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Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family

Tokyo With Mum: Day 5 Kamakura

This was my eighth trip to Tokyo but I had never gotten to Kamakura before.

Mum and I caught the train to Shinagawa and transferred to the train for Kamakura. It took us about 50 minutes from Shinagawa, a distance of around 50 kilometres.

Kamakura is most well known for the Daibutsu, at temple, but we discovered on our arrival that there are many more shrines and temples than we expected.

We went to the tourist information office at the station and they told us which bus to take. The buses have announcements in Japanese and English so we got off at the right stop which was across the road from the temple.

Lots of school children everywhere, they are the ones with the yellow caps on.

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Deva Gate,entrance to Kōtoku-in

After passing through the Deva Gate you enter the gardens and grounds surrounding the Amida Buddha which sits on a foundation and then reaches 13.35 metres in height. Made of bronze the statue weighs in at 93 tons. More information on Kōtoku-in HERE.

Visitors are also able to enter the interior of the statue to see the construction. They also provide a good explanation of the methods used.

A few shots from around the grounds.

We wandered back to Hase Dera, a short walk from Kōtoku-in. There were plenty of shops to pop in to as the footpaths were quite busy with groups of school children and other tourists.

Hase Dera was established around 736AD and is a temple honouring an 11 headed Kannon that was washed ashore near the temple. Check the link for more information on Hase Dera HERE.

I will say that the gardens here are spectacular and I hope to go back for flowering time of the wisteria and hydrangea. Other wise it is very lush and green.

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Entrance to Hase Dera

A cave system is home to Beten-do Hall and Benten-Kutsu cave with statues of Benzaiten and children carved from the rock walls. Sadly the only photo I have inside the cave is slightly blurry.

Some shots of the gardens and ponds.

Jizo-Do Hall is where Fukuju Jizo is enshrined. The hall is surrounded by thousands of jizo there to comfort the souls of unborn children. Often these will be dressed with knitted or fabric bibs.

Kannon-Do Hall is the home of the Kannon statue. Attached is Amida-Do Hall and the Museum.

On one side of Kannon-Do is the Shoro Belfry, home to a massive bronze bell. On the other side is the Kyozo, holding the sutra archive.

The upper part of Hase Dera offers fabulous views over Kamakura, out to the ocean.

We continued our walk back to Kamakura station stopping in at many handcraft shops. I was always calculating how much room was left in my suitcase though. We did stumble across a second hand shop where I picked up an obi. To my eye it looks like autumn colours, but still trying to work out if it is bamboo or maple.

Second hand obi ¥1000 about AUD$13
Second hand obi ¥1000 about AUD$13
My second hand obi closer
My second hand obi closer up

We arrived at the station and as we were a bit warm from our walk had a delicious icecream served in a crepe rolled in to a cone shape.

Arriving back at Shimbashi I had to show Mum the big Tanuki near the station. Ended up with some fun shots.Now if you don’t know about Tanuki, he is a mythical Japanese racoon dog. Tanuki is also a real animal as well.

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Mum with Tanuki in Shimbashi
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Mum with Tanuki in Shimbashi

Thanks for dropping by!

Next post will be our day with a Tokyo Free Guide host.

Tokyo With Mum: Day 4 Mt Fuji, Hakone and Mt Komagatake

In September we booked a day trip for while we were in Tokyo. I had done the same trip to Mt Fuji, Hakone and Mt Komagatake on my first trip to Japan back in 2008. That time it was early spring and our coach was only able to make it to the second station. This time we woke to an autumn day withsparkling blue skies and a probability of cloud in the afternoon.

Ok, so I woke really early and was able to see a spectacular sunrise as we forgot to close the blinds.

Early morning Tokyo
Early morning Tokyo

We booked a transfer to the bus depot and waited patiently for our coach and guide, Marie.

Road tripping Burgmann's
Road tripping Burgmann’s

Marie was a fun guide giving us lots of interesting facts about where we were going, Japanese customs, history, and funny anecdotes. Once we were out of the city we got our first glimpses of Majestic Mt Fuji, which the night before had been dusted by the first snowfalls of the season. Given that the sky was so clear, the snow gleamed on the peak.

