Tag Archives: travel

Japanese cooking shows are BOSS!

By the time 6:30 am rolls around, I’m tiring of both working out and all of the morning news shows.  The news generally runs out within ten minutes of the start of the broadcast, and the broadcast never covers world news.  Channel surfing landed me on NHK World, where there is both world news and the weather everywhere — everywhere! — in Celsius.  I know 37 degrees = 98 degrees F, but for the rest, I have to guess.

Then at 6:30 am, NHK airs cooking shows.  I absolutely love Lunch ON!, which features not only lunch, but the lives of the people making and eating it.  Top it off with a overly eager narrator who really piles on the flourishes and you’ve got the beginnings of a great day.  Not that I wouldn’t watch it ALL day, because I would.

This morning the listing for NHK said, Viewers’ Choice, so I saw Seasoning the Seasons instead.  This episode showed Ekiben — bento boxes one eats while traveling — from around Japan.  The cuisines differ based on region and history within the prefectures.  In the process, the show also visited artisans making koji, cooking sake, and the bento boxes themselves.

Koji is the base for soy sauce and miso, made by fermenting soy beans and cracked wheat in a place where the air is rich with wild yeasts and microbes, or by inoculating the mixture with them.  I never forget koji because I missed a question about it on a test once.  Cooking sake is fermented sushi rice.

This had me wondering about avoiding gluten in Japan, and I came across an interesting post about how deceptively difficult it can be to avoid it here and here.  Though I really wish I could enjoy more of the food, and would search long and hard for a good mochi, I would endure rice and SoyJoy bars for a long while if I could visit Japan.

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PDX Vegan Bakery/Other Food Roundup

Well, if this doesn’t prove how much I enjoy food, nothing will.

Just back from a couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon, where people really know how to eat.  We had strawberries from the Montavilla Farmer’s Market that were the best strawberries we’ve ever tasted (proof: we demolished 2 baskets between my husband and I and the little kid — in one sitting).

There is a worthwhile Farmer’s Market just about every day in Portland.  The biggie is on Saturday’s at Portland State University, where lots of cheese, produce and bakery make for some seriously easy meal planning.  They also have the best tamales I have ever eaten ever ever ever from Salvador Molly’s.  Ever.  Not mealy, wet and tasteless — sweet, baked perfectly, with a lovely array of veggies inside.  Wish I could have one right now.

But no trip would be complete without a review of bakery, with a special emphasis on vegan bakery, because it’s more of a challenge, healthier, and it can be either really good, or awful, with little in the middle.  Rather than slam anyone for what they don’t do well, I’ll leave out the awful altogether and point out what each bakery does well.  Here they are:

Best overall vegan bakery: Dovetail Bakery (Alberta and 30th).  Morgan Grundstein-Helvey knows what the hell she is doing — she makes cornmeal scone-like I-can’t-remember-what-they-were-called-s with rhubarb/apricot/pink sprinkled sugar that are perfection – and I mean texture, too.  Often vegan bakers get the taste but the texture is wayyyy off.

Last night I was out in L.A. and ate something billed on the menu as “The best vegan cheesecake ever”  It tasted like overcooked, overmixed yams mixed with the Creamy Lemon Di-Gel tablets my father used to take.  Let this be a lesson in overconfidence.

Dovetail would never commit such a sin.  The cookies are huge and flavorful and are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle — not undercooked but genuinely tender.  We tried a variety of things (um, twice) and they were all just amazing.  If you like molasses lace cookies, try the Trail Mix cookies — the perfect mix of nutty, sweet and salty.  Snickerdoodles so good even I ate some.  Throw in the lovely aesthetic of the place Continue reading