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

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fancy Glass FRIDAYs returns with a tribute to the MAI TAI

I Like a good mai tai, not a fakey, sweet, or too strong one. Not one made with cheap rum- but a real mai tai. So today in Honor of the Mai Tai- a history lesson. from

The classic Mai Tai is an unforgettable cocktail, an icy Jamaican rum and fresh lime juice drink with a subtle hint of oranges and almonds and a sprig of fresh mint for garnish.

Now, that's a Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai may be Polynesian in name, but it's American in origin, created not on a tropical lagoon but on the mudflats of San Franciso's East Bay in 1944, by a legendary California restaurateur, the late Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic's fame.

"There's been a lot of conversation over the beginning of the Mai Tai. And I want to get the record straight," Bergeron said before he died. "I originated the Mai Tai. Many others have claimed credit. All this aggravates my ulcer completely. Anyone who says I didn't create this drink is a dirty stinker."

Don the Beachcomber claimed he created the drink but circumstantial evidence favors the Trader, who, in a 1947 book, "The Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide (Revised)," told how he originated the Mai Tai in his Oakland restaurant:

"In 1944 after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I thought about all the really successful drinks- martinis, manhattans, daiquiris, all basically simple drinks. "I took down a bottle of 17-year old rum. It was J. Wray & Nephew from Jamaica-surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends.

"The flavor of this great rum wasn't meant to be overpowered with heavy addition of fruit juices and flavorings.

"I took a fresh lime, added some orange curacao from Holland, a dash of rock candy syrup, and a dollop of French orgeat for its subtle almond flavor.

"I added a generous amount of shaved ice and shook it vigorously by hand to produce the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went into each drink for color and I stuck in a branch of fresh mint.

"I gave the first two to Eastham and Carrie Guild, friends from Tahiti who were there that night. Carrie took one sip and said, 'Mai tai roa ae.'

"In Tahitian this means,'out of this world, the best.' Well, that was that. I named the drink 'Mai Tai.'"

The Mai Tai became popular at Trader Vic's restaurants in Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle. In 1953, Bergeron introduced the Mai Tai to Hawaii at the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotels whose well-heeled guests arrived by Matson Line steamships.

It was the right drink at the right place at the right time.

The Original Formula - 1944

  • 2 ounces of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice.
  • Add juice from one fresh lime.
  • 1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao.
  • 1/4 ounce Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup.
  • 1/2 ounce French Garier Orgeat Syrup
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Add a sprig of fresh mint

"Old Way" Mai Tai Formula - 1997

  • 1 ounce Fine Jamaican Rum (15 or 8 year old)
  • 1 ounce Martinique Rum (St. James)
  • 1/2 ounce Orange Curacao
  • 1/2 ounce Orgeat Syrup
  • Juice from one fresh lime (about 3/4 ounce)
  • Mix and serve as in the Original Formula

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

so full and happy!

We had a gourmet beer pairing dinner at FUJIMAMAS tonight. it was YUM! I have a full write up over at the restaurant blog

For now, here on the fancy glass I would like to wax poetic on the Fujizakura Weizen beer paired with our signature Thai Style Caesar Salad. What a delicious pairing and the the true spirit of marrying food and beverage the magic of this combo was that- though both are delicious on their own- together they were fantastic.

We had a nice crowd though it was smaller than I hoped for, we had just 12 folks. an intimate group. but I am hoping to start here and grow this in the future. It was a very nice group of folks and all of them but 1 had never been to our restaurant before, so this was an excellent intro for them.

The chef- Adi and our Staff especially Hideki san
did a great job taking care of all the details. All in all a very successful evening and a nice start to building up our beer following the same way we have cultivated the wine folks.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

hidden kitchens over at the Group news blog

Hubris Sonic, one of the founding members of "The Group News Blog" (a political blog started in honor of Steve Gilliard who we in the progressive community lost this year...) is not only a vet, and a political writer, he is also a FOODIE.

So today, after being inspired by a famous food blogger, the amazing writer of Chocolate and Zuchini - and after reading a Hidden Kitchens piece Hubris remembered and wrote about a fantastic Fall Feast he made 11 years ago.

I suggest you visit both stories and enjoy!


Saturday, July 14, 2007


There is a newish site called Writer's Cafe, where writers can post up work for feedback. I am playing around with it and getting some of my pieces uploaded to there. Take a look by following the link.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kinsai for dinner

We've wanted to go to Kinsai for ages. It is a new grill and japanese restaurant in our neighborhood and last night finally we gave it a try. It was excellent! lots of love and care gave to simply prepared items. The Amuse Bouche was a carrot soup and homemade tofu. Delicious. We then had maguro sashimi, with hand ground wasabi- we saw him make it right in front of us.

Then we tried the figs and parma ham, grilled chicken (this was served with a fantastic yuzu pepper sauce) We had a sweet grilled snapper, and finally grilled beef. All of the grilled items were prepared right in front of us where there was a tiny charcoal grill and a real "grill master." who gave so much attention to each thing.

The details were what make this place. great glassware, beautiful plates, simple atmosphere and kind, warm staff. They helped us a lot especially since we couldn't really read the menu. There was also a decent wine list and tons of Japanese sakes.