Fuji-san with first snow of the season
Fuji-san with first snow of the season
Fuji-san with first snow of the season
Fuji-san with first snow of the season

Some facts on Mt Fuji, height is  3,776.24 m (12,389 ft), known for its perfectly symmetrical cone, it is100km(60miles) from Tokyo. It is classified as an active low risk volcano with the last eruption in December 1707 and ending in January 1708. Mt Fuji lies within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park Famed Ukiyo-e artists Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, among others have featured Mt Fuji in their works.

As we got closer and the altitude got higher we were able to see more of the autumn colour changes in the trees. This was especially delightful when we got to Mt Fuji 5th station(2,300m/7,550ft above sea level) and could look out over the vista.

Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station
Autumn colours at Mt Fuji 5th Station

Of course we had to get a selfie. Excuse the sunglasses but it was very bright.

Bright
Bright

The fifth station has restaurants, souvenir shops and the highest post office in Japan, where you can buy stamps made especially for Mt Fuji.

Mt Fuji 5th Station
Mt Fuji 5th Station
Mt Fuji 5th Station
Mt Fuji 5th Station

Some clouds soon turned up to provide some interest to photos.

Bit of cloud play
Bit of cloud play
Bit of cloud play
Bit of cloud play
Bit of cloud play
Bit of cloud play

Then it was back on the coach to head down to Kawaguchiko for lunch. Nestled on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi this town is popular with people on weekend trips to the Fuji Five Lakes region.

Kawaguchiko
Kawaguchiko
Lake Kawaguchiko
Lake Kawaguchiko

Lunch was at a tourist restaurant overlooking the lake and featured a noodle dish that is native to the Yamanashi region, Hoto noodles. They are like an udon noodle but made using a dumpling style dough, and served in a miso soup, very delicious and warming on a cool day. Lunch also included crumbed fish, sashimi, a mussel dish, braised lotus root, pickles and rice.

Lunch , tea, hoto noodles(in pot), mussels, sashimiof tuna and lake prawns, pickles, braised lotus root
Lunch , tea, hoto noodles(in pot), mussels, sashimiof tuna and lake prawns, pickles, braised lotus root
Hōtō Noodles
Hōtō Noodles
Crumbed fish and salad
Crumbed fish and salad

After lunch we headed on to Hakone for our cruise on Lake Ashi. A picturesque drive that gives you many glimpses of Mt Fuji, before you dip in to the ancient caldera that provides the setting for Lake Ashi.

Cabbage farm near Kawaguchiko
Cabbage farm near Kawaguchiko
Japanese Pampas grass on the way to Lake Ashi
Japanese Pampas grass on the way to Lake Ashi

Hakone is famous for hot springs and has many resorts for weekenders from Tokyo. By the time we reached Lake Ashi the weather had changed. The temperature had dropped and the clouds really rolled in.

Autumn colours Lake Ashi
Autumn colours, Lake Ashi
Pirate boats Lake Ashi
Pirate boats, Lake Ashi
Torii, Lake Ashi
Autumn foliage and Torii, Lake Ashi
Shrine on the shore of Lake Ashi
Hakuryu Shrine on the shore of Lake Ashi

We arrived at the base of Mt Komagatake where we were to take a ropeway gondola up to the top. The dock is quite pretty and there is an aquarium and swan boats to hire.

Hakone-en docks
Hakone-en docks
At the bottom of Mt Komagatake
At the bottom of Mt Komagatake

Spectacular scenery from the gondola.

From the gondola
From the gondola
From the gondola
From the gondola

When we arrived at the top the spectacular view was lost in the clouds. Normally you can see Mt Fuji and out to the Pacific Ocean but not this day. So Mum and I hopped on the next gondola down and went shopping in the souvenir shops.

Cable car arriving at the top, Mt Komagatake, clouds rolled through the building
Cable car arriving at the top, Mt Komagatake, clouds rolled through the building
Lost in the clouds
Lost in the clouds
Lost in the clouds
Lost in the clouds

Then it was back to Odawara for our return to Tokyo via Shinkansen. A great way to end our day trip to Mt Fuji, Hakone and Mt Komagatake.

