Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tsujiki Fish Market, Tokyo Japan

Tuna Auction at Tsujiki Fish Market

Well hello there


In the summer of 2007, I read an article in Vanity Fair by Nick Tosches about the largest fish market in the world, Tsujiki in Tokyo. The market moves more than 2000 tons of fish every day, occupies over 2 million square feet, and employs nearly 60,000 people. When I finished the extensive piece, I added Tsujiki to the ever-growing list of exotic places I'd love to visit but probably won't get to for years to come. Little did I know, less than two years later, I'd be in Tokyo and up at 4:30 AM to tour Tsujiki.


Serious Squid

No perfume, no flash photography, no getting in the way: these are the Tsujiki rules. The motorized carts driven by cigarette-smoking, heavy-lidded dudes stop for no one, certainly not gawking western tourists. One highlight was catching the end of the tuna auction, where bidders compete for the huge frozen tuna pictured above. Another was talking with the propriator of Hicho, a tuna stand in the market that's been around for 150 years. They sell only Yellowfin and Bluefin, primarily fresh. And finally, the morning was topped off by a 7 am sushi breakfast around the corner from the market.

Live eel shopping, Tsujiki Market

Itty Bitty Squids

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oishii Japan

I had the ridiculously good luck to go to Japan over Spring Break, on a trip organized by Japanese students at my graduate school. We spent a week visiting Toyko, Hiroshima and Kyoto, and of course, I ate so many delicious (oishii) treats, I'm not sure where to begin. I've spent my years in New York missing Los Angeles sushi (Hama and Saito to be precise), but LA has nothing on Tokyo sushi at 7 am right outside the Tsujiki Fish Market, the largest in the world (more on that in an upcoming post).

Another favorite was nisshin soba--buckwheat noodles topped with mackerel--a specialty of Kyoto. I was able to slurp a whole bowl down in minutes (slurping is ok in Japan fyi), despite my tight kimono. Later that same afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a tea ceremony (chanoyu) at Kankyuan, the center of the Mushakouji Senke tea school. Our tea was prepared by Futessai Sen Soushu, the 14th Grand Master of this school of tea. He will be in New York demonstrating a tea ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 8, 2009 at 2 pm.

Of course, I brought home many treats as well, including Kyoto's famous cinnamon-spiked yatsuhashi, plum wine, Japanese whiskey, and more funny sour, sweet and gummy candies than my bag could hold.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Comfort Cakes: Pear Spiced Bundt and Raspberry Vanilla

Pear Spice Cake

Oh March. In like a lion indeed. Had your foot of snow come in late November, I'd have been delighted. But this week? Now? I'm despondent. And cold!

Yesterday my friend Emily briefly considered saying goodbye to the cruel snowy world by throwing herself in front of the plow. What saved her? Brownies. She baked, and life was better. I can relate. A cozy apartment, a warm cake right out of the oven--almost enough to make me forget this wicked weather.

For Valentine's Day, J. and I once again stayed home and cooked together, finishing late in the evening with the Pear Spice Bundt Cake above. It's from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, made moist and fragrant by a homemade carmel-y pear sauce. It got better throughout the week as the spices mellowed throughout the entire cake. For the full recipe, click here and scroll down.

Raspberry Cake

This dessert, a simple raspberry vanilla cake, was whipped up last Friday for a dinner with friends. Of course, that night it wasn't snowing, but raining (also depressing). However, a warm cake on your lap while you take the cross-town bus makes the weather a bit more bearable. The golden raspberries came from my favorite neighborhood grocery store, Barzini's, and the recipe came from Epicurious. The original called for marsala and a side of creme fraiche. I substituted Patron Citronge for the sweet wine, and skipped the sides. I also used a smaller pan than called for, which wasn't ideal, but our hosts didn't seem to mind the dark brown edges. After all, at least we weren't out in the rain.