Vegesushi: How Three Japanese Creatives are Stirring up the Sushi World:

Sushi is a quintessential Japanese food, but making it the right way just isn’t easy. At most sushi restaurants in Japan, you can expect that the person behind the counter has probably been training as a sushi chef for years – if not decades. Put simply, it’s not something that you can pick up and do lightly. And for vegetarians or vegans who might want to eat sushi, the options are pretty limited – it’s cucumber rolls, natto rolls, and maybe a shiso maki roll if you’re lucky.

Finding a way, then, to make interesting and appealing sushi for vegetarians, and in a way that doesn’t take years of practice, is a pretty tricky problem to solve. But with a little ingenuity, and the help of a traditional Japanese kitchen tool, a creative trio came across a clever – and tasty – solution, and it’s been getting plenty of attention in Japan and overseas.

(Via Tokyo Weekender)

My daughter is #Pescetarian, so typical sushi is in her wheel house but she will appreciate vegetarian options. My friend @gabriannaccone is #vegan so I am throwing #vegetarian things at her with the thought that they’re editable.

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I am in a rut, a predictable routine, for restaurants and izakaya. I don’t get out much, at least when there is no external driver to knock me out of my routine.

When I was traveling to Tokyo in advance of my relocation every place outside of my hotel was an adventure. When I moved I tagged certain places as being “go to” venues.

I’ve been here a year. Now I go to the same 6 restaurants/izakaya in the week. I grab lunches in the office cafeteria and breakfasts in the convenience store. The remainder is home cooking.

I want to keep and expand my home cooking. I also want to go beyond my early comfort zone for izakaya. I want to find new places, to get out of my rut.

My 2018 goal is to find a new restaurant each week, be it for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Another goal is to eat at home one more meal per week. Having meals ready made is key.

What are you doing to break out of your habits, at least a bit, in 2018?

My first “real” job out of college was at a large engineering company, and the most annoying part (for me) was packing a lunch. I became convinced that mediocre brown bag lunches were just part of the deal of adulthood, but this was woefully incorrect. With just a few condiments and spices hidden in my drawer, I could have taken my sad little lunches from “woefully bland” to “hey, this is actually edible.”

Source: Stock Your Office Drawer with Everything You Need for Tastier Work Lunches

Over on the PVC Security Podcast, the boys and I extol the virtues of finding your energy and focus. Making the most out of your lunch (or dinner), especially when you can’t break away for real down time, makes a difference.

Back in the day I kept soy sauce, hot sauce, sardine tins, spices, and whatever utensils I might need the office couldn’t supply. If the sun shined directly in my office, herbs instead of Ficus would populated my work place.

I used my culinary supplies so often and sang their praises, co-workers and colleagues would drive by my desk if they need a “little something”.

Sometimes the little things make all the difference.

Share your stories.

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Fall is a time for food. We can officially ditch the summer diets and stop worrying about having a “bikini body” (or, for some of us, just continue going on with business as usual but with the relief that comes from knowing we can hide all our rolls under bulky sweaters and snazzy leather jackets) and stuff our faces with the unparalleled bounty of fall foods. Pumpkins and apples and Bambis and Thumpers and doughnuts and pie and all the other rich, fattening, flavorful comfort foods we deny ourselves when it’s 90 degrees outside if for no other reason than the fact that it’s 90 degrees outside.

via Eat It Detroit: [NEWS BITES] Introducing Ferndale Restaurant Week + FestivALE.

Sleep came easy last night but didn’t stay around long. Even with the window open I could not get the room cool enough. The three hour nap I took yesterday probably didn’t help. Regardless I woke a little after 7 mostly refreshed. I grabbed a quick breakfast in the lounge after dressing. The coffee isn’t great. My motivation to hit the road was clear.

I stripped my Red Oxx bag down, then refilled it with the essentials only. Well, the essentials accompanied by the MacBook Air. Once I started walking I thought I made a huge mistake. My left foot was cramping within 100 feet of the hotel. Not a good sign.

I walked through the pain, then put the big bag over the left shoulder. That counterintuitively made my foot feel better. The MBA ended up a good move early on. The SD card in the camera ran out of space after 5 pictures. Apparently I hadn’t emptied that one. I found a cafe, ordered a cafe americano, and started to import the pictures.