Thanks for dropping by! Next post our train trip to Kamakura.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo With Mum: Day 3 Meiji-Jingu, SHibuya and Yasakuni Jinja

Tuesday morning saw us wake up to partly cloudy skies. Mum had gotten in to the swing of the Japanese style breakfast but neither of us were game for the natto.

We hopped the train to Harajuku, where there seemed to be less Harajuku girls than normal, and walked in to Tokyo’s oasis of calm.. Meiji-jingu always feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Walking through the park to the temple is like taking a walk in a forest, albeit a forest with loads of tourists.

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Creek in Meiji Jingu park
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Part of a bridge in Meiji Jingu park

Just before we were to make our turn off we walked past the sake and Burgundies used for the consecration of Meiji Jingu.

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No Mum you can’t drink those
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Can’t drink those either Mum.

There was some restoration work being done to the large inner torii and they were also setting up for the Autumn festival, so we had to go on a slight detour and approach from the side. From  the signage we read they were actually replacing the timbers. In the background you can see the marquees set up for the festival, some of the chrysanthemums were already being placed. Meiji Jingu is a great spot to see the chrysanthemum displays in autumn.

Main Torii
Inner Torii

We followed the detour signs and entered the shrine complex from the east side, stopping first at the Temizuya to perform the purification ritual. They are doing a lot of conservation work and you can see in the background, on the right, the new section of copper roof. People were able to buy a piece of new copper, write a prayer/wish on it and then this would be used during the reroofing, the cost was ¥3000 per panel.

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The Temizuya
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New section of roof

We then walked in to the main shrine complex and saw….another wedding, our fourth for the trip.

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Oh look, ANOTHER wedding

We wandered around the complex, said a prayer. Mine is always the same prayer, so far it has come true each year. Here are some shots from in the shrine area.

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Going in to the shrine area
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Meiji Jingu – love traditional Japanese architecture (restored section – no green patina yet)
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Meiji Jingu – love traditional Japanese architecture (old section green patina)
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Offerings for the deities

We than walked back to Shibuya and along the way passed an amazing mix of architectural styles.

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Chousen zenji
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Mum with the jizo at Chousen zenji
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Modern architecture

We were in desperate need of coffee, so I figured the best place to have one would be Starbucks at Scramble Crossing so we could watch the action. Didn’t seem as busy as some other days I have been there.

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Scramble Crossing, Shibuya
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Scramble Crossing, Shibuya

After our caffeine hit it was across to the station to see the memorial for Hachiko. Finally found it this visit. I am sure you are familiar with the story of Hachi, the loyal dog who waited for his master at the station every day. I think there are two films about him one Japanese and one with Richard Gere.

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Hachi-ko Statue Shibuya Station

Then we braved the train system to catch a train line I have not taken before, Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Iichigaya. Easy!! I love Tokyo trains!!!

From Iichigaya we walked to Yasukuni-Jinja. Quite a controversial shrine as it commemorates the Japanese war dead, and politicians are always getting in trouble for visiting it. While I was participating in the KYLC Kokoda Trek in August, I realised there were not a lot of memorials for the Japanese who fought there.  I had this feeling that I should go and visit Yasukuni and pay respects. Having watched a documentary and seeing that both lots of soldiers ended up becoming friends some time after the war and even having get togethers, I felt it was something I needed to do.

We entered from the Minami-Mon (south gate) and found the site of the  old Renpeikan for one of the three most famous Kendo schools in Japan.

 

We then moved on to the Haiden (Main Hall) where I payed respects to the fallen. Obviously the chrysanthemum symbol on the curtain reflects that this shrine has Imperial connections. Behind the Haiden are the Honden (the main Sanctuary where the divinities reside) and behind that, the Reijibon Hoanden which is the Respository For The Symbolic Registry Of The Deities (lists of the names of deities/fallen soldiers) This list contains the names of nearly two and a half million who have died in action and then been deified.

