kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cinnamon Pretzels

Have we recovered from the holiday?  Maybe you have, but I haven't.  I'm not looking forward to the full-blown work day, although I am prepared to welcome the 2nd semester. 

My vacation was really not a relaxing time.  There was so much to be done.  Not only did it take half my vacation to wash the winter ball linens, but I seem to have been in the cooking cycle for the entire time.  I had a bunch of guests to prepare for...the old aunties for Christmas lunch and working palz for sake.  By the time that was over, I was making desserts for New Years Day AND preparing for another bunch for dinner.

The Old Aunties coming over for lunch on Christmas was not bad at all.  I made prime rib with a nice chunk of beef The Help found at Costco.  The working palz were fed a bunch of things, but I think they appreciated the potstickers and sauce.  They also enjoyed the miso salmon.  My fave part of the night (in addition to the company), was the sake.  The Keeper brought some good sake.  We weren't able to finish all the sake (plus another guest brought a bottle), so I shared some with my cousins on New Years Eve, after the crab lasagna dinner.  I don't think sake would pair well with crab lasagna!

I did get a special treat this vacation...I got to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her family for breakfast.  Michelle grew up and lives in Honolulu, but her hubby is from Hilo.  In a strange coincidence, his older sister is my high school classmate.  Small world!  The Old Aunties joined us, and Michelle got to ask them a bunch of questions about her grandfather (their brother).

In addition to the get-togethers, I was busy with projects.  I did a test knit for Kay Hopkins.  I knew when I agreed that the cardigan was not something I would wear, but I saw it as an opportunity to practice stranding.  I gave the cardigan to one of the Old Aunties for Christmas (whew...I managed to finish the cardigan in a week!).

I was not as successful with another cardigan (veronika) D1 requested.  I was hoping to finish it before she left, but with all that was happening (cooking, get-togethers, etc.) between Christmas and her leaving, I was not able to finish.

With the beginning of the 2nd semester tomorrow, I am grateful to be done with my advisorship (and the after-shit which accompanies the event...the washing of the linens).  The students I got to work with for the project were awesome, and they did a great job putting the event together.  On the final day of bid sales, I distributed Cinnamon Pretzels to the students who helped.  I made a few extra bags so I gave some to Ma (if you know, you know), which she consumed in lieu of lunch.

Although I would've enjoyed relaxing during the vacation, seeing friends and family was not a bad trade-off.  

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     18 oz pretzels (we like butter snaps or honey wheat twists)
     1/3 c butter
     1/4 c sugar
     3/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Place pretzels in a 9 x 13" pan.  Melt butter.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour over pretzels and toss gently to coat pretzels.  Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

 Otaru, Japan
October 11, 2017:  Day 3

We spent the 3rd day in Otaru.  Otaru was about a 45 minute train ride from Sapporo station.

In a way, Otaru reminds me of Lahaina, where much of what's to see is along one main street.

Otaru boasts a picturesque canal, which was probably vital to the main economic base of the town back in the "olden days". 

Before tackling the shops, we stopped at a small cafe to sample soft cream.  I got the 3-flavor variety...lavender, vanilla, and melon.  It was delicious, but I should have just had a gigantic cone of just the lavender.  A few of my friends bought the 7-flavor jumbo cone, but I knew I would not be able to finish that, lunch, and what I really HAD TO HAVE.

Today, Otaru is known for glassware.  A wise friend told me that the glass industry evolved from Otaru's past as a fishing village.  In the "olden days", fish net floats were made out of glass.  With more modern materials being used for floats, the glass industry switched their focus from fish floats to table ware.  Kitaichi Glass, a famous glass vendor, is based in Otaru.  Encouraged by The Keeper, I spent a shameless amount of $ on no-drip shoyu containers (KikukatDad requested at least 3 large dispensers) and hand-carved glass, one-of-a-kind sake cups.

I ended up having lunch at a place recommended by The Keeper.  He said it was where the tour bus and taxi DRIVERS dine with the locals.  I had a raw scallop and ikura don.  The ikura was perfectly seasoned, and all of this came on a bed of finely shredded egg.

But my real goal for the day was getting to LeTAO, a pastry shop reknown for creamy desserts.  Prior to my trip, I spent a good amount of time researching specialty food of the region.  Several guides mentioned the Double Fromage cheesecake and Bin de Fromage.  I had been talking about LeTAO to The Keeper weeks before we left Hawaii, so it was only fitting to enjoy the LeTAO experience with him.  I was worried about finding LeTAO, but it turned out that LeTAO is like Starbucks...there were several LeTAOs on that one main street! We ended up at a small LeTAO outpost where there was an open table and a bathroom.

