Archive for March, 2008

I Baked Bread, So Don’t Break Up!

March 31, 2008


When the routine bites hard
/ And ambitions are low
And the resentment rides high
/ But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways/ Taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again
– Joy Division

Recently, a few of my closest friends have been going through devastating breakups- couples who have been together for 3 years, 5 years, 7 YEARS.

Why the sudden onslaught of break-ups? Let me tell you: it’s March.

March is a shameless adulteress who cheats on Winter with Spring. March makes promises of Spring, but refuses to abandon Winter entirely. This leaves people anxious, restless, sick of being housebound. While they wait around for warm weather, they begin pondering profound subjects such as their “lives”, “meaning”, and “existence”. The first thing to go is always the relationship.

Oh, I know all about the heartbreaks that March brings. Rewind to 2005. He threw an outrageous tantrum, paced back and forth in my living room for 2 hours, gave me back my keys, and slammed the front door. I watched the whole scene from the couch. Yes, it was a mess. Yes, we broke up- for real this time. Yes, it was in March.

Breaking up blows. Can I get an AMEN?

So to celebrate the final days of this miserable month, and to somehow spiritually reach out to all those in tragic break-up mode, I baked bread with Stacy and Amy this weekend. (Stacy just got married. Amy is a Serial Craig’s List Dater. I rush home on Friday nights to watch LOST by myself).

Can you imagine me, Kayoko– the clumsiest, most impatient anti-baker ever– baking bread? It’s unheard of, I know, but it was glorious!

Baking bread must be the most loving form of food creating- you must nurture it, let it grow, play with it, and keep a close eye on it, in order for it to reach its full potential. I LOVED this entire process- it is super easy, economical, and you feel like you are a part of a secret society (Amy: “People have been baking bread for thousands of years!”).

We baked three types of bread (links to recipes): the ever-magical “No-Knead Bread” from Bittman and the Sullivan Street Bakery, Focaccia from Delicious Days, and two loaves of Honey Wheat from All Recipes. You need to let the first two rise for at least 12 hours.

Here are the ingredients for all 3 recipes. This is it!Yeast before:
Yeast after- check out that head!:
Here is an easy to follow Bittman video for the No-Knead Bread that you should watch before starting. Bittman is the messiah.

Preparations for the No-Knead and focaccia:

19 hours later- It has RISEN! This is the No-Knead:

Throw No-Knead dough in a hot cast iron pot:
Almost there- about 40 minutes into it. We needed to constantly check on it:

It’s done! What a beauty- I would say that it took about 70 minutes for this to thoroughly finish. You need to keep tapping the top until you get a hollow sound at all angles. This was perfect- just shy of being burnt, golden crust, spongy inside- PERFECT:
Focaccia- also need to let this dough rise overnight. It didn’t rise as much as we wanted, but it was fine. We added roasted zucchini, peppers, and fresh rosemary on top. Genius! It was delicious:

Honey-wheat. This did not need to rise overnight. Next time, we will grease the measuring cup before pouring in the honey:

Kneading with love. Stacy said it felt like a baby. It did! Had this supple, bouncy flesh-like feel. This may have been the funnest part, the kneading, pulling and pounding. Tip: let dough rise in warmer-than-room temperature, Amy said. So close the doors and windows.

This recipe makes so much dough!
Buttering the top:
Almost done:
I had to leave before the honey-wheat came out, which was sad. But Stacy sent me these pictures. Look at these- they could be entered into pageants!
We all agreed that the No-Knead loaf was better than anything you could buy in the city (I’m sorry, but I shouldn’t have to trek into Soho for a baguette from Balthazar). As Amy said, it was elastic, spongy. It had depth. The crust was perfectly done- crunchy, hard, but not burnt. Ideal sandwich bread.

The focaccia was also awesome- not too greasy, just nicely coated with olive oil. I highly recommend adding the peppers- it adds some acidity, which balances out the oil.

About the honey-wheat, Stacy said: “Texture is rich and soft. Sweet in the best way!!” Sorry to miss it.

Baking bread was actually one of my 2008 resolutions. It was one of those daunting tasks that I had been fearing- it seems like such a pain in the ass! But I’ve learned that all you need is a little bit of time, and willingness to nurture it for an afternoon. It’s that simple. You too can be a part of this secret society.

A word to the wise: next time you want to break-up with your partners, bake bread together. I think it might help. No talking, just kneading. Or No-Kneading. This should inevitably lead to hot, passionate sex on the kitchen floor. YESSS!

Starting tomorrow, break-ups should officially be put on hold until March 2009.