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Haiden at Yasukuni-Jinja
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Haiden at Yasukuni-Jinja

We then wandered around the beautiful old gardens. Many very old trees often with supports, a Shinchi Teien (sacred Pond garden) with huge koi, tea houses sumo ring and much more.

After walking the grounds we decided to go in to the Yashukan museum. Below are some of the memorials found outside the museum. The water bottles are not litter they are offerings, there was also some food around too. There are also memorials for animals that have been used in times of war, dogs, horses and carrier pigeons.

We were only able to take photos in the general exhibition area, but the rest of the museum was very interesting.

I will go again as it turns out I missed one of the display areas and we had to rush through the Second World War displays as the museum was closing.

As we walked out a very light drizzle had started and dusk was starting to set in.

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Yasukuni-Jinja at dusk
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Looking back to the shrine down the main approach avenue
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Memorial statue/fountain
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Memorial statue/fountain

After another busy day it was back to the hotel via a noodle restaurant.

Thanks for dropping by! Next post will be our trip to Fuji-san and Hakone.

 

 

Tokyo With Mum Day 2: Tea Ceremony And Kappabashi Dori

Our second day in Tokyo I took Mum for a special treat. I have never been to a Tea Ceremony so decided to treat Mum and myself to one. I had booked us in at Toko-an at the Imperial Hotel in Hibiya on the other side of the railway line from Ginza.

Toko-an is located on the fourth floor of the Imperial Hotel and we were not expecting to find the setting for the tea ceremony to be a replication of a traditional tea house. It was a very pleasant surprise. A huge bank of windows looked out to a lush garden as you walked along the stone pathway to the tea room.

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The garden at Toko-an
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The path to the chashitsu

After taking off our shoes we entered through the nijiriguchi( a small door that you need to crouch down to get through) and then into tatami floored room(4 1/2 tatami mats) and took our place seiza style on the floor.

To our right was the Tokonoma(scroll alcove) which featured a seasonal scroll and small arrangement of flowers.

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Tokonoma: decoration of seasonal scroll and flowers
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Close up of the flower arrangement

Across from us in was the sadoguchi which allowed the host access to the room and along from that the Furo(brazier) on which was placed the Kama in which the water is heated. A small table was to the side and on top were the Futa-oki to hold the kama lid, the Hishaku (water ladle) and the Natsume(lacquered tea caddy). Underneath was the Mizubashi holding cold water.

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Tea ceremony equipment
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Close up of the furo and kama

While the tea was being prepared we were given wagashi, a sweet treat filled with red bean paste. We ate half befor eht tea was prepared and then watched while one of our two servers performed the ceremony and the other lady explained the process.

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Tea being prepared
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Tea being prepared – adding some cold water to the kama
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Tea and wagashi of autumn colours

I was quite prepared for the tea to be bitter but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t. Can’t believe everything you read!  The tea served to us was Ujicha from Kyoto and does not have the bitterness of some other types of matcha.

Here we are enjoying our tea,not very elegantly seated. My cup had a depiction of pine branches and Mum’s had fans in autumn colours.

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Trying to sit seiza style while having our tea.

Then it was back out in to the chill morning and over to Asakusa and Kappabashi Dori. After leaving the station we happened to stumble upon our second wedding of the trip. The first one was at Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien.

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Wedding couple at Komagatado Temple, Asakusa

We only had a quick look in Asakusa as I knew we would be back on Friday with our guide so we pretty much headed straight to Kitchen Town.

We managed to find one of the Kappa statues. Google Kappa to find out more.

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Kappa statue near Kappabashi Dori

Nearly a kilometre of shops all dedicated to different aspects of restaurant and hospitality trades. I have posted on Kappabashi Dori on previous trips so will just say I bought A LOT. Then back to Shimbashi via Tawaramachi Station which was another first for me as I have previously just gone back to Asakusa station.

Stay tuned for the next adventures where we catch our third wedding!!

 

 

Tokyo With Mum: Day One Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien and Ginza

Earlier in the year I was planning to go to Tokyo by myself. I knew Mum had a bit of annual leave accrued so decided to see if she would like to tag along, which she did. I got all our bookings arranged and then just had to count down to the departure date.

