Mystery shoes inside the box!
I usually have pretty good luck with the lucky packs from Baby the Stars Shine. I've only been disappointed once so I was excited to snag one of their shoe packs and finally was able to pick it up from the post office yesterday. Each pack came with two unknown pair of shoes. So did I get lucky this time?
( What did I get?Collapse )
I have written about okonomiyaki in a previous entry. Last weekend we headed to Gaja after a particularly hectic morning at Volks USA. This weekend we decided to head over to Gaja as we (akasora and redrosin ) have not had it in a while.
Gaja specializes in okonomiyaki, which loosely translates into "as you like it." Okonomiyaki is basically a batter mixed with chopped cabbage and cooked flat on a teppan grill. Meats, seafood, and various other ingredients most likely concocted under the influence of alcohol (mochi and cheese? Its actually quite good!) are often added. These are then garnished with a sweet sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, nori (dried seaweed), and dried bonito fish flakes. However, you can garnish it however you wish. There are different variants to the dish based on the region it comes from.
Okonomiyaki can be considered a form of “pub food.” Some version of it is frequently found in izakayas (Japanese style pubs) and is best served with some sort of alcohol. This can also explain some of the unusual combinations seen in and out of Japan. This dish is popular in Osaka and Hiroshima, with both regions having their own versions. In Japan it is often available as a form of traditional fast food and can often be bought from street vendors and stands. I ate a lot of this dish while in Osaka.
Modan style okonomiyaki is slightly different due to the addition of yakisoba noodles. Ours came with beef and seafood, which is cooked first. The yakisoba noodles were cooked and seasoned on the grill next. Approximately 2/3 of the batter is cooked on the grill with the noodles placed on top. The seafood and beef is then layered over the noodles. Finally, the remaining 1/3 of batter is layered on top. Carefully the okonomiyaki is flipped over to finish the cooking. We found that one person using two spatulas made this tricky step work well.
So how does it taste?
It tastes just like okonomiyaki should-savory with a bit of sweet. However the yakisoba adds a nice texture. In fact, I find myself preferring this version slightly to the Osaka style that is commonly found. But this dish defies explanation. I can't completely describe it and I have yet to find a good description of it anywhere. My advise, just try it if you get the opportunity!
Gaja is located at:
2383 Lomita Blvd
Lomita, CA 90717
I have also had a difficult time photographing this amazing dish. All of my previous photos make it look rather unappetizing which is a shame because it is so wonderful. But this time I used my Nikon 60mm Micro Nikkor lens, which is actually a macro lens, and the photos came out much more appetizing. I'm hoping to make everyone who sees these photos either hungry, or wanting to try this!
Early today akasora and I made it to a small park near my place where we found a nice pile of leaves for some photography with our tiny sized dolls. akasora has a new Nikon D70 which she used today. It was also the first time I used my macro lens for an outside shoot and once again found myself impressed with the rich colors it was able to capture.
- Current Music:Voltaire
I have always been a coffee drinker. Being half Colombian and half Italian it’s in my genes. However, I have recently been converted to the wonder that is tea. It all started when a friend from Japan suggested we take a trip to Lupicia teashop in the Century City Mall. And since then, I've been enthralled by the flavors, aromas, and the art of brewing tea.
Lupicia started out in 1994 as a black tea specialty shop in Japan called “L’epicier” (French for Grocery Store). They added a second shop called “Lu P Cha En” (Chinese for Jade Green Tea Garden) specializing in green teas from China and Japan. In 2005 the two stores and the two names were combined into Lupicia to correspond to their decision to become a supplier of teas from around the world. Currently they offer over 400 blends of fresh tea, some of which are seasonal. Today they have stores throughout Japan, a few in the USA, as well as Taiwan and Australia.
The shop is small and cozy with a counter full of small tins of tea that you can open and look and sample the aroma. There is also an extensive array of tea making products-everything from Japanese tea ceremony items to pots for brewing the perfect Earl Grey for breakfast. They also offer a couple of pots of brewed samples. The staff is wonderful and extremely knowledgeable about tea helping me select a couple of bags.
So what did I purchase? A bag of Caramel & Rum, a bag of Jasmin Amaranth as well as a couple of tea infusers. The Caramel & Rum has a nice aroma of caramel that is quickly noted upon opening the package and a delicate sweet flavor. I found it goes great with milk, which gave it a richer flavor and enhanced the caramel flavor a bit. It is low in caffeine and very comforting when sick.
