January 31, 2011

bubbles & nibbles

This past weekend, I had vaguely fancied a champagne brunch for Sunday. Waking up to a stack of pancakes and a flute of mimosa would have been really nice, I dreamed.

But in reality, I had to work on Sunday, at least in the morning - and couldn't really afford to get tipsy straight out of the bed. So I got up, had a quick bite of what I had around, and got to work without further ado. And when I was done past middday and swapped my laptop for a skillet, I felt myself perfectly deserving a glass or two, if I do say so myself.

January 20, 2011

strawberries and snow

Would you believe me if I told you that strawberries are almost at their peak right about now in Tokyo and many other parts of Japan? Well, they are - and come to think of it, I have already mentioned it before, about five years ago. This winter, I saw my first strawberries at the store in mid November.

So here we are, almost in the middle of the strawberry season, and I'd treat myself to an occasional indulgence in these delicacies - they are mostly greenhouse-grown varieties, and many are not exactly cheap.
Among them, my favorite for the past few years has been amao, a variety known for its exceptionally large and sweet fruit, developed and grown in Japan's southwest prefecture of Fukuoka.

And as luck would have it, I recently received punnets of this praised fruit, shipped directly from Fukuoka, thanks to a good friend of mine down there. How lucky am I?
Berries arrived in a pristine state - large and round, shiny and red as they should be. We admired the beauty, then shared some of them with neighbors.

The best way to appreciate these gems, obviously, is to do nothing with them; just eat them as is. They seem to be almost too good to be tampered with. Except maybe pop a few in a glass of chilled bubbles, which I never fail to do.
But my friend suggested as she arranged the delivery of berries to me, that I should do my own little "amao festival", which basically meant that I should make good use of the supply and enjoy them in as many ways as I could think of. And when you have a large supply of something this good, have the luxury of eating them in ways other than just popping one straight into your mouth - why not experiment? Honestly, how truly lucky am I?

And incidentally, last week as I slowly snacked away the fruits pondering what to do with them, the weather forecasts for the weekend were snow for many parts of the country, including Nagano where I happen to be now (again).

And so this inspired me to play around with ideas of pairing strawberries with snow.
Of course, not the real snow, really. Not for eating purposes, anyway. But for eating, I thought I'd make something (edible) that might look like - or evoke an image of - snow. Something white, light, and delicate. And preferably tasty, too. And hopefully in a variety of ways.

So I spent the weekend having a lot of fun trying to let it snow over the ruby red berries...

January 3, 2011

a new year, a new look

What, am I the only one who is still saying it? But being Japanese, we wish each other a happy new year roughly until the middle of January (upon seeing each other for the first time in the year, anyway), so here goes: Happy New Year & Best Wishes for 2011! I hope you've all had a good start to the new year.

As for me, I've had a few restful days for the most part, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking some New Year dishes...