As I wanted to fly in to Narita we had to have a stop over in Brisbane on the way. By the time we got from the domestic terminal to the international and went through customs, we only had about 30 minutes before our gate opened. The flight was uneventful andmanaged to grab a little sleep as well as watch the latest Star Trek and Independence Day movies.

Waiting for our plane
Waiting for our plane

We caught the train from the airport to Shimbashi and then walked to Hotel Villa Fontaine in Shiodome.

After a good night sleep we went down for breakfast. Hotel Villa Fontaine serves a Japanese style breakfast andas it was quite busy I grabbed a table while Mum went for food first. I think she was quite lost with what to have until I came back with my tray. On offer was, meat balls(delicious) Tamagoyaki, pastries, rice, pickles, natto(nope, still haven’t tried it), 3 soups (including miso), cereals and fruit.

Our first day was clear blue skies and quite warm so a stroll through a park was first on our list. Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien was the grounds of a former Shoguns Palace. From the Meiji Restoration in 1868 it was a Detached Palace for the Imperial family until 1946 when it was taken over by the government of Tokyo and opened to the public.

Entrance to Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien
Entrance to Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien

There is a great deal of history within the garden walls and great care is taken in preserving the gardens. Two kamoba(duck hunting sites) are preserved and now make great spots for taking photos of wildlife with in the park. In the trenches leading to the kamoba we saw crabs and fish enjoying the tidal waters while ducks bobbed around on the outer lake.

Kamoba- duck hunting spot
Kamoba- duck hunting spot
Looking through an archers hole in the kamoba blind
Looking through an archers hole in the kamoba blind
Ducks bobbing on the lake
Ducks bobbing on the lake

There are three restored tea houses in the garden, two on the lake shore and one on an island in the middle of the lake accessed by three bridges.

Tsubame-no-ochaya - tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Tsubame-no-ochaya – tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Matsu-no-ochaya - tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Matsu-no-ochaya – tea house in Hama-Rikyu
Nakajima-no-ochaya
Nakajima-no-ochaya
Old and new all three tea houses and the Shiodome shkyline
Old and new – all three tea houses and the Shiodome skyline

We wandered around past the old wisterias trained over pergolas, along the river bank, past the fields that are planted to different varieties each season, we saw the last of the cosmos, past the Ume (plum) grove and around to the majestic 300 year old pine tree.

Mum by one of the bridges
Mum by one of the bridges
Old wisteria vines
Old wisteria vines trained over trellis pavilions
View of Kono-ji-shima
View of Kono-ji-shima
Garden patch planted to cosmos
Garden patch planted to cosmos
Ume grove
Ume grove
Kyu-Inabu jinja
Kyu-Inabu jinja

One of the most amazing trees in the garden is the 300 year old pine tree planted by the 6th Shogun Ienobu. The tree is majestically sprawls over its patch and due to its age many of the branches have supports to help them.

300 year old pine tree
300 year old pine tree

Then it was a short walk over to Ginza to have a wander through the shops and the fascinating back lanes.

Nissan caught our eyes with some concept cars they had on display. I put the Gripz on my Santa list and Mum put the IDS on hers.

Nissan concept car -  Gripz
Nissan concept car – Gripz
Nissan concept car - Gripz
Nissan concept car – Gripz
Nissan concept car - IDS
Nissan concept car – IDS
Nissan concept car - IDS interior
Nissan concept car – IDS interior
Nissan concept car - IDS rear
Nissan concept car – IDS rear

After a good look around we headed back to Shiodome for dinner and a good night sleep.

Stay tuned for more of our busy week in Tokyo!

 

 

Mandarin Melting Moments

As I was having a friend come to visit I thought it would be nice to bake something. I haven’t made melting moments for quite some time, so that was my biscuit of choice. I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted so I used the Classic Melting Moment recipe from Donna Hay.

I did however jazz them up a bit, I omitted the lemon from the recipe and used mandarin instead. You could of course use orange or lime if you chose to.