Jasmin Amaranth is a green tea scented with a bit of jasmine and bundled in a pink globe amaranth blossom. I recommend brewing this tea in a glass pot to watch the blossom open. And although it is pretty to look at in the pot, the blossom should be removed once the brewing time is done-otherwise you will end up with rather bitter tea. This tea had a pleasant jasmine scent as well as flavor. Although it is a green tea, it is relatively low in caffeine. I also sampled this with milk as was suggested by the Lupicia website, which brought out the flavor of the jasmine.
Lupicia offers loose tea as well as packaged tea bags. Prices are very reasonable for their teas-most teas start at $5 for a small bag of loose tea and go up. A nice touch is that the optimal brewing times for the teas are printed on the bag so getting the optimal flavor of your tea is easier. Although the bags seem small, the tea does go a long way, which is good if you like to experiment with things such as the temperature of the water and how long you allow the tea to steep in the water. Now, time for a cup of sweet Caramel & Rum tea…
Lupicia can be found on the Internet at:( Even fragrant flavorful tea is beautiful to look at...Collapse )
- Current Mood: relaxed
I'm a bit surprised at how crazy DOA has gotten lately. I was trying to explain a doll choice in the Newbieland section and to prevent any confusion regarding my signature which lists said doll I was talking about as being for sale. I was not advertising said doll but trying to explain my upgrade plans so as to not cause any confusion.
Wow, just wow! And people complain about lolitas?
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
- Current Location:US, California, Goleta, Santa Barbara, el Camino Real
Our host! What a cute baby!!!
I celebrated Halloween with lots of eating, but not of the sugary kind. The day started with the Fall Gourmet Food Fair at Mitsuwa and ended with a raucous night at Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori. But Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori is so amazing it deserves a post of its own (Mitsuwa will just have to wait a day or so)
It was suggested that we go to Shin Sen Gumi as one of our party was in fact dressed as a member of the Shin Sen Gumi, who were an elite group of swordsmen formed during the Japanese revolution (aka Bakumatsu) during the late 1800s. When we arrived we were greeted by our host, who was dressed as a baby complete with a potentially mildly disturbing diaper. The staff, all dressed in costume, cheered and shouted loudly as our party entered excited that someone had shown up dressed as a member of the Shin Sen Gumi.
The atmosphere inside Shin Sen Gumi is loud and rowdy, which is fitting for a yakitori place. Yakitori establishments are a lot like pubs, so naturally the beer and sake is free flowing. There was bar seating, table seating, and a tatami room.
We started with the Assorted Japanese Pickles Set and bowl of chopped cabbage then ordered our yakitori. Yakitori usually refers to bite sized pieces of chicken that are skewered and grilled. All parts of the chicken are usually used. Non-poultry meat and vegetables are also often used. The cooked meat is then dipped in a sauce-usually soy or vinegar.
I started with pork belly, chicken breast with plum paste, and pork feet. The pork belly was wonderful with layers of fat and meat. I dipped it into a mixture of rice vinegar and yuzu pepper paste that accented the sweet flavor of the meat. I found the chicken breast with plum paste a bit dry and the plum flavor almost nonexistent.
Having heard several people rave about pig’s feet I was excited to try this. It was served in a bowl, not on skewers, due to the bones. It had a sweet and savory flavor with a gelatinous texture that some people may find unappetizing. Unfortunately, a few were overcooked but I will let that slide as it was Halloween and the chefs were drinking alcohol purchased by the rowdy group at the bar.
Next up was beef and quail egg. The beef was juicy but unfortunately had a bland flavor. I added a bit of soy sauce but that did not help the flavor. I was very excited to try the quail egg. It arrived as three boiled quail eggs grilled on a skewer. The texture was soft with a mild flavor that is hard to place.
I finished the meal with shrimp. A large shrimp arrived with part of the shell sliced open on a skewer. There was a dab of Japanese mayonnaise on the plate to dip the shrimp in. It was cooked perfectly-firm and flavorful. I was most grateful to the waiter, dressed as a character from James Cameron’s Avatar, suggested I add soy sauce the shrimp prior to dipping it in the mayonnaise. Apparently soy sauce and Japanese mayonnaise complement each other.
