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

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dining over at the competition

So today, I have a cold.... which is no fun even in Hawaii. So I was laying low and taking it easy a bit. I had lunch over at the new restaurant Fish Hopper, down the street from our very own Fujimamas.

I tried their Fish Hopper combo.
here is the menu description....

Fish Hopper Combo 16.95 Fish of the day, jumbo shrimp, calamari with French fries, Island slaw.

it was a little pricey but basically fine. I was disappointed that they forgot my Island slaw... and when the waitress brought my meal she didn't say what kind of fish, or tell me anything about the dipping sauces. The food was fine. The fish and shrimp were much better than the calamari which was pretty tasteless. Great ocean views! really lovely,
and a nice space. But seemed un-inspired.

I think it would be fun for families and tourists. Staff kept the hall neat and clean.

But it just felt lacking... I wanted a bit more zing.

and 16.95 is a lot for lunch.

The company is very similar to ours. Family biz. only 2 restaurants so far. Seems like nice people, give to lots of charities and support sustainable fishing.

all in all a nice lunch, but I have to admit that my feeling when I left was that the experience was "lacking" there just wasn't the personality I was expecting. It felt a bit like a corp. chain even though it isn't...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

day at FujiFarms

FujiFarms in Waimea is a Farm-to-Fork operation. We are growing sustainable, healthy veggies and greens. In operation just over a year the farm is flourishing. New fur friends have joined us. Maxine, Harry, and Carla the Sheep and two cute goats Coffee and Cake.

I had a chance to walk around the farm today, enjoying the January Hawaiii sunshine. The basil and fennel are so fragrant. and the tomatoes are coming along. There is sorrel, different types of lettuce, arugala, cilantro- a wonderful mix of home grown ingredients that make such a difference in the "Fujimamas Taste."

here is a little photo albumn from the farm 1/22/07, the first photo is Chula the basenji, one of four dogs at the farm- starting off the day in a patch of sun on the lanai. gotta love life in Hawaii. Click the photo to see the full albumn.

Monday, January 22, 2007

guilty pleasure of watching TV

I don't watch tv in tokyo. We own one, but it recieves no channels and basically just serves as the screen for a dvd player which we do watch occasionally.I really don't like tv... But when I come to work at our Hawaii restaurant I do watch a couple of shows that I really love. One that I started watching just on this trip was TOP CHEF... and coincidentally enough, the season finale will be airing this week and next and was filmed here on the Big Island?! it was the last cook off between the final four contestants out of 12. And it was filmed in the Waikoloa hilton where chris and I stayed on my last trip over in October.

I am looking forward to seeing the show! If have never seen it, I reccommend it. It is on the Bravo Channel.

the other show i watch may seem even sillier... What not to wear. I love it, great premise, and lots of fun. That one is on TLC the learning channel.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

the good the bad and the ugly

When I was last at our restaurant in Hawaii I was sad to hear that the infamous Hooters was going to be opening up in Kona. Not a fan... and I really don't think that Hooters, as a company contributes to the community in any positive ways though i hear that they do donate to some charity organizations.

particularly icky is the Hooters Handbook...

Female employees are required to sign that they "acknowledge and affirm" the following:
1. My job duties require I wear the designated Hooters Girl uniform.
2. My job duties require that I interact with and entertain the customers.
3.The Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and sexual innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace.
4. I do not find my job duties, uniform requirements, or work environment to be offensive, intimidating, hostile, or unwelcome.

Imagine my surprise (and hidden happiness) in hearing that after only being open a very short time- Hooters Kona is already being closed down- "indefinately" Apparently the owners and managers ingnored repeated warnings about permits and building codes- Basically, metophorically spitting in the faces of local inspectors and rules and regs. And so after ignoring several Stop-orders and requests for permit resubmissions and inspections, local athorities had had enough!

Big front page news in the local paper this morning! Can't say I am disappointed to hear it. And I am certain that if they are able to re-open at some point- this will be the beginning of a less than smooth relationship between Hooters corp. and the residents and law enforcement of Kona. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

arriving in Kona

So I am back at our restaurant in hawaii, to work here a few weeks. One thing I am looking forward to is playing around a cooking a bit. Easier to get instructions, read the oven, HAVE an oven (I only have a toaster oven in Japan)

One I want to try was posted over on Is That My Bureka?
It is a very tasty looking sweet vanilla cornbread. I think I will make some tomorrow or thurs. he makes it look and sounds lovely on that blog. will let you know. Also want to make some veggie dishes, salads, and other stuff.