They are quite an easy biscuit to make, although creaming with a hand mixer is a slow process. Here they are before baking.

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Ready to go in the oven

And here are the completed biscuits. They were quite delicious!

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Baked and filled, ready to eat

Thanks for dropping by!!

MADSYD – April 2016

Way back in April I attended MADSYD – a day of talks about the future of food. Held in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera house, the day featured talks by some of the biggest names in restaurants both local and international. Chefs such as Rene Redzepi, David Chang, Neil Perry, Massimo Bottura, Kylie Kwong, Clayton Donovan, Peter Gilmore among others. Talks also by Chido Govera of The Future of Hope Foundation, social researcher Rebecca Huntley, Gayle Quarmby from OutBack Pride.

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It was a great afternoon hearing about where some of the top chefs think food is headed in the future. One thing I took away in particular is that we really need to look at the food sources that are indigenous to this wonderful country. Rene Redzepi and David Chang were both taken aback at how little of our native plant and animal produce we actually use.

So it is time to go out and try what grows best here and add it to our food repetoire. You can see more of the day and other MAD events at http://www.madfood.co.

Thanks for dropping in!!

 

A Coffee In Port Moresby

I recently participated in the RSL & Services Clubs Kokoda Leadership Challenege in Papua New Guinea. After we finished our trek we headed back to the lodge to freshen up and after lunch headed in to Port Moresby to visit the Bomana War Cemetery and then on to a much needed coffee.

The coffee shop in question is Duffy Cafe. Located in a dark building behind two security doors and 2 metre high security fence , it was a welcome relief after 8 days of instant coffee to have a latte (and cheesecake). The interior is light and bright and an al fresco area at the front makes great use of the light. The interior has a European feel, dark grey and white tiles, bare brick, white wooden shutters and dark furnishings.

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Exterior Duffy Cafe
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Interior Duffy
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Interior Duffy

There is also a creperie and all baked goods are made in house. Amazing selection of both savoury and sweet food to have with your coffee.

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Duffy baked goods selection

And of course the long awaited coffee…….

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Hazelnut latte

Upstairs is Duffy fashion. Both businesses are the result of a smart father who backed his entrepreneurial offspring. So if you happen to be in Port Moresby drop in to Duffy for a coffee or bite to eat.

 

Izakaya Yebisu – Regent Place Sydney

Recently while I was in the city, I developed a craving for a Japanese lunch. As I was near Town Hall there were many options, but my choice for the day was Izakaya Yebisu in Regent Place. Regent Place has many Asian dining choices and the way it has been designed and decorated gives you the feeling of being anywhere but Sydney. Being in the CBD it does tend to get a little busy at lunch time.

Izakaya Yebisu has a main restaurant area and also a bar running along the length of the glassed kitchen area. Menus in the bar area are on tablets so ordering is simple, select the menu course screen, press the item you want and then press order and presto the order is delivered straight to the kitchen or bar. If you need help there is a button to attract a wait person. I had a question about the types of Umeshu they had on offer and a waiter was there very quickly after pressing the “assistance” button. After ordering my Umeshu it was time to decide on my lunch choices.

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Umeshu and Gyoza

First course was Gyoza you have a choice of two sauces so I chose the classic ponzu.

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Gyoza

For my main I opted for Chicken Kara-age set which came with salad, miso soup, pickles and 2 slices of sashimi. The chicken was nice and crispy and served with Japanese mayo(possibly Kewpie brand) and rice was under the chicken.

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Chicken Kara-Age, salad, pickles and miso soup

There was also a sign for a discounted dessert for dinners who are members of Washoku Lovers Club, so I quickly joined online and ordered the Tempura ice cream. A generous serve of strawberry ice cream dipped in tempura batter and deep fried. Sort of like deep fried ice cream you get at a Chinese restaurant but battered instead of crumbed. The batter was light and crispy and the ice cream had hardly melted. Topped with chocolate sauce and served with cream and strawberry.

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Tempura ice cream ball

Another great find for a delicious Japanese lunch. Might have to head in another couple of times before my next trip to Tokyo later in the year.

Thanks for dropping by!

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