LOVE happenings to look forward to in April:
– Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights is released in the US
– After a 11 year “break-up”, Portishead’s new album Third officially comes out
– New episodes of LOST (Desmond and Penny!)
– Tulips! (my favorite, hint hint)
– My BIRTHDAY!!! Let’s all make out!

In 2 of the 5 above films, the doomed couples do not get back together in the end. The first three people to email me which films wins a prize! Email answers to umamimart@gmail.com

Film montage starting at top: © United Artists; © Focus Features; © Golden Harvest Co.; © New Line Cinema; © 20th Century Fox.

The Melting Pot

March 31, 2008


I was recently in the SF Bay Area and was very excited about a trip to The Melting Pot in Larkspur with my cousin Shannon. As fondue fanatics, we were fiercely let down.

We went at 6:30 on a Wednesday with 4 people. We were told they were fully booked and they said we’d have to eat at the bar. It was less than desirable to sit at the bar because there weren’t enough burners to keep our fondue melty. We were there for an hour and a half and there were 4 tables open behind us the entire time. Apparently tables were being held for “ladies night”. We only had one guy with us, my dad. Other groups of all ladies who arrived after us waited momentarily at the bar and were then seated.

The bread was dry and the service was bad (except for one very sweet and over worked bartender). I was so enraged at the whole experience that when I left, I told the hostess how I felt (and I usually don’t do that kind of stuff).

That said, the ambience was very cool- it was as if we were inside an old wine cave. Low lights, fun vibe. Our fondue was pretty good- just not hot enough due to the lack of burners. If only the bread hadn’t tasted 3 days old. I’ve only just now realized it’s a chain. Perhaps this explains things a little more. The Dark Choclate fondue wasn’t bad, but the dipping options could have been better, fresher. The fruit and cheesecake tasted like they were from Costco.

Not sure I’ll be back. It’s no Bougeouis Pig.



The Melting Pot
125 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Larkspur, CA
T: 415.461.6358

Dinner with Barack Obama

March 30, 2008

I am one foodie who loves Barack Obama, so I was excited to see that Gray’s Papaya endorsed him.


Jack, the biggest Obama supporter I know, enjoys a hot dog in front of Gray’s Papaya on the Upper West Side.

Watch this video to see how you can win dinner with Barack himself! I’ve just donated $5 on his website and am now eligible. You can be too! If you win, he’ll fly you in, put you up, and buy you dinner (something better that hotdogs, i’m sure).

Fridgin’ Out: The Work Fridge

March 28, 2008

This post is dedicated to MelRoach. We miss you!

The Work Fridge tends to be a little scary, no matter where you work. You may have the most respectable colleagues, toiling away in spotless, clutter-free work spaces, but when you look inside the Work Fridge, all hell breaks loose. If you work in an office, you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s take a look- continue reading at your own discretion. I hope this isn’t breaking any code of conduct labor laws. Photos taken by me, and Yamahomo’s iPhone. Yes, we work together. Yes, he’s just as outrageous in the work place.

FYI, there are about 70 people who work at our glorious non-profit cultural institution (read: we all MUST pack a lunch, because we cannot afford to go out).


They are actually pretty strict about the Friday by 5pm rule. Our guys will throw your shit out mercilessly if you don’t claim it.

Funny cartoon:
Freezer:
Lots of different types of tea. They say that the leaves stay fresher in the freezer. Has that been scientifically proven?

Frozen meals:
Ice cream:
Nuking fries is just plain wrong.
“I’ll have the alfalfa sprouts, and a plate of mashed yeast.”
– Alvie Singer, Annie Hall
Cold compress- inappropriate:
Fridge door:
I’m finding that the fridge door is the most fascinating place in the fridge. People really love their weirdo condiments!

The fridge:
So scared to look inside:
This is healthy and wallet-friendly: just buy ingredients for a salad and toss right before you eat it. Here we have romaine, feta, olives, and a tomato. SMART!
Yamahomo and I held our breath when opening this:
Yamahomo brought in this huge oversized container of homemade mango lassi. WHO IS THIS MAN???
Ronnybrook Farm Milk. The farm sells their dairy products out at the farmer’s market every Wednesday, and so there are lots of their products in the Work Fridge. They make the best milk chocolate ever.

Everyone is always dieting!!!
A compact lunch neatly packed in a ziploc bag.

One of those “designer” lunch bags. A bit over the top. I think it’s really great to pack a lunch for work, but am not into these “lunch purses” that I see ladies holding on the train.
Ok, this is my lunch. Kinda cute right? Japanese people wrap their lunch boxes in handkerchiefs. It’s really weird.
Back of the fridge- NO MAN’S LAND.

