Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Art of Compromise

I very much loved my solid oak, dovetail-crafted antique dresser, which I'd moved around from cabin to house to apartment since the early 1990s. I had to give it up as my fiance and I negotiated his move into my smallish two-bedroom apartment. I got to keep my couch and loveseat while his went to a quick and savvy Craigslist buyer. In return, practicality reigned and he brought over his much bigger dresser that we'd share. >>> Read more over at Emineo Domus

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Tequila's stunt double

Looks like bubble bath but it's really the natural color of the red shiso leaf infused in the shochu.

I’m a lucky person, it turns out. So lucky, in fact, that I was invited on a 10-day press trip to Japan, where the good folks of the Japanese External Trade Organization gave me and seven other American writers a crash course in Japanese food, drink and culture.
I came away quite captivated by the shochu. It’s versatile – a gritty stunt double for cheap tequila, or an airy, smooth alternative to vodka. A shocking-pink sweet version is flavored by the red shiso leaf; a mellow gold brew with faint coconut aftertaste has been informed by its aging in an oak cask. Shochu is infused with almost any fruit you can think of – my favorites are plum and yuzu, a citrus that’s kind of a cross between a meyer lemon and a grapefruit. >>> READ MORE OF MY STORY AT www.theliquidmuse.com

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Salty Is Sweet

Today is the first time I've felt equilibrium in what seems like weeks. First, a birthday and engagement. Then off for 10 days to Japan, courtesy of the Japanese External Trade Organization, which brought eight American writers to learn about Japanese food, beverages and culture. I was bowled over every day by how new and different everything was ... in a culture thousands of years older than our own.

Things that I thought would be salty were sweet. Things that for sure were candy were fish. There was no taste or cultural reference for lots of food. And hello? Heated toilet seats.

The women were well put together and quite fashionable. Everyone was small and beautiful, with good skin and hair. I read "Memoirs of a Geisha" while I was there and decided I could be more demure, more charming, more concerned about presentation.

It's good to be knocked on your ass every now and then.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

More Japan: Kumamto

Eight of us are here as the guests of the Japanese government's trade organization. In 10 days, we are taking a crash course in food, culture and products. It is JETRO's hope that as journalists, we will promote the places we visit, which is somewhat of a challenge as most of the products aren't available in the US market. Each day lasts about 17 hours ... we have visits to sake distilleries and miso outfits and biodynamic farms and microbreweries and out of the way restaurants. In between learning, we eat. A lot. Long, languid, impeccably designed meals. We sleep hard and get on the bus early to do another round.

For the last few days we've been in the countryside, and last night, stayed in a traditional inn. Two jovial women served us a seemingly endless feast around indoor cooking pits, and then the men and women in our group settled into our respective communal baths, fed by hot springs, the rushing of the river below. Steamy and soft and sleepy, I retired to my futon in a tatami-lined room overlooking a pond, feeling like my Japanese aunties loved me and were keeping watch until I would wake up early for another day of wonder.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tokyo night #2

Long day. Fascinating lecture on Japanese food philosophy and why people here don't get fat (all five tastes are satisfied in every meal) from culturist Elizabeth Andoh. Then lecture on decline of Japanese fish populations, and after that, somewhat unsure of why we are still eating so much fish. Highlight: Five-hour dinner with Harumi Kurihara, who is the much-nicer and much prettier version of Martha Stewart. We all fell madly in love with her. She is also staying with me in LA when she does her book signing in September. Everyone is best friends now.

Pictures slow to load with tech challenges, and I'm about to hit the sheets as it's 7 a.m. my time.


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Monday, March 1, 2010

40licious: Highly Recommended

I remember turning 40licious two years ago, and I thought I'd arrived. That I'd hit the spiritual jackpot. That I'd arrived in a room without any walls, a game in which I created the rules, and a plan with no roaming charges.

Then yesterday, my third installment of 40licious (chronolocially 42) bestowed even more heaps of blessings on me.

My three major accomplishments in the last 24 hours have been:

1. Getting bumped to Business Class on my 12-hour flight to Tokyo. They give you the golden key to the lounge, which includes a bank of computers, free food and sandwiches and tea and noodles, comfy benches for lounging/napping, a full bar, today's papers and fre-flowing champagne. There are only a few other people in here, an older American couple and a 60-something Japanese woman. We have bonded. We will breathe the same air for half a day.

2. Bringing one carry-one and one tech bag for my 10-day trip. How to be practical AND fashionable while touring waygu beef farms? I will let you know. Keep checking back.

3. Getting engaged to the best man I ever met.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

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