Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Lost in Translation

Happy New Year!

I never thought I would be sat in a hotel room in Japan writing a blog post but here we are.

I like the surprises that life can throw our way - well as long as it's positive.  Curve balls that are more like cannon balls I think I have had my fair share of.

New Year has arrived and with that are the usual thoughts, surrounding thoughts, dreams goals and how to make them into actions.

This New Year's Eve was spent in a very serene way.  E and I went to a small shrine near our hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo and were surrounded by strangers and people around the temple. There were food stalls with street foods consisting of noodles, soup, beef curry and Octopus balls - which I had some of.

The countdown happened very quietly then we heard a lot of excited cheers and then people smiling and squeaking and it was then we knew that Midnight had happened.

This time last year E and I were in New York, well Brooklyn to be precise.  After a nice dinner near Bowery we went back and watched some of the fireworks and then revelled in the energy of night.

In Tokyo it was the peacefulness that we both appreciated.

I am still slightly in shock that I am here in Japan as since I was a child I wanted to come here. The people are wonderful over here, I really like how polite and how beautifully they do things.

For example just a simple lunch will always be presented beautifully.  There is a charming way in which a receipt will be delivered to you as well as how you are handed your change.

But more gobsmacking is the architecture - new and old. Tokyo has a plethora of neon and makes you feel that you are in the future.  Whereas Kyoto has an oldness about it that makes your jaw hit the floor.

The thing I have been enjoying most has been the food. I love Japanese food and have found that living on the noodle soups they have here has been just the thing for winter. 

I don't crave potatoes, I don't want curry I just want clean soup.
Especially dark, salty consomme esq broths with udon or soba floating in there.  Especially with a few flecks of greens or some tofu, or some ebi tempura...

or just some plain miso or a ramen that makes you realise that Wagamama serves you dishwater in comparison.

The broth here knocks the s*it out of what you get in England.

We did go for sushi last night and that was incredible. We watched as the sushi chefs greeted people loudly and cheered as people arrived and left.  We selected what we wanted from a convenient picture menu and a few minutes later our little feasts arrived.

I did feel slightly nervous about eating sushi right in front of the chef but I seemed to be doing all the right things.  From a sushi making course I did I remembered everything my teachers told me about the correct way of eating sushi and before I took my first piece of nigiri in my chopsticks I found myself almost mechanically remembering everything we had been told.

So to start with I began with the Tomago - and it was sweet yet slightly far so good.  I then worked on to the squid which I usually can't stand but now I get why you can eat it raw. The Tuna was the best I've ever had, it literally melted, as did everything else. 

I also liked that here you can get tofu skin in food and that too is a lovely texture and delicate flavour.

Amidst this I was cautious not to dip the rice in the soy sauce, nor to load the dish with loads of wasabi (I didn't put any last night) and from the chef's glances and smiles and thumbs up I gathered I was eating it all correctly.

E had sashimi so she got the slightly easier end of the bargain!

it was a joy to be sat in a place buzzing with atmosphere.  This was our first sushi experience in Japan and one of my happiest sushi memories so far.

On Friday it is E's Birthday and aside my mini freak out as to what sort of gift to give her. I say this because she surprised me on Christmas day with the flights to Japan - but she assured me that this was a combined gift as Christmas, Birthday and our 2 year anniversary have all come together pretty much  at once. 

Still I don't see this as a competition or tit-for-tat situation but at the same time I know that a bag of wasabi peranuts isn't going to be a great way to show matter how good they taste!

Still I have managed to find some little bits that are thoughful and I know she will like and in between  writing this am hunting for an exciting restaurant to go to for her birthday.  I know the right thing will appear and it will also be special as its our last night in Tokyo.

We will be staying in Ueno so getting a link back for Narita will be not too difficult.

The hardest thing will be leaving for the airport...E and I have both started feeling a bit sad that we are leaving.

Still in UK there are lots of things to look forward to and more importantly things that need to be done.  I have a website to launch as well as have my second Charing Cross appointment.  As chest surgery is needed to be sorted out this year.

On the day of my Charing Cross appointment also marks exactly six months on T. To which I shall mark in solitude with a nice coffee and a cake from Ottolenghi.  His cakes are wonderful but I only want one of his because he is handsome and my inner gay boy fancies him.

Otherwise I would bake a cake but then I don't want to get fat or be accused of making everyone else fat around me either.  Especially when January is diet month for most.

This month is also my legal birthday as well, but everyone is always skint around that time so will think of something low key and as financially accessible to do or might just have a very quiet affair.

I am 28 this year after all and my next big birthday shall be when I am 30. To which I hope I have a few personal things sorted out by then. Still like everything else it's all in progress and there is always more that can be built and improved upon.

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