Hi there! You've reached Winna's blog!

Winna's musings and experiments on the strange and weird of the culinary world.

Ever had century egg and buttered toast?

Too tame?

Stir fried caterpillar cocoons, perhaps?

This blog will probably feature a combination of eating, tasting, experimenting, recipes, how-tos, research, history and nutrition/health all relating back to food.

Join me as I investigate these gastronomic oddities, and remember to say hi!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Fuzzy Feelings at Spice Temple

My coworkers are always quick to tell everyone and anyone that I have a food blog, which often prompts them to give me free reign over taking photos at lunch which I appreciate but am always too embarrassed to ask.

On this day, we were at Neil Perry's Spice Temple. Not somewhere I would have normally come, considering it's Asian cuisine at $20-45 a dish and I grew up eating $8 pho, but I was curious to see what Neil Perry was about.

Spice Temple is hidden behind a heavy digital door of a blue veil that flutters when you open it! It's quite dark inside, a bit too dark for taking good photos but anyway...

We met our reps, shared a bit of business banter and launched into cocktails first. They're based on the Chinese zodiac, I think I ordered Snake but all I could remember was it being rather bitter and sour. My focus was primarily on the food.

Appetisers were pickled cucumbers with garlic and ginger, this was crunchy, sour and zippy. It definitely got me (ad maybe some other people too) very hungry and it was finished quite quickly along with the pickled cabbage and radish. This was really good, sweet and sour and crunchy again, but served with (I think) an XO sauce.

Next starter was eggplant marinated with pork, garlic and coriander.It tasted very much like something my grandmother makes, the flavours were familiar and by the end of the meal I could identify a lot of dishes and flavour combinations from South East Asia and Northern China.

Steamed eggplant with three flavours.

I don't remember what this was >_<

Tingling Prawns.

Kung Pao Chicken.

Now this was a standout dish. It's Sichuan cuisine, super juicy and tender beef drowning in hot oil and sichuan peppers thatr is similar to a dish I ate in this post. Honestly, that beef was the softest bit of meat and you do get a mild tingling in your mouth from the sichuan pepper, but it was so good on rice.

Beef Fillet in Fire Water.

There was dessert left, but as we were almost full to the brim we decided on a tasting platter with one of each dessert.

The rockmelon granita was the perfect refresher after the spicy fire water beef. It helped calm your burning tongue.

Rockmelon Granita.

Don't remember the names of these 2, but the white one was a milk cake with 3 different types of milk products - very creamy and sweet. The other one in the background was a chocolatey tart.

In true Aussie style, it's not a meal unless you serve with wine and end with a coffee. A lovely meal with plenty of laughter and a great Friday afternoon :)

Spice Temple (around the corner from Rockpool Bar & Grill on Hunter St)
10 Bligh St
Sydney NSW 2000

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Sapporo Food Adventure: Part 2

The second day in Sapporo was spent much the same way, it was all about shopping and eating.

We got up bright an early and took a morning stroll to the Nijo Fish Market to have fresh sushi for breakfast. Several blogs I came across while Googling highly recommended a visit to the market in the morning, where they bring in fresh seafood from Otaru.

It was about 15min walk from our hotel at Susukino

We had our breakfast at Sushi(something) no Kakashi. At least I think that's the name, I can only read hiragana =/

EDIT: Yep, it's Sushiya no Kakashi.

Our lovely chef. He was incredibly friendly, asking us where we were from and what brings us to Sapporo, which very few non-Japanese tourists holiday. I told him my mum saw a movie set in Hokkaido. The only downside to this quaint little shop is there are no seats!

We went for the Kakashi Set, a variety plate with scallops, shrimp, kingfish, salmon, toro (fatty tuna), roe, egg and sea urchin. It was so fresh, squishy, moist, sweet, tender.

Kakashi Set, 2100 yen.

I was still hungry after that so ordered an abalone and regular tuna. Toro was definitely my favourite, followed by scallop.

Directly opposite Sushiya no Kakashi was a shop that sold chocolates, caramels, icecream and gifts. We bought chocolate coated potato chips, caramels (kyarameru) and lots of white chocolate made from Hokkaido milk. Because we bought so much, the kindly shop owner indicated some boxes of seaweed flavoured caramels were gifts for us :)

Chocolate coated chips are YUMMY!! Brings me memories of when we used to eat "chips and chocolate sandwiches" in high school.

A large amount of shopping at a 100 yen store followed by lunch at a restaurant at Mitsukoshi. It's a shame I lost all my notes on my phone and can't remember the name of this place.

The next day were were off to Jozankei Onsen, taking the Jotetsu 8 bus from Sapporo Station. It passes all the major hot spring hotels and ryokan and luckily, the bus driver said ours was at the end of the line next to the bus depot. Easy peasy.