The restaurant looks great. I went down breifly today and then gave in to jet lag and went back to the house I am staying at to crash.

Tommorrow I think I will learn more about what my job will be this trip... it is a little different each time. Always fun and interesting but unlike my job in Tokyo when I come to the Hawaii restaurant, my role changes frequently.

more on hawaii and cooking on the next few days.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

bad news in the new year

the avian flu has definately arrived in japan. the confirmed 5th farm was discoverd this week, when a large number of deaths of chickens were reported. the JT had the story...

H5 bird flu strain confirmed at poultry farm in Miyazaki

MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Avian influenza was confirmed Saturday as the cause of a large number of chicken deaths on a farm in Miyazaki Prefecture. The confirmation of Japan's fifth case of avian flu came through a virus test by the National Institute of Animal Health based in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, officials said. The Miyazaki Prefectural Government announced that the virus was in the H5 family. The institute will continue testing to determine whether it is the virulent H5N1 strain. Human infection and subsequent deaths from the H5N1 variety have been reported worldwide, mainly in Southeast Asia, resulting from close contact with poultry.

Scary stuff, up to this point Japan had not really been effected, but now it seems to be spreading and getting worse. So far no one at the effected farm has gotten sick. you can read more of the full story at the Japan Times.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Voting closed last night at the Well Fed Network and we now have the winners for the 2006 Food Blog Awards. Congratulations to everyone!

The full list is below... but a few of my favorites one, including Orangette, Eggbeater, Becks n' Posh, Coconut and Lime, 101 cookbooks, and Farmgirl Fare! And lots of blogs won that I don't know much about yet, but am eager to read more!

Here is the list of winners by catagory and their prizes!

Best Food Blog - Chef - David Lebovitz (a set of beautiful drink stirrers donated by Screwpull/LeCreuset)

Best Food Blog - City - Becks ‘n Posh (a copy of Big City Cooking donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Drinks - Vinography (bottle of Lichido Liqueur donated by Lichido)

Best Food Blog - Family/Kids - Vegan Lunchbox (a copy of Cooking Rocks! donated by Everything Rachael Ray)

Best Food Blog - Food Industry - Eggbeater (a copy of Secrets of Chicago Chefs cookbook donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Group - Slashfood (a copy of The Weekend Chef donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Humor - Smitten Kitchen (The Los Angeles Times’ Modern California Cooking donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - New - Pinch My Salt (the original Sil-Pin Baker’s Style Rolling Pin donated by Fiesta Products)

Best Food Blog - Non-Blogging - Leite’s Culinaria (a copy of Cat Cora’s Kitchen donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Original Recipes - Coconut and Lime (the original Sil-Pin Silicone Rolling Pin donated by Fiesta Products)

Best Food Blog - Overall - Simply Recipes (a saucier pan with lid donated by Le Creuset)

Best Food Blog - Photography - La Tartine Gourmande (a two piece skillet set donated by Le Creuset)

Best Food Blog - Post - Amateur Gourmet (a wine funnel and stand donated by Screwpull/Le Creuset)

Best Food Blog - Recipes - 101 Cookbooks (a copy of The Gourmet Cookbook donated by Sweetnicks)

Best Food Blog - Restaurant Reviews - Grab Your Fork (a copy of Gordon Ramsay’s Just Desserts donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Rural - Farmgirl Fare (a copy of Gardeners’ Community Cookbook donated by Well Fed)

Best Food Blog - Theme - Kalyn’s Kitchen (a Base Bowl donated by Fiesta Products)

Best Food Blog - Writing - Orangette (a copy of Donna Hay Christmas donated by Well Fed)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More post trip reflections

well, a little time has passed since we returned to Tokyo, and I have to say, I LOVED the trip. I had such a great time, and the memories are wonderful. It was hard getting back into the swing of life in the big metropolis here. But I have lots of great things to remember. My photos came out pretty well. And I've had some fun sharing them.

This photo is a small, fun memory. Near our hotel in Prague, this was a small, clean, local deli. And this deli counter was gorgeous I thought! Seems like open faced sandwiches are the thing there, as I saw this kind of set up in several shops, and cafes.

One thing really missing in Japan is good bread and good sandwiches. When I go work in our restaurant in Hawaii, one thing I eat a lot of, is sandwiches from Local restaurants, coffee shops, and take out joints. Can't get enough of them.