Double Fromage is a luscious cheesecake-like layered creation.  This alone was worth the trip to Otaru.  I have never had anything like it before, and if anyone wants to try testing a copycat recipe for it, I'm in!  It IS available in Sapporo Station, but really, this experience wasn't about finding it in Sapporo. . .it was about having it where it was born. . .in Otaru.

And since I was at the shop, I really wanted to try the Bin de Fromage which was like the Double Fromage but in a cute miniature milk bottle.  I was too full to eat it then, but since it was available frozen in a 3-pack, I bought the 3-pack to share.   The frozen bottles kept nicely during the ride back to Sapporo.

A word of caution with the Bin de Fromage...it must be eaten all the way to the bottom of the bottle for the full taste experience.
After the Double Fromage, I had a gigantic square of kakimochi (The Keeper was sent to buy this for some friends in Hawaii) courtesy of DHS and a persimmon-filled daifuku from a small store on the way to the Otaru station.  Yet, I knew I still had to have dinner.

Because Otaru wasn't far from Sapporo, we returned to Sapporo at a decent hour.  Not everyone was hungry, so everyone went their own way.  I was hungry and thinking about going back to Tonkatsu Wako when I ran into The Keeper.  Turns out The Keeper was also looking for food.  We ended up at an unagi restaurant in the station, Miyagawa Honten.

It turns out that Miyagawa Honten is actually in the Daimaru department store at the station.  Apparently there were some bad reviews, but The Keeper and I were well-aware that the eel is prepared (read:  killed and cooked) to order, so it's certainly not fast food.  I ordered a small set, so the eel came in a porcelain bowl.  The Keeper ordered a larger meal so his eel was in a lacquered box.  I didn't take a pic of his meal, but it was lavish.  And in spite of the humble appearance of my bowl, this was THE best unagi I have ever had.
After the unagi meal, The Keeper and I stopped at a convenience store to buy stuff for the 3-hour+ train ride to Hakodate the next morning.  

. . .another day of mega-eating in the books and another epic eating day ahead. . .


Monday, December 4, 2017

Almost Noodle Club: Korean Fried Chicken Wings

For various reasons, I have been spending lots of time on the road.  In the past two months, I must've made at least a half-dozen trips to the other side of the island. 
  • The Help developed an interest in Japanese whiskey, so of course we had to stop at the liquor store in Waimea and check out the selection at Costco.  
  • On another weekend, my vacuum broke, and Costco just happened to have a good deal on a Shark (I killed 2 Dyson's in a span short of a decade so I was ready to try something else).  
  • I just "happened" to be at Costco when they started selling Christmas trees, so that trip turned out into a full-weekend activity...decorating the tree.
And there were a handful of trips between all of those, including a trip just to Waimea to check out the local wool for sale at the Waimea farmer's market (Parker School).

In spite of the good restaurants in Kona and Waikoloa, The Help and I have been regulars at Noodle Club, making the detour to Waimea instead of heading straight home on the Saddle.  Noodle Club is owned by the same gentleman who owns Village Burger (must try the Ahi Nicoise salad there), and like Village Burger, Noodle Club is an awesome eatery.

It might come as a surprise that one of my fave things to eat there is NOT a noodle dish, but a chicken dish.  I said "one" of...I have many favorites there.   I find the KFC...Korean Fried Chicken...difficult to resist.  The sticky, sweet, spicy sauce surrounding crispy chicken lollipops is not the Korean chicken many of us grew up with (like Kay's Lunch Center or the kine one of the aunties makes).  It has a unique flavor, as well as a unique look.  Noodle club wings look like the meat has been pushed upwards on the bone, giving a lollipop appearance.

I will be the first to admit that my version is not exactly like the KFC you get at the Noodle Club, but it's equally delicious.   I also refuse to spend the time to make the chicken look like a lollipop.  If you want the experience the chicken lollipop, then make the drive out to Waimea.  If you want a delicious meal without too much hassle, then this recipe might be just what you need.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 lbs chicken wings
     salt
     pepper
     1/4 c flour
     2 tbsp cornstarch
     oil for frying
     1/4 c brown sugar
     1 tbsp honey
     3 tbsp rice vinegar
     2 tbsp shoyu
     6 tbsp gochujang (spicy Korean bean paste)
     1/4 tsp sesame oil

