Tag Archives: food

Country Hospitality

The next day was a very long and arduous drive from El Questro to the eastern edge of the Mitchell Plateau. Along the way, we visited Ellenbrae Station – another million acre property that is still a working cattle station.

Ellenbrae Station

We learned from the young manager Logan that things can get very expensive out where they are – everything has to come by road train or plane! So to attract visitors they have a small camping ground and cream tea. That morning it’s been specially baked by his mum, and it was a good scone.

Ellenbrae Station

Apparently they’ve attracted so many takers that they can hardly keep up with the demand.

The Outback is full of novelties. We found one in the car park at Ellenbrae – their public phone (and me in my ‘Steve Irwin’ get-up).

Ellenbrae Station

Ellenbrae Station

The mighty boab

One of the most iconic sights in the Kimberley has to be the boab tree. They’re in many (although not all) areas of the north-west – and only the north-west it seems – and look like nothing else. Aboriginal dreaming stories tell of a too-proud tree that was taught a lesson by being forced to grow with its roots up, and with many trees bare, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re dead. This is one of the biggest specimens we saw – more than ten metres in circumference.

Prison boab

But despite their looks, boabs are full of life. Their roots hold water and can be eaten, their barks are medicinal, and their nuts, although seemingly bland, are full of vitamin C. I don’t think the indigenous people of the north-west would ever suffer from scurvy!

Eating a boab fruit

Early on in the tour, we were introduced to the boab nut and had a go of eating it. They’re as dry as toast at first, but the longer you leave it in your mouth, the more flavoursome it becomes. The taste I think is a little bit like tamarind! It can even be incorporated into jams and chutneys. Perhaps this is another bush food that might take off?

Eating a boab fruit

Asakusa – Part 4

Let’s take a break for lunch at a soba noodle restaurant. They’re a common sight in this part of Tokyo – and given that the district has one of the most popular tourist attractions, and thousands of shops to boot, it’s the done thing too go sightseeing, shopping and then eat these noodles. This restaurant was literally 50 metres from our hotel, and has a very traditional entrance.

Asakusa

Soba noodles are made out of buckwheat and wheat flours, and has a delicate taste. The best ones are handmade, and having once tried my hand at making it, I know that it’s no easy thing to do.

Now we cook it

They can be eaten hot, in soup, or cold, dipped in a soy and mirin sauce. Ours was accompanied by diced raw tuna.

Asakusa food

A delicious, light lunch.

Morning Markets – Part 2

The Miyagawa markets are open every day. It’s mainly a produce market, but the permanent shops alongside it cater to tourists. It was rather quiet when we first arrived, probably because it was a little cold.

Around Takayama

The stall holders were well-prepared though. This lady selling assorted pickles was all kitted out with crocheted blankets, and I’m even guessing a mini heater too.

Around Takayama

There was plenty of autumnal fresh produce around – this stall sold different types of radish and other root vegetables.

Around Takayama

Being late autumn, we saw plenty of late harvest apples for sale. This variety is called Hida, after the region that Takayama is in. They are much larger than the apples seen in Australia – some were the size of a lawn bowls ball, and so were priced accordingly.

Around Takayama

The Tomato Lady even wore her special hat. Given how cold it was, I’m guessing that these were grown in poly tunnels or green houses.

Around Takayama

Around Takayama

Morning Markets – Part 1

The next morning Obaasan greeted us with a hearty (but not excessive) breakfast in our room – after the bedding was put away, of course.

Sumiyoshi

Then it was off to explore Takayama proper. First up was a visit to the Miyagawa morning markets across the river.

Sumiyoshi

Around Takayama

Around Takayama

The river was running fast, and the ‘koi’ (or Japanese carp) were feasting on whatever morsels they could find.

Around Takayama

Around Takayama

The temperature was around freezing that morning – so different from the last time I visited nine years before when the weather was much milder.

Feeding the carp

An Antique Inn

We arrived at Takayama at the end of a long day, hungry and a bit cold – the temperature was near freezing up in the mountains. So we were glad to stay at Sumiyoshi, an ‘Antique Inn’.

Sumiyoshi

Sumiyoshi

It’s a ryokan set up in an old house, run by one family (grandparents, parents, children) with quaint rooms, plenty of antiques, and most importantly, good old hospitality.

