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coffee and celebratory tsukemen

November 1, 2010

This morning it was still a little wet and cold in the distant aftermath of the weekend’s typhoon. To warm myself up a bit I made a nice big bowl of Scottish oatmeal with flax & a whipped egg white (for body and protein).

I had it topped with more of my imported Trader Joe’s Valencia Peanut Butter, a nice blob of Bonne Maman Strawberry preserves, Artisana Cacao Bliss, and the crumbs from the very bottom of a bag of pecans. I included a shot of milk on the side to pour over as I ate; which I much prefer to adding all the milk at once. Peanut butter and strawberry jam is one of my favorite oatmeal combinations, and it was very, very tasty.

With my oatmeal I had a cup of coffee with milk. This is remarkable because I have not had real coffee since I ran out about a week and a half ago.

I drink coffee more for health, comfort, and taste than to wake me up in the mornings, but I am still usually very good at making sure to restock my supply before it runs out. This time, I had not had a chance to restock before brewing my last cup, and have been using Starbucks Via or going without as a result.

Coffee is one of those items, like tea, bread, and chocolate, which I like to splurge on a little. I make it a point to visit small local coffee bean shops and department store stands, and get small amounts of different types of coffee. I usually go with seasonal blends, store recommendations, or whatever kinds sounds most interesting to me on the day that I happen to stop by.

Yesterday Eric and I met our friend Derek (yes, the same Derek we met for Russian last week) in Takashimaya Department store for lunch, and I took the opportunity to head down to the basement in search of coffee. I chose two new-to-me varieties: the Shinjuku Blend special to that store, and a Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy.

The Hawaiian Kona I got because it reminded me of my birthday this past June, which I spent in San Francisco for the first time in five years. My mom, who has been sticking mostly to decaf coffee in recent years, bought a Hawaiian Kona blend for us to have with my special birthday waffle breakfast.

While we were there I also made sure to pick up a mochi chocolat, a layer of chocolatey mochi wrapped around a center of rich chocolate ganache and dusted in cocoa powder, from one of the fancy wagashi (Japanese confectionary) shops there, as Derek had never had one before.

Very good, but also very rich. I only stop by when I have a visitor with me, and generally buy one to split between two people. Eric and I saved ours until later that evening.

I fully intended to go to the gym after my breakfast and coffee this morning, but I got caught up with sorting through several days worth of photos, and before I knew it there was just not enough time left, so I took off for a quick 5k up and down the river instead.

It was only the second time since Katsunuma that I have actually managed to get myself outside and running, and I’m glad I was able to squeeze it in today. It was still a bit wet out when I left, and I had to jump over a few big puddles on the way down and back, but at least it wasn’t raining. Parts of the run were a struggle, but overall it was nice to get out there again.

Work was uneventful for the most part, though I did distribute the results of a biscotti baking experiment I did yesterday to my coworkers. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for more on that, as I haven’t had a chance to sit down and go over what I did and gather the pictures together yet.

Eric and I debated throughout the day what to do for dinner tonight. We have been eating out a lot more than usual in the past few weeks, and I am interested in getting back to our routine of dinner at home, but on the other hand today is a somewhat monumentous occasion as it marks 8 years for us as a couple. We both felt a bit strange about letting the day pass without any attempts to mark it.

In the end we went with Eric’s suggestion of walking over to the ramen shop near our station, Sai, for a very low-key celebratory dinner.

Eric chose Sai as we knew from our last visit (on Sports Day- when I shot the above photos) that they would be featuring a different special type of tsukemen (a variety of ramen in which the noodles are served separate and dipped into the soup) each week or so until the end of the year, and this week was the flavor he most wanted to try: kimuchii tsukemen.

It turned out to be a very fitting choice, as the reason they are featuring various special bowls is in celebration of their 8th anniversary. Of course, despite staring right at the signs that proclaimed this in Japanese (8周年 – hasshuunen), it didn’t actually occur to me that their anniversary coincided with ours until after we got home and Eric referred to -our- anniversary using the same Japanese term.

We both ordered the special kimuchii tsukemen, though I got mine with an ajitsuke tamago (egg boiled in soy sauce) and gave Eric my chaashuu (char siu pork) and some of my noodles. Sai makes everything from scratch on site down to their hand-cut noodles, and thir most recent specialty was just as good as we’d hoped. Eric, kimuchii fiend that he is, rates it as possibly the best bowl of ramen he’s had to date.

Now, I’m off to relax on the couch for a bit with Eric, an episode of Castle, and a few celebratory macarons from my beloved Pierre Hermé.

How do you feel about coffee? Got any recommendations for the next time I run low?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2010 10:26 pm

    I love coffee, but don’t know much about it. In fact, I probably couldn’t tell the difference between a beautifully brewed artisan blend and my keurig that I use everyday :)

    I just found your blog (thanks for stopping by mine!) and I look forward to reading about your life in Japan! How cool!!

    • November 3, 2010 10:56 pm

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I think I’m about the same as you. I love coffee, but really don’t know as much about it as I’d like and have no idea what I should be looking for when I buy it. That’s why I always go for different blends/varieties each time. I’m hoping one day it’ll stick and I can actually make sense of whether I like bitter, mild, smooth, nutty, dark roast, light roast, etc.

      (but so far I haven’t learned much other than that some are tastier than others…)

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