December 31, 2004

our Christmas treats

Since I got back in Japan I have been busy going out every day, seeing friends and people to make up for the period I was away from them, and did not have time to take care of this blog much. Now Christmas is well over, I decided to collectively post at least pictures of food I had during the Christmas holiday.

On the Christmas Eve, (but during the day), I went to have lunch with a friend at a small Japanese restaurant in Aoyama, called Kamahachi.

Their specialty is fish and tofu, and on my tray there were an assortment of small but carefully made pieces of season (fish, chicken, vegetable, egg, everything) and a tofu dish with scallop, along with a bowl of rice, miso soup, and pickles. Having a little bit of many things is very Japanesey concept of serving food, I guess, and I am so fond of it.

Later in that afternoon, after walking around and window-shopping in the area, we stopped at a cafe called news-DELI to have a cup of tea.

In fact we shared this big piece of toast, called Honey Toast, with an extra topping of caramel sauce and chestnut ice cream.

It was quite a huge piece, and really sweet with honey and caramel sauce... maybe I should have left it plain.


On Christmas day, since he (who came to Japan with me) had gone surfing (in the winter ocean in Japan!) for the weekend, I decided to go out with a friend in the afternoon and cooked slightly festive food at home for dinner with my sister, her husband, and myself.

For breakfast I had a mini-panettone from Italy that I bought in a shop.

Then I went out to have a haircut (after seven months!), and before meeting the friend I dropped by Shinjuku Park Tower where I would usually go to the Park Hyatt Tokyo pastry boutique and the Conran Shop.

Before I peeking into the pastry shop, I stopped at an equally fancy delicatessen right next, where I tried and ordered some bread and small salad for dinner. The place was beautiful, but the service was pretty poor, I figured, and it took me a total of 20 minutes to just to have some bread and stuff, waiting at a counter to be served (it wasn't even busy).

Anyways, I eventually got something - a regular-sized croissant with rock salt and mini-baguette, together with a bow tie-shaped herb tea-flavored cookie.

After I had a couple of hours of chatting with the friend, I got home and cooked our dinner, starting with a salad.

This was our salad, and it was our Christmas tree as well! I had found this in a blog and instantly fell in love with the idea, and decided to make one on my own (recipe is here, in Japanese).

On the base of mashed potato (I put some cheese in it), I placed a piece of boiled broccoli stalk as the trunk, covered it with more potato, then mounted small pieces of broccoli flour along with plum tomatoes and cariflower. My "tree" looked a bit small and chubby, but did add a Christmas atmosphere on our table.

Our main dish of the day was pasta. It might not be the traditional Christmas dish, but that was okay with us. I bought a crab and a bunch of tiger prowns, and cooked their meat for topping while using up a whole rest (shells and everything) in the sauce that I made using white wine, tomatoes, and cream.

For those of us who love seafood, the pasta was divine.

...And I almost forgot about the salad I had bought at the delicatessen; it was called "grilled swordfish with wasabi dressing", consisting of lightly seared swordfish sashimi on some salad green, with sweet but wasabi-tangy dressing. I know something: their food is a way better than their service at Park Hyatt.

It was a bit late dinner and we were so full after it, and we almost just collapsed - and the cakes were left untouched, and consumed on the following day.


They were from the pastry shop at the same hotel, and what you see is what you get: they were very, very sophisticated both in looks and in taste.

Caramel brulee (or something - I forgot) was a bit like creme brulee, but no caramelized top but with caramelized banana, some cookie crunch, and dried fig pieces. The cream was soooo soft and velvety, almost saucy. Scrumptious.

Chestnut eclair, with big pieces of sweetened Japanese chestnuts, caramelized hazelnuts, and chestnut cream. The puff shell felt a bit too tough to my taste but it might have been because it was a day old, which wasn't their fault. Actually the eclair as a whole was so perfect I really didn't have much to complain about.

Cake roll called sesame, with black sesame-flavored gyuhi (like mochi) and sweetened beans in white sesame-flavored cream rolled into plain cake sheet, topped with crunchy sesame seed topping. Again, the cake was rather dry, but it was lovely other than that.

I didn't forget about it. Yes, Christmas cake that I had made two weeks before.

I hadn't fed them with extra doze of booze, but the cake still had pretty pronounced liquor taste, which means it wasn't ready yet; another couple of weeks or so would "age" the cakes really nice and mellower - and I still have a couple of small loaves for the future.


Reid said...

Hi Chika,

Looks like you're enjoying your trip to Japan. Love the pictures of the food...and the desserts, pastries and breads. Everything just looks so delicious! Can't wait to see more! =)


chika said...

Hi Reid,
Everything in fact is delicious after several months of away from home! ;)

Anonymous said...

Looks like you're having a wonderful vacation back home. Great way to spend the holiday season, seeing friends and family and having great food. Great pics. BTW, any chance of sharing your recipe for your crab and shrimp paste when you have time. Mahalos, lance

chika said...

Hi lance,

Sorry for my late reply and for not getting back to you with the recipe for the pasta sauce. In fact I didn't follow one specific recipe but rather sort of whipped it up... I first sauteed crabmeat and prown in olive oil and garlic, and set aside. Then I sauteed crab and prown shells in olive oil and then added some white wine and cooked for a while, constantly stirring and crushing the shells to let the cooking liquid soak up the juice. Next I drained it and reserved the liquid, while sauteing chopped onion and garlic in the same pan with a little more olive oil, then with some more white wine and whole canned tomatoes and cooked for a while. Then I put the seafood cooking liquid back to the pan and continued cooking. When the sauce was thick I finished up with some heavy cream. Lastly I mixed in slightly undercooked pasta and finished cooking in the sauce. Right before removing from the heat, I added the sauted crabmeat and prowns. Salt and pepper to taste. was something like this. Did this give you some idea?

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