Sumiyoshi

Our main host was the grandmother (or obaasan, as the Japanese call their grannies), and she was a hoot. Outgoing, very friendly and jokey, she was bounding up steep stairs with our dinner, which was very homely and welcome after all the more high-end eating we’d done.

A few little appetisers – some sashimi, tofu prepared in various ways, and assorted pickles.

Sumiyoshi

Fish and scallop cooked in butter.

Sumiyoshi

Tempura vegetables with a wedge of ponzu.

Sumiyoshi

And last but not least shabu-shabu hotpot featuring local beef.

Sumiyoshi

A perfect meal to end a winter’s day.

Sights of Kawaguchiko – Part 2

Kawaguchiko is a tourist town through and through. There were plenty of large hotels by the lake trying to cash in on Fujisan.

Kawaguchiko sights

The town had a few quirky sights, like this sculpture.

Kawaguchiko sights

We found that the Japanese really appreciated geology. Unlike in Sydney where you’re lucky to find a mineral shop or museum in the entire city, there were little shops and museums everywhere. This museum had an extensive and impressive collection.

Kawaguchiko sights

And what is a town without a big event – like a marathon right in front of our hotel.

Kawaguchiko sights

But I think the meals, and its setting was a bit of a tourist attraction in itself. This was our dining room at the hotel.

Kawaguchiko sights

Our dinners.

Kawaguchiko sights

Kawaguchiko sights

And breakfast!

Kawaguchiko sights

In between, we just had enough room for a simple bowl of ramen.

Kawaguchiko sights

The marathon began on the morning of our departure, and we struggled against the tide of thousands of eager runners to reach the train station. No rest for us though, we had another train to catch.

Onsen Food

Breakfast at the onsen ryokan was appropriately lavish. This is Japanese rice porridge with many, many accompaniments.

Hanafubuki

And dinner was once again kaiseki style.

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

The dinners here were definitely the best we had in Japan. They utilised plenty of local seasonal produce, and being by the sea, it included plenty of seafood.

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

So very refined. There was also plenty of ingredients from the land too.

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

And of course, there were some intricate desserts too.

Hanafubuki

Hanafubuki

We were really happy after all that food! And a few kilos heavier too. Perhaps it was time for some exercise?

More Kyoto Feeds

Eating in Kyoto, of course, was more than just kaiseki meals. We ate much simpler meals too.

At a cafe around the corner we ate this meal of ‘yasai kare setto’ – Japanese vege curry set meal with the curry, rice, salad and miso soup.

Yasai Kare Setto

Down the road at a little izayaka (the Japanese version of a pub), the BBQ was going full-tilt, churning out all sorts of grilled things on sticks to have with our beer.

Izakaya Food

Izakaya Food

Izakaya Food

The restaurants often specialise in one type of food or ingredient. One night, we ate at a restaurant that was all about chicken.

Chicken Yakitori Banquet

Chicken Yakitori Banquet

Chicken Yakitori Banquet

Chicken Yakitori Banquet

Chicken Yakitori Banquet

One thing is certain, you’re never short of interesting eating options in Kyoto.

Time for a rest and a feed – Kyoto style

After all that sightseeing in Kyoto, it’s time for a rest, don’t you think? Time to check in.

Ryokan Tazuru

Tazuru is a modern ryokan – a hotel with Japanese-style rooms, o furo (bathroom), with breakfast, and even a kaiseki dinner. During the day, the room is the living area.

Ryokan Tazuru

We ordered dinner on the first night, and it was a dinner that was kaiseki style – multi-course, refined meal with dishes that are highly seasonal.

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

I must say that this was a huge step above the food we’d eaten previously that we’d considered to be Japanese, in terms of taste and technique.

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

There were familiar dishes.

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

And then rather more unfamiliar ones.

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

The rice was served as its own course with accompaniments.

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

Eight courses later, we reached dessert!

Ryokan Tazuru Kaiseki

After dinner, our room had been reconfigured to sleeping mode. It was comfortable, although Hubby was complaining that his knees couldn’t take getting off the floor all the time. Hmm, perhaps time for yoga?

Ryokan Tazuru

And in the morning, we were greeted with a very hearty breakfast of rice, fish, miso soup, omelette, among other things. That should get us through until the following dinner!

Ryokan Tazuru Breakfast