For some reason I have never been a huge azalea fan, but the azaleas around Rockridge this year changed my mind. I just kept walking and driving by these bushes absolutely bursting with color, and I couldn’t resist any longer. Unfortunately, my (former) distaste meant I waited a little too long to start photographing the blooms, so I missed my change to capture a few of my favorites (there is an amazing orange-pink one a few doors down from me that has since lost its blooms). I did manage to catch a few though. The orange and white at the bottom are some of my favorites.
I learned more about azaleas (such as the fact that all azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas, similar to the fact that all daffodils are narcissus, but not all narssisus are daffodils) from the Azalea Society of America. They have a great FAQ section. Some azaleas are native to Japan, and azaleas, similar to cherry blossoms, are quite celebrated in Japan. There are some great photographs of an azalea festival in Shiofune-Kannon (Ome, Tokyo) on Yumi’s flicker page.
On a related note, you should definitely look at this slideshow from the NY Times on Philadelphia gardens. Great pictures of alliums, primroses, poppies, peonies, and of course…azaleas!
About six months ago two of my nearest and dearest (and biggest food and sushi appreciating) friends, Boris and KRB, took me to 15 East in New York. We sat at the bar while Master Chef Masato Shimizu served us piece after piece of delicately cut fish atop warm, fleshy grains of rice. I’d never had anything like it in my life. Not even on my trip to Tokyo did I eat sushi like this (for some reason on my short stint in Tokyo I didn’t have good luck with sushi, maybe it was the jet lag? But became ADDICTED to Okinawan cuisine at this one little spot–if memory serves it’s Ryutan?). In any case, 15 East blew my mind. Just the experience of two temperatures in my mouth; the subtle warmth of the rice with the coolness of the fish, was a total revelation.
The months since have been practically torture; not just due to a desire for the flavor and feel of 15 East, but by the odious experience of eating any other sushi, which now tastes bland at best. The offenses that are committed all around us against fish and rice, a noble creature and sustaining staple, are just despicable.
Two months ago, I discovered the existence of Yume Sushi on Alameda through intense combing of yelp.com. Something in my gut told me there had to be better sushi in the Bay Area than anything I’d tried in my searching over the past 3+ years–and Yume could be it. Continue reading