Triathlon 2010 training started in earnest ; I am running swimming biking almost daily. This now means - I get to drink Chocolate Milk - not only as a sweet reward but also as an effective tonic - to ensure I consume extra protein and carbo for a speedy recovery.
Having been entirely underwhelmed by OTC offerings of Carnation, Ovaltine and Hershey Choco Syrup (really really gross, although I loved it when I was a kid.), I whipped up a ChocoMilk Starter today. 1 Cup of steamed Whip/Heavy Cream + a Bar of Chili-laced Dark Chocolate*.
Can I say "Oishiiiiii" - that's delicious in Japanese. I can slurp it straight out of the mason jar - but a spoonful will be good with either hot/cold milk chocolate.
In other news - I thought I bought a bunch of Spinach (it was in a bag, so I didn't sniff) today - it turned out to be Basil. So ever efficient, I whipped dinner in my darling Mini-Cuisinart --- Presto Pesto Penne with Prawns (4Ps!)
*Courtesy of http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/10/decadent-chocolate-milk/
Spring is out in full force today in Rye, so I yanked my gorgeous Bianchi Eros Donna out for a quick ride around Kirby Loop. 6 miles in / out.
Shifting gears is still a mystery to me. I watched the requisite YouTube videos on bike signaling (not very effective as I can not yet let go of the handles), and gear shifting (Left is for back, right is for front chains? or was that backwards). In any case, I was pedaling and shifting - click click click. And brought my point/shoot Canon for a few snapshots.
Back in NYC - after a 3 year hiatus. Love love loved HK - but after 3 years sans Oven (!), and near - hellacious Pollution levels wreaking havoc to my health sanity, decided to pull back to my beloved NYC. Hating the subways here, but there are the every day thrills of NYPL, MOMA, and theatre - Time Stands Still w/ Laura Linney was very good a few wks ago.
I found a final batch of Myers lemons hanging on a UES grocery shelf- and used two to make Hachimitsu (Honey) Lemon. A bit of Japanese schoolgirl nostalgia for me since it was the girls' tennis team's favorite go-to snack during my Shin-Matsudo South Jr High days.
These honey poached lemons are lovely to plunk in proper tea - on a scratchy throat day. But really, even lovelier to eat them standing over a sink - and letting the honey trickle down your chin, as you would see me eat a 1/2 mango. Chock full of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Steps are: Wash/scrub lemons, thinly slice @ 3mm, and put slices in a small ziploc plastic container. Pour honey (wildflower, orange blossom) all over the lemons. Close Lid and shake shake shake. Rest them in your fridge - and give it a quick shake if you visit the fridge. Wait for a day or to let the honey macerate into the lemon flesh. Enjoy. I just eat them like soft candy really - and keep adding slices whenever I have lemons around.
Why are Iphone pics crooked when uploaded? (Waiting for Typepad to write me back!! - and will be rectified asap)
If I think I am posting in terms of Chinese New Year - I am only two weeks behind. Still, this blog has been woefully neglected. It's been a busy six months - but I will if anything post you all pictures. Because I have seen tons, and shared too little. For highlights - AngKor Wat, Shanghai, Chiang Rai, and a week in India... I just have to shift through 4000 pictures or so, and pick my favorite ones for you.
I am also getting back to a little bit of cooking again. I have been eating out entirely -- and that's a bit tiresome. So I started yesterday and brought to a little potluck party at my friend Tim's, an easy Shrimp and Pomelo salad. Yum. I love love love Pomelos, but Grapefruits would do do, too. Tim made wonderful Shepherd's Pie (sorry no pics) Now, that's comfort food.
Phew. No time to blog now or maybe never... running around for work, but I snapped around. In 10 days I covered, New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington, Christ Church), Australia (Sydney, Melbourne), Singapore, nap in Hong Kong, then BEIJING. Oh yeah !
Another seasonal / cultural quirk that Japan has - which I am beginning to appreciate in this sweltering melting potroasting heat mecca of Hong Kong -- is the Shochu Mimai note.
A card or a postcard typically depicts summer scenery - and it's a breezy heartfelt custom to inquire your family and friend's health during the abyss of summer heat and humidity.
In any case, I do love love love the occasional snail mail in my post box. Instead of the usual bills and rags. Doesn't everyone?
*Ok never mind the carbon-footprinting guilt trip on this one - if I think about the plane, the postal truck for my wee card to be delivered to the other side of the world - of course I just want to sigh sigh >>>
Another one of my business traveling grub hunting exercise; I present you the humble food-on-stix, the Japanese Yakitori (literal translation: Grilled Bird"). This is a type of post-work grub fare that is very popular offering in Izakayas, which is equivalent of Spanish tapas bars. I love this way of eating small assortments of nibbles very much. The whole hors d'hoeuvres, big-ass entree, and dessert exercise is tiring and boring - I feel - and not as intimate as sharing a plate with your friends. Or for me, since I have to eat alone quite a bit on business trips - there is nothing more fun than being at the counter tasting everything, while chatting up the bartender / stix-operator.
Birdland was a bit hard to find as it was a restaurant that is embedded and tucked within the subway corridors -- but once you step in, the host and the staff were very friendly to this almost-Japanese girl. They presented with me bilingual menus and carefully explained the origin and preparation of each and every ingredient. I love that they take so much pride and care in their service - to their commitment to local farmers/growers collectives, to their clients - an easy and extended welcome - where glasses of wine poured with a quick nod and wink. That is classy - and to me, will beat any pretentious Michelin-constellation toting restaurant any day*
Had only my crappy cell camera - so it is a bit fuzzy. The menu I scribbled down -- a bit harriedly -- so let's see.. For amuse bouches: Kanazawa cucumber in vinaigrette, baby lotus in wasabi foam, grilled chicken gizzard gently roasted with okra, and Junsai -- a member of the water lily family. Looked weird - floating all curled up in a slimy vinaigrette - but I eat and will try everything - and thank goodness, it was delicately tasty.
A member of the water lily family, junsai grows in clumps in natural ponds and irrigation reservoirs. A perennial water grass, junsai's flower is a deep maroon-red. It is the young, unfurled sprout covered in a slippery, transparent jelly, which is the culinary item prized by so many Japanese. Fresh sprouts come to market early in the summer.
Otherwise, the Omakase set was completed including wasabi and basil roasted chicken, grilled liver with fleur de sel (I hate liver, but I had seconds !!), crisp-charred hicken skins with yuzu/lime salt (lovely) and roasted vegetables including - gingko nuts, maitake mushrooms and shishito (japanese pepper) and my favorite myoga (a ginger variant, so yummy).
Charred chicken skins:
Grilled Myoga ginger: Divine - aromatic, a twist of green grass and slightest bitterness!
Myogas usually looks like this:
And a palate cleansing Tofu cube with coarse salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a 'micro'-tomato. It was a perfectly ripe, pea-sized tomato. Weird !
Dinner ended quietly with a small Oyako-don (scrambled eggs and chicken on rice), and miso soup... with a creme brulee for dessert before I rolled myself outside for a little nightcap at a winebar in Ginza.
*Although did you hear (NYT, Feb 2008), that some of the Japanese restaurants / chefs declined to be reviewed Michellin as they felt Westerners have no business or an acquired palate in tasting/discerning Japanese food. (Umm...yeah, sorry!! We can be like that in Japan. I am not really apologizing - but some of this outright defensiveness of our culture is a perplexing/amusing/frustrating to explain to colleagues and friends even for me.)