The last week has been a little crazy — and we have a seriously random set of photos for you today to prove it.
First, today we finally made it to that antique fair that has been avoiding us for a couple months now. The bakery next door smelled amazing, so we stepped in for some pastries and tea. We got a “melon pie” which has green dough around the outsides and orange melon-flavored goo in the middle. It’s apparently a famous treat in the north of Japan. We concluded that it was edible, but not exactly delicious. That thing in the background of the picture, however, is a gorgonzola, walnut, and honey pastry which was amazing. Japan is chok full of french influence, nowhere more than the bakeries, which is all well and good, in my opinion.
Next, after some more perusing at the fair, we wandered off in search of lunch. On the way we came across a totally random neighborhood festival where there were a bunch of dance groups performing. We threw together a quick video too, so you can see them in action.
Some of the groups were great, but others had music that sounds more like Chinese opera. They’re apparently Edo-style dancers of some variety, but we don’t really know anything more about them.
We didn’t take a lot of photos of our food today, but I never posted a picture of our awesome lunch from Kamakura. This is a crazy selection of little miniature salads. The Japanese are really fond of vegetables in a light vinegar — they use sprouts, cucumbers, seaweed, okra, onions, etc etc etc. Usually only one thing at a time — Japanese cuisine is about bringing out the pure essence of what it is you’re eating, rather than clouding it in a bunch of other flavors, or covering it with sauce.
Or at least that’s the philosophy. Personally, I’ve noticed a lot of sauce, most of which is really really tasty…
We also got some Saba simmered in Miso, (top, center of the salads photo) which is delicious. The fish I got earlier and posted about (Saba, a kind of mackerel) is apparently a seasonal specialty, and a favorite of the Japanese. It’s a fishy, oily critter, but when cooked well it’s awesome. I particularly like this preparation in Miso as it controls the fishy flavor/oil.
One of the other random food-related things we’ve been exploring is the sake. One of Jen’s coworkers got a great recommendation, which I couldn’t quite remember when we went into the shop with Jennie earlier this week, but, even though I slaughtered the Japanese language in attempting to explain to the woman what I was looking for, we only ended up one bottle off — that is, I got the right brand, wrong type… but close! It was just a little sweeter than the recommended bottle — both of which we sampled while eating Molly’s incredible pork-buns. Sake has a numbering system on it that indicates how sweet or dry it is — we tend to like the dry end of the scale. So when we went out for sushi at one of our favorite local places with Jennie, we tried a new sake there which was amazing. Back in the states I thought I didn’t like sake, but here it’s just a question of figuring out what types we like. So progress!
One of the other things we saw a lot of in Kamakura were kids at the shrines. A number of them were traveling in massive uniformed-packs, apparently on school field trips, but many of them were also dressed to the nines, Japanese-style, and with their parents. Apparently girls at 3 and 7, and boys at 5, get all dressed up and go visit the shrines. They’re pretty cute!
Yesterday the compound had their annual halloween party and haunted tunnel. Jen and I volunteered to help decorate, and then I stuck around to be one of the monsters in the haunted tunnel.
I will admit, my motivations for doing this were not entirely based on charity. It’s the same little buggers who attend these events that scream for hours every afternoon outside my window. So I took my opportunity to scare the pants off of them/scream back… and enjoyed it. *evil grin*
I even scared some of the adults pretty good. What can I say, I was born with the ability to scream like a banshee and cackle at the same time…
One poor lady jumped sideways so hard she knocked a side-door open on accident. Several kids dropped their costume props and ran like the dickens… I was collecting swords, axes, masks, fairy wands… then their parents would come trooping through to retrieve them.
Some of you are clucking your tongues at me right now, but hours, HOURS everyday, they scream right outside my window. And what’s the point of a hunted tunnel, really, if it’s not really scary? And this is so much cheaper than therapy…
I did break character once halfway through the night when one Japanese guy jumped backwards with such a funny expression on his face that I just dissolved into giggles in a corner. I’m not sure he actually felt any better about that, but that’s the benefit of being a demented killer clown.
I did feel bad for some of the Japanese kids whose parents were physically dragging them through the tunnel, clearly against their wishes. They screamed and cried like anything, and all of us monsters didn’t really know what to do.
Otherwise things continue as normal — I sent off a bunch more job applications, Jen is crazy-busy at work, and we’re still wrestling with the whole cat situation.
Oh, I nearly forgot about the shabu shabu! I finally got to go out for shabu shabu with Molly, Jennie, and Jen. Shabu shabu is “hot pot”, that is, hot pots of broth, into which you drop vegetables, thin strips of meat, etc. It’s a really fun meal, and totally delicious, so y’all better be prepared to go get some shabu shabu when you visit! 🙂 At any rate, tons of good food this week!