death by fire.

They say that the first island born from this celestial couple was Eshima, near Awaji island."

IMG_9069 The island is made of sand stone so it has a different feel to it.

"rainbow" bridge #awajishima #Japan The pension had a great view of the bay and the bridge. The lights on the bridge change every hour or so. You can even view the bridge from the bath area of the pension!

IMG_9078 Dinner was fish...

IMG_9079 lots of fish...

IMG_9080 served all sorts of ways...

IMG_9081 Awajishima is known for having delicious onions...this onion soup was so comforting and delicious!

IMG_9082 Satoshi also ordered us some steak for dinner...we over-ordered...

IMG_9083 Dinner ended with a scoop of ice cream...we were so full, it wasn't funny...

It was a great day, lots of walking and lots of eating....

Pension Pearl Shine
576-3 Iwaya
Awaji-shi, Hyogo
Phone: 0799.72.2901

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

this & that

thanks for today! (un-cut version) This past weekend was a 3-day weekend and we went to Awajishima, an island near the Kobe area, for two days. I have to get my thoughts together and photos in order, so I'm posting a photo of the beautiful sunset we saw yesterday. I took this photo from the train.

On the downside...Japan is going through another butter shortage. I recently bought a 450 gram block of unsalted for 900-something yen and divvied it up into 9-50 gram pieces. I didn't need that much unsalted butter, but since the market I went to was the only place selling butter, I bought the only size they had. They also limited us to 1 block.

Satoshi was amazed I took out my scale to weigh each piece...um, yeah, when you bake it kinda needs to be precise...

I also needed salted butter and ended up buying a teeny 100 gram tub for 300-something yen.

With this shortage I am afraid that most bakeries will switch over to margarine...though I am hoping my favorite bakeries won't.

To end this on a good note...Thanksgiving is coming up this week. We won't be celebrating but will be thinking of all of our friends and family around the world.

Thank you for all your kind messages and comments. We appreciate YOU!

Have a good week!


Monday, November 24, 2014

weed or flower

IMG_8957 I've seen this cute weed/flower along the riverbeds as well as on the edges of people's properties.

Apparently it is called persicaria capitata or himetsurusoba in Japanese. On Wikipedia, it said that it is also known as knotweed or pink bubble persicaria.

I like the pink bubble name...do you have something similar where you live?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

yuzu marmalade

IMG_8984 The day I passed by the fruit stand, they had huge yuzu from Minoo and were selling them for 280 yen for 2.

I had debated whether I would have time to make marmalade and decided to wait...

The next day, the sun was out, so I went to check out the fall foliage, then figured to check out the fruit stand to see if she still had the yuzu...bummer, she sold out.

So, I went to a stand that brings in veggies and fruits from Kochi prefecture and bought 4 yuzu for 400 yen.

If I can get my hands on some Minoo yuzu, I'll definitely make another batch.