Kirk and Cathy have real jobs, and today they're either working on them or relaxing. So this mmm-yoso!!! blogpost, about a day trip to the Oregon coast, is by Ed (from Oregon originally).
During the middle of October, Tina and I spent more than a week in Northwestern Oregon (including PDX). Tina, who owns a real camera, brought it along, so most of the good pics in my Oregon posts will come from her, especially the outdoor shots – all I can photograph is food, it seems.
As well as getting together with relatives and friends in the area, some days we were on our own. When we woke up in Hillsboro Oregon on Monday morning, even the Hampton Inn parking lot was beautiful in the fog:
Soon we left the fog behind as we headed west on Highway 26, enjoying the colors of the season:
Though the fog was still visible in the distance when we stopped at a viewpoint in the coastal range:
In less than an hour and a half, we arrived at Cannon Beach, just south of the intersection of 26 with Highway 101, famous for its large beach and iconic Haystack Rock:
Our friend, part-time Oregon resident, gourmet cook and witty blogger, Joanie, texted Tina and said we had to eat at the Wayfarer:
The dining space was attractive and the windows looked out at the beach and Haystack Rock – look real carefully out the window:
Wanting to drink local, Tina and I had a glass of Archery Summit Pinot Gris and one of Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay:
Both were good, but the Chardonnay amazed me since most Oregon Chardonnays that I drank way back when seemed thin and acidic. This one was a classic refined focused Chardonnay.
The lunch itself started with some tasty warm bread and attractive chilled butter:
We were on the coast, so a cup of clam chowder was necessary:
Quite impressive. Full of tender pieces of clam and bits of potato, covered with a luscious, rich, creamy, savory broth. A classic version of the soup.
Joanie had advised Tina to have the Dungeness crab sandwich with garlic fries, so that's what she ordered. The garlic fries came with ketchup and a tangy aioli, and they were crispy and reasonably garlicky:
On first inspection, the sandwich looked like mostly baguette and melted cheese:
But it was packed full of flavorful moist Dungeness crab:
I chose a different local favorite, razor clams:
This variety of bivalve got its common name because it looked like the old school straight razor case into which the sharp blade was folded when not in use – kind of like an elongated sunglasses case. Nowadays the razor clams on beaches in Oregon and Washington cannot be commercially harvested so the pan fried clams on my plate, flavorful, a little crunchy, and tender chewy, probably came from Alaska. Still, a real treat for me.
I also loved the sides. The jalapeño jelly was sweet and tasty with the clams, but I preferred the old school dill flavored tartar sauce. The herbed rice contained a lot of wild rice as well as perfectly al dente green and yellow split peas. Nice flavor/texture combo. The fresh green beans, toothsomely prepared, were lightly flecked with garlic.
A very pleasing lunch. Thanks for the tip, Joanie!
After we paid our tab,:
we strolled down to the beach past one of the ubiquitous tsunami warning signs. Every time I see one, I think, "I'm betting on the wave.":
The road south from Cannon beach is often quite striking and occasionally sublime. For a while, it clings to the side of Neahkahnie Mountain hundreds of feet above the Pacific:
Then it comes back down close to sea level and sloughs and estuaries appear:
Here's Tillamook Bay, the picture taken from close to Garibaldi:
The road back to Portland area from Tillamook is easy driving and about as quick as the trip out on Highway 26. Nonetheless, after a day driving around, Tina and I decided to have a simple meal in Hillsboro.
We were staying in Hillsboro for a few days because of its proximity to friends and relatives, the Oregon wine country, and the coast, but most people who live in the area are connected to the tech industry, particularly Intel. So we figured there had to be a decent Indian restaurant nearby. A brief search on Tina's iPad led us to Urban Masala, which had just opened a couple of months earlier:
We enjoyed the Indian music in the background, but the decor and ambience were otherwise unremarkable:
The food, however, was pretty good, beginning with the complimentary papadum:
The chana masala was simple, spicy, and pretty straightforward:
The baigan bharta was far better than my photo of it:
The impressive khoormani ghosht, apricot lamb, showed off the tender gamy lamb with the sweetness of the fruit and abundant spice:
Equally outstanding was the wonderful garlic naan:
Light, puffy, crunchy flatbread, hot from the oven, as good as I've ever had.