The funny thing is that these pictures are from almost exactly one year ago on Parris Island, South Carolina during the 4th of July fireworks.

Here in San Telmo they have a huge open air market on Sundays. I thought I might have left for it too early, but as I climbed the slope towards Av. Defensa I saw many stalls already set up and others in various states of construction.

I read that Buenos Aires has a lot of graffiti. It is true. Almost every building I passed once out of Puerto Madero had at least some paint on it. Quite a bit talks about the Great Britain v Argentina over the Faukland Islands (Malvinas to the locals). It is safe to say there are some strong opinions on the topic. I meant to grab a photo of it on my walks but forgot. Oh, well. I figure I’ll have plenty of opportunity.

The coffee in the shop is good so I grabbed another cup before venturing out.

The market fair runs for over a mile on Av. Defensa. Hundreds of little stalls line the street. By peak market time moving was measured in inches as the crowd filled the narrow gap. There was no formal structure to how things were laid out, at least to my untrained eye. Artists seemed to be in the same area, as were musical instrument salesmen, leather workers, and antiques. By no means were they concentrated. I was most impressed by the quality and variety of the leather goods. Belts, bags, shoes, hats, and on seemed to be well made and a bargain. Next time I’ll be prepared.

Music was everywhere. Several bands and solo acts played on the avenue and side streets. Several other booths played music from local bands. One CD I had to pick up has a cover of Joy Division on it. And the cover was really, really good. I wanted to get all of them, but my on-hand cash cache wouldn’t accommodate.

There was one stall that had an absurd fascination with the Batman movies. Several banners of both modern Jokers hung throughout. It was creepy and out of place.

I heard an assortment of languages on the strip – English (American, British, Australian), Spanish, French, Russian (maybe it was Ukrainian), Mandarin Chinese, and Portuguese.

There were several off-shoots of the main drag that offered more of the same. The special parts were the grills cooking sausages and beef and all kinds of interesting fare. I had a beef and chorizo sandwich for lunch, then a pork empenada later for a snack. Roving barristas with metal coffee urns strapped on, tacos and burritos dispensed from makeshift stands of stacked Iglo coolers, and others handing out what little delicacy they had all seemed to make a brisk business.

At one of my beer stops there was a beautiful woman sitting at the table next to me. I smiled at her. She smiled at me. It turned out that she knew a little English and wanted to try it out. We talked for a bit. Her English was only slightly better than my Spanish, but we made a go of it. I asked her to join me at my table. I ordered another round for both of us. She expressed surprised that I was buying her drink. She said that doesn’t normally happen in Buenos Aires. A little later a guy showed up, touched her shoulder, then went inside the bar. She said “boyfriend” and my face must have dropped a bit. She pouted a second, gave me a kiss, said thank you for the beer, and headed inside. It was the best date I’d had in months.

It took several passes up and down the avenue before I picked up everything I wanted for gifts. A few times I took breaks for more coffee or beer. My foot went from almost tear inducing to downright tolerable. Six hours on and I was ready to head back to the hotel for a rest.

As I walked back a man came running up to me. He pointed at my leg. I told him I don’t speak Spanish, so of course he spoke more Spanish to me. I told him thank you and continued on, but he was insistent. Turns out there was thick chocolate milk all over my back and down my trousers. It was on my bags. It was a mess.

I could see the Hilton from where I was. I tried to tell the man I would take care of it at the hotel but he was instant that I follow him down some side street. A woman came up and tried to get me to go with them. While they seemed very nice there was nothing about the situation I liked. I am almost certain that 10 minutes before I had no milk on me. I know that 30 minutes before there was none as I had removed my coat to put my sweater on.

I  suspect the man poured the milk on me on purpose, but never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by happenstance or stupidity. I did note how the locals slung their backpacks over their fronts while the tourists (not me) didn’t.

I kept pushing on for the hotel while the couple kept trying to have me go down an alleyway for water.

Interestingly, when I told the woman I am from Detroit she looked concerned. She said something very fast to the man. They both said goodbye and hopped the bus. They definitely knew each other when they left.

When I got back to my room I assessed the damage. I ended up sending the trousers, blazer, and shirt to the laundry. I think it’s a 50/50 shot that they’re ruined. We’ll see tomorrow. The rest of me has a distinctive grilled meat smell about me. I find it intoxicating, though it keeps making me hungry.