Some other scary products you know have been in here for god knows how long.
The veggie box- not bad.

Butter box- individual things of grape jelly. Jam companies need to stop making this shit. WHO likes grape jelly???

By far the nastiest thing we found in the fridge- fucking mayo that expired back in July 2006. I swear this was here when I started in 2005. NASTY!!!
The Work Fridge also creates heated feuds over email throughout the organization. Here’s an example:

Mary: “Dear all, I found my leftovers in the trash today. Please be respectful of your colleagues, and do not randomly throw out things in the communal refrigerator.”
John: “Well, did it have your name on it?”
Mary: “Yes it did. They were leftovers from yesterday and I was going to eat it today.”
Henry: “Mary, let this be a lesson, and just eat your entire lunch next time.”
Mary: “Henry, that is disrespectful. I am reporting you to HR.”

*What’s in your fridge? Email photos to umamimart@gmail.com

umamichatter: Waverly Inn (NYC)

March 27, 2008

*umamichatter is a new column where I chat online with people about their food adventures. Chats may be edited down to make shorter, but will never be added upon or manipulated in a way that makes a more positive or negative review. Please expect stream-of-consciousness bitching, complaining and other random mumblings.


My dear friend Matt wrangled himself into Waverly Inn the other night. WI is a super exclusive celebrity hang out in the West Village, opened last year to a lot of buzz by Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair. This place is no joke: a secret reservation line, Madonna and Kate Moss sightings in one night, camera-toting paparazzi outside, and $85 mac & cheese.

Here’s what Matt thought about the place. This was a work dinner, and the bill for three people was $700, after tip.


12:30 AM matt: yeah, not that coolme: to be expectedmatt: they were playing tom waits when i got in, and i was like, wow, gonna be cool

and then i turned around and there was this girl that looked exactly like kristen davis
12:32 AM and i was like, this is awesome bc charlotte is here
but then i looked again and it wasnt her
and then there were no more famous people
me: ha
charlotte!
12:33 AM matt: it was also pretty empty
the paparazzi outside said mcdreamy was supposed to be there
but i dont even know who he is
me: from grey’s anatomy
12:35 AM matt: yeah, i wouldnt know him if i saw him
it was also pretty emptyi will say, i had a much more enjoyable meal at smoke joint last night


12:39 AM
me: yup

12:41 AM matt: yeah
i would never do that myself it is the experience i guess
12:43 AM me: what did you eat
matt: tuna tartare which all the reviews said was what to get
not that good and braised short ribs
me: nice
how was that
matt: which was fine
but not special
me: right
12:44 AM matt: ive had better
not to be all particular, but the wine guy poured wine all over my menu
me: HAHAHAHA
matt: like fine if a waiter does
me: that’s AWESOME
matt: but this is the wine guy
12:45 AM mainly its bc you look like a retard to everyone else
bc they dont know you didnt do it
me: ha
12:46 AM what did everyone else get
matt: same
but a chicken pot pie
me: omg

how much was that
matt: i think the braised short ribs was the most expensive entree we got
which was 27
me: that’s not so bad
matt: ALSO, the mac and cheese is now 85
12:47 AM me: how did the bill end up being 700
if that’s the most expensive
did you get a bottle of veuve?
matt: no
two bottles of wine
me: ah how was the service?

aside from wine guy
12:47 AM
matt: ha
ok, little disorganized i felt
we had like three waiters
so we asked for the wine list
12:49 AM and then three people came around about every minute to ask if we made a decision
me: oh geez

hm
12:51 AM yikes

The bathroom is pretty uninspired for a place that charges $85 for mac & cheese.
Waverly Inn
16 Bank Street at Waverly Pl.
New York, NY
No Telephone!

Sushi Yotsuya (LA)

March 26, 2008


Whenever I get hungry for sushi it is hard to find the right place. Anyone can tell the difference between good and bad sushi, the fish must be fresh! People who open sushi restaurants think of it more as a trend, so they open the restaurant without any concern on how much tradition and passion sushi requires. It takes years to master.

I found a 5-star rated place in Tarzana, 5 minutes from my house. Sushi Yotsuya! From the outside it looked small, quiet, and hidden. Since there are so many sushi restaurants across the street and a few doors down, it was hard to spot.

After you walk in, right in front of you was a big sign that says, “We only serve traditional style sushi, no California roll, spicy tuna roll, appetizers, or American style sushi.” How cool is that!

It is a small simple place, probably about 13 seats at the sushi bar, and 6 tables.