Dinner tab less than half of lunch:
All in all, it was a good day. Gorgeous weather and scenery. Good food. Tina. Can't really ask for more.
mmm- yoso!!! is a food blog. Today, Cathy is writing a blog post so that Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) can relax and enjoy more of this beautiful, cool weekend.
It's that time of year again; The Mister celebrated his birthday and mine was a week later. We go out to eat every day in between and therefore I have quite a few meals to share with you.
Today's post is from a 'my choice' day. The Mister didn't know where I was driving nor what to expect, as is common during our birthday week...we only discuss sharing items when ordering but not restaurant choices.From across the street, I was happy to see the two tables in front of Corner Liquor (which is near but not *on* the South East corner of Adams at Felton) were empty. Those two tables and six chairs are the only seating available.
Alaskan Seafood Connection has shared a space within Corner Liquor since 2013. Seeing an up close of the sandwich board with the current menu should make it clearer to you as to why I chose Alaskan Seafood Connection for my special lunch. Here's a peek inside the door. The menu is repeated on the counter.Walk to the far end of the counter to place your order and pay. You can also purchase refrigerated and frozen seafood items from the cases on this side. You place your order and pay...and will be told how long the wait will be.
The back and other side of the space (not photographed) is the beverage/liquor store and its cash register is just across from this one. (You know, in case you want a beverage with your meal). Our 'appetizer' choice: 'Steamed P.E. Mussels' ($5.99). 'P.E.' is an abbreviation for Prince Edward Island Mussels, a sustainable seafood item. These small yet meaty mussels were simply steamed and served with a garlic butter. There were about two dozen in this serving (usually we count, but we didn't this time). We ended up tearing off some bread to eat the mussels and butter from the below item-The Lobster Roll ($12.99). Fresh Maine lobster broken into chunks and mixed simply with mayonnaise, salt and pepper...served on a lightly toasted roll with some lettuce and sweet pickles. There was a lot of lobster meat in this sandwich. The simple preparation made the sweet meatiness of the fresh cooked lobster shine through.Deciding on a fried item was easy for us; the Fried Scallop Platter ($9.99) included french fries and cole slaw...more to share. The sweet Bay scallops were breaded and fried to perfection (as were the potatoes). The slaw was refreshing and simply sauced.
There are condiments on the counter if needed, but all of the items are just right, to my taste.
All in all, a tasty, fresh and fun birthday lunch. From a kitchen inside a Liquor Store.
I hope you'll have a good week!
Alaskan Seafood Connection 3355 Adams Ave San Diego 92116 (619)281-3089
Closed Monday Open Tues-Fri 11:30-3:30 and 5-10 Sat 12-10:30, Sun 12-8This is the view from the table, in case you don't want to look for addresses or cross streets.
mmm-yoso!!! is a food and travel blog centered in San Diego. Most often Kirk posts here, and Cathy also posts alot, but since they are busy with other things, today you get to read something by Ed (from Yuma) who wants to let you know that he borrowed some of the photos from Tina.
The day before attending her family's annual cookout in Cotati, Tina and I found ourselves in the center of the old town of Sonoma, California. Some buildings date from Mexican colonial times:
That one reminds me of several structures in Monterey, a city that also preserves a lot of mid-19th century buildings.
From a different era, here's the old theater from 1933 which has a strangely familiar name:
And in the middle of this district of historic buildings, shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants is a beautiful park, Sonoma Plaza, including a nice fountain:
Lots of shady places to sit and picnic on a warm summer afternoon:
But we were hungry when we got to town, so our first goal was to find La Salette, a restaurant specializing in modern Portuguese cuisine. It's kind of hidden at the end of the walkway at 452 1st St. East:
Though there was a nice indoor area, we opted for one of the outdoor tables under an umbrella on the patio:
Soon we were given two elegant little glasses that held perfectly clear tomato water, lightly accented with the smoky touch of ham. A drop of extra-virgin olive oil lay on the top and a small cube of ham and a couple of corn kernels rested at the bottom:
Looks like grappa, but it tastes like the essence of a garden ripe tomato. A true amuse bouche, a fantastic start to the meal.
We soon received lightly crusted bread rolls that had a nice firm soft crumb, whipped butter, and a bottle of Pellegrino:
For our first course we chose three items from the Tasca tasting plates list, all served on a wooden cutting board. This photo shows off the tremoco-lupini beans, the slices of Serrano ham, and the rustic nutbread:
The ham was disappointingly ordinary and maybe a little dried out, but the beans were perfectly prepared, al dente – firm with a distinctive mouth feel.
