you don"t need to save the crystal for a special day, even water tastes better in a "Fancy Glass"

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Fancy Glass RR (restaurant review)

Restaurant Review. Salvatore Trattoria Pizzeria, NakaMeguro Tokyo. I had a long tiring day yesterday and just wanted to go out with Chris my hubby and Terri my good friend who I am trying to make into a foodie... so we ate in at a wood oven pizza, and Italian near our apartment. We have taken out before but never had dinner in the restaurant. It was very good, and for once not overly modified for "Japanese" tastes. We had some mozzerella and tomato salad, Terri and I split a pizza with prosciutto, basil, fresh tomatoes and arugala- all wood fired, thin crust. Chris had a calzone. I got some yummy bites of that too. For dessert tiramisu and a riccotta cake. especially loved the pizza. Terri was still talking about it today!
on a 1-5 (5 being top marks)
Atmosphere= 3, nice and warm, but a bit non-descript. the outside doors and big ovens downstairs promised a more personal space than the dining room could deliver.
Food= 4 very tasty salad and a terrific pizza. Fresh and hot!
Dessert (which gets a catagory on it's own)= 2 I was underwhelmed. nothing new or especially decadent. The dessert sample plate looked nice... but just didn't delivery
Service= 4 they could have had full marks, we had two very nice italian servers. But things seemed a bit slow, and disorganized.
Would I go back? Definately, especially since it is in my neighborhood, but this wouldn't be one I would make a special trip to if it weren't so close by.
 Posted by Hello

afternoon chocolate break at my desk Posted by Hello

Chocolate Treasures

One of my staff at the restaurant, Mariko, just got back to Tokyo from a trip to NYC. She used to work there for years at a few of the best restaurants in the city and I can talk for hours and hours with her about food and wine and special places in New York. Being from Philly it is a place I went to often. So before Mariko went she told me all about Jaques Torres Chocolates on Hudson St. Who she says has the best chocolate ever. His website is actually! which is just a Great url.

In Japan there is a tradition of bringing back Omiyage when you take time away on vacation.

Temiyage and Omiyage
In order to thank somebody, e.g. for an invitation, one often presents a gift (Temiyage) such as a cake, Japanese sweets or sake. Similarly, when a Japanese person returns from a trip, he or she is supposed to bring home souvenirs (Omiyage) for many friends, co-workers and relatives.

Usually omiyage is something small and often something to eat that is special from the area the person visited.

So when I went upstairs to the restaurant office on Sat. afternoon, there on my desk was a gorgeous little pack of handmade chocolates from Jaques Torres' shop. I am going to savor them slowly but since there are just 6 (now five actually! ) It will certainly not be like the month long box of Belgian chocolates.

I had one today with a cappuccino (picture above) the one I tasted was called Bin 47 Port, described as: Taylor Fonseca Bin 27 Port infused in Dark Chocolate…. It was a complete delight- As Port and Dark Chocolate are definite loves in my food life.

The chocolates came with a charming tiny brochure with photos and descriptions. If you make it to NYC- The Shop is located at 350 Hudson Street and Mariko says that their hot chocolate is not to be missed! But you can also shop with them online.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

wine dinner, table setting, soup course, and duck with sweet potatos and pumpkin!  Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

a wonderful Fujimamas Wine Dinner

The restaurant I work for/in - has seasonal "Meet the Winemaker" dinners where we have a visiting VIP wine person from a new-world winery - Australia, New Zealand, California, Washington, etc. But this time (two days ago) we had an extra special dinner, 5 wine makers from 5 different wineries in Oregon were with us for an amazing dinner.

The way it works is that our exectutive chef, and his team- taste the wines about a month before the dinner, and then create a pairing menu designed to match perfectly and compliment the wines that have been chosen for the dinner.

We had winery visitors from A to Z winery, Francis Tannahill, Bergstrom, Elk Cove and Henry Estates. *all have links in a previous post from 4/15.

