From Tongue to Tail: Midnight snacks in Shibuya, Tokyo

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Japanese beef ready for the grill. Late night bites at a yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo.

*  If you missed the first installment (where we dined on our first bowl of Japanese ramen at 9am), click here to catch up!  *

Our second evening in Tokyo ended on a serious high note. Koji, a friend of a friend and a native to the city, took us to his favorite late-night spot, a small yakiniku restaurant near the Shibuya Station.

Yakiniku is the Japanese term for grilled meats, and refers to the tabletop grills that many of these restaurants sport. The customer is basically the cook; servers pass off plates of raw meat and patrons are in charge of cooking it to their liking. Each table gets a few pairs of tongs so guests can take turns flipping meat.

Our table top grill. We also each had plates with various dipping sauces to dress the beef. Though most of it went unused as it nearly seemed blasphemous.

Our tabletop grill. We also each had plates with various dipping sauces to dress the cooked beef, though most of it went unused as it seemed nearly blasphemous with such beautiful meat.

Given that we were in a group with several chefs, two things were immediately clear: we were going to eat A LOT of meat and it was all going to be cooked impeccably.

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Here’s to making more deliciousness in 2015

Homemade Chinese BBQ Pork

Homemade Chinese BBQ Pork – getting a jump on the char siu bao

While I have a few resolutions (complete another Whole30 and to learn more about my Nikon camera), most of my hopes for the new year involve cooking. I created a new page on this blog to track my food-complishments over the next 12 months, but here’s a quick run-down:

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Stray Cat Strut: The Kitten Chronicles

Teeny tiny bundle of trouble

Teeny tiny bundle of trouble

Kitties are my weakness — maybe even more so than beer and foie gras. At house parties I am the person on the floor making friends with the host’s cats. In my neighborhood, I’m the house that stray cats flock to, knowing they will get food and pets (if they allow it).

When I started this blog, I had three cats each of whom got their own introductory post. I lost the oldest one, Friday, a few months later. Since then I’ve had only two, tuxedos Lucifer and Gus Gus, both strays that my husband and I took in after finding them on the streets. Even though they are years apart in age, they have clearly come to love each other like brothers.

cute kitties

Gus Gus giving Lucifer a bath.

While I adore my “gruesome twosome,” I admit over the past few months I have been dreaming of kittens. I’ve put off seriously looking to adopt because I guess in my heart I believe taking in a stray is the best thing to do. I also believe (since they’ve always managed to before) that the right stray will find me.

And — almost like magic — two days before Thanksgiving an abandoned kitten needing a home practically dropped in my lap. Well, literally, she was dropped at my company’s farm out in rural Oregon. I won’t spend much time talking about how callous a person must be to dump two kittens barely a month old in a box in the middle of winter…I’ll focus on the good part.

The kitten and her adorable brother, both deemed healthy by a vet, were brought to the office and immediately cuddled and fawned over by the whole staff. I laid claim to the girl kitty, a teeny tiny tortoiseshell, who the vet said weighed just over a pound. Her brother was taken home by one of my co-workers so the story really is a happy one.

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What have I been doing and how is it almost December?

Um...what the hell happened to autumn?

Um…what the hell happened to autumn?

Basically this is my apology in case you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit behind in the world of WordPress. Life has been so hectic it’s kept me from reading and writing as much as I would have liked these past four weeks.

One of the reasons for the madness is because a month ago I decided to embark on the “Whole 30.” If you’re unfamiliar with the program it’s essentially a thirty day eating plan/elimination diet that helps participants rethink their food choices, overcome cravings, heal their digestive track and eat 100% clean for thirty days. (I don’t want to bore you too much with specifics so if you want to read more about the Whole 30, click here.)

Basically from Oct. 23 through Saturday, Nov. 22, I abstained from all sugars (natural or otherwise), grains (even whole grains), legumes (except green beans and peas), alcohol and dairy. That sounds like an overwhelming list of “can’t have’s” but I did eat plenty of meat, seafood, eggs and vegetables with a limited amount of fruits, nuts and seeds added in for good measure.

For someone who eats lots of grains and is known to indulge in a few pints of delicious beer, I was very worried I wasn’t going to complete the challenge. In fact, I vowed not to mention my mission on this blog until it was over — just in case I threw in the towel. Not very confident sounding, I know, but hey, I’m realistic. I work in the food industry, my husband cooks everything with cream, butter and cheese, and the holiday stress level at work usually has me and my co-workers doing mid-morning shots by now.

But I made it and it feels really good to say that. I do eat fairly well in general so my cravings weren’t too bad and I didn’t suffer a lot of the detox pains that many people do the first week. What made it difficult for me was the struggle of time. On this program you have to make every meal — there is no convenience eating on days when you’re feeling overwhelmed. No English muffins for breakfast or ramen for dinner. Instead I would make huge batches of soft-boiled eggs, curries and roasted vegetables just so I wouldn’t be caught hungry and off-guard.

I could talk on and on about the results from the program and how I feel about it (and maybe I will in another post) but this was just to let you know what’s been monopolizing my time lately. I love to cook and I relish time in the kitchen, but I am really  happy to be able to heat up a frozen burrito after a late night at work!

But don’t think I ate in misery for thirty days. Check out all the good things I scarfed down:

A typical Whole 30 breakfast: eggs, kale and sweet potatoes

A typical Whole 30 breakfast: eggs, kale and sweet potatoes

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Gluttony in Portland: The Best Bites of FEAST 2014

Awesome after party ice cube

Awesome after party ice cube

A few posts ago I talked about Feast, a huge culinary celebration held here in Portland. Every year it brings big names in the food industry (the likes of Chris Cosentino, Paul Qui, Edward Lee, Brad Farmerie) to our town for four days of non-stop chaos. There are seminars, special dinners and tastings being held all over the city, followed by after-parties and after hours after-parties.

Since the company I work for is a sponsor, we get in to a lot of the events for free. Which meant food, food and more tasty, fabulous food, all washed down with local brews, wine and liquor. Let the good times roll!

First up, Friday Night: Night Market. I love the Night Market. The setting is gorgeous and the food is crazy good.

Night Market 2014, Zidell Yards, FEAST

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State Fairs and a crazy chaotic state of affairs

What I have not been doing enough of!

This summer I have not been doing enough of this.

September is slowly killing me. I have been so busy I’m surprised I have found time to breath! The weekend of Labor Day my husband and I went on a romantic retreat, the following weekend was Wild About Game, last weekend I went to Tacoma to see my family (and go to the fair which is an annual tradition!) and this weekend is Feast.

Every day this week there are pre-Feast parties for those of us involved in the event. Wednesday night I attended one where Chef Paul Qui served up Albacore tuna and grilled pork. Last night I went to a party called Pork of Ages where there were more than 20 roasted pig heads lined up (seriously!) and I got to meet author Ruth Reichl (yay!).

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