This pic gives a close-up of the boquerones (white anchovies) and the almonds dusted with spicy piri piri:
The almonds were fine, but the white anchovies were the highlight on the board– concentrated ocean fish flavor with a rich creamy texture.
The gazpacho came next:
In contrast to standard California gazpachos, usually a seasoned fresh tomato vegetable purée, the kitchen at La Salette roasted tomatoes and vegetables in their wood oven before puréeing, giving their cold soup a smooth and lightly smoky sophistication.
To accompany our meals, Tina and I each had a flight of three Portuguese white wines, partly because we thought they would match the cuisine but also because we are largely unfamiliar with the white wines of Portugal:
The lightest, and most common in the US, is the fresh tasting vinho verde (on the left). In the middle is a Pomares from the Duoro Valley, a little richer with a nice floral nose. And on the right was the full flavored Esporao Reserva from Alentejo, having a higher alcohol level and a long smooth finish. In general, the wines complemented the food, and it was interesting to compare different wines with different dishes.
Our main courses were the highlights of the meal. Tina chose Sardinhas Asadas, Monterey Bay sardines flash baked in their wood oven. Each of the fish was nearly the size of a small trout, and they were lying crossways across a mound of very tasty warm sweet onion cebolada:
The preparation was remarkable. The fish were fully cooked, yet incredibly moist and flaky tender, sliding easily off the bones. Simple and exquisite, these little fish were also accompanied by a couple slices of hard-boiled egg, roasted black olives, and micro greens:
I opted for the wild caught Bluenose Sea Bass Filet lightly breaded and served on a bed of collard greens and roasted yellow corn:
The fish was excellent – fresh and perfectly cooked, and I was blown away by the collards and corn. The greens were cooked to tender crunchy and had a light touch of bitterness that balanced perfectly the roasted sweet flavor of the corn. The mouth feel of the vegetables also balanced and contrasted with the sea bass, just as the colors on the plate contrasted/balanced each other and made the dish visually appealing as well.
We came, we saw, and we ate:
The meal ended with two little balls covered with toasted coconut. It was certainly enough dessert:
We left La Salette feeling happy – and that wasn't just because of the wine. Considering the quality of the food, the excellence of the service, the tastiness of the wines, and the relaxed ambiance of the location, the price tag seemed quite reasonable:
Speaking of wines, our visit to the town of Sonoma concluded with a stop at Walt Winery:
Owned by the Hall family of Napa Valley, Walt specializes in Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs grown in cool coastal influenced vineyards in California and Oregon.
Tastings are done at tables, not standing at a bar, which allowed Tina and I to talk about the wines, our plans for the rest of the day, and anything else. That day the tastings were $30 apiece and included six different wines. First came generous pours of two Chardonnays, one a single vineyard Dutton Ranch Chardonnay and one blended from several Sonoma Vineyards. Notice also the excellent stemware:
The four Pinot Noirs were likewise served two at a time, allowing Tina and I to try one and then the other and notice their similarities and differences. We enjoyed all of the wines. Here is the tasting menu at the time of our visit:
We sat around Walt slowly sipping and then walked around the Plaza for a considerable time, really enjoying Sonoma and the warm afternoon and our leisurely pace. Contentment.
There seems to be a little revolution going on in LA and the OC.....poke, something I've eaten....well, being born and raised in Hawaii, basically all of my life has really gained a foot hold. Places like Poke District, North Shore Poke Company, Pokinometry, and of course Costco and Whole Foods, plus erstwhile food bloggers like Elmomonster, means that it's getting full coverage in the OC. It was only a matter of time until a shop specializing in poke opened here.......so, I wasn't surprised to read about one opening in Eater...though I'm not sure Hillcrest is the best location for it. Still, I was intrigued, so I headed up to Hillcrest to try out Poke Go.
Upon entering and seeing the owner; well, I cracked up. It was the guy who used to own Convoy Sushi and Fish Market, Moby Dick Fish Market & Grill, Ocean Harvest Seafood, etc....etc.... He does love creating new restaurants. The "concept" as he calls it, is quite simple, poke "bowls", called "platters" here, Korean influenced rice based dishes, as a quick stop is the objective. Select your fish, Ahi or Salmon (have you ever seen me eat salmon poke?), Rice (White or Brown) or Salad, and then your "spice" (aka da' sauce or seasoning), finally a "side" completes your "platter".