The photos above are from my table settings, and two of my favorite courses! I went with white and black for the table this time, made these fun simple little arrangements and one of my staff members, Shalee- made napkins folded like white tuxedo shirts. Very cute. Soft candle light and an all around warm atmosphere. At Fujimamas we are usually chic but casual. We dress it up for the wine dinner, but still try to make sure people can relax.

The soup course was amazing. *bottom left Scallop Chowder with Spring Mushrooms and Fiddlehead Ferns served with A to Z Pinot Gris 2003. It was a light, lovely, completely spring like dish... The light green color so pretty off-set with the seared scallop... and the taste was just heavenly.

The other photo is from the 4th course... a Lavender Scented Duck on Sweet Potato and Pumpkin. This course was a bit of a I royally screwed up! I printed the menus reversing this course with a pork course. It was such a mess up but the guests, the chef and the winemakers were very understanding and the dishes and wines were goregous. We fixed the situation and folks got extra glasses of wine out of it so it seemed to work out in the end... but needless to say I will be making sure more people check my menus before I print for the event. sigh. It will be a while before I get over this one.

Still the duck was so amazing! and it went well with both the Bergstrom Pinot Noir, and the Francis Tannahill Syrah.

The Chef, Mark, was so gracious and funny when he came out at the end to speak with the guests. We had a sold out crowd for us. usually we have about 40 people for a wine dinner, this time we had so many requests, we made it up to 50! very exciting.

And for once, some of my food pictures came out ok. Usually my wine dinner photos are a little dark but got some good lighting going this time.

the dessert course was great too, with a fantastic dessert wine. I will save that for my post for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

window shopping in Brussels

In Keeping with my european thread of the last couple of days, Belgian chocolate, and a French inspired Cafe car... above are some snaps from another fun little stop I had on my weekend in Brussels. I saw this adorable little shop and had to go take a closer look. I pressed my nose up against the glass of Maison J. Dandoy's window, feeling just like a little kid out of some charles dickens novel. This biscuit and cookie bakery shop was so delicious to look at and breath in that I can evoke the sights and smells even two months later by just closing my eyes... Their speci-ality is Belgian Speculoos, spiced cookies available in many shapes and sizes. Often shaped in elaborate molds. You can see a good recipe for Speculoos at Epicurious and read a yummy thread about this wonderful biscuit at one of my favorite food blogs, Chocolate and Zuccini, from last year.

 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

the madeline cafe Posted by Hello

the madeline car & coffee on my day off

About a year ago we came across this cute french car, a citroen tricked out to be a cafe vendor vechicle. I found it at midnight one night in Daikanyama about a 15 min. walk from where we live. It was too late for coffee that night, but seeing the barista in the back of this amazing cafe on wheels I thought- "must go try their coffee someday..." I never got back there and then low and behold- today on my day off from the restaurant it was parked just across the street from my house in this little parking lot that has different vendors trucks for lunch and dinner everyday. As you can see from my photo collage the car itself is incredible. But the coffee!!! well all I can say is that it does the whole car and concept justice.

I had a cappuccino, chris had a macchiato The barista was charming and made a great cup of cafe! And I finally got to take pictures of this cute little beverage concept on wheels.

I imagine someday, if my restaurant never happens...I could be quite happy parking my cafe car, near a beach somewhere and selling coffees and juices to the beach-rats, surfers and snorkelers. Reading and listening to music inbetween brewing some great joe and closing up the car to go snorkling in the afternoon! nice to have back up plans... Or in this case, a get-away vehicle.

the rows and rows of handmade chocolates at Neuhaus in Belgium Posted by Hello

Monday, April 18, 2005

making a box of belgian chocolates last almost a month...

is not an easy task... but if you have the will power it can be a lot of fun. In February my husband and I had a too-short-whirl-wind trip to london and brussels. I have always wanted to go to belgium and have long been a fan of mussels, frites and La Chouffe beer with the little gnome on the label. So I was thrilled when a new wonderful friend, invited us to visit her and her family who live just outside of Brussels. We were on business in London so could only get down to Brussels for the weekend but I am so happy to have made it there. (thanks for having us EMZ)

One of the highlights of the weekend was the visit to Neuhause- a world famous chocolate company who began making handmade chocolate more than 150 years ago. The particular store we went to, in the photo above and below, was especially wonderful because it was in the famous Arcade St. Hubert. The Galéries St. Hubert is a grand 19th-century shopping arcade near the Grand Place in central Brussels which has been recently restored. The Neuhaus here is the original shop - famous for Belgium Pralines - which opened its doors back in 1857.