We only window-shopped at this Deli, but when I get back to Prague some day, I will certainly be tucking into some great openfaced sammies.... YUM.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tea is still "hot"

So if you have read the fancy glass before, or if you know me, you know I am a tea drinker! I like coffee well enough, and had a great time in the coffee houses of vienna at christmas, but at heart I am a tea person. Starting every day with a cup of tea is the only way to live. One of my first purchases in any new home is the tea kettle and two cups.

So I was happy to read in the flood of all the What is hot in the food world for 07 predictions, magazines, blogs... this little tidbit...


Tea will stay hot, in more ways than one. This steadily growing category keeps blossoming with new varieties of black, white, green, red and herbal, fueled partly by research findings that continue to link tea to good health.

Companies will be selling ever-more elaborate flavor combinations in supermarkets (Celestial Seasonings' Tropical Acai Berry and Goji Berry Pomegranate green teas are just two examples) as well as specialty shops (Teavana's green tea mojo contains cactus blossoms, rhubarb, guava and sunflower petals!).

Flowering teas - their leaves sewn together so they "blossom" when steeped - are hitting the mainstream too. Numi Organic Tea is just one company selling these floral beauties. Add to this the myriad iced teas and foods boasting tea as an ingredient (from ice cream to energy drinks) and it's no wonder that we'll continue to be steeped in tea.

_Renee Enna

Full story with other predictions Here
time to go pour another cup...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ramen Man Dies at 96!

TOKYO (AP) - Momofuku Ando, the Japanese inventor of instant noodles _ a dish that has sustained American college students for decades _ has died. He was 96.

Nissin Food Products Co., the company Ando founded, said on its Web site that he died Friday after suffering a heart attack.

Born in Taiwan, Ando founded his company in 1948 from a humble family operation. Faced with food shortages in post-World War II Japan, Ando thought a quality, convenient noodle product would help feed the masses.

In 1958, his "Chicken Ramen" _ the first instant noodle _ was introduced after many trials. Following its success, the company added other products, such as the "Cup Noodle" in 1971.
more info here.

Pop a top and slurp in honor of Ando-san!

From the company website

Instant Noodles – Part of Culinary Culture Worldwide
From the days of Chicken Ramen, Nissin has firmly believed that its instant noodle products would be accepted worldwide. The company established its first overseas subsidiary, Nissin Foods (U.S.A.) Co., Inc., in the United States in 1970, and began local production in 1972. Today, Nissin has 29 companies in 11 countries outside Japan. Nissin’s international expansion has been a key factor in the growth of the instant noodle business around the world — 85.7 billion servings in 2005 and rising.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2007 foodie heaven

The Phildelphia daily news has a good article of what is up and coming in 2007 in the food industry, including the bigging-up of the food blog world.

Power to the people; Restaurant critics still have paying jobs, but the general public has some serious clout thanks to food blogs, which are expected to explode into the tens of thousands this year. All it takes is a Web site and a night out at a local restaurant to get these cyber foodies chatting. Why? People are feeding their passion - and finding others who are just as gastronomically obsessed.

"For so long we were limited to a small number of critics, but the world of bloggers puts a lot of people out there," Page said. "There are more [dining-out] choices than ever before, so we need more information. People are finding other opinions in line with their own views."

read the full article that highlights new tastes and trends, the news in cocktails, and condiments and other fun predictions for 2007. there is even talk about sustainable produce and buying local!

Friday, January 05, 2007

great travel advice

I signed up for these great web emails DAILYCANDY, and one of them is about travel... So, here was the travel advice they compiled from reader's submissions. I loved them... except the parents one. My Mom is great to travel with- so no need for a sep. car!

here is the list. and you can sign up for your own DailyCandy emails here

Splurge for ambiance. Sipping a drink at the Four Seasons in Milan during Fashion Week is worth the 20-euro vodka.

When in doubt, overdress. Nothing screams American more than a track suit with a catchphrase on the ass.

Never travel with parents unless separate vehicles are available. (Maybe even separate countries.)

Have Plans B and C ready in case palaces are closed for no apparent reason. Sometimes it’s a siesta. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday.

Take a digital picture of your luggage and keep it on your camera (print a copy, too) in case the airline loses your bag. Making a list of the contents of your suitcase is a hassle, but it will ensure your bag always makes it.

When you’re sharing a room with a friend/loved one you’d like to keep, take candles/matches.

Don’t be too swayed by international fashion trends. Just because that Barcelona baby can pull off the mullet/sneaker boots combo doesn’t mean you can.

Don’t forget souvenirs for your co-workers, especially those who had to cover for you. (Again.)