Of course, I went with the "Shoyu Hawaiian" style Ahi on White Rice with Mac (here called Tartar Macaroni) Salad. The menu price for this is $8.99, but during the grand opening period it's $7.99. So here's what I got.....
The first thought that entered my mind when I opened the cardboard carton was "wea's da fish"? This looked like a glorified seaweed salad with a few cubes of fish in it. There seemed to be maybe two ounces of fish in this thing. For the price, I didn't expect anything near, say what I make at home, or even what I make for the Missus. But it was decent, if not great quality fish. What I managed to pull out of the seaweed salad was on the bland side, nowhere near what anything in the islands is like. The sesame oil flavor permeated everything.
The "Tartar Macaroni" was terribly dry and not dressed enough as well.
I did return and to try the version with Kimchi sauce....."extra spicy" they said.
I will say that there was much more fish in this one. Plus, I really enjoyed (gasp) the brown rice; nice and nutty and it went well with the furikake. The fish was on the dry side and fairly bland as before; not too much "suji" (connective tissue), but still kind of chewy. It wasn't very spicy at all. There was kimchi at the bottom of the fish.....which looked like a lot; but one bite in and it was quite apparent that this was perhaps just a bit more than what I had previously.
I will say that the portion of "Kanikama" (surimi) was quite large, but I'd have appreciated a bit more effort in flavoring. I got full on that alone.
So here's what I think. If you don't mind getting full on rice, salad, and seaweed salad, with a few ounces of fish...then this will work for you. I'd gladly take it in place of a fastfood lunch. While this stuff would never fly back home. I've definitively had worse here in San Diego.
As to whether it's Poke "no" or Poke Go....well, you'll have to make up your mind yourself.
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! on this warm summer day. Kirk is (again) busy with work, errands and stuff while Ed(from Yuma) is (still) busy being retired and exploring Yuma and other places while enjoying life. Cathy is (once more) writing a post.
One day not long ago, The Mister and I were driving down University Avenue and noticed this signage, located in between Tu Thanh which Kirk has posted about twice now.The business on the other side used to be (another) Ali Baba, but now is City Heights Cafe.The menu is pretty much standard. There is a sign in the window for churros with cajeta (caramel made with goat milk) for $1.25 as well as large plantains for $1.50 with but those are fried and aren't being made in the these days of heat. The glass case you see in the above photo shows some of the Thrifty brand ice cream flavors available.The wall opposite has photos of some of the menu items.The glassed in refrigerator displays most of the fresh fruit available that day.One day I was craving a coctele and ordered the shrimp version ($7.75). Only one size and this was plenty. The large shrimp are cooked in the lime/tomato juice to which is added cucumber, onion, cilantro and slices of avocado. There were at least 12 (and I think 15) large shrimp in this cocktail, which was more than enough.Another version of chamango (small, $4) was tried here. Since mangos are in season and available fresh (instead of being frozen), the drink wasn't as cold or icy, it was merely tasty and wonderful.One other visit had me craving the shrimp again, so I ordered a tosti-ceviche ($4.50). It was a great ceviche (again with large shrimp) on top of spicy lime Tostitos (which are only sold in Mexico). It is $2 more than a plain tostada and the melding of flavors is good/unique, but I can now go on with my life and order a regular ceviche tostada next time.Pretty much any visit to a Fruiteria includes a fruit salad (small, $4.25) and our visits here are no exception. Papaya, banana, mango, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries and apples along with cottage cheese, granola and honey made this hearty meal a good (and refreshing) choice.The tortas here are wonderful. The fresh bread and plenty of quality ingredients have simple sandwiches being a fancy meal for us to share. Above, a Lomo torta($5.25). Plenty of beef tenderloin, a thin layer of good beans and cheese, Romaine and avocado on the fresh, toasted torta bread. It's great.Then there's the ice creams. Usually we share a two scoop cup ($1.25) but one day, The Mister thought we should share a banana split ($3.95). Who am I to argue. Best part, you choose the ice cream flavors and don't need any sauce to disturb those flavors. Our usual ice cream choices: pistachio, butter pecan and cherry. A perfect snack on these hot days.