So we made it there, on a rainy sunday- and chose 45 pieces of amaziningly delicious chocolate. Including some of the trademark Pralines. These were packed lovingly, as we chose each one, by the wonderful neuhaus staff. I love to make memories when I travel, special little things that I won't forget, and my chocolate choosing in the old-fashioned stocked and decorated shelves of NeuHaus was one of my memory moments. Every inch of the store was decorated, by the way, as it was coming up to Easter. And the chocolate bunnies were old fashioned and goregous, much better than the new monstrous but boring chocolate rabbits back in the usa!

The really fun part acutually came when we got back to japan. It is often hard to jump back into everyday life after the intellectual and culinary richness of travel... the regular day-to-day stuff can seem so ho-hum, even when you work somewhere as interesting as to keep our travel feelings, my honey and I chose to keep our box of special chocolates and have one each, every night. We had forgotten the names and which chocolate was what flavor, so it was an adventure each night. The great thing was, that unlike the gamble of the whitman's sampler box, which yields some yummy treats but also some really not-tasty chocolate... the neuhaus box brought us one delight after another. We didn't make it a whole month, but we got close and it was so much fun...

The best, but dangerous news: I found out today, while writing this, that Neuhaus has a shop here in Tokyo. I am sure it won't be as grand as the one in the arcade St. Hubert, but it will be a great way to relive my chocolate evenings with my husband.

PS. if you are interested to try for yourself, you can also order nauhaus chocolates to be delivered to your home.

the lovely neuhaus staff filling my box of chocolates! (and I caught him taste testing as well!) Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Gourmet Soup and Sandwiches Chef Mark Vann Style... read below Posted by Hello

soup and sandwiches Mark Vann style

The executive chef at the restaurant I work in Fujimamas is a true artist and innovator. Our whole menu comes from his original recipes and ideas. Besides our regular casual Asian Fusion fare in the restaurant we do seasonal wine dinners where wine makers and wine industry VIP's come and meet our guests and Chef Mark Vann creates special menus paired with each wine.

The great thing about Chef Mark Vann's Wine dinners, is that he is an amazing chef but he still has such a wonderful sense of whimsy, and fun. We have a new wine dinner coming up this week. Featuring 5 wine makers and winery folks from different wineries in Oregon. They are all coming here to visit tokyo.

the menu is going to be amazing

Scallop Chowder with Spring Mushrooms and Fiddlehead Ferns
A to Z Pinot Gris 2003 read about the winery here

Venison Carpaccio with Fig Vinegar and Arrugula-Radish Salad
Henry Estates Pinot Noir 2001 read about the winery here

Lavender Scented Duck on a Sweet Potato Galette
Bergstrom Winery Pinot Noir 2003 read about the winery here

"I'm Plum Stuffed!" Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Truffle Polenta
Francis Tannahill Syrah, Mason Dixon, 2002 read about the winery here

and for dessert...
Cinnamon-Almond Panna Cotta with Tankan Sauce *okinawan tangerines
Elk Cove Vineyards Riesling Ultima (Ice Wine) 2002 read about the winery here

As I was working on the menu design and printing for this upcoming one, on 4/21 I was thinking back to some of mark's great wine dinner menus. The picture above was one of my favorite wine dinner creations. It was back in Oct. 03 and I still remember this course like I just ate it yesterday. We were doing a wine dinner with Leonetti - a really high end, rare wine producer from Washington State. And to start things off on a fun note Mark did Soup and Sandwiches. Pictured above. But what an amazing idea, something simple and fall and comfort food-like, all dressed up for a fancy wine dinner.

