Monday, February 12, 2007

Aaaaaahhhh... long weekends....

Pretty mellow couple of days off this has been, and the best part is that I have yet one more ahead of me! And hey, I even got a couple of pictures taken!

Here's a quick one I shot of a candle Yoshiko had on the go. I like the detail in in the reflection above the flame.

Sunday, after a morning perusing the Internet for cheap hotel deals, we got a call inviting us out to Yoshiko's hometown of Imaichi where a flower festival was being held. Figuring it was a pretty good opportunity to try and kick start this here photography hobby of mine, which has been sadly lacking these past weeks, I strapped on the ol' Canon and we headed out to the big city.

As usual, it was nice to see Yoshiko's parents, always a warm welcome when we drop by. After a spot of tea and some Okinawan mango flavoured sugar candy, we headed on out to downtown Imaichi where the festivities were being held.

From what I saw of it, this flower festival was pretty heavy on the yatai food, and pretty light on the flowers, which is totally cool with me! I'd had a hankering for some festival food for a while now, and hadn't had the opportunity to indulge. The festival was essentially comprised of 3 streets which meet at one intersection. 2 of these streets were lined on both sides with food stalls and stands selling daruma. Daruma, by the way, are these funky little dolls on which you write something you want to achieve. When you achieve your goal, you paint in the eyes of the doll. Pretty neat idea, good way to keep focused on a goal if you see its blank eyes staring at you every day. Anywho, the 3rd street has a couple of stands selling plants and these lovely miniature cherry and plum trees. But of course, the food was center stage. After giving some fried chicken a go, Yoshiko and I were surprised to see a kebab stand and we quickly picked up a couple to munch on. As we were eating on a bench behind the action, I snapped a couple of backstage pictures of the food stalls. Here's a lady and her karaage (garlic battered fried chicken).

And an old timer working the yaki soba (fried buckwheat noodle) grill.

As we wandered through the crowds, we made our way into this relic of a sake shop which, as many rural businesses do, doubles as the family homestead.

On our way back, we stopped by this Hiroshima style oconomiyaki stand and picked up a couple for dinner. Hard to believe that in a little over a month, we'll be chowing down on this great stuff in Hiroshima itself!

The smells around here were great, including those emanating from this stall roasting chestnuts. All in all a great if slightly chilly afternoon.

Today was a relatively frustrating day of running into wall after wall when trying to book hotels for next month's grand tour with my family. Luckily, the day ended well with Kyoto and Nikko hotels confirming our reservations and me spending some time in the kitchen whipping up some grub.

Tonight, I opted for a taste of home of sorts, though this is one of my own creations. I started with the idea of making "pate chinois" a definitely French-Canadian take on shepherd's pie consisting of subsequent layers of ground hamburg, creamed corn and mashed potatoes. I opted to go back in time a bit closer to the original and ended up with my own version of Cottage Pie. Only two layers on this one. Top layer was mashed potatoes with roasted onions and garlic and the bottom layer was a gravy-infused mixture of meat and vegetables. Yum! We also finally popped the cork on the bottle of Champagne that some students gave us for our wedding, and Yoshiko whipped up some mixed-berry milk pudding, a great meal!

Tomorrow, my darling wife has requested pasta in a tomato sauce... I'm quite happy to finally have a bit more of a kitchen to work with!


Blogger tornados28 said...

I've been perusing your blog. Very interesting. Do you plan on living permanantly in Japan?

5:33 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Thanks for your commment. In response to your question, nope!

My contract is just about over and I will be leaving Japan with my wife in April to establish ourselves back home in Ottawa.

7:51 PM  

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