Cut chicken wings apart at the joints; discard tip portion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss with flour and cornstarch.  Set aside.  Heat 1/2-3/4" oil in a skillet.  While oil is heating, prepare sauce by combining all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Fry chicken pieces until golden; this may take up to 25 minutes (15 minutes on the first side; 10 minutes on the second side).  Remove from oil and drain.  Fry all chicken pieces.  When all chicken has been fried, return each chicken piece to oil, frying for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Remove 3 pieces at a time.  Drain on paper towels then place in sauce, turning to coat.  Continue until all chicken has been coated.  Return all chicken pieces to sauce and coat again before removing to a serving platter.
Sapporo, Japan
October 10, 2017:  Day 2



Since our hotel was across the Hokkaido university campus, The Keeper suggested we walk the ground of the campus before embarking on another day of gluttony.

The campus could have been a university on the east coast or midwest...it looked "collegiate".  The architecture was very western.  Walking the grounds brought back memories of my own college days.






















The leaves were turning color. . .reminded me of my trip to Connecticut in the fall.

The fun part of this trip was the opportunity to wear Doc Martens and things I made.   I went full Nelkin on this day:  Caragh, Transitus and Las Cruces.

Don't get me wrong...I often DO wear things I make AND I always get strange looks from The Help, often with a comment like, "this isn't Puget Sound" or "we are not in Canada now".

We met up with the rest of the gang and headed to Nijo Market for breakfast.  Nijo Market was similar to Jougai Ichiba (from the day before).  Of course, I was gonna get seafood for breakfast!
Nijo Market



While walking around Nijo Market, I found shine muscats!  $15 USD was a small price to pay for mouthfuls of joy.  I had to take a pic because I don't think anyone at home would believe I actually bought "grapes".


















A few of us ended up having breakfast at Ohiso.  After watching DHS eat crab at breakfast the day before, there was no way I was gonna miss out on crab.  I decided to try the hairy crab and salmon don.  The mini was about $11 USD, which I figured would hold me over until the next meal.  I also got a small bowl of ikura, a bargain at $3.40 USD.
















I was actually not impressed with the hairy crab.  The meat wasn't as tasty as Dungeness nor was it as sweet as king crab.  But at least I can say I tried it.















On the other hand, the ikura was superb.  Perfect flavor.

I couldn't find the picture of the awabi (abalone) sashimi from this place.  I even had a pic of the innards, which The Keeper made DHS try.  She said it was nasty.

We had some time on our own after breakfast, so I decided to go on a treasure hunt which took be back to Sapporo station.  I was looking for a special store.  I was just about to give up, but then I arrived at the promised land!

OMG.  Kanariya was awesome.  I just wish I could speak and read Japanese.  I bought a bunch of pattern books (which I will probably never use) and some omiyage for a few special Ravelry friends and some friends who sew.

I could have stayed at Kanariya much longer, but I had to meet up with the pandas for lunner (lunch + dinner).

We caught a bus to Sapporo Beer Garden.  I tried out the panorama feature on my camera, but I just couldn't make it work properly.  The beer garden building is red brick (many old buildings in Sapporo are red brick).  I guess we were hungry so we went straight to the dining hall and got started.





I was worried about liking lamb, but after stuffing my face with jingusukan (Genghis Khan, to the rest of us), I decided I like lamb.  I love the helmet-shaped grill!












This is a cook-your-own place.  You can have as much as you want, be it meat, veggies or drink.  Nakaz and I couldn't get enough of the melon soda (since we can't drink beer).
























And no visit to the Sapporo Beer Garden is complete without a picture of the iconic brew kettle.  It was huge!




















Before heading back to the hotel, The Keeper and I bought some goodies from the station:  (clockwise from upper right) Little Mermaid steam cake, Little Mermaid melon pan, parfait, and Kinotoya cheese tart.  The steam cake was similar to other steam cakes I've eaten.  It was mild flavored and very light.  And yes, the bottom right pic IS melon pan, or at least what the Little Mermaid Bakery calls melon pan.  It was delicious, but it did not taste anything like the St. Germain version of melon pan.  I'm glad The Keeper bought it for me to try.  The parfait was very good (apparently parfait in Japan is a "thing") and easy to eat.  There was a small slice of cake and a few cornflakes (yes, like cornflake cereal) atop the parfait.  I found that interesting.

The Kinotoya cheese tart gets it's own paragraph.  It is definitely a no-miss treat when visiting Sapporo.  The aroma of the cheese tarts baking is incredible.  It must be so difficult for people in the waiting area to resist buying a some.  Although it looks like it might be "egg-y", it is not.  I think the color automatically makes you think its custard.  But it's definitely more cheese than custard.  I wish I had eaten another one or two before leaving Sapporo. 

