In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Seven

One thing I haven’t talked about yet is the amount of bicycles here. Everyone rides. They are more likely to get on a bike than in a car. In fact, you’ll see “bike parks” more often than car parks and they’ll be full. A lot of the bikes aren’t even locked because that’s just the way they roll here.

The one thing I still can’t get used to is how the bikes will just whizz past you on the footpath. There is no right of way. There is no “keep left” or “keep right”. They will just come wherever they think they will fit and they go first. Walk at your own peril. I’m just so amazed that we haven’t seen an accident yet. Whatever the law is, it doesn’t matter, bikes rule and that’s that.

This morning I again walked down to Dotonbori. I really love being out first thing in the morning and now that the weather has warmed up it’s just so beautiful.

Hubby and I were debating whether to travel to another town by train again or just go to the Aquarium which is somewhere I really wanted to go. I couldn’t see the sense in being on the train for a couple of hours to travel somewhere when there were still things here we hadn’t seen. I couldn’t justify losing a minimum of four hours for a return trip to somewhere.

So off we went, bound for the Aquarium! I was pretty excited!!

We got off at Osakako Station and passed by signs for Legoworld.  We didn’t go in but we DID see this giraffe which was pretty cool… There’s also a huge Ferris Wheel here.


There were quite a lot of people, even given the fact that it was a Tuesday afternoon.

As soon as you walk in, you find yourself  walking through the aquarium with fish swimming above and alongside you. It’s pretty freaky!


And you follow a path that takes you through to different sections. Marine life from different areas of the globe. There is lots of information in English so that was good!

The penguins look so cute right!!

There were quite a few of these crabs in the tank and they just looked like huge ugly spiders!!! I was NOT a fan! I have to admit though, they may be ugly but they also look pretty magnificent.

The Jelly Fish area was pretty amazing!

We got to an area near the end where we were able to touch the fish (and sting rays) in the tank.  I did it too and it was so yucky slimy!!
They had a few warning signs up but I don’t know that I’d be comfortable letting young children just put their hands in the tanks

 

 

I did take tons more photos but don’t want to bore you all. We had a really good time in there and I’m glad we ended up going.

IMG_5810Next stop was Universal Studios!
Well, not Universal Studio’s itself but the Universal City walk next to it.
We found a free ferry to take us over which was handy because if we were going to go by train, Google Maps was telling us to allow over an hour!

The ferry ride was only a few minutes and if you look close enough at the pic on the left, you might see it on the left hand side of the picture.

The exit/entrance for Universal Studios looks out onto this walk and there are a lot of American Chains here.

I even got to sit on Forrest Gump’s bench!

We had a very late lunch at this Italian place. I’m pretty sure it’s a chain here. Hubby wasn’t happy with what he ordered (I tease him that he always orders the wrong thing) but I was pretty happy with mine!! Especially that Dori! Geez that stuff’s good!

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By the time we left this area it was getting towards 6pm and we’d been walking for most of the day. Hubby really want to go to Cosmos square Station. I’m not sure why because I hadn’t seen what he was looking at for this area but I trusted him…

We got there, and it looked pretty barren. He led us to this “interesting” building. It seemed like there were a lot of Government Departments there… There was also an International Ferry station. He kept trying to build it up but I wasn’t fooled. The best thing I found there was a Daiso Store.

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It was pretty light when we entered but a short time later it was dark. We took a few photos of this interesting area outside.


but there weren’t many people around and it just seemed like we shouldn’t be there. Nothing was happening..

I was so glad to be on the train back home…

And in case anyone doesn’t know, I’ll leave you with instructions on how to use a Western Toilet. Handy information.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seven

We spent a good part of this morning trying to decide what to do.
We’ve looked at day trips out of Tokyo and River Cruises but nothing really appeals within the time frame we have.

So I went online and found a market area that is supposed to be really popular with tourists and better yet, it was in “walking distance” from us (It’s all relative)

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The Nakamise market was a couple of kilometres from us.

As we approached we saw a whole lot of bicycles parked.

Everyone rides a bike and you’re constantly looking over our shoulder to see if one is about to whizz past you!

 

I really don’t know how there aren’t more accidents with them here.

