Saturday, May 22, 2010

The proposal

In the next few weeks I will be sharing with you some details of my engagement - the ring and plans for the party, and also some thoughts about decorations and ideas for my wedding (still a while off yet, but you can't help thinking about things).

So, before I barrage you all with the minutiae of ribbon widths and seasonal winter flowers, I thought I would share with you the day it all happened. The Proposal.

We spent the day on hired bikes, whizzing our way around Kyoto. By the time we got around to eating our picnic lunch, it was nearly three in the afternoon, so we stopped at 7-11 and bought a bottle of champagne to have with our food. The idea was to partake in the cherry blossom festivities by camping out under a tree and basically staying there til the evening.

The tree we picked

Looking up

Our picnic food

After we had eaten, we were relaxing in the sun, enjoying the peaceful park and the falling cherry blossoms, and that's when Jon proposed. Lovely :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thinking food. And: the food heaven that is Japan

Me drinking hot corn soup out of a vending machine

This week, we will be home most nights so I have been flicking through some new recipes to try. Cookbooks, newspaper cuttings and handwritten gems from friends are all getting a glance, as are photocopies from magazines, vaguely scribbled notes from relatives houses, and websites. This week, we will be trying:
Cream tacos with rice and beans a Mexican staple involving long peppers, corn, and cream filled corn tortillas, with tomato rice and refried beans. Jon's nanna taught him the recipe.

Tuna steak with fresh salsa and lemon potatoes this much recommended recipe was lovingly typed by our friends in London, and was stuck to our fridge there for the whole 2 years we lived there - and we never tried it. I found the paper in my folder of random recipes and felt ashamed. So this week it will be attempted!

Chicken with roasted cherry tomato and basil sauce is photocopied from a little free cookbook that came with a magazine. My mum had it sitting on her kitchen bench at home. I will serve it with mash.
That will be the extent of my adventures into cooking this week. What inspired me was looking through the photos of all the amazing food we ate in Japan. So fresh, the flavours so delicate and everything presented with stunning attention to detail.

A bento lunch box for a train journey. Onigiri (rice balls), pickles, katsu (breaded items - pork, prawn, chicken), hardboiled egg, potato salad, orange, and spinach.

An outrageous amount of cabbage, bacon and eggs at a festival stall.

Kaiseki - a very posh traditional Japanese meal, like a degustation. This was dish 1 of 9.

The picnic we ate about 10 minutes before Jon proposed to me under the cherry trees. Note bottle of spumante.

First course of a typical evening meal at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). Vegetables, beans, fresh baby squid.

Tempura soba. The broth was the highlight of these dishes - rich and flavoursome.

Ramen, one of the best things about Japan. This was our first time ordering and we overdid it with the added extras (leeks, greens, bamboo shoots)!

The freshest sushi in the world, at Tsukiji fish market at 6am.
The cakes are a whole different story. Perfection.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cuteness overload

If there is one thing I was expecting in Japan that really didn't let me down, it was the cute factor. Everyone from kids to adults love the cute little characters that seem to represent everything from noodles to cars and toothpaste. The train has a cute little penguin, castles had little cute ninjas, towns famous for oranges had made a character out of the fruit.

As well as the characters, the obsession with all things mini and perfect seems to be quite prevalent too. Mini plastic cakes, tiny shinkansen trains, food served in miniature perfect forms - it all adds up to the cuteness factor.

My personal cute favourite, Rilakkuma the bear (above, eating a chocolate sundae), is a very popular character and seemed to be somehow present everywhere you looked. He was to be found as a soft toy, on pancakes, pencils, crockery, and umbrellas. He really has infiltrated every walk of Japanese life. But he was so cute... and hard to resist!

Cute ninjas outside Matsuyama castle

Rilakkuma comes home with us - rescued out of a skill tester machine!

Arrangements like these were dotted around lots of side streets. Always a joy to discover!

Can you believe this shop!? I suppose it goes without saying that I bought some gorgeous fabric here - but the shop itself did not have one surface that wasn't pink.

I couldn't resist this Rilakkuma bear noodle bowl and soy sauce dish - aren't they super cute? In the background is a lunch box carrier - so sweet! and handy! Thanks Japan, your cute overload worked on me!