Hello Tastebuds My Old Friend...
Posted on 2006/05/14 13:58:06 (May 2006).
[Sunday 14th May]
Whilst Japanese food does have its highlights, the limited scope for vegetarians means that for me at least, living in Japan is hardly the culinary thrill ride that other people seem to find it.
This weekend, however, I have really felt like my tastebuds have been switched back on again, after a long period of disuse. This was largely due to George's visit - and the truly fantastic presents he bought with him from England. It was late on Friday night (or early Saturday morning really) that the "reawakening" began - after returning from an evening out, we sat in my lounge drinking the tremendous Talisker 18 Year Old and eating this truly excellent Islay Cheddar - both gifts which George had brought with him.
The next day I thought it might just be the effects of the alcohol (or simply that I hadn't had any decent cheese for a while) that had made the Islay Cheddar seem so out of this world. So Saturday night, entirely sober, I nibbled at it a bit more, and it was still utterly fantastic.
Today included more culinary treats, which I feel I've been deprived of for some time. Recently I've really struggled to find a decent espresso (partly because all I ever seem to see is Satrbuck's), so in the afternoon we popped into a Segafredo cafe. OK, it's probably not the world's greatest coffee, but the significant difference in taste between this and that Starbuck's shite I have recently grown accustomed to was a real eye opener.
Dinner was another culinary adventure - the heavenly Cheddar came out once again to make some rather superb macaroni cheese. It's a dish I make quite often in Japan as a kind of comfort food I suppose. I had got used to making it with the sort of bland crappy cheese you can buy here - it was almost a shock today when the cheese sauce actually tasted of something. In fact, it didn't just taste of something, it tasted absolutely bloody fantastic. It was so good I was getting quite teary.
I also made up a dish on the spot to go with it - a sort of Mediterranean stew - a tomatoey affair with olives, capers and "Fagioli Borlotti". Although I say so myself, this was rather good too.
British food may be the butt of all the world's culinary jokes, but as far as I'm concerned it just doesn't get any better than a hunk of crusty English bread, a lump of really decent cheddar, and a glass of fine malt whisky.
i don't know quite why, but the way you describe nibblling at the Islay cheese I had an image from the film "the great escape" where donald pleasance is eeking out the last few cups of tea from old tea leaves! So now i can picture you sitting at a table in your flat with a cheese knife, slicing wafer thin cheese bits and savouring each piece, carefully re-wrapping the remaining cheesy-gold. I fear however, your Islay cheese will soon be all scoffed up. Can you buy it mailorder?
Posted by kev at 2006/05/14 15:09:09.
Yep you can buy it mail order, but the P&P is 500 quid (i.e. the price of a flight from the UK to Japan).
Posted by John at 2006/05/14 15:27:13.
Note to Self: if you are going to make stupid suggestions like "buy mailorder cheese from Japan", always have a plan B : http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/cheeserecipes.htm
Posted by kev at 2006/05/14 17:17:26.
John, I don't like spirits. Probably because I've never had a chance to taste a good brand. But I'm confident you would convert me. Your pictures are most convincing...!
Posted by Sheri at 2006/05/14 20:13:40.
Ciao John, I am sure that in Toyko you can find some speciality store that sells the proper stuff, I remember we had one in Kanagawa ken (quite far from the center)... Once again we were sloppy, you could have told your mother to prepare a comfort box for me to bring you!!! We didn't think about it!! CRAP! Next time we should do it, I have space in the suitcase...
Posted by Lox at 2006/05/15 01:41:31.
Lox: proper stuff...?
If you mean whisky, then you can get a fairly decent selection here if you're prepared to hunt around, although I have yet to find any really great "all under one roof" shops - typically most shops have a selection of standard bottles, then just one or two interesting and unusual ones.
If you're talking about cheese though, then I'm afraid there's no chance. We've been to so many delicatessens and foreign food shops now, and there just simply isn't decent cheddar available in Japan. It's a fact!
Posted by John at 2006/05/15 06:01:39.
In a way I almost don't want to find really good cheese in Japan - it's almost comforting in a way to have something I know we do so much better back in Europe.
Posted by John at 2006/05/15 06:02:57.
They don't even know wht Cheese is meant to be, but it's understandable it'not part of their culture... Still I think you can find decent chees in Japan, it might be hard but there must be!
Posted by Lox at 2006/05/15 24:30:56.
No you can't!
There is NO decent cheese in Japan!
None I tell you, none!
Posted by John at 2006/05/15 13:01:50.
That really is a no...!
Posted by Sheri at 2006/05/17 17:59:17.