First, I’m very jealous of you all in Japan enjoying or about to enjoy the sakura food! I like to follow food trends, so, for posterity, here are some foods from cherry-blossom season 2014. Most of these are from international brands and chains that localize their products for Japan.
Delicious (too) fresh yae-zakura (八重桜) Photo: マリマリ on Wikipedia.
Just a heads up: I’m not sponsored or compensated by any of these brands (or any brands at all), so if you’re reading my review of a product, it’s either my opinion or FOR SCIENCE.
Lupicia is one of the Japanese companies that has really embraced Halloween marketing and does it incredibly well.
In a country full of pumpkin-spice everything, I found special Halloween Kit Kats in Seattle, and they were somehow not pumpkin flavored. The American Halloween Kit Kats this year are orange-colored white chocolate abominations, as they apparently are every year.
Via Just Hungry.
For those cooking in Japan, you may be interested to know that Cookpad, Japan’s most popular recipe site, is now being translated into English. I’m always a little skeptical of English-language guides to cooking in Japan, mainly because there are rarely ingredient translations and sometimes the measurements are in imperial instead of metric, so I decided to poke around. And just so Searchina doesn’t get any funny ideas about my omg wacky American blog, I’m going to do this bilingual style.
Big Boy, Chiba City
One universal aspect of the expat experience is talking about what food you miss. When I first arrived in Ishikawa, all I wanted was a hamburger, as cliche as that sounds. I know the theme of this blog is “I’ll make it myself!”, but I started making an effort to eat less red meat went I left for uni, and so I rarely cook/ed beef at home, and this was before I figured out how to make veggie burgers and buns at home. And so I dreamed of hamburgers at Zingerman’s and Blue Tractor.
I probably don’t need to mention how much I love “weird” local flavors of ice cream. In fact, I’m not sure I really need to preface this post with an explanation about how soy-sauce ice cream sounds a bit odd to people unfamiliar with Japanese “savory” flavors used in sweet ice cream.
The more I learn about cooking and food culture, the more I’ve become fascinated with cultural concepts of portable foods. As I’ve written before, Japan’s main example is onigiri, rice balls, but in the Shinshû/Nagano region, it’s oyaki, the steamed buns often made with savory fillings and soba-flour dough. Combine oyaki with another one of my favorite foods, kabocha, and you have a delicious, healthy addition to your bento that is easy to make and transport.
Day 1: On the Road to Yudanaka Onsen (長野の名産を食べる旅：第一日)
On our second day in Nagano, we headed to Yamanouchi to see the snow monkeys at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. We kind of took the long way around, but eventually we got on the right path.
The roads from Yudanaka Onsen to the park are lined with ryokan and sweets shops. This one had a window cat!
Nothing heralds spring like seasonal menu changes! Starbucks’ sakura latte (henceforth not italicized) is much like the pumpkin spice latte in the US: people go crazy for it and it sells out long before sakura season is over. Or, in Kanazawa and the rest of northern Japan, before it even starts.
This year, the latte was replaced by a sakura white hot chocolate, which I really liked, but unfortunately it’s been gone for a month and the sakura only started blooming this week. Luckily, a sakura “latte” (technically it’s a steamer since there’s no coffee) is really easy to make at home. All you need is preserved edible sakura, boiling water, and milk.
Craft beer wasn’t the only delicious thing I had on my trip to Nagano. Let’s recap!