Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cooking lesson with Atsuko : hands-on cooking

On Sunday I had booked a cooking lesson with Atsuko from Atsukos kitchen to learn hands on how to make proper onigiri.
The lesson was great , I can recommend it. If England wasn't so far to commute, I'd sign up for more lessons!

Atsuko-sensei herself.
More students arriving.
Ingredients for the wrapping and the filling.

More ingredients. Check out those lovely origami cranes.

With the rice precooked ( and after being explained how to make proper 'sticky' rice : you need to use Japanese rice and wash it properly before cooking with the right amount of water.) Knew that.

Put the rice in a large wooden tray (rub with a wet towel to keep from sticking) and fluff the rice before use. Take a small handful of rice , add a small amount of filling in the middle and quickly knead it into a triangular shape, then wrap partially or completely with nori, while still warm.
I also made one with some stringy konbu ( seaweed) around it.
Some were with beef , some with salmon, some with umeboshi ( I love umeboshi !)

According to Atsuko sensei my onigiri looked good enough to sell and her assistant complained mine were better than hers. I know how totally polite Japanese are, so I'm always suspicious of so much praise, but actually , they do look OK.
I just have to learn to make em more quickly.

I didn't like this picture I'd taken , so I made a new batch at home.
Check it out these triangular ones : you were right Atsuko-sensei , they're good enough to sell.

I also made a round one and one fully wrapped. I call it the 'surprise package' ( it has umeboshi in it).

Of course I didn't sell the ones I made at home : I ate them and when the sun came out I had this lovely Japanese beer to finish it off. It's way better than the Asahi super dry. It's right up there with the best German pils beers. Hontoni!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Japanese Art Festival in Richmond

On 11th and 12th of June I drove up to England for the Japanese Art Festival in Richmond ,

Busy parking my motorbike in front, saw Hong (see MCM Expo) pull up and unload boxes from a car. Turns out she would be running a stand offering manga, obi and kanzashi.
Hong is a total sweety : she let me stash my gear behind her stand.Not wearing the vest keeps me from turning into a total sweaty ;) Thanks, Hong!

A bit later Chantal and Isla turned up and started helping out ,before they went to get changed into kimonos.
The stand : Chantal taking stock, Hong tying a thingy around her obi and Isla praying ?!
The goodies : beautifully handmade kanzashi.

More beautiful kanzashi.
The nice lady with the Chibi stand.
The stand of Japan Centre (left) and the people from JP books (middle) , where I bought a few books. "Learn japanese for busy people" . I asked for " Learn Japanese for people with absolutely no spare time" , but it is not out yet.

I didn't go for their suggestion to buy 'How to speak Japanese with Osaka dialect' . I'll try to learn the standard first.
The hallway leading to the Main hall aka the QCH , rushing towards us is Akemi Solloway ,the lady who is the main organizer for the event and in the back you can see the stand of Karen and Nanniiebim , where I bought a few nice manga ( every manga she had basically :). Nanniebim is the one standing behind the table with the red and yellow books.
In the Queen Charlotte Hall , I saw plenty of nice performances, like these awesome Taiko drummers.

Back at the stand , business was a bit slow , so they're having fun with their fans.

Keep checking this blog, I'll be back with more pics.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

MCM Expo May 2009

I've been too busy to keep up my blog for too long, but I have a good excuse : I've been visiting London on and off during long weekends the past month.
The MCM Expo of London is billed as one of the largest anime, manga and film festivals. No otaku or cosplayer should miss it and judging from the incredible amount of people waiting in rows for an early entry, I don't think any did!

I didn't take pictures of cosplayers this time around , but I couldn't pass up on this couple in a pirate ship . ( IS that One piece ? )
The actual hall was actually smaller than a similar event ( FACTS ) we have in Belgium , but you have so many people rotating through this that's it's has more visitors than ours.
It also allows major producing companies , while we don't allow any but small vendors.
Also a number of movie and tv celebrities attend, which we do have (but only for signing sessions) and here they do Q&A sessions.

I got to see the lovely Linda Hamilton live doing a Q&A. She explained there was no shortage of rolls offered to her after the Terminator movies, if she wanted to play a tough cop or similar parts, but nothing interesting. Hollywood typecasting, sigh!

The highlight for me came on day 2 when I met Priscilla of Kimono Daisuki and some of her friends.

From left to right : me, Priscilla, Mel and Hong. I 'borrowed' this pic from Priscilla's Flickr page.

We went inside to browse around a bit : I'd already seen everything three times over , so I just tagged along.

As elegant as Mel looks in her Lolita outfit she also has a (dark?) other side you wouldn't expect.
Here's Mel competing with the guy next to her . He's being demolished and by the look on his face , totally not believing this is happening to him.
Get them , Mel!
After the show we went outside for a few pics : Hong and her boyfriend : Francesco.

Priscilla and Mel. The black stuffed animal with the blue stone and the huggability factor of 1000 ( according to Priscilla) is Larg the Mokona from the Tsubasa series.

Afterwards everybody went to a Chinese restaurant where we ate a Chinese 'delicacy' I'd been looking to eat for a long time : Century eggs.
They're an interesting taste : a bit salty and sort of rubbery and of course they look very black.
I found a recipe here. I really liked it, thanks again for the treat and the nice time , guys !