Tag Archives: vegetables

Celebrating Summer Stalk

Yahoo! The sweet & sour stalk of American pie and jam legend lives and breathes in the archipelago!

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Someone gave me this fresh rhubarb today that I’m thinking to pie-ify soon. My main concern now is the oven. I’ve baked cookies in these cubby-hole contraptions that double as real ovens besides being toasters and microwaves (very tedious, involving temperature conversion, adjustment and re-preheating every four cookies, juggling sheets and cooling racks), but never a whole pie, which at least is one piece instead of a few dozen. I’ll have to find out exactly where, but I do know it was bought locally.

Silly Stalks: A Little Background

Writing this blog often leads to serendipitous learning, and this time was no exception. Out of curiosity, I checked Wikipedia, and found out that although rhubarb is normally considered a vegetable, since 1947 in New York State it’s legally a fruit since it’s mostly used as one.

Beyond that, Wikipedia reports that

In British theatre and early radio drama, the words “rhubarb rhubarb” were repeated for the effect of unintelligible conversation on the background.

“Rhubarb” was [also] a 1969 British short film written and directed by Eric Sykes, starring Sykes and Harry Secombe. The dialogue consisted entirely of repetitions of the word “rhubarb”, all the characters last names were “Rhubarb”, and even the license plates on vehicles were “RHU BAR B.”

As I’ve been becoming a bit of a connoisseur of background chatter, it’s a bit of a letdown to think that a bunch of nothing but rhubarb could have been just as effective as the real thing. I wonder if they used varied intonation. It’s no surprise Sykes was a cohort of the Goon Show gang, predecessors of Monty Python.

Osteria Budget

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Selvatico Osteria & Bar is another one of those places I’d seen but never gone to. Osteria is Italian for “tavern,” but it’s a really a gourmet Italian restaurant that also serves drinks. They emphasize using a variety of vegetables. It’s not far from route 19 near the Cultural Hall. Just look for the white-top olive green Mini by the Italian flag.

On arriving, I was told it would be at least an hour’s wait, but an older couple graciously noticed and left their table for me. Very thoughtful.

After seeing this was a higher-class sort of place (their website even mentions a dress code, I later saw), I felt a bit guilty about ordering the most basic lunch special, as opposed to the more expensive course-type options, but what I ordered is, after all, recommended by the chef for middlebrow first-time customers like me.

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Following an autumn-fitting cream of mushroom potage with latte-like foam on top, I had a kind of crab and salmon gratin appetizer sprinkled with herbed breadcrumbs that tasted, and I mean this in a good way, like Stouffer’s Stove-Top Stuffing. Then came the bacon-zucchini pasta above. With salad, bread and a drink, the lunch was ¥1370.

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Afterward nearby as I walked back toward work, I caught a fairly camera-friendly butterfly flitting around a strawberry plant. Like elsewhere, the leaves are beginning to turn. Happy autumnal equinox.

Here’s Salt in Your Ear

A little reminder of home (yes, Virginia, Upstate/Western New York is covered surprisingly largely in cornfields), compliments of growers in Aichi.

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A little crazy on the salt, though this amount was intended for the whole circumference of the cob.

It brought back memories of dollar-a-(half-?)dozen, honor-system roadside stands, and shucking duties, husks deposited in brown paper grocery bags, on lazy summer nights of childhood and adolescence.

Don’t forget Toki’s fireworks are tonight. It seems like they start at 7:20 or 7:40, or maybe it’s the 8 o’clock hour.

Lotus Position

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A drive yesterday through Ena took me to the site of a castle ruins between Yamaoka and Iwamura. Once Iibama Castle, the area is now for residential and agricultural use. Below, a pad has grown right through this walkway built in a lotus field. These will eventually grow into lotus root, or renkon, for eating. I guess lotuses are pretty rare, so this was a lucky sighting. Something about this location makes them thrive here. Sounds ripe for a castle-based legend. More lotus photos (sorry, no cars or cafes) follow below.

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During the ride, I took in lots of flora and fauna: Bank after roadside bank of hydrangea that must have been magnificent a month ago; Soybeans; Corn, including one field that could pass for an American cornfield in size…

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Dragonflies; Pointy-hatted rice farmers; Copious verdant overgrowth; Many, many weed-whacker-wielding workers sweating it out to trim aprons of grass under the hot sun.

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At the foot of the castle ruins beside the marshy lotus patch is a fresh vegetable roadside stand. Nearby is another stand I’ve bought things at before, but things seem to be gone by late afternoon at these places.

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Behind a small mill, vegetation was being burned. Ceramic sculptures also dotted the pads and blossoms. The lotuses themselves were all either just before or past full bloom, or else far from the boardwalk.

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…And where the lonely princess’s teardrops fell from the castle heights to the nearly dried up moat below in that year of no rainy season, lovely lotus flowers now bloom, first in the shape of a teardrop, and then with welcoming, embracing arms, in the very same color as her treasured sacrificed kimono, a memento of her love for her fallen prince, who now resides as a star watching over her in the summer sky, ensuring clouds of rain to sustain us all with a healthy harvest throughout the year…*

*Reasonable rates available at rentalegend.com. Be sure to specify ethnic bent of your choice. Special fees may apply.

Popular Kani Lunchspot

I recently had a nice lunch special at popular open-kitchen Cocon Restaurant & Patisserie in Kani.

In addition to the main dish – your choice of meat, fish or vegetable – there’s soup, salad, rice or bread with free extra helpings, a drink and dessert. When I went the main dishes were steak, salmon saute, and Japanese style lettuce/tomato pasta. My steak was quite tasty. The whole thing came in at ¥880 plus tax.

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As Cocon is so popular, if you’re like me, though there is refreshingly ample space between tables, the noise level created by the building’s structure may make normal conversation a bit of a challenge, despite dividing shutter-screens as well. As one word-of-mouth web commenter also noted, the wait for dessert was somewhat long, which shouldn’t be a big problem unless you’re in a hurry to get back to work. The entire place is non-smoking for lunch (until 2:30, café time, when there’s a smoking section), and the restrooms are some of the most automated I’ve seen. There’s also apparently open-terrace dining, though it seems patrons of the apiarian persuasion are known to crash that party. I was very curious about the tree outside the entrance. It looked prehistoric or something.

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Afterward, I did a little locavore grocery shopping at Toretta Hiroba on route 122 near the Kani bypass. Operated by JA, they feature domestic produce. I actually found a true green pepper, or green papurika as they might call it here, as opposed to a piiman. ¥105 at that.

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Undercover Cabbage

Cooked cabbage lovers (you know who you are) can head on over to Ohashi Cafe Gusto, where they’re currently offering gratin and other baked, boiled, stewed and fried dishes featuring winter cabbage from Hokkaido. I had a pasta/gratin dish with hamburg and other winter veggies besides the cabbage at the Showamachi branch tonight. A la carte it was reasonable. The cappucino and cafe au lait, which has been less than stellar there in the past, was spot on this time.

The kanji characters for this cabbage are probably just figurative, but signify its being grown under cover of snow.