June 28, 2012

To Waffle An Egg

A breakfast graced by the airy, crunchy, pockety, leger-de-pain of a cloud of waffles is bound to be a happy one (provided the coffee is fresh).

And there is no dark, dungeon cell as forgotten as the kitchen cabinet or hall closet that keeps a waffle iron for the other 364 days of the year.

We wanted to get more use out of our waffle iron than just an occasional freezer full of clouds and a forearm full of contact burns. Hence, this: the Cheese Omelette Waffle (or "Chomffle", which is hard to say).

A very hot iron keeps the egg from escaping over the sides.

The cheese awaits the closing of the lid, so as to crispify.

The first photo is a damned dirty liar.

Better than expected! The cheese (barely visible) was crisp and the wafflated tesseracts increased the golden surface area well into the range of "Very Good - Delicious".

We also had spinach (not shown) and the coffee was fresh.

June 22, 2012

Origami Coffee: Mon Café Blue Mountain Blend

We posted about Japanese disposable one-cup coffee filters last year.

Since then, we have gathered some different designs, each with its own  solutions to the same basic engineering issues.

This one is a blend of Jamaican Blue Mountain and Brazilian coffees by Mon Café.

 Mon Café has chosen a unique elongated design.

The filter is gently sealed to keep the coffee from spilling out, and can be easily pried open. Then you bend down the two ends. The curve adds a lot of spring tension which gives the filter its structure.

The coffee smelled fresh and vibrant.

Large tabs break out of the ornate design and go inside the mug lip, holding the device securely in place.

The filter bag is larger than on other designs, stretching the length of the structure. When in place, its extra material trapped the coffee in little folds and pockets. While these turned out fine, the trapped coffee is likely to end up either under- or over-extracted as the water swirls around the folds.

The simple structure was perhaps not quite as fun to assemble as the UCC Gold Premium, but the coffee tasted very good.

June 16, 2012

Audi Systems

When in Japan, we use the subways and trains and sometimes bikes to get around on almost all our outings. Aya's family very generously offered use of a car.

This car:
We had no need for it, and were frankly a bit terrified of something going wrong on the very narrow residential streets, and so never used it.

However, the generous offers soon became increasingly insistent, to the point where we found the key at our table setting and, finally, on our bedside table. Part of having good manners is knowing when to accept something gracefully, so we took it out for a spin.


It is loaded with stuff, of course. One of the coolest things was the back-up camera system. The yellow lines show where the car will go with the wheels at the current angle and the blue rectangle is straight back.

Putting complete faith in the camera system was more than a little off-putting, and when the proximity alerts started beeping there was a noticeable increase in heart-rate. It is amazingly intuitive, though, and worked perfectly.

It also has both a built-in and an after-market radar-detection system (circled in green in the dashboard pic, above). You might think that we wouldn't hear much from them unless a police officer pointed a speed gun at us, but that is not the case.

The Osaka Kanjo-sen highway is awash in speed radar, cameras, and all manner of radio frequencies, and these detecting systems will alert you to each with different beeps, jingles and announcements.

They will  also notify you of directions, toll booths, interchanges, off-ramps, on-ramps, merging areas, high-accident zones, changing speed limits, road conditions, traffic updates and about a million other things.

Having two competing systems in the car produced the most unreal cacophony of alerts, announcements and advisories, all playing over the enka  (sentimental ballads) on the stereo:

So where did we go in this over-powered, insanely noisy, fantastic car?
To the Leach Bar in the Rihga Royal Hotel, where they make the most amazing G&T, served in brass mugs.

June 10, 2012


We rescued some dried-up hemispheres of moss from a sidewalk recently. They were scattered around the base of a building, apparently after being scraped off the roof by someone whose job was scraping roofs, not sweeping sidewalks.

We had low expectations for their survival, but a little water and southern exposure has been good for them

Almost too good, perhaps, since they are merging together and now appear to be threatening to break out of their dish.

Our first attempt at moss growing was less successful. We brought a moss-covered rock home from a camping trip and tried to re-create its moist, north-facing mountain climate on our moist, north-facing balcony.

The rock seems pretty happy, at least.

June 4, 2012

Spot Prawn Season

We look forward to this time of the year the way kids look forward to Christmas, counting down the days on the calendar.

BC is very fortunate to have a strong, sustainable spot prawn fishing industry.
With the fishing area just a couple of hours north of Vancouver, we have access to these delicious sea-bugs for 4-6 weeks, beginning in mid-May.

Three pounds, bought from the boat and taken straight home.

Usually we sautée them with a little white wine and garlic, but this year we thought we'd start off by grilling a few, with a little salt, as an appetizer.

Japanese mayonnaise has a little more vinegary zip, according to Aya.

One of us was raised in North America, and grew up eating only the fat, white tails of shrimp and prawns. The other has enjoyed the amazing, acquired taste of the tomalley all her life. She somewhat regrets sharing her enthusiasm for this delicacy, since it is now eagerly devoured by all members of our household.

The grilling was such a success that we never got around to sautéeing any of them. We just stood there in the kitchen, reveling in the soft flesh and blackened leg tips. Absolutely, outstandingly spectacular.

Except for this bit. Don't ever bite into it. Srsly. Bleh.

We usually turn to a very reliable Sauvignon Blanc to go with our prawns, but our good friends at Liberty Wines on Granville Island recommended this tiny Languedoc appellation, Picpoul De Pinet (#7 on this map), and it did not disappoint. Bright, acidic and with a little more mineral than Sauvignon Blanc, it was an excellent match for the prawns. A steal at $18.

Interestingly (for one of our regular readers, at least) Picpoul De Pinet is also the principal grape in the famous vermouth Noilly Prat.

*A reminder to anyone digging into spot prawns or other shellfish: keep the shells in your freezer for making bisque! Aya's recipe will appear in an upcoming post.

June 1, 2012

JAL, Personal Ad, Eclipse Follow-Up Video

Japan Airlines (JAL) is really cool, and not just their new tail logo design.

The arm-rest on our Narita-Kansai flight had a somewhat old-school channel/volume controller.

But it got interesting.

Those four coloured buttons mean the same thing in any language.

Your bumpy flight is going to pass much quicker.
There were about 15 different games, in glorious 8-bit colour.

This little package had nothing to do with JAL, but we fell in love with its triple-entendre. Is it a snack? Or the best personal ad we have ever read?

Here is a follow-up on our last post: some video of the pin-hole cameras in the courtyard, waving their images of the eclipse in the morning breeze.
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