On the right is Masa Masumoto (founder, proprietor, and chef; above right) is going on his 8th year after opening in 2000. Masa and his 2nd chef Chica are a good team, always communicating with one another. Masa’s goal was to have an original/traditional sushi joint since there is so many around his. He says he buys the fish every morning before opening, guaranteed! Can’t get any fresher than that.

We started with a cold beer, the best Japanese imported beer you can get: Orion (deep from Osaka, Japan). Not many Japanese restaurants carry this, it’s got a bite and it’s good.

Next we have the Katsuo (Skip Jack; above), and the Aji (Spanish Mackerel; below). I haven’t seen Katsuo any where around here; just melts in your mouth!

Then we have our Mirugai (Jumbo Clam; above) and our Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp; below). The Mirugai was so fresh it was moving slowly on the rice (as you can see in the picture it is curling), it was so crunchy, which ensures freshness.

The Ankimo (monk fish liver; above) was excellent. The Ankimo was grilled, had a nice color to it. It had this Japanese mustard miso sauce on it. Never had it with a sauce like this. It was flaky, and once again melted in my mouth.

Next are my favorite Uni (sea urchin; above left) and Ikura (salmon roe; above right). The Uni is a delicacy, it fells like a tongue and looks like tongue. It tastes like the ocean, very salty and explodes in your mouth. The best. The Ikura is usually marinated before service to enhance taste, and most places don’t do it right, but Masa was right on.

We got the Tako (octopus; above left) and the Ika (squid; above right). Both very fresh and crunchy; which is needed to ensure freshness, soo good!

Up above is Aoyagi (a orange clam; above), it was moving once again, very fresh, little bit of salt and lemon on it, and no soy sauce needed. It was crunchy and had a good citrus flavor to it, sooo good!

As we were trying to finish up, they treated us a round of their special fish for the day! Starting form the left was Managatsuo (Panfret; left), Tombo Toro (Fatty Albacore; 2nd to left), Kurodai (Black Snapper; 3rd to left), and Kinmedai (Alfonsino; 4th to left). They were all fish I have never eaten before; it was very new and exciting! They all tasted spectacular!

To finishing off, the best part is the Green Tea. Has to be dark as the Tea above, most places you go has weak light tea. You want to make sure you drink tea at the end of the meal to drain out all the oil and start digesting right away.

I recommend this place to any sushi lover out there.

Sushi Yotsuya
18760 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
T: 818.708.9675

Happy Hour: Caprese Martini

March 25, 2008

Deal of the Year

March 25, 2008

Dear Poor New Yorkers,
Please do yourself a favor and go to Blue Ribbon Sushi this week for dinner during Brooklyn Restaurant Week. For $23, you get a seaweed salad, this below, and green tea ice cream. No joke, this is the best deal you will get all year. I do this every year- sometimes twice during the week. How could you not?


They don’t take reservations, but I went tonight at 8:30, was seated in 20 minutes, and the place was pretty much cleared out by 9:30pm. Deal ends Sunday.

Buon appetito,
Kayoko

Blue Ribbon Sushi
580 5th Avenue (at Garfield)
Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.840.0404

Roasting for Jesus

March 24, 2008

Jesus is just alright with me
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
– Doobie Brothers

Religiously speaking, I am godless. I am a gluttonous heathen, afterall. If hard pressed, I suppose I would say I’m a non-practicing Buddhist, but that’s only because my dad makes me pray to his little shrine whenever I go to his house. But I refuse to chant during yoga- it annoys the hell out of me (they never tell you what you’re saying, or what exactly it’s for. It’s just nonsense).

However, deep down, I have a soft spot for all things Roman Catholic. Majestic cathedrals, Pope Jean-Paul II (I saw him once!), the Spanish Inquisition, Dante’s Inferno and Jesus all fascinate me to no end. It’s so bizarre- and I feel bad cause Catholicism has traumatized many of my friends.

So of course I was excited about celebrating the Jesus resurrection on Sunday. Easter means ham, hard boiled eggs, and springtime. Gotta love it. But my plans derailed when Troy and Kumiko called to cancel Easter dinner because they were sick. I sorta panicked, but Fumiko said she would come over, so I cooked dinner for the two of us. Those in disgruntled relationships, ponder this: being single means possibly eating Easter dinner ALONE. It’s a crapshoot.

I didn’t have any big meat item, but I did my usual vegetable roasting. I love roasting vegetables- not only because they taste so good, but mostly because I am lazy, and it’s the easiest thing ever. Here are my ingredients:

Right next to the garlic is a little stick of chorizo. They sell it at Blue Apron in Park Slope for $1.50!!! What a steal! It’s great cause it will hold in the fridge forever, and it’s something different from the same old bacon.