 

 

 

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Before we shopped at the market we walked through Senso-ji Temple which adjoins the market.

 

 

 

There were some food stalls along there and hubby and I tried some of the Crab Meat on offer

 

 

(At least, I hope that’s what it was)

 

 


You would have a hard time being here if you don’t like crowds. Wherever you go there are just crowds and crowds of people. I found myself getting anxious a few times but you just have to go with the flow.

There are soooo many shop stalls to look at and we didn’t really get to look at everyone but we did spend a lot of time there.

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I had read about the many themed cafe’s here and one I particularly wanted to visit was based on Alice in Wonderland.

It was called “Alice in an Old Castle”

 

Unfortunately no one was around so I just took a few photos (it was really dark in there) and then left back through the winding staircase.

 

 

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It looked like a pretty cool place so I was sorry we couldn’t even just have a drink there.

 

Maybe next visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wussed out at lunch time and went into an Italian place.

I seem to think we’ve eaten at this chain before but hubby says we haven’t. I love the message on their napkins!

 

 

Then it was time to walk around Ikebukuro.
There’s a department store there called Seibu and on the basement level, you will find all sorts of food that will be wrapped, packaged, then packaged again for you to take home.

 

 

The pictures I took were mostly of the desserts/cakes because that’s what we were after but they had lots of meat and savoury products too.

Hubby and I got a large share of cakes and snuck off to find somewhere to eat them.

One thing about Japan is that you can be hard pressed to find public seating and rubbish/trash bins!  Yet it is mostly always clean. We haven’t seen litter apart from the odd cigarette butt, but there are no bins around.

We walked for a bit then found a sunny spot that we thought was behind a walkway. We sat down and started greedily devouring our goodies when all of a sudden, people started rushing by.

Turns out we were in a walkway through the train station.. Whoops. So much for trying to be discreet.

But that’s ok, no one knows us here….

We walked around some more and spoke to a few locals that approached us speaking English.

So many things to see. There is always something happening.

Hubby and I often look at each other saying “Where are all these people going???” because it’s like a major rock concert or something has just let out and everyone is rushing to go home.

But in Japan it’s just another regular night where crowds, loud electronic music and dress ups are just part of everyday life.

I think today was the first day since we’ve been here that we didn’t have dumplings! Who would have thought that there is a limit to dumpling love.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow is going to have in store for us!

St Francis Winery

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Potential elegance awaits,
Pretty food wows diners and
The specials boards entices us to eat things we wouldn’t normally….

898718-st-francis-wineryDiners today we made a trip to St Francis Winery which is on Old South Rd at Reynella.
The website says the Winery was established around 1852 and if you’d like to know more about the history of the property I’d encourage you to have a look through their website.

As for us, we were just having lunch today although it is a perfectly picturesque place to have a wedding or other function. In fact, I must mention I remember coming here a few years ago when I was part of a female barberhop quartet and singing at one of those functions!

As you walk into the main dining area you get a feeling that you’re walking into an elegant room. On closer inspection you notice that perhaps it could do with a complete refurbishment. The furniture and carpets look a little dated but what this room does have going for it are the pretty green views from the large windows.

The staff were very courteous and guided us to a table. The menu had some really interesting things on there, including a share plate as part of their “specials” board, that had crocodile on there! Well we just had to try that!

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From left we had Peking Duck shanks, Tempura soft shell crab, Salt and Pepper Crocodile and a Crispy Asian Salad. I guess the salad was under the Tempura soft shell crab.

What I loved about this share plate was that we got to try things we wouldn’t have normally eaten. Now I have had crocodile once before, and that was in Cairns. The crocodile on this dish was a much “chunkier” piece and I got to have a good taste. I remembered what I’d said about it the first time I’d eaten it. It seems to have a taste that’s in between seafood and meat. It’s not a tender meat, but it does have a slight seafood taste. It can be tough and stringy and yet there’s something pleasing about it also – That could have something to do with the way it was cooked and flavours that came with it but I really liked it.
The next thing I tried was the Peking Duck. I’m not sure what the “Peking” part actually means but these were cold slices. They tasted ok and as expected were very similar to chicken. It was just a little strange having a cold meat on a dish that had two other hot meats.
The Tempura soft shell crab was also interesting. I must admit it was a lot “mooshier” on the inside than I was expecting. I have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like, I can only comment on what I ate. It was cooked in a very crispy and tasty batter so I enjoyed it, but I can’t say I got to taste a lot of the crab.
The share plate came presented really nicely and again, I’m glad we ordered this and got to try a few things we normally wouldn’t have.