It was another day of eating.  Thankfully, it was less eating than the previous day, and I knew that the next day was going to be another adventure.












Monday, November 20, 2017

Another Greek Pasta Salad

I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I am having guests for Thanksgiving.  None of my guests are blog readers, and that's a good thing.  They won't know how I worked my tail off this weekend, trying to tidy up the house.  I am still not done, but I think I now have the mess at a manageable amount.

Truth be told, I did not spend ALL weekend cleaning.  Against my better judgement, I turned the TV to the UW-Utah game, thinking I would watch for a few minutes then get back to cleaning.  No such luck.  I got suckered in, and, 2 glasses of Kraken and Diet Coke later, I found myself screaming with a few seconds left in the game.  What a nail biter.

Throughout the game, my phone kept going off with updates about another football game.  The HHS football team played Damien Memorial High School for the Division I state title.  Not nearly the nerve-charged game as the UW game, but still exciting, especially since Damien drew first blood.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many friends were at the game.  Not friends who live in Hilo, but friends who live in Honolulu.  Several sent congratulatory messages via Facebook.  One of the well-wishers was someone I worked with nearly a decade ago.  She is lucky enough to be retired now...ahhh, someday.  But hearing from her brought back memories, and that's when it occurred to me that her recipe for Greek pasta salad would make a nice addition to my Thanksgiving lunch.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 lb thin strand pasta (angel hair, vermicelli, spaghettini, etc.)
     1/2 c vegetable oil
     3 tbsp lemon juice
     3 tbsp mayonnaise
     3 tbsp Greek seasoning (Cavender's is what we find here)
     1 can olives, sliced
     1 small jar pimientos, larger pieces sliced
     3 tbsp thinly sliced green onions

Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Drain and cool.  Combine oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Greek seasoning.  Mix with cooked/cooled pasta.  Toss in olives, pimientos and green onions.  Chill overnight.

Continuing the highlights of my recent Hokkaido trip..........
Sapporo, Japan
October 9, 2017:  Day 1
 
The Keeper made my hotel arrangements for me, and he chose a hotel which offered a complimentary breakfast.  Aside from "suite" type hotels, I am not accustomed to having breakfast provided, and I was quite surprised at what was on the buffet line.  Of course, I didn't take too much food since I knew we would be having breakfast at the Jougai Ichiba.

Jougai Ichiba was on The Keeper's itinerary.  It required a short hop on the train to get there.  I'm not sure which stop we got off, but I know we headed west from the Sapporo station.

Jougai Ichiba is also known as the Hokkaido curb market/Sapporo Central Wholesale Market.  I'm not sure why, as I did not see a curb anywhere, but vendors do have their goods on the sidewalk.  Vendors were very welcoming, suggesting we try the different foods.  I really wanted to buy a crab to eat, but I didn't know how long I'd be out.  And I certainly didn't bring my favorite weapon of choice (Joyce Chen kitchen snips).
Most of the vendors were selling either seafood or fruit.  Some of the seafood businesses had counterpart restaurants which offered to prepare the food for you.  That would've been fun to try, especially since I discovered that I like uni (sea urchin).  Perhaps I need to say that I like the taste of uni in Japan.  I've had uni in Hawaii, and it was either yucky or only okay.  But the uni sample the vendor let me try was sweet and buttery.  Yum.  I knew I would need to have more of it later.

The sweetheart of the fruit offerings has got to be the melon which every fruit stand proudly displays...yubari king melon.  The melon looks similar to the cantaloupes we see in the supermarkets.  But the yubari melon is more globular, and somewhere in size between a softball and a bowling ball.  There is usually a "T" shaped stem attached.  The orange fruit is extremely fragrant and sweet.  This fruit has the distinction of being the most expensive fruit in Japan.  I could probably eat one by myself (as a meal), but it would be my luck that I am allergic to musk melons.  I did allow myself to accept a sample from a vendor, but I quickly rinsed my mouth after eating it.

As promised, The Keeper took us to a restaurant above the shops.  From the picture menu, I selected the kitamae don.  I thought the uni and ikura would make me happy, but it was the raw scallops which put a huge smile on my face.  They were sweet and delicious.  It's hard to believe that I live on an island surrounded by water, but the seafood in Japan is superior.

After breakfast, we made our way back to the station, stopping at a 100-yen shop.  It was my first time at one of these shops.  Wow...the things one can find there!