Meanwhile I took a quick nap, and now I am back in the lounge enjoying a beverage before dinner. I was planning on doing dinner back in San Telmo, but the day was cooler than yesterday and there is a brisk wind. I’ll stay close as I am without a coat. There’s a steak place over by the harbor recommended to me twice. I’m actually not that hungry at the moment, but I’m sure once the calorie burn fully registers I’ll be famished.

Over on the lounge couches a few fellow Americans are debating TGI Friday’s or Burger King for dinner. Sad.

For me, tomorrow brings new barrios and a wine tasting!

Hong Kong deserves more than two days per visit. I am glad I am here for these two days to know I should stay longer. I’m writing these word as I sip a Leffe Blonde at Frites Beer. “Super” rugby and football (soccer) are on the tele. Kids run wild as parents drink and chat. American pop music plays on the PA.

I needed this rest. I’ve walked what feels like one end of the island to the other. In reality I’ve just ambled about the north end and the large shopping center by the East Hotel hunting for Dim Sum for lunch.

The dim sum place I found, called Maxim’s, had a massive wait and a huge crowd out front. The biggest advantage of traveling solo is the ease at which one can get a table at almost any restaurant. Thus after the hostess and I spoke foreign languages at each other for a while she scribbled some numbers on my table wait ticket and pointed me into the joint. I was the only westerner in the cavernous establishment. The carts of soup and sides and baskets of bundled deliciousness pushed by my table every few minutes.

I found a store, Uniqlo, that had some nice clothes, but I rank a XXL by the local standards – a size too far. While my ego isn’t keen on that as I’ve dropped a lot of weight, my shoulders and arms do not lie. I did manage to find some tee shirts the kids will love. Hong Kong has no sales tax and the cost of goods is cheap to the US dollar in my estimation, so a double bonus shopping round for me.

My hotel is new. My room, a modest number according to the website, made awesome by the corner placement. It doesn’t take much effort to see out to the harbor even though I have no direct view. Looking out over the sea of high-rise towers with their dangling drip dry clothes and precariously placed air conditioner units is amazingly hypnotizing and strangely beautiful. Care is required to avoid fixating on the A/C units’ tilt angle as my fear of heights will cause the tickle in my tummy.

Speaking of Victoria Harbor, which I wasn’t, I woke early and after a light breakfast at the hotel headed out to walk the park alongside the harbor. It was foggy, gray, overcast, drizzling, and in all other ways not the picture of a walking tour. However, the roads and paths are well-marked and clean. The weather certainly didn’t keep the locals at bay. Many teams or crew or whatever you call a gathering of T’ai Chi practitioners were practicing their T’ai Chi in various little covered enclaves and nooks throughout the entire windy green-scape.

I took many pictures and will upload them as soon as I get to a place with strong wifi. My photography was a little shaky because of the fog but also the many cups of strong black coffee I had today.

My flight over was the picture of accidental awesomeness. The plane, a Boeing 777, was only 2/3 full. Quite a few people were upgraded to first and business class. I was not one of the upgraded. My ticket fare class was too economy for such things. Since my ticket booked economy plus, basically proving a few more precious inches of leg room, it was not too much a disappointment.

Once the boarding doors closed it was no disappointment at all.

The two people booked next to me upgraded, so I had free unfettered reign over a full three seat row for the 15+ hour flight. I found a way to stay buckled and lay down for some drowsy naps on the flight. There was an inebriated southern gentleman in the row ahead, and at one point he stood up to chat with me. He, undeterred by my diligent typing on my laptop, saw no resistance to chit-chat by my ears holding my earbuds, earbuds piping podcasts into my head. Because that’s what people do, I stopped what I was doing and removed my headphones to talk. I’m not sure what we talked about. I think it was about buying fabric and North Carolina (though with his accent I would have put him in Georgia) and going to parties and jet lag.

The departure was 15:25 Thursday Eastern Time, and arrival scheduled for 20:45 Friday China Time. I strategically slept little (a lucky bout of insomnia) the night before, about 5 hours, and then did my dozes on the plane. I only had two beers (one before the flight) and two glasses of wine during the first meal, then only water. When we arrived in Hong Kong at 7:00, I was still sleepy. A longer than expected taxi ride after a longer than it should have been immigration clearing brought me to my hotel right around 21:00. Within the hour I was in bed and asleep. I woke to my alarm at 06:00 local time. I love how a small amount of planning and a bit of good luck eliminated my jet lag for this trip’s front end. We’ll see how it goes for the return.