Our ryokan room had a view of the whole valley of Jozankei, it would be gorgeous during cherry blossom season.

Making green and tea and a red bean cake snack.

After we were settled in we explored Jozankei, which is a tiny hot spring town. The Yunotaki waterfall at Jozankei and the river that runs through the valley is hot!

These are baskets filled with eggs that locals use. The sign says it takes 20mins for the eggs to cook.

The day was spent hopping around to all the foot baths, then back to the hotel for hot springs. It was the most relaxing thing once you get over the fact you are butt naked. No photos of course, but you can have a look at these I found online:

The outdoor hot spring in the first photo below was THE BEST. The water was steaming hot, but the cold Winter air was soothing and felt amazing on your face. The best part was when it started snowing, ABSOLUTE BLISS. My second favourite section was a small square that had a direct view of the valley below (we were on a hill). Breathtaking.

Next morning we took the bus back to Sapporo and to the airport. It was a fantastic 3 days.

The Sapporo Food Adventure: Part 1

It has been just over a year when I travelled to Japan with my mum for the Easter long weekend, but I did not go to Tokyo.

I was in Hokkaido! Home of ramen, seafood, dairy (anything made with milk, butter or cream), beer (Sapporo beer anyone?), white chocolate and potatoes. I'm just going to say it right now that we did not have a bad meal throughout the whole trip. I enjoyed Hokkaido more than Tokyo. It's the capital city, but it wasn't overly crowded and not too touristy. Locals were happy to help 2 foreigners navigate the city.

We visited Sapporo and took a trip down to the hot spring town of Jozankei. It took a lot of work, but I was able to plan our itinerary with a focus on food and shopping. Happy to share this map with you here.

We had a short stopover in Tokyo and browsed...

Melon soda (meeron souda) is delicious in Japan - Ichiban's does not compare. It's lurid green with the roundest ball of icecream I have ever seen. Seriously, look at that photo!! Melon soda is rockmelon flavoured fizzy drink, often served with vanilla icecream, it's pretty much the Japanese version of a spider.

We were still peckish, savoury food was in order. Mind you, this was still within the airport terminal at Tokyo.

I will skip most of the travel stuff, after all this is a food blog. The first thing we did after settling down was go in search of one of the highly recommended ramen places for late lunch.

Taxis here have antennae! How cute!

We went in search of Aji no Tokeidai, supposed to be the best ramen in Hokkaido. It was supposed to be in an alleyway dedicated to ramen, called New Ramen Alley (Shin Ramen Yokocho), but we got um, lost, and decided to go into the very end restaurant and order butter corn ramen. Butter, corn and ramen is famous in Hokkaido ;)

Mr. Chef in the corner there starting the prep.

The walls of the tiny shop was covered in posters and photos of celebrities that have been here. Probably not a bad choice then!

My mum chose from the pictures, whereas I insisted that I had to try the best produce Hokkaido has to offer.

Mum had a split plate, pork in miso broth with rice and roe. Good miso broth is...really good. It was Winter, the soup was hearty, a little thick and creamy. The roe was a surprise - it wasn't fishy, very salty and popped and crackled in your mouth.

"Buta-kon ramen" was amazing. It is really rich and flavoursome, very savoury, the corn was so sweet and the butter definitely made the whole bowl naughty but so good. This bowl converted my mum, who hated ramen before this.

Butter corn ramen.

Looking around the supermarket on the bottom floor of Mitsukoshi Shopping Centre.

The thing about Japanese food is in the presentation. All the desserts at the supermarket was either so cute you have to buy one, or looks so good that you salivate to taste it. We went a little crazy.

Another thing about Japanese food, packaging and service is unbelievable. Gave us a cute little cold pack to keep the cakes cool because we said we were taking these back to the hotel after having a walk around. But say, I meant 'communicated' in broken Japanese and English.

Hokkaido strawberries!

Gotta try the milk here. Pretty creamy and fragrant.

This is a $150 mango, holy shit.

Not food, but a street vendor making kitty frames.

For dinner, we went for okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancakes) at Okonomiyaki Makka. Nice ambiance and if you choose to sit at the bar you can watch the chef cook. Unfortunately the menu is in Japanese, and the best I could do was identify "okonomiyaki" and choose from there.

I could recognise tori (chicken), buta (pork) and mochi (glutinous rice cake). It was a matter of point and hope for the best lol.

The table we sat on had a hole in the ground.

Then we had a waiter bring the ingredients and cook for us on the stove.

I have no idea what we ordered, but there was meat, lots of cabbage and mochi!

Pretty satisfied that it was tasty despite not exactly knowing what we ordered. It was the end of Day 1 and time to head back to the hotel, when we came across a man walking around in a pikachu costume in 8C weather.