I hope your week is going well!
Mucha Fruta 4804 University Avenue (Between Estrella and 48th) San Diego 92105 (619) 282-0282 open 8-8 Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat and 8-7 on Wednesday, 9-7 on Sunday
Go ahead, click on it; the photo will go upright. I still don't know what I've done to make my camera phone go goofy.
This past weekend, I found that I had completed most of my "honey-do" list quite early. I decided to head down to CV for some tacos. I dropped by my favorite loncheras, but found that all of them were quite crowded. Driving on Broadway, I noticed a familiar name:
You might recall my post on the Mariscos Tijuana Jr truck last year. I wondered if this was the same folks? This is the old location of Don Rafa, which has since moved. So I parked and walked on in. I was greeted by a very cheerful young man and a young lady. I was asked if I'd be eating in or taking out....they also apologized for not having any English menus. Really nice folks.
I told them not to worry, I'd do fine with the menus. I asked them if this was the same Tijuana Jr that had the lonchera....he smiled and said "yes.......we sold the truck and opened this place because we want more families..." He pointed outside to the Bounce House with kids having a great time. "You see......we like that noise!"
In a moment some chips (routine) and salsas made its way to my table.
I placed my order and the young man asked me if I wanted some "soup". "You mean consommé?" "Yes..." "Of course!" The soup was on the mild side, but super scalding hot.
I'd ordered tres tacos. A Pescado (fish) - the version at the TJ Jr truck was good, so I wanted to see how it was in current state. A "marlin" smoked fish, and a Gobernador.
When the tacos arrived; the first thing I noticed was that the tortillas seemed different since my previous visit. These were much more fragrant and more hardy.
The fish taco was every bit as good as what I had at the truck. Shiny, crisp, lacquer batter....with even more fish than before. It was good with the lighter, almost thousand island dressing like salsa.
The tacos de marlin was interesting. I tasted the fish alone and it was really salty and fishy. Strangely, when I ate the taco, it just fit in nicely. Somehow the sodium had been balanced out and the fishiness had been over ruled by the pic de gallo, cabbage, and salsa.
The gobernador was better than what I had at the truck, though it's still not among my favorites. Though the tortilla held up nicely and the shrimp were cooked well; it just didn't have enough flavor or onions for me. Still, it's not bad at all.
As I got up to pay my check, and older woman came on over to me and asked me, "Please have some dessert....it's free......flan, cheesecake?" She was so sweet. Though I declined saying that I had more than enough to eat. This is a great indication of the folks here....really friendly and helpful. Now I have an option when all my favorite mariscos trucks are too busy.....or even when they're not.
Tijuana JR Tacos y Cockteles 631 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91910
While planning our time in Malta, I thought a side trip to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. The village of 3500 is well known for their Sunday Market, so I thought instead of heading here for a day excursion, why not spend two nights in a sleepy fishing village? It seemed like a nice way to break up our stay on the island. So we took our time; had a morning espresso and spent most of the morning walking around Valletta.
At about 10 we caught our bus right outside the gates of Valletta. 40 minutes later we were getting off our bus in Marsaxlokk. It was overcast and rainy on this morning and walking along the waterfront, we had no idea where our hotel was......
So we stopped at one of the cafes and asked. As is the norm with places like this; the folks were really nice and the gentleman actually walked us to the hotel, which was tucked away on a side street near the end of the harbor close to the transition to an industrial area.
Our room was ready and waiting for us so we got an early check in, freshened up, then headed off to lunch. It was drizzling off and on, so I decided on just going to one of the most well known seafood restaurants in the village; Ir Rizzu.
As it was noon, the place had just opened.
The dining area is quite large....the service fine, mostly young kids, so it was kind of well, like a place where young kids are serving you......kind of uneven, though they did try.
Things started off with a gratis appetizer. I recognized the "bigilla", basically mashed beans....doesn't it look like something you'd get at a Mexican Restaurant? I did like the "ful-bit-tewm", the white beans with garlic.
There's something about the bread on Malta that I really like. This wasn't as yeasty, nor did it have the wonderful texture of what we had the night before at Il Horza, but we still enjoyed it.
We also went with a bottle of a local white from Pjazza Regina winery. A combination of three grapes, it was nice, light, refreshing, and went relatively well with the seafood.
