It is not often that you come across a complete idea. Many ideas begin with great intentions, yet fall short of fully blossoming into tangible results, of filling that space which they set before them. So it is with restaurants, where many concepts strive to come to a single complete idea, and also where many fall apart. Melissa put it best: “Restaurants usually do one of two things. They either make great food from mediocre ingredients or they make mediocre food from great ingredients.” Finding that balance, that perfect arc of taste, texture, and presentation, requires so many elements to be precisely and seemingly effortlessly set into place that nothing remains but the singular experience of the diner and the dish. Continue reading
Or, Another Installment from The Pedestrian Diaries
On Friday morning the weather was cold and wet. We readied to leave for work half an hour before departure, the two of us dealing out rain gear and debating the need for boots. I was going to meet Emmett at the train station after work and then off to Kyoto with us! We were celebrating our fourth anniversary. Four years of solid high fives, dancing in the kitchen, making instruments out of empty containers, packing and moving, making homes, making food, making friends, and participating in spontaneous a capella eruptions of Joanna Newsom’s “Bridges and Balloons.” Leaving the house, Emmett said, “Our adventure begins tonight!” I summoned Cary Grant, “Our adventure began four years ago.” Continue reading
It’s what every house needs, but no one has done right since the construction of Nijo Castle in Kyoto. Constructed in 1626 as a residence for the Tokugawa Shogun, Nijo Castle is equipped with uguisubari, or Nightingale flooring, that chirps when walked on. Visitors walk through the corridors looking in on the immaculate tatami rooms once used by the Imperial Court, admiring the murals and the woodcarving, and all the while the enormous cyprus floorboards creak beneath their their feet. To dispel the magic, the gigantic nails used in the flooring are designed to rub against clamps and sound like birds in case an assassin should try to sneak along the castle halls. The softer ninjas walk, the louder they creak. This bad cat was not supposed to use a camera in the castle, but here is a YouTube video of the floor in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJThECzA1bc&feature=related
This post is also featured on the Japan page.
A few years back, my roommates, some friends and I were sitting around the dinner table making lists. The lists were of our top ten favorite smells, tastes, sounds, textures and the like. I filled mine out carefully, each decision sifted from a wide variety of synaesthetic moments in my life. In my sixth month of living in Japan, I now feel so strongly about one of these items that I could forgo the other nine and fill the entire textures list with one word: mochi.
Mochi is rice pounded into a paste and then shaped into or wrapped around whatever its maker wishes. It is the Plaster of Paris of Japanese food and it is divine; it feels like baby cheeks. Along with the apparent magic of mochi, it factors beautifully in Japanese culture, becoming not only a triumphant symbol of Japanese cuisine but also the industriousness of rabbits.