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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

what I am reading now

This week I am starting to read another foodie-food-politics book. Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats (Hardcover) by Steve Ettlinger.

Needless to say, this looks to be an interesting and frightening read. Yesterday i read a piece in a newsletter from HONEST TEA company that says that we eat about 89lbs of high fructose corn syrup a year (up from 35 lbs before.) It is crazy to me that folks are so willing to eat something in a shiny package that has an ingredients list as long as my arm of incomprehensible unpronounceable items that are making us fat and unhealthy. I will be updating more as I read this one, but if you want to check it out yourself you can pick it up here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Looking forward to this one...

I admit it, I love disney movies, and especially pixar movies. I have loved all of them, toystory, bug's life, especially the incredibles...

So as you might imagine, being a pixar fan and a foodie-- i am looking forward to their newest offering; Ratatouille is a not to miss for sure! I have seen the previews, and love the concept. But today this story on a Philly news culture site I go to, really made me smile.

Do ratatouille right- Disney film cooks up interest in classic eggplant-tomato stew

PERHAPS THIS IS the year we credit an animated rat with teaching us how to spell ratatouille.

Remy, a foodie rat who would be a chef, and ratatouille, the famous French dish, star in the Disney animated adventure arriving on screens tomorrow.

Once you see "Ratatouille" with our hero rat-chef in a grand Parisian kitchen filled with copper pots and tall toques, you might want to cook some at home. read the full story here...

and see the preview and read more on the Homepage!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

10 years!

One of the wonderful things on this trip here to the Big Island is that my husband and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. It has been a very nice trip, sadly, we leave tomorrow.

Our anniversary was Yesterday, and we made a full day of it. Morning breakfast, went to see a movie, did a little shopping relaxed and talked and napped... and then we got ready to go out to dinner. We chose a combo, the Lava Lounge for sunset drinks and the Hulalalai Alan Wong Grill for dinner, both at the Four Seasons resort.

It was a lovely evening. The sunset at the Lava Lounge was perfect, and we enjoyed their snacks and drinks, the service there was flawless. I had a Pineapple Cosmopolitan and he had a glass of Au Bon Climat Chardonnay. They serve these lovely spicy and sweet snacks. We had a lovely hour there before our reservation. I thought the presentation for the cocktails was especially nice.

Then we walked over to Alan Wong's. The food for dinner was great, completely perfect. We tried the chef's pairing/tasting menu. Hubby had it with the wine pairings, I was the Desig.Driver- so I had a Pineapple-Orange-Guava Juice, called a POG. It was nice. We had told them on the phone when we made the reservation that we would be celebrating our anniversary so it was very nice that they made some special arrangements, our menu was printed specially and said Happy Anniversary on top and was signed by the chef of the night. And when the dessert course came, they had it on a special plate that had congratulations on the top in chocolate! yum.

The first course was an appetizer combo
"Soup and Sandwich" Chilled red and yellow tomato soup with a Foie Gras Kaula Pig Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
served with
a Seafood Cake of Lobster, Shrimp and Dungeness Crab with Caper Mayonnaise

(we felt that the sandwich was perfect, the soup a little less exciting, and though the Seafood Cake was delicious we would have been happy with just the first part did not need the cake as well)

Second course was
Pan Seared Scallop with Pork Hash Risotto and Chinese Soy.

(this was totally YUMMY- Our seat was in a private corner out on the terrace with quite dark lightning so I was very photo challenged... no go shots of any of the main dishes. The pork hash was salty and spicy, and was a perfect compliment to the perfectly prepared scallop)

Next was the Ginger Crusted Onaga, which we were told by 3 different staff members- is the "Signature Alan Wong Dish" at the restaurant. It was lovely.

Finally A Soy braised short rib, with a gingered scallion shrimp
This was a nice small portion (husband thought too small on the rib) the meat was tender and the shrimp fantastic. The sauce was a bit too spicy for the dish, especially with the wine pairing which was a wonderful Turley Zinfandel. (I had a taste of this too)

And finally we had our dessert trio, cheesecake, chocolate crunch, and a tapioca with passion fruit Sorbet in a ginger tuile (kind of a cookie cup)

The only downside of the evening was from the bar, we had late wines, and one glass came with lipstick prints all over the top--- ick. and the port with dessert must have been the absolute bottom of the bottle as it was all dregs and particles. But our servers were nice and attentive, the food temps were perfect, and the food came a great pace. (though they pushed the check a bit at the end- we were still eating and I had just gotten my coffee when she dropped the check- but it was tues night and most other guests were already gone)

all in all a wonderful meal. I would love to go back there and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the island.

plus... the company was wonderful, as it has been these ten years.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Special-TEA Tuesday 6/19 THE GLOBO POT

New tea technology; we started using a new teapot this week. I actually purchased it a few months ago and forgot that we had it in storage in Hawaii. Dug it out and used it this week. It is a unique design. the tea strainer sits inside the pot, a bit hard to clean and refill, but effective. you can see it pointing leftwards in this picture. It is called the GLOBO.

to brew the tea you tilt the pot back and the handle and back two feet act as support. when tilted this way the tea strainer sits in the hot water. When you have strained the tea to your desired strength you tilt the pot forward on it's regular 3 feet. and pour.