This will be a regular spot for sure! (Photos on top from left clockwise- soup and tofu, maguro, fig, chicken. ) (photo below. Beef, Snapper, Interior and gorgeous tea cup filled with green tea)

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Food Politics and Fun

I had good news this week. I have long wanted to start something within Democrats Abroad Japan, focusing on food politics. I sent out a test balloon email and got 3 responses of interest. So It looks like we might start a little policy committee.

our goals are going to be simple to start;

1. arrange a book discussion maybe 3-4 titles a year, and then discuss them both on and offline, we would organize it and open the group up to all DAJ, and even other country committee interested folks as well.

2. formulate some text and ideas for resolutions about food related issues to send on up the line through DAJ to DA to the DNC

3. Create and sustain a letter writing campaign, meet to write letters sometimes, and do many letters from home specifically on food politics. Letters to congress-critters, letters to the media, and information posts to members here and in DA worldwide.

For now I am trying to decide some good titles to discuss together. I think I may recommend;

1. Food Politics

2. The Best Thing I Ever Tasted

3. Coming Home to Eat

4. The Twinkie Deconstructed

Not nec. in that order.

Should be an interesting group and I think it will grow as we start to get things going. I am hoping members will join in for specific actions; even if they don't want to serve full on in the committee.

PS more good news about the Pixar Film RATATOUILLE here...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

interesting adventures in food

Tonight, I had one of those odd adventures you sometimes have a chance to have- being Gaijin (a foreigner) in Japan. I have been doing some freelance writing for Tokyo Journal, and Being A Broad magazines- that plus being manager of Fujimamas and writing on two food blogs- landed me in an interesting spot this week.

A few days ago, my editor from Tokyo Journal called me up. It seemed CNN was doing some food and culture pieces in japan and they wanted a food writer, or food person to meet with their reporter from Hong Kong, for dinner. The topic to be discussed (and eaten) was the Japanese interest in Sashimi- (which most folks assume means raw fish) But this interview and tasting session was not about the raw fish type- it was about enjoying raw meat. Specifically Chicken and Deer Sashimi.

Coming from the west with all the talk of salmonella and other poultry related stomach illness scares- I was more than a bit nervous. I said yes, with hopes that I could garner some good PR for Fujimamas. And so I headed out to Shinbashi to a little old restaurant with a little old chef...

The CNN folks were very nice, one local Japanese reporter helping to set everything up, a camera man who was excellent, and the lead in the story, Eunice Yoon from Hong Kong. (photo at right) Eunice was funny and kind, she put me at ease right away. We talked a bit about why Japanese like raw fish and meat. We learned how the chef prepared the chicken, and he vouched for the saftey. We fortified our selves with a bit of sake (Japanese rice wine) and then we tried the food. We had a lovely normal looking place of raw fish. Then the chicken and deer.

I liked the deer a lot. It was like a nice beef carpaccio. not as thin. but same kind of texture and feeling. It was not gamey as I expected. It was served with a garlic, sesame and soy dipping sauce. And we tried the chicken. I had kind of pschyed myself out. I don't know what I was expecting- ?? Some kind of bloody freshly killed chicken... slimey and unattractive. What came out was a lovely plate of very thinly sliced chicken. Slightly white skin (it is first prepared by having boiling water poured on the outside). And pink inside. It was the same texture as salmon sashimi. And guess what... "It tasted like Chicken!" he he. Light, fresh and tasty. I did not eat a lot cause I couldn't shake my western thinker salmonella fears. But I did have 3 pieces. Eunice was not a fan of the deer sashimi, but she seemed to like the chicken, she ate most of the serving.
It was more fun than I thought. Next week they will send me a dvd and tell me when I will be on TV> It is just going to be a short minute 30 sec. spot. But it was interesting.

This picture is not mine, i didn't get to take any shots, but it is what the sashimi chicken looked like. It was actually quite elegant. I don't think I will rush out to try it again. But I did enjoy it just fine. Glad I gave it a try.

the Restaurant was called Genpachi. tiny, nice place in Shinbashi 3 Chome district of Tokyo.
thanks to Tokyo Journal and Cnn for the opportunity.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

special-TEA tuesday 7/3/07

ice tea, the new frontier...

so Coffee is king in the usa. always has been, ever since we dumped all those teabags into the boston harbor. Sad fate for us tea drinkers who are american. asked to reuse our tea bags at diners, if we can get tea at all. Most of us only have good tea at home. I live in Japan now so things are better for me here... but everytime I visit home I reminded that coffee reigns supreme.

But... dunkin donuts (famous for years for their coffee) is branching out... at least in the iced variety...

Coffee king is branching into a different kind of brew as it spreads across the country

By The Boston Globe

Coffee king Dunkin’ Donuts is concocting a new kind of brew: iced tea. The Canton, Mass., chain has begun offering freshly brewed peach and raspberry iced tea at its New England stores, and plans for national rollout are set for early next year.

The push is part of Dunkin’s broader quest to quench consumer tastes as it expands across the country and faces stiffer competition in the coffee market ranging from Starbucks to McDonald’s.

Iced tea is the new battleground (read it all here.)
will this translate into better treatment for hot tea drinkers as well. Pinkies are raised in anticipation...