Archive for the 'Shops' Category


May 2, 2006


Any guesses what this is? I’m not asking the Asians or the world travelers now. Having only eaten this plant from a can or cooked into a stir fry in the states and Europe, always in unrecognizable rectangular-shaped, thin slices, I never imagined it looked like this in real life. It’s a bamboo shoot. They’re in season now, and being a Kyoto specialty, Nishiki market’s shops have mounds and mounds of them for outrageous prices. Why the high prices? Because they are most tender and have to be dug up while still underground before they reach the sunlight in the early early morning, and bamboo can grow a meter in one day. I never thought I could afford one…

Until one fine day last week, I was walking through Nishiki market on my way home from work and I happened to see a small basket containing three at a small vegetable shop. The price tag said 525 yen, and I could hardly believe I could get even one much less three of them for that price. I incredulously had to reaffirm by asking the shopkeeper. Yes, they were 525 yen, and although they were a bit smaller than the giants at some other stores, they were being sold for less than half the normal price. I bought them without thinking twice and far from regretted it.

As I was packing my treasure away, the shopkeeper gave me a small bag of sawdust-like powder and gave me a bunch of instructions on keeping them for up to a week. Being far too ecstatic with my find, I hardly listened and didn’t ask him to explain again. Half way home my dream bubble burst and I panicked. How was I going to cook these things?!? Read the rest of this entry »


Sesame Saba

February 25, 2006


This is a saba fish. Since I didn't eat so much fish before coming to Japan, I just had to look it up. This is a mackerel… and a beautiful one too. The picture doesn't quite show the colorful shimmer in its belly. It must have been plucked out of the sea that very morning. And I bought it… at a great fish store I discovered near Imamiya shrine just north of Kitaoji Street.* There were so many fish that looked incredibly fresh, at least 5 men preparing the fish behind the refridgerated display, and next to me a chef ordering 5 boxes of Aji (horse mackerel or saurel according to the dictionary). I felt proud of my purchase, even though I have no clue about selecting or preparing a whole fish. Does anyone have suggestions?! Read the rest of this entry »

SHF #16: Matcha Truffles

February 11, 2006

matcha truffles

Two truffle combinations of matcha, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.

What is more delectable than chocolate? Perhaps matcha. In my mind, they share the same qualities of ecstasy. I love them both. So why not put them together? Matcha truffles in two varieties: one a white chocolate matcha ganache with a cocoa coating, the other a milk chocolate matcha ganache powdered with matcha. This is my Recipe for Love for Sugar High Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Traditional Kyoto Hard Candy

February 9, 2006

kyoto ame

Kyo-ame. The large, brown ones are ginger with black sesame seeds, and the cute faces and flowers are fruity flavored.

Today, I went cookbook shopping, and on my way home picked up some matcha green tea to enjoy with my new books. To really enjoy matcha, you need sweets to pop in your mouth before you sip the sometimes bitter tea. It effectively sweetens the tea. Of course, there are the elaborate, traditional sweets you normally have at tea ceremonies, but that was too formal for lazing away, reading cookbooks. So, I stopped by a small traditional sugar candy (Kyo-ame) shop. Read the rest of this entry »

If you give a German bread…

January 31, 2006

sunflower seed bread

Sunflowerseed bread from Boulangerie Friandise

…she will love you forever. Having spent a good part of my life in southern Germany, I love a hearty, crusty bread made of whole wheat, rye, nuts, and seeds in any combination. It can be heavy and too healthy-looking, but it has to have a dynamic texture and pair well with both cheese and jam. My father, having the same opinion and finding no decent bread in the states, went so far as to build a wood-fired oven in our backyard in Oregon. Read the rest of this entry »