As is the norm for us; we went with a meal of appetizers; starting with the classic Maltese Fish Soup; Aljotta.
This was like a very fishy bouillabaisse and not my favorite thing in the world. Salty and not enough acid to take the edge off for me.
The Octopus was a workman-like effort.
A bit tougher than I prefer, but the flavors were nice....great salt-herbs.
The mussels were quite large, though still moist. They hadn't cooked it to death.
Simple was probably the prudent thing to do with this. Not bad.
The best item were the "Mediterranean King Prawns". Again, nice and simple, cooked to perfection.
Wonderful flavor, nice and sweet, the Missus loved those heads!
Overall, this was a decent meal. Nothing fancy by any means, but simple, and a nice way to start our stay in Marsaxlokk.
Aqui Es Texcoco 1043 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91911
Oscar's Mexican Seafood (Hillcrest):
Was in the area after a meeting finished early, so I thought I'd drop by for a revisit. The Taco de Marlyn (Smoked fish taco) was actually better than before, though the flavor was still too mild and that tortilla wasn't very good.
The fried shrimp in the Fried Shrimp Taco was greasy and the batter started falling off and got gummy quickly.....and the tortilla also failed fast.
There's much better down south, but this is pretty much the only show in town.
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood 646 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Sieu Sieu BBQ:
Another place I haven't been to in a while. Is it just me or has Sieu Sieu aged faster than a second term President? The place is looking pretty beat.
That I think that the Chinese BBQ here is better than Sam Woo should provide me some consolation.....I guess. That rice was horrible by the way.
Sieu Sieu BBQ 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
I noticed a "new" Mariscos Truck while driving down Convoy two weeks ago name El Puerto. I felt it was a bit too cold for tacos at that time, but what a difference a week makes. Looks like winter has made its way out of San Diego. Bright and sunny days are perfect for "lonchera lunching".....
So I parked the car.....the truck is located in the small space between Convoy Liquors (4383 Convoy Street) and Wienerschnitzel (4393 Convoy St)....you can't miss it. I walked up and took a look at the menu; much like Mariscos Nine Seas, things looked quite gringo friendly, which sends off alarms bells. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Pretty straight forward stuff. I ordered a Fried Fish Taco ($1.50), A Fried Shrimp Taco ($2.50), and was overjoyed to see a Gobernador ($4.25) on the menu as well. It was a nice day, so I did as I would usually do....I ate on the hood of my car. Based on how things looked, I expected no consommé and got none.
The fish taco wasn't my favorite....a rather small piece of fish; the batter was on the greasy side and it did not hold up well. It was adequately moist, but tasted a bit more fishy than I like. The fried shrimp was the best of the bunch, the batter, while still on the greasy side held up well, the shrimp were mist and plump.
I've got to say, this was the strangest gobenador I've ever had, also the smallest. You can check out other versions on some of our older posts.
At least the tortillas....not great quality as they all fell apart, had a layer of melted cheese. Basically some stir fried shrimp and a few slices of green pepper (no onions, no tomatoes???) and a couple of slices of avocado. And here I thought the version at the Mariscos Tijuana Jr Truck was different.
The salsas were by the book, decent. The folks running the truck were very nice. Because my order was taking a bit long, they offered me my choice of beverage on the house.
Still, I'd rather drive down South for my Mariscos Fix.
Over the last couple of years, I've tried to plan something a bit "different" on our trips.....while it might not be different to the adventurous traveller, for basic folks, not on a tour, without a guide or handlers....well, it might be. When we visited Istanbul-Rhodes, we did a side trip to Symi. When in Tunisia, we travelled to Ksar Ghilane and slept in a tent in the Sahara, on our trip to Portugal and Rome, we visited Malta, on our trip earlier in the year, we took the train to Poperinge, then rented bikes to get to SAint Sixtus, in search of Westvleteren 12.....I know, there's a lot of catching up to do.
I knew there were places the Missus had always dreamed of visiting.....in some cases these places were just something from a photo She had seen. There was a classic photo of Japan......that looked something like this.
The "Floating Tori"........ So when making plans, between trips to Kyoto and Osaka, I made arrangements to stay over night on Miyajima. That way we'd be able to get past all the day trips. Luck was on our side as Typhoon Vongfong hit the night before we were set to leave.
And by the time we left, it was clear skies.....
