Wednesday, 31 July 2013

시드니 !

Two fabulous Sydney food experiences.

Last Thursday I went to Xage, a Vietnamese restaurant in the Surry Hills. The regular clientele must be a fairly ghastly bunch: the waiter warned us that the pork shoulder was fatty, and sounded as if she’d apologized over this before. It was fatty, and gloriously slow: Caramelised slow-cooked berkshire pork shoulder thit kho.

And Koreatown! Did you know 시드니 has one? It’s a part of Pitt Street. I had lunch at a all-day and all-night outfit. (I would call it cheap and cheerful, but they made food good enough there was no need for them to waste time being cheerful; we queued up and begged to be treated with a suitable contempt). If I’d had friends with me I’d have ordered one of the massive piles of fried chicken everyone else was enjoying. Alone, the banchan were pleasure enough.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Hard to think that a year ago we - and it was just the two of us! - were in London.

Friends there today will be striking, others will be going from their union rallies to Marxism 2011. Doesn’t it look grand?

The morning after we arrived I went to the London Review Bookshop to stock up on Tom Paulin, but ended up staying for the cakes.

Just look at this brownie!

This marvelous piece involved olive oil somewhere, but was sweet. And almost perfect. I’d had this same piece a year before, on an earlier trip, and it was as nice as memory promised.

Serious work later de-programming all those prejudices hardened from a childhood reading Asterix comics. There’s nothing wrong with warm beer. In fact - there’s no denying this in the end - it’s better than the gassy cold lager we Antipodeans call beer.

And this one was drunk in no less a pub than the one Marx went to after knocking off from a hard day’s work in the British Library!

No photographs of the Brick Lane Beigels for some reason, or of the Pimm’s (who knew these things existed?) we drank that afternoon somewhere nearby.

I’ve loved London each time I’ve been. Everything that is good about it stands as a reminder of what is hateful and anti-social about the Tories, the EDL, and all those other forces that hate the diversity and strength of Britain’s contemporary working class.

I hope the weather for the strikes today is nice. It can be fabulous

Sunday, 31 October 2010

沢庵 / 단무지

Two fabulous takuan-related blog posts: Shizuoka Gourmet and Washoku Food.

Don't believe those rude things that get said about sodium.

Monday, 26 April 2010

From the Ancient Garden

Deprivation fires the culinary imagination:

How about rice with mixed vegetables in a hot pot? Thinly slice carrots and sauté them with sesame oil and salt; blanch bean sprouts and season them with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt. Also thinly slice meat and season it with spices and soy sauce and sauté; halved and thinly sliced zucchinis are also sautéed with salt and sesame oil. Put oil in a pan and sauté the minced meat, then add hot pepper paste and water and sugar, and let it bubble away before adding pine nuts. This is the sauce. In a stone pot, put a layer of cooked rice and top it with the cooked vegetables and meat and cracked egg. Heat the stone pot until everything is hot, mix everything together with hot pepper sauce, and dig in. (345-6)

(One of many lovingly rendered food fantasies from Hwang Sok-Yong’s The Ancient Garden, Picador 2010, trans Jay Oh).

Friday, 22 January 2010

A Piece of Cake

It's only mid-way through the afternoon, I've got a pile of essays sitting in front of me crying out to be marked and signifying, in all their dreary fatness, that they'll be my weekend companions.

If granted a wish round about now, then, it'd be that I get to teleport to that depachika between Shinjuku and Yoyogi (I can never work out where Takashimaya ends and Kinokuniya begins, but no matter). The cake store and coffee counter half way through is where I took these photos a few months back.

I've been only twice (at Y600 a piece the wee things aren't cheap), and both times when showing guests around Tokyo. But the memories!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Accentuate the Negi-tive

If a separate series of ramen files started things would be bound to get out of hand, so let’s keep this brief.

This is a shot from the first ramen store you pass when leaving Ichigaya Station walking away from the station and down the main street towards Yasukuni Jinja (a destination, I hasten to assure you all, I never reach). The shop’s up a flight of stairs and has a nice Showa-era theme.

And, yes, if you must ask, maybe we were there re-creating scenes from Hikaru no Go. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, OK? And maybe we went to the National Go centre. Give it a break, will you?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

All Things Must Pass

This is a picture from the end of 2008, taken in what was for a long time my favourite restaurant in Okubo. But then the owner got homesick and moved back to Korea. Who can blame him? The new owner jazzed the place up a bit, raised the prices and somehow lost the magic touch. Some great pork memories though.