I bought this teapot from Adagio teas back in January. The brew is even, works well, the one downside is the same as with any glass tea pots, glass becomes cold faster than ceramic so your tea will cool down faster. But this is a 3 -4 cup pot which is a good size and we usually drink it fast enough the cool down factor is not an issue.

I am a bit of a traditionalist, so I suppose I really like the stainless tea pot we have back in Tokyo, but this is certainly attractive and functional, so It gets a good rating. (I would give it a 4 out of 5) BUT we need to get it a tea cozy, to take care of the heat issue.

Monday, June 18, 2007

the good life

backyard delicious living... another night on the porch in Hawaii. The thing that has struck me this two weeks is that it is much easier, contrary to popular attitude, to live simply and eat well here. Americans, it is true, buy too much high fructose corn syrup, gm laden, sugar and chemical preprocessed foods, but it is also so easy NOT to do that.

This dinner was a simple affair. A rotisserie chicken from cost-co, left over tomatoes, olives and cheese, left over penne pasta from a few nights ago, and whole wheat bread with a lovely and inexpensive bottle of red wine. Easy, cheap, and good. The costco chickens are (according to label) hormone and steroid free, as well as humanely raised. We made the sauce for the pasta ourselves, and we bought olives and fresh yellow tomatoes from the safeway. easy.

Food politics are a complicated subject and one I am passionate about, but I think the first and most important step that each person can take is to just be more deliberate about your food choices, more conscious of what you consume. Think before you eat, as it were. There is still room for the occasional oreo, and other unhealthy but fun choices- but the key is to be aware of the decisions, be mindful.

My fear in recent years is that most people who eat poorly do it because they are not paying attention, not because they want to. Labels got more complicated, bad food is cheaper, and people are too busy to cook. But even given the above, the meal in this photo was cheap, fast and much better for me than anything that could come out of a box, jar, or package.

and the kona sunset didn't hurt either...

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two new books on the To Be Read pile

We picked up two new books on the topic of SUSHI this week. They both look excellent. I am excited to read them. Great background info.

The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket by Trevor Corson

The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg

Full reviews later (have to read them first!!!) But both books look excellent!

and then last night because of the power of suggestion... we went out for sushi at Fujimamas in Kona.

We had

all were delicious.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

more party shots

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Happy B-day Party, fujifarms style. We went up to Waimea today for Zoe's birthday party. She turned 6 last week. Fun day on the farm, new puppies, miniture horses, mac and cheese, fried chicken and a really relaxing afternoon. Plus sugar-high inducing birthday cake. I had fun playing with the kids, and the dogs, and generally chilling out for the afternoon.

Then chris and I drove through a cute little mountain town Halualoa, but all the little gallery and coffee shops were already closed. So we later headed down to Kona, walk along the water front and a very tasy pizza at the Kona Brewery restaurant. taking it easy tonight, tomorrow morning we are hoping for a little time snorkeling.
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

More from our day in Hilo yesterday... We drove around the island yesterday (ended up at the Keei cafe as I wrote last night) it was a nice day. Did some research, had lots of time to chat and think and just consider options since this is where we want to move to after tokyo. One big point of the day was visiting Ken's House of Pancakes. a true diner in Hilo. Fits all my rules for what makes a real diner. Older auntie and grandma type waitresses, hot, fast and good food. And most important Open 24hrs a day (and serves breakfast dishes all day) They even have open-faced hot turkey sandwiches (which I have to try next time) breakfast dishes are between 5-8$ and our food was lightnin' fast. I had tea (of course) and one waitress who talked to us as been at kens the whole 30 yrs they have been open. She was 75 and still waitressing, talking to tables, and staying fit and active.

for food, I had pancakes (dollar size) and my other half had 2 eggs any style with homefries and bacon. and pancakes very tasty as evidenced by the speed with which he consumed them.

