Monday, January 12, 2015

Notes on New Orleans

Notes on New Orleans

As I take leave once again, I can’t help but reflect on my attachment to this city. She has seen me thru many poignant times. 

Night time is the Right Time
Under her watch, I was witness to the human suffering and resilience of so many residents post Katrina. She accompanied me in the final weeks as I bid farewell to my dear sister and comforted me after my father passed away. Most recently she played host to my husband’s 70th birthday celebration.

New Orleans calls me back, over and over.

She understands anguish and knows how to bask in celebration.  Embracing all of life, she acknowledges its hardships while reveling in the exquisiteness of the present.

I am always learning here. Things unfold in this city in ways I could never have imagined, leaving me awe inspired. 

Thank you to the amazing artists, musicians and creatives of this city, who keep pushing the envelope while opening new pathways for love and understanding; and to the chefs who, thru their incredible dedication and hard work, feed not only our bodies but our souls. 

Christmas Eve, Bonfire by the Levee
…For more up to date posts, feel free to follow my adventures on Instagram

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Many thanks for visiting my blog, a true labor of love.  I haven't posted for some time as my creative energies got diverted to various projects. I have started other social media platforms in which I can easily continue to share images and thoughts.  If you have the time, feel free to poke around this blog. There is a  wealth of timeless information and inspiration tucked into these pages (along with a bit of self promotion).
If you would like to follow my musings on a more regular basis, you can find me on...
                          Facebook (public page)
And yes, I finally joined Instagram

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Japan / part 4

Some final, overall thoughts on my trip to Japan.

What I did not mention in this blog was that I was invited there to help celebrate a big birthday for a dear friend and Chicago chef, Rick Bayless. It was a surprise so I did not tell many people of my plans to travel there. The trip had a very strong food component.

The Tokyo portion of the trip was very carefully crafted by Deann Bayless and chef, sommelier, journalist, restaurant consultant and author of Food Sake Tokyo, Karla Yukari Sakamoto, who accompanied us thru out the trip. She was FABULOUS in her knowledge, grace, and guiding abilities.

THE ESSENCE OF THE TRIP...for me, was experienced  in a ryokan (guest house) in Kyoto and at the final lunch at Ginza Kyubey in Tokyo (see earlier post of my visual journey thru Wabi Sabi Japan).

There was a NYT article on the ryokan we stayed at, Japanese Traditions Ancient Kyoto. The moment I walked in I felt a calm state of peace and harmony wash over me. EVERYTHING from that experience was like a perfectly orchestrated ballet. I took a few photographs from the kaiseki dinner and other meals that were served in the room. Every course was exquisite in its presentation and tastiness. Many "firsts" were had at the dining table.

the most delicious sukiyaki EVER!
" If you don't speak the language of the country you are visiting, a good way to access its culture is thru the food and the music." Rick Bayless 

Melons sell for hundreds of dollars...the entire plant is sacrificed for the one promising melon which is nurtured over many months...the skin of these melons is unlike anything I have ever seen in the states.

 We experienced traditional Japanese meals, including .......

A Yakitori dinner, a Tempura lunch,  Unagi lunch, a Tonkatsu dinner, Kaiseki dinner (please purchase Yukari's book for more information, like what the 5 elements are of EVERY MEAL).

 Unagi lunch
Unagi (Anguilla japonica) is freshwater eel and a traditional cuisine of Tokyo. It is butterflied, steamed, and then grilled over charcoal and served over a bed of rice. 
 Soba Dinner
The soba master at Nigyō is highly respected for his handmade soba noodles.
A visit  to Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s farm. Nancy is the author of Japanese Farm Food. 
barrels of miso being cured in her backyard....

 vinegar tasting
 wasabi being prepared for the salmon roe dish

  Ginza Kyubey 
 the city’s celebrated sushi restaurant that exemplified the Japanese aesthetic in every detail of the experience
The decor was drop dead beautiful, exquisite sushi, service...all 5 senses were covered. 
This meal / experience was not just spectacular, it was heavenly. 

I just finished watching several episodes of The Mind of the Chef, with David Chang traveling to Japan to learn more about food.  The following  quote sums up the experience for all visitors, not just chefs.... "It's impossible for any cook, any chef to visit Japan, be exposed to the impossibly fetishistic appreciation of the ingredients, the perfectionist approach to technique, the mind boggling sheer volume of good stuff to eat, without being changed forever---- You leave Japan a better cook or you give up cooking altogether. Japan tends to focus the mind in wonderful new ways, refining, stripping away what is unnecessary."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tsukiji Fish Market / Tokyo / Part 3

The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (東京都中央卸売市場 Tōkyō-to Chūō Oroshiuri Shijō?), commonly known as the Tsukiji Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō?), is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind (most of text is from Wikipedia)
 4am departure from hotel to view the market

 The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species.[3] Overall, more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood are handled every year at the three seafood markets in Tokyo, with a total value in excess of 600 billion yen (approximately 5.9 billion US dollars on November 24th, 2013). The number of registered employees as of 25 January 2010 varies from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.

 Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyōsha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. 
 The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. 

The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price.
 These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gyōsha) who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

 market from above

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-hōchōmaguro-bōchō, or hanchō-hōchō.

 processing tuna / slips of paper above are orders from restaurants

The Tsukiji fish market occupies valuable real estate close to the center of the city. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has repeatedly called for moving the market to ToyosuKoto,[12] with construction of the new market to begin in 2013 for completion in 2014.[13] The new location has been criticized for being heavily polluted and in need of cleanup.[14] There are plans to retain a retail market, roughly a quarter of the current operation, in Tsukiji.[13]