Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year in Cookies

A friend's friend is responsible for this and it makes me so ashamed of my lack of creativity and dedication:

Year in Cookies


Last Christmas

And so the time has come to say good bye to Tokyo. In February, Mister and I will be starting a new adventure in Hong Kong. (gasp! applause! tears?) I've done quite a bit of moving around, but this Hong Kong move has been unique in that, even though I've known about it for awhile, it kind of snuck up on me. So, here I am, a month and a half before we move, freaking out over having to enjoy every single minute Tokyo has to offer me.

Party throwing really freaks me out, but I decided to seize the day this Christmas, since it will be our last in Tokyo. We resurrected the KFC Fried Chicken-Fancy Christmas Cake party and I think that this might become one of our first true traditions as a married couple. At least I hope, because it was a lot of fun and not at all stressful. Or maybe next year, it will be a Peking Duck-Egg Tart party? That doesn't sound so bad either...

Adorable musubi brought by my friend Natsuko. The one on the left is me and the one on the right is Blammo. Aren't these the cutest? 

KFC is really amazing if you eat it once a year. Finger lickin' good indeed. 

Hungary in da house! My Australian by way of Hungary coworker brought some amazing spicy Hungarian sausage. A real treat for sausage lovers in Japan. 

And she made Hungarian cold cherry soup! Perfect for this carb filled meal. 

And of course, in honor of Hanukkah...

Latkes and Apples (I don't have a blender, so we couldn't make Applesauce - oops.) 

Bacon and Chive biscuits (or "savory scones" as the Aussies refused to call them "biscuits") a la me. Whatever you call them, they were 100 times better than those soggy biscuits from KFC. 

And my favorite part, the Christmas Cakes. Christmas Cakes, while festive and a real crowd pleaser, don't actually taste that amazing. But I enjoy the hunt for the craziest ones and I think I did an alright job this time around. 

Tiny mushroom sized elf/santa. 

Make shift masking tape tree. We asked everyone to "hang" an ornament. I will look back fondly at this picture for years to come. 

Sign of a good party. Along with mulled wine, we also had hot toddies and hot buttered rum. Have you ever made hot buttered rum? It's incredible. Not only because it tastes good, but also because it is dead simple. My sister says that she's messed up every batch she's ever tried to make and I just find that incredible. It is literally just a crazy amount of brown sugar mixed with butter and spices, melted in hot water and rum. She can make a perfect roast that feeds 20 people but can't do that?  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fukuoka :: Home to Hawks and Ramen

Last month, my husband had an opportunity to watch the final game of the Japan Series from the owner's box of one of the competing teams. That is not an opportunity you turn down, especially when it means you get a good excuse to take a weekend trip. I myself did not have a ticket to the game, but was happy enough to tag along for the 6 hour Shinkansen ride to Fukuoka.

Fukuoka is the largest city on the island of Kyushu. It is known for tonkotsu style ramen, my personal favorite. Typical ramen broth is made with a salt, soy sauce or miso base. Tonkotsu ramen, or Hakata Style, is made with a pork bone based ramen that is milky and very rich. One of the most famous ramen restaurants in the world (not an exaggeration) is Ippudo. If you've ever waited in that line in NY, you probably know why. Ippudo originated in Fukuoka and serves up a bangin' bowl of tonkotsu ramen. Another famous chain in Japan is Ichiran, which I wrote about way back when.

Going straight to the source. It's what dreams are made of. This humble looking bowl of ramen may have been the best thing I've eaten since moving to Japan. *WHOA* To be fair, there were a lot of factors working in its favor - it was cold, I was eating outdoors and I had just drank a 500 ml bottle of beer on my own. 

"Eating ramen outdoors alone?" you may have asked yourself. Why, yes. Fukuoka is also known for their delightful yatai - outdoor nighttime food stalls. And since I didn't have tickets to the game, I wandered around downtown Fukuoka in search of ramen. As with most places, some of the best food can be found in or near the red light districts. What can I say, pervs just know how to eat. These yatai along the river were just a stones throw away from some pretty seedy stuff. Gross or convenient, depending on who you are. 

Meal of champions. 

Fukuoka is also known for their adorable bite-sized gyoza.

The opposite of bite-sized - a sumo wrestler. November is sumo season and along with the Japan Baseball Series, there was also a big tournament over the weekend. 

It's really hard to find experimental sushi that is not gross, but I managed for find something really unique and delicious at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in the basement of a shopping mall. This is raw salmon nigiri brushed with mayonnaise, half-cooked and caramelized with a blow torch, topped with a slice of jalapeno pepper and cracked pepper. I really wish this shop had an outlet in Tokyo because it was amazing. 

Oh yeah, the baseball. Now, as you may know, I am a big Yakult Swallows fan. The Swallows made the playoffs this year and even beat their nemesis, the Yomiuri Giants, to move on to the 2nd stage. That's not nothing. But they eventually lost to the Chunichi Dragons. Needless to say, for various reasons, I was rooting for Softbank Hawks to beat Chunichi. 

This by the way, is a bronze mold of the hand of Sadaharu Oh. Along with being a lyric in a Beastie Boys song, he is also the original Homerun King of Japan and former manager of the Softbank Hawks. 

I watched Game 7 from the Stadium Gift Shop with a bunch of die hard fans who were also ticket less. 

And Softbank won!