We went back to the Sapporo station and made our way on foot to check out the old government building.  From there we walked down to Odori Park.  Most of us could not resist buying grilled corn.  The corn was so tasty.  It had just the right combination of salty and sweet.
















In spite of being full from breakfast AND corn, we stopped at the Ramen Yokocho in Susukino.  This was where Anthony Bourdain ate when he was in Susukino. 








The Keeper and I decided to try the the chashu grilled pork spicy miso ramen at Teshikaga Ramen (this is not the restaurant which borders the street).  The ramen was a little oily, but that was to be expected.  There were at least 3 types of pork in the ramen:  a spicy ground pork, cubes of soft pork, and the grilled pork belly slab.  And as you can tell from the picture, I was still in denial.  I still thought I liked corn in my ramen.



Now this is where my mind gets a bit fuzzy.  Perhaps it's from too much eating, but our next stop was the Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory.  I cannot remember how we got there.  I think we went underground and caught a subway/train.  I think.  I am pretty sure the chocolate factory isn't too far from the Jougai Ichiba, where we were earlier in the day.  But The Keeper said we needed dessert.

The Shiroi Koibito chocolate factory is known for the famous shiroi koibito, a cookie sandwich.  Two langue de chat buttery cookies are sandwiched together with white chocolate.   It reminds me a little of the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.  In addition to shiroi koibito, the factory also has "Candy Labo", the hard candy division.  The Keeper, Nakaz, and I bought a bunch of things from Candy Labo.  I haven't eaten my Candy Labo yet, but I sent some "magic candy" to Heather, a knitting friend in Kansas.

We took a walking break and sat down to dessert in the restaurant of the factory.  The Keeper ordered a gigantic parfait with shine muscats.  I didn't think I could eat something so large, so I settled on something which I had been wanting to eat for nearly 2 decades:  baumkuchen (layered sponge cake).  My dessert would've been fine, had I not been urged by The Keeper to try a shine muscat.  I figured I wouldn't like it, since I don't eat grapes, but the shine muscat turned out to be something other-worldly.  I have never eaten anything so fragrant.

And I don't think I ever ate so much food in a single day.  Little did I know, we weren't done yet.  The Keeper told me that there was a place in one of the malls adjoining the Sapporo station which served tonkatsu even better than Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin (Waikiki).  I found that hard to believe, so I told him to bring it on.  We ended up at Tonkatsu Wako.

The Keeper was right.  The tonkatsu was  tender with a crisp, light and airy coating.  But to be perfectly honest, I prefer the dressing (for the cabbage) at Bairin.  The dressing at Tonkatsu Wako was not the sesame-mayo dressing I was expecting.  It was more like a ponzu.  I like ponzu, but NOT with tonkatsu and cabbage.


And finally, after all this eating, we made it back to the hotel for, what I hoped, would be a good night of sleep.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feels Like Fall: Ohelo Berry (or cranberry!) Scones


I guess it's now time to start thinking about Fall and what I have to look forward to.  The weather seems a bit cooler, and I've actually been tempted to use the fireplace.

Expecting to buy some turkey, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of freezer real estate.  Sadly, the availability of free space in there was dismal.

But my task did yield a pleasant find...frozen ohelo berries.  I must have picked them a few months ago and forgot I had them.  I had enough to make a dessert, but what I was really jonesing for was scones.

A few weeks ago, a nice student brought me 2 still-warm scones, courtesy of the culinary arts teacher (this is the same teacher who brought the taco salad to the potluck).  The scones were delicious, and since then, I've been wanting to make my own (=more; =as many as I want to eat).  Finding the ohelo berries was a good reason to get busy.

If you are not familiar with ohelo berries, please visit my post for Ohelo Berry Bars.  I have a link there for an explanation about these special berries.  I also have another post/recipe, Ohelo Berry Cream Cheese Pie.  Cranberries (coarsely chopped for this scone recipe), currants and blueberries would make good substitutes for ohelo berries.  And since it's November, we all know where we can find the best deal on cranberries. . .Costco!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 1/2 c flour
     2 tbsp sugar
     2 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     zest of 1/2 lemon
     1/2 c cold butter
     3/4 c buttermilk
     1 tbsp honey
     1 egg
     1/2 c fresh or frozen (and defrosted) ohelo berries (or coarsely chopped cranberries)
     turbinado or coarse sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a measuring cup, stir together buttermilk, honey and egg.  In a food processor bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Add butter in chunks, and process until distributed throughout.  Remove flour mixture to a mixing bowl.  Stir in buttermilk mixture until barely combined.  Turn dough onto a generously floured surface and pat into a rectangle.  Spread berries on half of rectangle and flip plain half to cover berries.  Flatten out rectangle and fold into thirds (letter style).  Flatten again and fold in half.  Pat dough into a 7 x 10" rectangle.  Cut dough into 6 squares and cut each square into 2 triangles.  Place triangles onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake 16-19 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe was adapted from the buttermilk scone recipe found on the Canadian Living website.  When I tried the original recipe, it was difficult to work with because of the super-sticky dough.  I changed a few things to make the dough manageable and added ohelo berries.