E-mail yourself your passport info, itinerary, credit card and bank numbers, and Plan B hotel info for each location. Hotels can look better on websites than in person, and it’s easier to walk away when you know where you’re going.

The street you are looking for is the one that’s missing the street sign.

You will get ripped off at some point. Don’t take it personally. Consider it your small contribution to the local economy.

quick go vote

it is that time again in the foodblog world! the well fed network is running the best food blog awards. lots of great catagories and lots of great food blogs.

go vote! great way to discover some new delcious food blogs as well.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dinner at the Boheme

on our last evening in Vienna (12/27) we stayed at a wonderful little boutique hotel, Das Tyrol. cozy room, soft sheets and a fantastic breakfast the next day. But on that night checking in there, we had just finished our 4 1/2 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna- and were quite hungry. So after the usual check in proceedures we asked our professional though grim concierge- where we should go for dinner. Without skipping a beat he handed us a card and gave us directions to the Boheme. It was up on the Spittleberg Gasse which was one of my favorite christmas markets when we were there the week before... It was kind of sad, the empty stalls were being dis-assembled in the street as we walked to the restaurant... but I know someday i will be going back there for Christmas! once you get the Vienna Christmas Market bug, I suspect it stays with you for a long time.

Named for the opera- the interior was decorated with photos of famous austrian opera singers. Wooden interior warm colors, and very nice professional servers. The food was really wonderful. All traditional austrian dishes. I started with the Pumpkin Soup which was spicy and nutty and quite surprising. Austrians make a pumpkin seed oil from a rich green and orange pumpkin. The oil can be used like good olive oil. It has a brown color and nutty taste. the soup was fantastic. This site has a recipe that sounds very much like what we had, and tells another use for the Pumpkin Seed Oil as well.

for my Main....I resisted having another weiner schnizel since I had tried it at 3 other spots, and instead had the Roasted Pork with Warm Sauerkraut, apples and potatoes. Chris had the Hungarian gulash to the left in the photo. (the austro-hungarian empire left some distinct marks on vienese cusine) Both were Excellent. And we toasted the wonderful vacation with some delicious Austrian wine. I don't remember what it was called unfortunately.

this is what Fodor's says about the Boheme...
Bohème occupies a former 18th-century bakery and is on a boutique-lined passageway in the heart of Vienna's luxe-bohemian, cobblestoned quarter of Spittelberg. A low-vaulted ceiling, cherrywood walls, a menu divided into "overtures," "preludes," and "first and second acts," and Bellini on the soundtrack make for a setting frequently favored by stars appearing across town at the Staatsoper (as you'll see from the autographed pictures of some of the opera-loving owner's more famous patrons on the walls). Chef Robert Rauch believes in cuisine that's down to earth but not lacking in fantasy.
This was a fantastic meal! A must try if you get over to Vienna!

Monday, January 01, 2007

one of my favorite days from the trip

One of the best days on the trip for me was 12/23- the day we traveled from vienna to prague. Reason being... the tiny town of Valtice.
Valtice lies on the road between Mikulov and Bøeclav. From way back there has been a vintner school in the place and the castle is famous for its wine-cellars. There is moreover an interesting church, a monastery and the old alms-house of the monks hospitallers.

We went to this small winery town in the czech countryside called Valtice. (val-tee-che) Stopped at a wine shop where the proprietress schooled us all about czech wines. She was great and the shop gorgeous. We bought two bottles. One of which I hope to enjoy with dinner on Jan. 2nd! when I get off a hellish day at work... we are understaffed and are going to be BUSY!

after the winery visit, we went to this great little restaurant that had a celtic inspiration but was all local czech food. First course was an amazing pork and cabbage soup. I could have stopped there! YUM. I had some white Czech wine, a local reisling. Chris had czech beer. Next course was this tasty, Marinated Cheese with onions and peppers, and then we had the mains which were HUGE. I had Chicken and potato pancakes. Finally ended up with a czech dessert, a crepe type dish with raspberries, sugar, whipped cream and poppy seeds. It was way too much food but I enjoyed every mouthful. It was especially nice to share this kind of meal. I believe food is culture and to truly experience another country you need to slow down, taste the food, drink in a cafe, relax and take it all in. A few of the folks on our tour did feel the lunch was too long. BUT I was NOT one of them. I really enjoyed relaxing and I know the kitchen and manager of this little place "the Avalon" were proud to have served us! This was one of the 3 favorite meals I had on the whole trip!

you can read more about Valtice here.