Friday, July 29, 2011

Just another day ...

 The palm trees in front of our place are blooming and the bees are loving it.
 This is how we roll in da 'gawa. Local on her pimped 'mama chari' bicycle after a surf.
A friendly visitor popping by for a wee chat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh Basil Pesto

I planted a bunch of basil about 2 months ago in a planter box on our balcony and they've really taken off. Not wanting it to go to waste, I decided to try and make some fresh Basil Pesto. A good friend came over and showed me how to make it. It's actually a piece of cake and only took about 3 minutes!
 This is all you need: lots of fresh basil leaves, some nuts, garlic and (not pictured) grated Parmesan cheese, a little salt, some olive oil and a little sugar as well as a blender.
 K-kun blending away and hey presto. It's done.
 This is about a third of what we made in one batch. Good for pasta, pizza, seasoning chicken, etc.

Below is a little pasta we cooked up for lunch. Just add salt and pepper for seasoning as you please. Simple and delicious with great aroma.

R.I.P. Analogue TV

The date for change has been creeping ever closer and closer and was suddenly upon us this past Sunday. At 12 noon, the switch was flicked and analogue TV came to a peaceful end. There was not much trumpeting of this going on, but one or two of the channels here did a little recap of the history of TV here in Japan and a countdown. Fortunately for us, we updated our old dilapidated TV to one of the new Sharp Aquos LED digital TVs several months ago (and never looked back). There's been an ongoing campaign to raise awareness (as in other countries), but I'm sure some people would've been caught out. It also means that the TV on our car Navi is now defunct (not that we ever watched it anyway).
 10, 9, 8, ....
The 'blue' screen that now appears on analogue TVs

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wedding Anniversary

English Link HERE
We celebrated our wedding anniversary the other night by treating ourselves to a delightful meal @ The GUNJO restaurant at Kamogawa Grand Hotel. The food and atmosphere were ideal as sat back, soaked up the occasion and enjoyed the moment. 
 A toast to start things off. Thanks for the good times and may they continue!
 The 'Surf & Turf', sirloin steak, abalone, scallop and calamari with a coconut cream sauce hit the spot!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pumpkin and spinach salad

Tonight's dinner

Pumpkin and spinach salad

It was another hot day here today, so I was craving a healthy salad with dinner tonight. When I was back in NZ recently, mum made a couple of really good salads and gave me some inspiration to search for something new and experiment. I came across this salad and changed it up a bit. I threw in a sweet potato to supplement the pumpkin, exchanged roasted cashews for the pine nuts, topped it with some cubed cream cheese and added a touch of balsamic vinegar in the dressing. It was a WINNER and will no doubt pop up again on the menu again this summer.


Preparation Time

10 minutes

Cooking Time

30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 600g butternut pumpkin, deseeded, peeled, cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs honey, extra
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 x 150g pkt baby spinach leaves
  • 1 x 75g pkt toasted pine nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the pumpkin in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss until the pumpkin is well coated. Place in a single layer on the lined tray. Bake, turning once during cooking, for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the seeds are lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside for 30 minutes to cool.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, mustard and extra honey in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the pumpkin, spinach and pine nuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss until just combined. Serve immediately.


Calm b4 the storm

 This is the view from our balcony (Sunday, 17th). Blue skies and light sea breezes. Below is what we have in store for us this week, Typhoon #6. Wednesday and Thursday are going to be wet and wild going by the charts.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

JUN's 40th

One of my great friends here in Japan, JUN, turned 40 recently. The weather was picture perfect and the grill was brought out to celebrate BBQ style!! We usually celebrate our birthdays at the same time as they fall within a week or so of each other along with another friend's daughter. This year was special though.
Aiko made a special lei for Jun and Kona from locally grown fresh flowers and a bunch of good friends came over with food and drinks. There were lamb chops, tandori chicken drumsticks, high-grade beef, lots of sausages, spam musabi, soba and somen, hormone (intestines), snacks and salads galore. A feast fit for a 40th celebration!
A huge Mahalo for everyone taking the time to join us and bring bits and pieces for the grill making the day so enjoyable.
 Beautiful handmade leis
 BBQ getting outta control
 Birthday boy playing with the kids on the 'Slackline'
 The ladies and babies
Last ones standing

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lucky Day

The weather was picture perfect and there weren't many people about, but the waves were small so I decided to go down to SURF SHOP BLOOM and rent the stand up paddle board to cruise on. Maki was there and gave me a hand to get it all sorted and then I was off. I headed down past seaside and Toshizou-san was taking pictures of some surfers there and took one of me as I cruised past.

When I got down to the Grand Hotel I came across a stingray, probably about 1.5m wing span, and followed him down the coast another 100-200m before I lost him (or he lost me). The waves were starting to take shape so instead of continuing down to Maruki as I had planned, I found a spot by myself and tried catching a few. Good thing there wasn't anybody about as those boards are big and hard to maneuver. However, the paddle cracked as I paddled into one and so after putting it back together in a makeshift manner I slowly made my way back to return the board. It just so happened that another friend had just finished diving for the day and he gave me a couple of abalone (ありがとう!).

I went home dropped them off, picked up my longboard and went for a surf at seaside with good friend Ken from DONYA. We traded waves for a while with next to nobody around and had so much fun. The water was so warm there was no need for wetties, too. That evening, I went to Ken's restaurant and he prepared the abalone. One was sashimi and the other was cooked in a garlic butter sauce.

Abalone Sashimi

Garlic Butter Abalone & chef @ DONYA

DONYA's new drink menu & kimchee

A near perfect day! Thanks to EVERYBODY that made it so!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shinjuku-Harajuku-Yoyogi Koen-Aoyama

This is a basic overview of how the rest of the day panned out.
 In Tokyo you can see all types of fashion from the conservative salary man approach to this kid with orange hair (partly obscured by my wife...I was too slow on the shutter).
 A Japanese 'HOTEL' offering a lot of various plans from the 100min special to overnight stays.
 Amongst all the fashion shops, pachinko parlours, bars, Starbucks and electrical stores I found this Violin and Cello shop.
 This is the East Entrance of Shinjuku JR station...during a lull. It was twice as busy later on.
 Oh the joys of riding the JR Yamanote Line trains. Glad I'm tall and have my own space. The short guys get a waft of everyone else's armpits.
 A group of friends from various nationalities enjoy Hula Hoops and juggling in Yoyogi Park in Central Tokyo (although you'd never know).

 Some kind of mating ritual dance. Numbers don't add up???
 Tired shoppers, Aiko, Sei and Hiroko needed a wee rest.
 Skateboarding dogs
 Pampered pets in prams
 BMX tricksters
 The burger of death! 10 patties with cheese for only 1,400 yen for real men and a half version for the pussies. Shinya sizing it up but deciding better of it.
 This one is for my Step-Father, a cycling enthusiast.
 Las Chicas (sp?) in Aoyama. The staff here didn't speak Japanese!! Very cool courtyard and bar for dining and parties in one of the nicer suburbs of Tokyo.
 Cheers to a long, but enjoyable day!!
 Watch out Nachos, Hiroko is coming to get ya!
 Great company
 Tuff Man!? I reckon I could take him anytime!
 Shinjuku at night.
The pleasant view from our cramped 10th floor business hotel room. Still, can't complain too much as it was cheap as chips!

Anyway, that was my Tokyo fix for the next couple of years. Good times, but good to be back home!