Three people emailed me asking for photos of the Shinkansen......so here are a couple of the "Bullet Train" arriving at Kyoto Station.
Getting to Miyajima is a slam dunk....get to Hiroshima Station and change trains to Miyajimaguchi and catch the ferry. The only delay was when the train stopped for about 30 minutes midway. I'm thinking there were still some problems post-typhoon that were being taken care of.
The ferry takes about 10 minutes or so, and finding our hotel, which was right across the Ferry Terminal was a slam dunk. We dropped off our bags and headed off. What I didn't know was that we'd be so busy doing things we wouldn't return until nightfall!
What I really didn't anticipate were how, well, interestingly persistent these residents of the island were.
The deer here are quite, well, I'm not sure if "tame" is the right word. They are used to humans and will grab your bag or tear into your pockets looking for something to snack on. On the other hand, it was funny seeing kids tease the deer and then suddenly have the tables turned.....
There was, of course, one thing the Missus wanted to see. ....so we headed off ASAP. It wasn't hard finding the Floating Torii.
This torii is the gate to Itsukushima Shrine which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the daughters of the God of the Sea and Storms, Susanoo-no-Mikoto.
The island itself was considered sacred, so the shrine was built, out into the bay, so that pilgrims could visit without setting foot on, and defiling the island.
In fact, I've read that to this day, no deaths or births are allowed in proximity to the shrine and no burials are allowed on the island!
It seems that the island was simply created for one to marvel in the beauty of it.
It's obvious why Miyajima is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan.
Photogenic sites like the 5-Story Pagoda look really beautiful, but not so much close-up.
It's much better to take a photo like this.....
And while the waterfront and the main shopping arcade are busy and full of tourists. It seems like the back streets are not. Right down the back steps from the pagoda things looked like this.
We caught the scent of coffee and found a little shop, which we later found is pretty popular named Sarasvati and had a nice cup fo coffee.
The great smell of coffee......it seems that Japan does love coffee and takes it to the next level.
It was a nice break. We sat and put together a plan for the rest of the day....which seemed quite easy at the time.
Of ocurse, everything seems simple over a nice cup of iced and non-iced coffee.
We hadn't eaten since our "Vongfong snacks" the night before so getting a bite ot eat would be the first priority.
I had received a recommendation for Miyajima from a friend. Now the trick was finding the place......addresses on Miyajima, much like other places in Japan are kind of a mystery to me. Though in terms of being a trick, it wasn't nearly as amazing as what what that pooch was doing standing on the dude's shoulders! That is one talented and well trained dog.
Anyway, bolstered by our coffee we set off....trying to find our lunch destination. One really nice thing about Miyajima, and Japan as a whole, is people are so very helpful.
As we wandered the back streets, we'd ask people for directions and they were so helpful.
The place was actually located in the main shopping arcade, duh. Here's a photo of the front of shop later in the day.
When we arrived, there was a line outside the restaurant and that oyster grill was going full tilt. Unfortunately, there were only "tatami style seating available. So, there I was....when was the last time I sat this way? I could hear my joints, making a sound like twigs snapping in a windstorm as I tried to sit correctly. My left foot immediately fell asleep and I had the mental picture of trying to get up and falling over on another table and impaling myself on one of those little replicas of the Floating Torii that accompanied the raw oysters.
It was oyster season, so guess what we ordered......
The Nama-Gaki, oysters on the half-shell, really didn't make much of an impression.
While very meaty, they lacked any real, distinct flavor, that would make an imprint in my mind. Very mild, lacking in any great aftertaste, really not impressed. This would be great for the "oyster gringo", you know, the guy who hits the raw bar and says, "gimme the biggest oysters you got.....".
The anago really didn't impress me as well.
Things turned on the kaki-furai....the fried oysters seemed to highlite the best of the local bivalve.
My goodness, the initial crisp texture, followed by the meaty follow-up...something happens when you apply heat to these oysters; the briney-beefy flavor is magnified. This was quite delicious.
The crescendo peaked with the grilled oysters.....
The smoke from the grill just added an additional layer of flavor which took these meaty morsels to the next level. Now I understood what the deal was with Miyajima Oysters......
Life was good. I managed to get up after our meal without falling over onto another table.
The Missus had made Her plans for the day and now it was all about surviving it.
Yakigaki No Hayashi 505-1 Hatsukaichi Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan