March 28, 2020

Earth Hour 2020: staying in

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I have been observing Earth Hour since 2009, and other than that first year when I was a guest at a friend's home for dinner, and turning out the lights in my apartment in New Taipei City in 2012, I've been outdoors during the remaining years - often watching the lights being turned off in Victoria Harbour.

Given the current Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, we decided to stay home this year.  We were, in fact, scheduled to be in Tokyo this weekend... but of course that went out the window weeks ago.  We haven't seen DaRC and Ro Ro for 2 weeks so we invited them over for a simple dinner - as long as they were willing to spend part of the evening in the dark.

Hello Kitty started us off with some steamed flower crabs from the wet market next door, as well as some whiskered velvet shrimps (赤米蝦) in a cocotte with some sake.  We also had some Brussels sprouts with shallots.

March 16, 2020

Supporting chef friends: the smiling chef

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It's been a couple of months since the Peanut Gang gathered for a meal, and we were looking for another restaurant to support.  PR8 decided that he would want to go back to Neighborhood with me - which seems to be how at least half of my friends feel - so he went over a couple of weeks ago to make a booking in person.

Fried padron pepper - always good to start with these.

Basque saucisson "Noire de Bigorre", culatello di zibello "Massimo Spigaroli" - and these tasty morsels are even better.  I am amazed that The Man in White T-shirt gets so much culatello from Massimo Spigaroli, as I was told that the production isn't large.

March 14, 2020

Supporting restaurants: Hairy froggy

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Hairy Legs is back in town, and it's been more than 2 months since I last saw him, so we figured we needed to have some wine together.  As DaRC didn't have any plans for tonight, either, we decided to go and support one of our favorite local restaurants.

This was actually quite a busy night for Seventh Son (家全七福), as the main dining room was about 80% full.  The largest private room was also occupied.  Good to see that things were a little better than the reports we had been getting...

Barbecued whole suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬全體) - OF COURSE we would get the pig!  And DaRC and I now prefer for it to be chopped into pieces this way, so that the crackling stays with the fat and the meat.  So, so, so fucking good.

March 12, 2020

Supporting restaurants : the hole in the wall

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We haven't seen LCKitty for a while as she's turned into quite the globetrotter these days, so she and Hello Kitty scheduled a dinner together.  We were discussing which restaurant we wanted to support tonight, and I remembered that none of us had been to Godenya (ごでんや) in a while.  As it was pretty easy to figure out how many seats they have available on any given night, I took a quick look and booked us seats at the counter.

I'm grateful to have the chance to support Goshima-san during this difficult time.  There were only two other customers besides the four of us tonight...  Thankfully they are still able to get ingredients flown in from Japan, as the Japanese airlines continue to operate flights, although he did admit that the cost has gone up.

Monkfish liver, century egg, rice puff (鮟肝  皮蛋  最中) - it's a taiyaki (鯛焼き)! Opening up the monaka (最中) shell revealed a layer of smoky paste made of monkfish liver from Yoichi (余市) in Hokkaido.  On top we have a gelée made with dashi (出汁), mirin (味醂), and sake that was a little sweet.  The addition of century egg mash worked pretty well, and we've also got herbs like sage in the middle.  A pretty nice start to the meal.

Beau Michelle Snow Fantasy (ボー・ミッシェル スノーファンタジー うすにごり生原酒), 2019 - served at 10°C. Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 60%.  Full of fermented flavors like fermented rice lees.  Worked well with the smoky monkfish liver.

March 6, 2020

Supporting chef friends: the underrated Swede

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We haven't gotten together with the Birdiegolfs in a while, and it was high time to polish off a few bottles.  And guess what?  I knew exactly where I wanted to go and which restaurant I wanted to support - the place that was too busy to accommodate me early a week ago.  The added bonus is that the Birdiegolfs have never been to Frantzén's Kitchen.

I would have preferred to visit Jim on a day when they're not busy, but we ended up coming on what is likely to be their busiest night...  They were almost at full house, and some of the tables even managed 2 turns.  I was happy to see that at least they are still very busy on the weekends.

The tasting menu didn't look very appealing to me, and given it's the first visit for my friends, they should get the full experience by tasting as many dishes as possible.  So we ordered à la carte and practically "swept" the menu.  Each of us started with our own starters, and *someone* took all four...

"Swedish sushi" - arguably my favorite bite here, although I complained to Jim that the size seemed to have shrunk - a claim he refuted but I think the slice of roe deer was smaller.  In any case, I loved that the pungent and strong flavors really grabbed me tonight, probably from the shavings of frozen bird's liver on top.  I still find the crispy lichen interesting.

I keep saying that I would order 2 or 3 of these on my following visit, but I always end up forgetting...

March 2, 2020

Supporting chef friends: meeting new neighbors

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Fat Donkey and I have been talking about this for a few years - doing a dinner where it's not just the two of us but with our respective partners - and we finally got around to doing it tonight.  With the addition of some new friends, the six of us made it to Neighborhood to support The Man in White T-shirt.

We were, apparently, the only booking they had tonight up until hours ago.  Thankfully there were a few other customers in the house.  Times are indeed tough for the hospitality industry...

Fried padron pepper - a little surprised that tonight these peppers didn't come with anything on top, but of course they are still very nice to snack on.

Basque saucisson "Noire de Bigorre", culatello di zibello "Massimo Spigaroli" - I don't think I've ever seen a serving of these delicious cold cuts disappear so quickly in front of my eyes... I guess that's what happens when you have 6 hungry mouths... and some really tasty, fatty pork!


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