As three of our party were dressed in costume, our table got free desert. I chose the meringue ice cream with raspberry sauce, that came garnished with a mint leaf. It did not taste much like meringue. Instead it had a sweet flavor with candied fruits and crunchy bits (like cereal) that I could not identify. It was delicious, especially with the mint leaf, but I am suspicious that the name is a mistranslation from Japanese.
There was much more to the menu than what was tried. The atmosphere was great especially for those unfamiliar with yakitori as the staff is very helpful. It is on the small size so for a large group reservations for the tatami room may be recommended.
18517 S. Western Avenue
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 715-1588( Look at what we ate!Collapse )
A week later we made our way up the 110 to Galco's Soda Pop Stop near Pasadena and soon had our cart loaded with bottles of wonderful soda bottles in such unique flavors as rose, cucumber, and chocolate. Galco's is a treasure trove of specialty sodas-aisles and aisles of soda. There is also a nice selection of old fashioned candy, a couple of aisles of alcoholic products, and a deli section. I was happy to see that they carried the candy cigarettes as well.
As we browsed the aisles, store owner John Nesse came out to assist us-not that we needed much assistance. But he was wonderful to chat with-passionate about soda and eager to help us find the flavors we were interested in and introduce us to flavors we had not considered. After we purchased our sodas he carried our bags out and even opened the doors to the car for us!
So what about our selection? We tried Moxie out of curiosity, which is one of the first soft drinks produced and where the term "moxie" comes from. strawberrygoth and I agreed it tasted a lot like bad cough syrup. But that is our opinion and I encourage everyone to try it. Sweet Blossom rose soda had a pleasant taste a lot like carbonated rose water. Jeff's Chocolate Egg Cream soda is simply wonderful-it is the color and flavor of hot chocolate but served cool with the fizz of bubbles. Mr. Q Cumber is simply a refreshing cucumber flavored soda.
I also bought some candy-Big Cherry, a Hershey's bar, Cherry Mash, and Smoothie butterscotch peanut butter cups. Big Cherry and Cherry Mash were very sweet. Too sweet in my opinion. The Hershey's bar is actually made from the original recipe unlike what is found in the supermarket. The flavor was stronger and sweeter than the supermarket version but still average in my opinion. As a fan of butterscotch I was excited to try the Smoothie butterscotch peanut butter cups. It was actually a peanut butter cup with butterscotch instead of chocolate. I found this too sweet.
It is not to often I make it to Pasadena but when I do I make it a point to stop by Galco's Soda Pop Stop-its such a gem!
- Current Mood: thirsty
And by almost anything I do mean almost anything. There was an old cannon for sale which I thought would look great in my back yard. If I had a back yard. I also saw two separate stands selling old Nazi items-arm bands, pocket watches, leather cases all with the distinctive swastika on them. I wondered who would want such a thing in their home but soon realized I really did not want to know what kind of person would collect those type of pieces or why. Some questions are just best left unanswered. There was also a marketplace inside the stadium where comic books, manga, and other similar items were sold. I did not purchase anything at this market but plan to on my next visit.
But I came specifically to look for various items to be added to my growing steampunk wardrobe. And I got lucky. I found old skeleton keys, a clockwork ring, a burgundy bolero, and an old leather camera case. The ring was crafted by a very friendly artist named Carlos Montanaro who collects old mechanical watches and converts the broken unusable pieces into jewelry. The leather camera case is simple but beautiful with a customs sticker on the top and a business card for the proprietor of the Hotel Du Chalet in France, Ferndand Guesdon. I wonder how far that camera case has traveled. I actually looked up that name and found Fernand Guesdon.
Too bad its only held the second Sunday of the month-I simply can't wait to go again to see what else I can find. And next time I will bring my camera for photos!
- Current Mood: full
Huh, a micro lens for close up work?
Isn't that what a macro lens is for?
Yes, macro lenses are technically used for close up photography but many, many years ago when Nikon was developing lenses for microscopic work, they coined the "micro" lens. Well the name stuck. But who really cares about how to classify this lens when the important thing is how well it works! And the photos it takes are detailed and warm-the kind of photos I've always wanted to take!
( Look at what my lens can do!Collapse )
- Current Mood: tired