The description read like this...
Minature Grilled Proscuitto Mozzerella and Sun Dried Tomato Sandwiches
Scallop and Red Bell Pepper Bisque in Demi Tasse
Beer Battered Onion Rings and Potato Chips topped with Truffle Cream and Osetra Caviar. Did you know you can buy caviar online at

We drank Sparkling Wine with this first course and it got the evening off to an amazing start! This was a dish that many of the guests still talk about today!

what I learned from this was that it is important to have fun and let that shine through what you do with food and wine service.

For some pictures of a recent wine dinner with McCrea Cellars Wine and our delicious menu go to McCrea Photo blog

I am looking forward to this week's wine dinner and I am sure it will be featured in a lot of fancy glass posts!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sanuki Udon- read all about it below. Posted by Hello

on all things udon...

As I was musing on what my next post would be, I spent a little time reading and responding on a forum thread over at CHOCOLATE AND ZUCHINI C&ZForum about local specialties *which I like to pronounce as Spe-shee-al-i-teeze and what food people think of as “The Thing” from their region. When I came to Japan 9 yrs. Ago I lived in an area called Kagawa for three years. Kagawa was called Sanuki in ancient times in Japan. Sanuki Province And the local special food is “Sanuki Udon”. All about Udon!

Udon is a fat, thick noodle made of buckwheat. See pic here It can be eaten hot or cold and the best Sanuki Udon is Handmade. In fact in Kagawa ken to serve factory made noodles is practically sacrilege.

I had many udon making lessons in my time in Kagawa click here for How to Make Udon Noodles and every teacher had a little trick or special way of making their udon that they said was the best and only way to do it. Many of my teachers were over 70 or 80 yrs old and they spoke in an old local dialect, so often I would need one translator to explain what the teacher was saying from old sanuki-ben (ben is dialect) to a younger Japanese speaker who would then translate that into simple Japanese or English so I could understand. Each different teacher or Sensei- taught me so much more than noodle making. I learned about their lives, folklore in the region, what they thought about the rest of the world and the direction that Japan was taking these days. Food really is culture, and sometimes it is the best door into another world.

My favorite udon is called Kitsune Udon. It is served with noodles, a wonderful hot broth made from fish stock, and simmered seaweed, then green onions sprinkled on top and the Kitsune part which is a triangle shaped piece of fried tofu. Kitsune means Fox in Japanese, and to the originators of this dish hundreds of years ago, the fried tofu looked like a red foxes ear. The Picture in at the top is a fresh bowl of kitsune udon.

In Kagawa it is almost a matter of local obligation and pride to eat udon often. It was even served as an option, every day! - in the school cafeteria where I was working as an English teacher. My school was Kotohira High School. And unlike here in Tokyo, Sanuki Udon was so inexpensive. A big bowl of homemade udon was about 200-300 yen about 2 or 3$ My Kagawa friends would be appalled that in Tokyo, udon is often served in noodle houses from frozen packs and a bowl of udon in the big city would be easily 700-800 yen. 7-8$ And on top of all of that, Tokyo-ites like their noodles quite soft (over boiled) where we folks from Sanuki land like our noodles quite aldente.

I will always remember my udon senseis (teachers) and all the great little noodle houses I went to in Kagawa. I am sure I will visit there again in the next few years and spend some quality noodle-time!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

everything a waffle should be! Here is our chocolate waffle at Fujimamas Served with fresh whipped cream, AND icecream (cause you really shouldn't have to choose one or the other) Chocolate and caramel sauce and raspberries. Hot from the kitchen with a sprig of fresh mint. Clearly well worth every calorie.  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

my new food blog

So, all things food, restaurant, wine related... This is such a big part of my life and such a change from when I was the "fussy eater" child in my past life. Now my love of life and travel centers around all that is cultural and culinary.

I am a community builder (business development director) at Fujimamas in Tokyo, Japan.
so a lot of my food experiences will center on that hub of global fusion food in Harajuku.

So for my first post and hopefully a good start to this blog a quote from the food-goddess MK FISHER

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one."M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating"

and so I begin this new food journal.