Hama-Rikyu Gardens – Tokyo, Japan

Hama-Rikyu Gardens - Where the Past and Present Collide

Hama-Rikyu Gardens – Where the Past and Present Collide

Corey and I recently went on an amazing trip to Japan. In my next few posts, I will be writing about our travels and the many wonderful experiences we had there, including all the tasty food we ate (I’ll be sharing recipes too). I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures and that these posts provide insight into the wonders of Japan.

Hama-Rikyu gardens provide a glimpse into the past through its Edo-style landscaping and architecture. It’s located near Tsukiji Market in the Chūō ward, a heavily trafficked commercial and shopping district in central Tokyo, and it fronts on Tokyo Bay.

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Picking Peaches in Georgia at Gregg Farms

Bucket of Freshly Picked Peaches from Gregg Farms

Bucket of Freshly Picked Peaches from Gregg Farms

Picking your own seasonal ingredients from local farms is a great way to freshen up your cooking with high-quality ingredients. Not only that, but it allows you to connect with the land that your food comes from, and to harvest some of the “ugly” fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted. Incredibly, somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of all the food produced in this country goes to waste, so picking some “ugly” produce can be a tasty (if minor) way to reduce that figure.

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Stone-Ground Grits and Nora Mill Granary

Nora Mills Granary Storefront

Nora Mill Granary Storefront

Grits are a Southern classic, made from ground corn kernels and simmered until they get thick and creamy. While usually served for breakfast, grits can also be presented as a side dish, or as part of a main course for lunch or dinner (for example, in shrimp and grits).

The most flavorful grits—way better than instant grits—are stone-ground grits. I was first introduced to stone-ground grits in college when my mother-in-law sent me a bag. My husband and I weren’t big grit eaters at the time; we had mostly eaten instant grits while backpacking, so we imagined grits as more or less a bland texture or base.

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Crane Ramen Restaurant Gainesville, FL

Interior of Crane Ramen Restaurant in Gainesville, FL

Interior of Crane Ramen Restaurant in Gainesville, FL

When my mother called and told me that Crane Ramen—the first ramen restaurant in Gainesville, Florida—had opened, I decided to check it out. It’s hard to find a ramen restaurant outside the big cities, though with the increasing popularity of ramen, that may change. I’ve been spoiled by all the ramen joints in Chicago (Santouka being my favorite) and Atlanta, so it was exciting to see one open in my little hometown.

Crane Ramen’s Atmosphere and Setting

Crane Ramen features a vibrant, modern interior with an open kitchen, illustrated placemats showing how to eat ramen (the secret is to slurp and slurp quickly!), and ceiling banners featuring the restaurant’s logo—a crane stretched proudly over an empty stack of bowls. This may be a reference to longevity, as cranes are fabled to live 1,000 years in Japan, and noodles symbolize longevity in some Asian countries.

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Fromage Blanc with Honey and Raspberries

Fromage Blanc with Honey and Raspberries

Fromage Blanc with Honey, Raspberries, Vanilla-Bourbon Sugar, and Espresso

This is the last post in my series re-creating Julia Child’s first meal in France. It started off with oysters on the half shell with rye bread and butter, followed by sole meunière (sole filets pan-fried with butter and topped with capers, lemon juice, and parsley). The third course was a light and refreshing salad dressed with a Dijon-mustard vinaigrette. Fromage blanc with honey, raspberries, and espresso concludes the meal (Julia Child had a strong café filter, which is a large cup of American-style coffee, but because I only have a Bialetti espresso maker, I opted for espresso).

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