Monthly Archives: December 2008

Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko

My father has a fascination with Japan that is ongoing.  When I was around the age of six it was at a peak.  He would take me to Little Tokyo in L.A. to buy obscene amounts of origami paper and instruction books.  Then we would eat a Japanese lunch and drive back to Hollywood.  I was a very accomplished origamist and quickly became a little Japanophile myself.  I read Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, mourned Hiroshima, and eagerly awaited my father’s return from trips to Japan with his arms full of Japanese silks and Geisha dolls.

geisha

During those years my father would take me and my family to his Japanese friends’ homes in Los Angeles for Japanese New Year, celebrated on January 1.  The Japanese New Year feast is composed of foods referred to as osechi.  My father would tell me that if I ate everything and was very polite and respectful that he would take me with him on one of his trips to Japan.  I was not a fearful eater and ate many different types of foods from a young age, but swallowing some of the more foreign elements of osechi (bitter orange or bitter melon, roes of various sorts) was a feat even for me.  

Years went by, and my father continued to travel to Japan from time to time, but tickets were expensive, my prep school schedule was demanding, and despite all my good eating of osechi, the trip to Japan never materialized.  

Two years ago I went to Belize and got engaged.  The engagement was long coming, and we weren’t going to wait.  The marriage would take place within six months.

When I got back to the Bay Area my parents were there waiting to greet my new fiance and me.  My father greeted me with two business class tickets to Tokyo for him and me.  It was August, so no Japanese New Year in Japan, but it would do.  

This year my husband and I are celebrating Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko, the fledging catering company from Chez Panisse alum Sylvan Mishima Brackett.  Our bento will include Crab Namasu: Vinegared daikon and carrot with steamed Dungeness crab, Misozuke Beef Tataki: Miso-cured grassfed tenderloin, Datemaki: Sweet rolled omelet with Riverdog Farm eggs and local rockcod for wisdom in the New Year, Yuzu Pickled Turnips, Kuromame: Sweetened black soybeans for health in the New Year, Chikuzen-Ni: Local taro, carrot, potato, and shitake with lotus root and Mary’s organic chicken, Kombu-Maki: Sardines rolled Hokkaido kombu for happiness in the New Year, and Black Cod Teriyaki: Marinated and grilled Bolinas black cod.  

osechi-flier

We are lucky to have relished Brackett’s creations before (click here for that menu).  The fried eggplant was sweet and tender and the summer tomatoes offered the perfect clean refreshment.  My mouth is watering just imagining the flavors our oseshi bento will offer.

I’m hoping this beautiful gastronomic experience will set the tone for my eating for all of 2009.  And as if that weren’t enough, A Rockridge Life is desperate to see Peko-Peko expand: how about a storefront on College Avenue?  Pretty please?  

kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお願いします) 

I hope for your favour again in the coming year

Click here for more information on Brackett and Peko-Peko.

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A Wintry View of Rockridge

winterpersimmon

I was struck as I was taking a stroll yesterday by the view of this persimmon tree in its wintry state, barren of leaves.  I wrote about this persimmon tree earlier this autumn here.  I love the contrast of the bright orange globes against the bare branches and bright blue sky.  A Rockridge life.  

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Christmas Feast Menu

At the cabin in Nevada City we are having:

Hors d’ouevres:

Humboldt Fog, Brillat Saverin, and a well-aged Gouda.  Duck mousse and Port wine pate, cornichons, kalamata olives, and dry-cured Greek olives.  Homemade pickles by Rimpletide.  

Feast:

Roast Primed Rib Au Poivre  (modified: lacerated four times per rib and inserted a laterally sliced clove of garlic into top layer of fat) with horseradish cream accompaniment, Yorkshire Pudding (it isn’t Christmas at my house without it), Mustard-Roasted Potatoes (modified: substituted thyme for oregano), Haricots Verts with Caramelized Shallots, and *Candied Carrots.

Dessert:

Christmas Pudding  (beautiful store-bought) and Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies.

*whole carrots, scrubbed and trimmed.  Placed in a glass baking dish with drizzle of honey, cognac, and nutmeg.  Roasted at 375 20 minutes. 

Pictures to come.

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Merry Christmas from A Rockridge Life

We awoke this morning to snow falling dreamily from the sky onto our wooden surroundings.  

snow

Christ the Lord is Born Today.

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My Favorite Christmas Music

I love anything sung by the King’s College Choir.  

These two albums in particular are favorites:

kings-college1

 O Come All Ye Faithful

carols

Classic Christmas Carols

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The Christmas Tree

We’re almost finished decorating the Christmas tree.  The scavaged and gilded leaves turned out exceedingly well.  We even found some magnolia leaves!  Here are photographs of the end result:

leaf1

leaves

leaves2

full-tree

Lit Christmas trees are very difficult to photograph but I did my best.  We are all especially enamored with the long narrow seed pods that we glittered (the embossing glitter from Paper Source is excellent for this purpose).  I brought the garlands up from Rockridge.  They are gilded paper, available at Tail of the Yak in Berkeley for approximately $10.  I believe we only used 2 for our eight foot tree. 

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Christmas Crafts: Even Better Than the Real Thing

There is a long tradition of handmade ornaments in my family.  Whenever there was a lack of ornaments, due to fire, earthquake, a move, or little money, we made what we didn’t have.  For generations my family on both my mother’s and father’s side has used wired ribbons tied in pretty bows and strung garlands of popcorn and cranberries to decorate their trees in addition to classic hand blown glass balls.

My family also just loves making things, so we’ll use almost any holiday as an excuse to pull out the paint and craft supplies.  This year we are handmaking ornaments since we are celebrating Christmas away from home in Nevada City. 

Yesterday we collected leaves from the ground around the cabin and set them out to dry overnight.  Once your leaves are dry, all you’ll need to do this craft yourself is some gold and silver leaf paint, some paint brushes, and some old newspaper to protect your surface.  

leaf

gold1

Just lightly brush on either the gold or silver paint on one side of the leaf, trying to avoid letting the paint pool.  Let paint dry, then turn the leaf over and paint the other side.  These are gorgeous as ornaments, but equally beautiful scattered on your Christmas dinner table.

silver1

gold2

Sprinkle with glitter to take it to the next level.  

It’s not unlikely that you’ll find some plastic gold leaves at Macy’s around the holidays, but what kind of fun would that be? 

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