The one thing that didn’t go well for this trip was that I didn’t realize my flight to Shanghai Sunday is earlier than the one I had asked for. Moving to a later flight would only cost over $1,000 US dollars, so I’ll head out tomorrow morning.

I took my light travel packing to a new high in low weight, practicality, and planning. It’s an 11 day trip, but 9 days when the flights factor in. I have two Land’s End blue no iron button downs, two pairs of LL Bean trousers – one khaki and the other olive, one J Crew black corduroy blazer, one black and one brown leather pair of Merrill barefoot shoes, my Col. Littleton hat, a Nike navy golf pull-over, and five sets of under garments. The joy of this is that, other than the hat and shoes and maybe the blazer, none of the rest of it needs to come back with me. The trousers still look okay in passing but are on their last legs (ha!). The shirts are okay but I don’t care for no iron shirts in general. The blazer I picked up at Salvation Army for $5, I think.

The Macbook Air, iPad2, Canon T3i, Kindle Touch, and iPhones will come back with me, but as a group are pretty light weight and easy to carry around. Add in the cables and such and the toiletry kit and I made it here in two underpacked bags. That let me bring over some Michigan treats for my coworkers in Shanghai. It also means I will have a lot of room to bring things back.

Back to Hong Kong, the sheer number of kid playgrounds and elderly exercise kiosks would put Starbucks or McDonald’s to shame. Not that there aren’t plenty of those here, too, but there is prime real estate taken up by parks and open spaces and cushioned playgrounds. They’re used, too.

There was one stop where the exercise equipment wasn’t just for the elderly. There were two Americans (by the sound of them) teaching a fitness class. Whatever they were teaching it is working. Everyone listening to them with rapt attention before eagerly implementing the softly barked instructions were fit to the point of being ripped.

As I’m typing this there is a little boy sitting at a toy piano singing “B.I.N.G.O.” as loud as he can while banging his hands on the impotent keyboard, just as happy as a clam.

Since I’m rambling on my recollections so far, I wish someone in that dim sum place had spoken some English. There was one dish I had that looked incredibly disgusting. It was, by far, the best thing I ate there.

Oh, and a note to people with braces traveling here – beware of the foul with the bones still in it. The last thing I ate at Maxim’s was chicken (I think) with the bones still in. One might be able to gnaw past the bones, but the bone shards are hard to extricate.

In my wanderings I went off of the beaten tourist path. There were a maze of twisty roads, all alike. The stalls sold everything. There were butchers, places that roasted chicken and ducks, fruit shops, spice vendors, convenience stores, hardware stores, street food vendors, appliance repair, and maybe a dozen other types of shops in 20 foot wide storefronts spilling out on the already narrow sidewalks.

One woman at a fish shop on a corner, with fish so fresh they were still flipping and flopping on their ice bed, hollered “Hello” to me and waved me over. She was trying to sell me something but kept pressing these little tasty morsels from the postage stamp of a kitchen into my hands. It was great, but once she realized I wasn’t planning on taking seafood with me back to my hotel (would people really do that other than Umberto Eco?) she focused her tractor beam elsewhere and I was free to depart.

I found the local fire engine company, ambulance dispatch, police barracks, and a number of primary schools. Most surprising about that was seeing all of these uniformed children heading off to school on a Saturday. Well, actually the most surprising part was that they were smiling.

I had planned for one aspect of Hong Kong – they drive like the Brits do, on the wrong side of the road from the wrong seat in the car. While I am not driving here I will cross the street. My attention on looking right once while crossing blinded me to the minivan coming from the left on what was in fact a two way street.

I presumed that people would walk having people pass on the right as well, but that seems to be a myth. Old women would glare at me while they continued their forward progress assuming I would move out of their way, which I did.

What else?

There is a preponderance of western coffee shops. If you’re here for a bit buying a wifi pass would be a good idea. There is wifi everywhere. Take the train instead of taxis to and from the airport. If you do take taxis go for the more expensive but faster tunnel and bridge options. You can buy umbrellas almost everywhere, so presume the weather here will be at least a bit wet and humid.