I loved Ken's but it was bitter sweet as well. Mostly because one of the businesses we have been considering opening in Hilo would be a breakfast/bakery and deli joint. Going head to head against Ken's 6$ breakfast....???? not so sure anymore. But still considering. we have lots of other good ideas cooking on the stove too right now. we will see what the next year and 1/2 brings.

anyway, loved Ken's it is a real institution and good diners are a dying breed so I am thrilled that there is one on the Big Island. YUM -
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Tonight we went out instead of cooking on the porch. We tried a nice place I heard about, down in Capt. Cook called the Keei Cafe. It was pretty tasty stuff. for a starter we sharead a shrimp, brown rice, and coconut cakes. (think crab cake and risotto) it was quite delicious.

then for my main I had a brazilian Seafood chowder, and chris had the local ahi with veggies and a passionfruit ginger sauce. and for dessert (bottom right) we had a banana pineapple breadpudding with a passionfruit & strawberry sauce. The restaurant was clean and nice. I didn't like the art much... and we had seats on a terrace looking out over the mountain and down to the ocean 20 mins away. Nice staff, very professional. Our server was BOB, and he was very good.

I hear they do breakfast on the weekends, so we might want to check that out too, and captain hook seems like a nice little place to explore.
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oh... and another sunset! we get one of these glories just about every night...
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Computing and eating on the lanai... more back porch home cooked food. This time we had caesar salad and roast beef sandwiches. Casual fun dinner, no fuss. Using up left overs and having a nice evening.
My hubby has prepared some really nice meals while we've been here. It is a lovely thing. We have a hard time cooking in Tokyo- so we were really looking forward to the apartment and kitchen here to make some yummy stuff at home.
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Sunday, June 10, 2007

kona sunset

This was the aforementioned sunset, as we made dinnner!
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grilling on the back porch

We are in Hawaii again for two weeks, Staying in an apartment up on the hills above Kona! there is a great back deck, (Lanai in hawaiian) and dinner on night #2 was grilled sirloin, sweet corn and caesar salad. YUM! this was the scene just after a gorgeous sunset. We had some Firefly Syrah (which was just so-so) and had a relaxing and delicious dinner. It has always been harder for us to cook at home in Japan, so this is something we really appreaciate about coming to Hawaii and staying somewhere with a kitchen AND a BBQ. the Hubby did all the cooking. And tomorrow night we are going to take the extras and have roast beef sandwiches!
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Monday, June 04, 2007

Special-TEA Tuesday 6/5/07

I have been thinking about tea parties, and tea as a gentle form of social gathering. I could use some gentleness in life right now. We lost a great friend from the blogosphere this week, work schedules have been hard, side projects fun but tiring, relationships sometimes confusing... the image of an old fashioned tea party is very appealing at some level, and since I am thinking of doing my FEMME FANTASTIC parties as an ongoing thing, starting next month- I am considering finding a space and throwing a tea party...
this was a great article with some good ideas.

from Tea Parties Take the Cake By Elaine Kordares...

Tea Party Preparation

Start with innovative invitations. For a girls' birthday tea party, cut out invitations shaped as teapots or send each guest a small teacup with an invitation attached or painted on the cup. Or use floral note cards or postcards.

Purchase or borrow the necessary items for your tea gatherings. You'll need 1 or more china teapots for intimate gatherings. Cups and saucers may be matching, but create interest with a variety of patterns. For sugar, always use cubes in a sugar bowl with sugar tongs for serving. Serve milk, not cream. Have teaspoons, lemon slices in a dish with a small fork, serving utensils for cake, forks, and knives for jam.

Don't forget the music: classical or vintage
Use candles to create ambience.
Serve a colorful variety of petit fours, scones, sugar cookies, and of course, chocolate.
Set out bouquets of pink and white flowers.
Take Polaroid snapshots of guests to add to the fun and chatter.
Ask guests to dress up complete with heels, hats, and gloves

Sunday, June 03, 2007

R.I.P. Steve

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

Some of you may have known the political blog "The News Blog" by Steve Gilliard. He was so much to so many. we will miss him.


We had the great fortune to be a part of the community Steve built. Chris even got to meet him last year in New York. If you didn't know his blog, just know that he was a voice that spoke out unafraid, and called it like he saw it. But more importantly he was one of the rare folks who can really listen, really lead a discussion, really open his mind and his heart.

We friends and fans here in Tokyo are considering doing something in his honor. A writing award, or scholarship in his name, a donation to veterans causes, or African American educational causes... He spoke out on these issues and many more.

but for now, today, we raise a glass to his memory.

Lauren & Chris
Democrats Abroad Japan