Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Gathering: Grilled Oysters and More

Now that the Japan posts are all done, I can finally try and catch up and share everything else I’ve been eating this summer!

Back in July we had a BBQ at my sister-in-law Lita's (and brother-in-law Dennis') house in Marin. It just so happens that three of our family members celebrate the same birthday, so each year there is one big party to celebrate the birth of J’s brother, brother-in-law and nephew. The weather was gorgeous and the food was fantastic. My brothers-in-law Carl and Greg manned the beautiful outdoor kitchen (I’m so jealous!) while the rest of us cooled ourselves in the pool, drank lots of wine and had a great time.

Smiling chefs in action

I'd be smiling a lot if I had an outdoor kitchen like this one!

Now Carl has always been famous for his grilled oysters, a delicacy I’d yet to sample until this very birthday celebration. Let me tell you- if given the chance to eat these plump, juicy oysters bathed in garlic butter and/or hot sauce every day for the rest of my life, I would. It epitomizes one of the key rules (if not THE key rule) of cooking: Use good ingredients and keep it simple. Let the ingredient shine. Holy moly these babies were just delicious on their own, but toss in a pat of fresh garlic butter (not too much, just touch) and they just blossom into the perfect food. I think I ate 1/3 of the entire platter of oysters by myself. Carl and Greg also grilled up some insanely tender "beer can chicken" that we all devoured.

Get in my belly!

Carl offers up one of his delcious oysters, which I promptly grabbed out of his hand right after I took this photo

One can't survive on just oysters (well, I could) so there were ribs....

Farro, corn & black bean salad

Couscous salad.....yum

Combined with the culinary contributions of everyone else (some fruit, cheese, a fantastic couscous salad courtesy of Nina and my farro/corn/black bean mix) it was a great meal and just a great way to spend a summer day.

After playing Rockstar for hours, my nephew Dominic (right) and friend relax in the jacuzzi

Thanks to the whole family for such a great day!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Japan- The Last Snapshots

Here are the last of the photos from my Japan trip back in June. Since then I've been back in the kitchen, excited about cooking with summer's best ingredients, so I'll get back to the cooking blogging soon. Is it just me or are corn, tomatoes and basil all one needs to eat during the summer? The farmers markets are just loaded with the best and sweetest produce right now.

Anyway, back to Nippon!

Dark purple asparagus at the market in Sapporo

Taking the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo from Nagoya

Would you like some beecon, or bacon?

Hairy crab with lots of "kani-miso," at an izakaya near our hotel in Sapporo.

People gather at a matsuri in Sapporo- this area where all of the food stands are is definitely the most popular of the festival!

An array of plastic sushi displayed in the window of a sushi restaurant, Otaru.

Hmmmmm....more delicious looking plastic food in the shotengai (shopping street) in Sapporo.

Punk rocker in front of one of Japan's most popular convinience stores, SUNKUS, which is pronounced and means "thanks." It took me a year to realize that while I lived there since I kept pronouncing the "kus" like "bus."

Salmon sashimi, fresh and fatty, at an izakaya in Sapporo.

Tiny little eateries like this sushi shop are one of my favorite things about Japan. No matter what city you're in, you'll find little places- bars, yakitoriyas, sushiyas, etc.

Last but not least, my 99 year old "obaachan" or grandmother. Isn't she the cutest? She still loves to eat and chat and is just perfect.