I am relatively new to the cauliflower phenomenon- Aya introduced me to it a few months ago. I’m pretty hooked though. For this, I just chopped up the cauliflower, the zucchini, the chorizo, a few cloves of garlic and peeled the red onions. Preheat oven to 400.

Disclaimer: it took me FOREVER to peel these little fuckers, which is not fun for lazy people. I will use shallots next time.
Put everything in a baking pan, drizzle olive oil all over it, add some salt, grind some pepper. I also added a few bay leaves, cause I had some. I love all the colors here:
Stir occasionally, and take out after about 30 minutes. That’s it!!!
Shave a ton of romano over it, then mix it around.
I obviously needed something else with the meal, so I just made some pasta. I sauteed an onion with a fresh sausage, and boiled fresh pasta that I randomly had in the fridge.

Put some tomato sauce with all of that, et voila! Also, fresh parsley is so necessary.
Here is our meal- Jesus Resurrection 2008. Sadly, the corner wine store was closed, so we couldn’t consume the blood of Christ. Fumiko said we drink the blood all the time, so it was no big deal- we just settled for beer. Would that be Jesus pee? OMG I’m totally going to hell.

PS- the chorizo adds a nice crunch to the soft vegetables. Fumi liked it. Give it a whirl.

Fridgin’ Out: Married People

March 21, 2008

Newlyweds Beth and Darren just bought a really dope, spacious 2 bedroom in the Upper West Side, right off of Central Park West. That’s Park with a capital P. Married people like to live near Central Park so they can say things like, “We just went running in the Park” or “We just got back from walking dog’s name here in the Park”.

I live about an hour away from the Park, which conceivably says everything about me.

Beth’s fridge is heavily stocked with just about anything you want, all from Fairway (the only other reason to go to the Upper West Side). To save money, her and Darren have a pact to never go out for lunch or dinner except for special occasions. Good for them!!! I’ve made that pact with myself too. Um, yeah.

So what do married people have in their fridge? Let’s find out.

Married people get their groceries delivered from Fairway. Dreamy.

Freezer: many frozen pizzas and fruit. Married people keep bags and bags of frozen fruit around so they can make smoothies with the blender they got from the bridal registry. They spike it with rum when they want to live on the edge a little.

Married people freeze their glasses for beer.

Beth, not married people, freezes her bananas before they rot to oblivion. She does this so she can make her husband banana bread in the middle of the night.

Fridge: I told you it was crazy stocked.

A single Bud amongst the condiments in the fridge door. Love it.
C’mon guys, this is so 80s.

Married people make their own salad dressing, and keep them in cute jars.
Married people put their eggs where they are supposed to go.

Two huge grapefruit, a bottle of bubbly, and a can of whipped cream, all in one shot. There were a total of 3 bottles of champagne in their fridge. Married people like to have it around for when people “drop-in” unexpectedly.
Bags of flour tortillas for midnight snackysnacks. I used to live with Beth in college, and let me attest that she makes bombass quesadillas.
Cheesefest! Married people like to experiment with expensive cheeses I’ve never heard of before. But I love Beth cause she keeps it real and will never abandon Velveeta. EVER.

Something they got from her neighbors as a welcome gift. It’s an Indian sweet that comes in a tin can and sounds really good. Soft cheese balls! Let’s see how long it takes for them to open this. A year? 3 years? I bet Darren throws this out while Beth is not looking when they move out.

Organic tofu!

“Honey, what kind of sandwich do you want for lunch today? Roasted turkey or smoked turkey?”

Roasted bell peppers.
Married people eat their vegetables.

Their fridge was a bit bizarre- a piece of styrofoam divided it from the freezer.

Also, apparently the fridge gets so cold that food labels get stuck to the sides and won’t come off.

Married people will bake you cookies (two different kinds!), when you come over for dinner.

Married people sip wine from fine crystal glasses they got as wedding gifts. Why anyone would let me go near their crystal is beyond me.

Alright so we’ll stop there. Just a little glimpse for all you single folk of what married life is like. Or at least what’s in the fridge. Getting married has never been high on my list of things to do, but this actually doesn’t look so bad. Especially if I can get a high-powered blender out of it.

*What’s in your fridge? Email pics to umamimart@gmail.com

An aside from Beth:
“We actually already opened and had some of the Gulabjaman, they are cheese balls- how would you think I wouldn’t try them? :)”

MY BAD!!!