 Sapporo, Japan
October 8, 2017, Arrival:  Night 1

We arrived in Sapporo on Sunday evening.  I know we were delayed an hour or so out of Honolulu (something about a small part called "landing gear") but I have no idea what time it was when we finally checked in to our hotel. 

The Keeper's suggestion, Toyoko Inn (we stayed at the one across the street from the Hokkaido University campus), turned out to be very clean and orderly.  It was not ostentations like some of the hotels I stayed at on my last visit to Japan, but it was good enough.  I actually lol'd when I stepped into the elevator...some of my friends would need to ride it solo!  It was fricken small.  The Help, OllieMama and I, with our luggage, barely fit.

Finding a place to eat was just as challenging as squeezing into the elevator.  As we walked around Sapporo station, restaurants were putting up closing signs.  Five of us (the other two ate at a robata restaurant across the hall) ended up at a ramen place in the station.  For me, the biggest "aha" came with the ordering system.  Instead of reciting your order to someone, you put your $ in what appears to be a modified vending machine and make your selection(s).  The machine will spit out a ticket(s), which you hand to the person behind the counter.  Being handicapped in reading Japanese, I just ordered what The Keeper ordered (less gyoza)...it would've taken too long for him to read the entire menu to me.   

The ramen was tasty enough, but The Keeper felt it wasn't THE BEST example of Hokkaido ramen.  Apparently, we ordered a spicy miso ramen with corn topped with a huge chunk of butter.  Although full of pork flavor, the broth was rather thick and bit too spicy for what I would want as a broth.  There was definitely a "grill" flavor (this is a good thing) very similar to the flavor which keeps me ordering the Osaka saimin at Restaurant Osaka (in Hilo). Maybe it was all the excitement of being in a new place, but I could hardly eat half of it.

And I should have learned from this...I don't like corn in my ramen.

We spent the rest of the evening checking out the area in and around the station.  There were so many food vendors on the main floor (where the ticket machines are).  I made a mental note of what I planned to eat in the next few days.

In spite of not being able to eat my dinner, I couldn't resist buying my first Mister Donut pon de ring.  It was yummy.  I vaguely remember hearing about Mister Donut, and I'm pretty sure D1 had a pon de ring when she went to Sumoto with the Builders Club.  But nothing could prepare me for the texture.  The donut was light, yet chewy.  Since then, I've read a bunch of different blog posts about what makes the pon de ring so chewy.  Here is a pon de ring recipe at the Cooking of Joy blog.  It's the first one I plan to try when I recover from jet lag.  Of course, I've got a list of other things I want to try replicating too (like that darn cheese tart).

There were a lot of people still milling about, and I couldn't wait til the next day so I could get my bearings.  Being confused and disoriented with direction was not a good feeling.  And at this point, all entrances/exits to the station looked the same! 

I was too tired to even try and orient myself with landmarks. . .I blame it on being awake way past my bedtime.  Unlike some of my fellow travelers, I could not fall asleep on the flight.  I had a super hard sudoku book and a knitting project to keep me entertained, and I ended up doing a bunch of puzzles and starting (and frogging,  re-starting, re-frogging, and re-starting) a cowl.

I was a bit apprehensive about bringing knitting with me on the plane.  I was careful to bring wooden interchangeable needles, and since I hadn't started the project, I kept the cable separate from the needles tips.  I also made sure that what I brought was replaceable...I could buy another cable and tip assembly.  And the yarn I had with me was not nearly as precious as a skein from the Cyborg's Craft Room. . .just in case those monsters decided to confiscate my things.

I went to bed that evening feeling grateful to The Keeper for getting us to the hotel from the station.  The last time I was in a train station (Osaka), I vowed never to enter without leaving a breadcrumb trail to find my way out. 


I was also hoping that it would be cold enough to wear all the shit I knitted.