UNU Farmers Market

The nice thing about Tokyo is that there are a lot of things within 30 minutes of the embassy. So despite my last post, we trundled out of the house this morning to go to the farmers market in front of the UN University, which is only 2 metro stops from the house. A couple people had recommended it, and we had another friend who wanted to check it out too, so we braved the very chilly morning breeze and were rewarded with a number of new delicacies.

Sea-Grapes

First we discovered these odd-looking little delicacies. The fellow called us over to his stall by shouting “She-Gurapu”, and out of morbid curiosity, we lined up expectantly in front of his stall. The farmers markets here are a great place to try new things because they give out samples of what they’re selling. They’ll also explain what it is, how to prepare and eat it, and where it comes from. It’s a great little experience. He gave us each a string of these “sea-grapes”, which are actually a type of seaweed (scientific name: Caulerpa) in a limey ponzu sauce. They were totally delicious — fresh tasting and cool. They’re crunchy, but moist at the same time, it’s a little hard to explain, think cucumber maybe, except with a very different texture (texture is like small fish eggs, without any of the fishy flavor). They’re from Okinawa (where the friendly vendor has family) and are apparently quite expensive if you want to get them in a restaurant. At any rate, delicious.

Haruka

In the next stall over, we discovered these beautiful little babies. They’re called haruka and taste like a cross between an orange and a lemon. Jen commented that they “taste like lemonaid.” Or a sweet grapefruit. Very nice. And since I’m planning on making a fruit salad for brunch tomorrow, we bought a bunch. They’re from the area of Japan down near Hiroshima, and he recommended mixing the peel with rosemary to make a “vibrant” drink in the winter.

We also picked a couple sauces. We bought some of the lime ponzu of course, to go with the sea-grapes, but also found some italian-ish jars that had very tasty treats inside: “Rucora Sosu” (Arugola Pesto) and a spicy anchovy tomato sauce. The Japanese seem pretty keen on noodles in general, so in addition to udon, soba, etc. there are Italian places all over.

Mushrooms!

We also picked up a variety of more familiar fruits and vegetables — kiwis, tomatoes, some greenery, and finally these beautiful looking mushrooms. Our friend Elaine got very excited because they had pink mushrooms as well — some variety of an oyster mushroom we think, but guaranteed to make your food look quite pretty!

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