While we waited for our mains I saw other plates coming out, including a few dishes I’d been tossing up between and they looked really good!!! Everything coming out looked so pretty on the plate! I like that they place a lot of importance on presentation, without skimping on the size of the meal.

For main, hubby ordered from the specials board also. He picked the Beef Brisket.
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I noticed this on the specials board too but couldn’t get past a bad experience we had with Beef Brisket at another establishment….
But look at how good it looks! Those vegetables especially!
I offered to trade one of my potatoes for one of those onions on hubby’s plate but he said no way.
He said the meat was tender and had a nice smoky flavour. The vegetables were a great accompaniment and the mash had a nice, subtle, garlic flavour.
I’d probably be more inclined to have this on a cold Winter’s night than a humid Summer day but still, he enjoyed what he had.

For main I chose the Atlantic Salmon
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This Salmon had the best and most crispiest skin I’ve had since I started reviewing. It was really beautiful to eat. If it had been cooked any longer, the Salmon would have been in danger of being too dry but as it was, it was cooked well and had a beautiful colour and taste to it.
I’m not too sure what was on top of the salad but that was nice and fresh. The vegetables were crispy and gave the dish a nice colour variation!

I really liked the way we were treated by the wait staff too. They were present but not so much that it ruined your dining experience.

The one little negative, probably not worth mentioning but I will, was I tried the wine they recommended, and I can’t say I liked it – That’s kind of disappointing when you’re dining at a Winery however it was a minor thing.

Have you been to St Francis Winery?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!

Till next we chow…

Jimmies

Today on the Dining Diaries…

Cracked wooden boards that give us the heebeegeebees (and hopefully nothing else)…
Fries that excite and
Raw dough and serves that make me want to cry.

Today diners we were at the famous Jimmies restaurant in Crafers. It really is in a gorgeous spot in the Adelaide hills but good luck trying to get parking there!

It was a sunny but frosty day in Adelaide but the restaurant was deliciously warm as we walked in. It was quite full and I was trying to get a sneak peak at other diners plates as we were led to our table.
We were seated by a window which gave us a nice view

It was nice to sit there sipping some wine and any chill we may have felt soon was gone.

FullSizeRender (12)FullSizeRender (16)I noticed they had decorative birdcages in just about any corner and in fact also had a feature wall with bird wall paper on it. I would have liked to have known if there was any connection to that and the name because there didn’t seem to be any.

Because we were seated in a room around the corner with only a few other tables, it seemed like we were pushed out of the way however I couldn’t see any other way they could have sat us in that place. Still, the view was nice…
It just felt like the room was not as special as the menu sounded – if that makes sense…

So onto the food! I chose one of the specials – Blue Swimmer Crabs Linguine with tomato sugo, cherry tomato, baby spinach, basil, garlic and chili.
Hubby chose a Lamb Calzone
We also ordered some fries to share while we relaxed with our drinks.

I believe Jimmies is primarily a pizza place because there were a lot of pizza’s on the menu and in fact, looking around at the two large tables next to us, they all had pizzas. The pizza’s were served on wooden boards.
I’m not a fan of wooden boards as I can just imagine all those little germs growing between the cracks and waiting to attach to any food I might eat.
The pizzas we saw were very thin crust so if you like that kind, you’d be happy here. I prefer a thicker, airy crust myself.

IMG_6654The fries looked pretty good when they came! I mean, fries are fries right? But these were presented nicely and they looked really fresh.

That paper they’re in is made to look like a front page of a newspaper and was titled “Food Review” or something like that, with cute little articles about food.

Those sauces the fries came with were amazing!!! I can’t remember how they were described on the menu but the tomato based one seemed to have a Mexican taste to it and the other seemed like a mayonnaise with garlic aioli and perhaps some other seasoning in it. That one was my favourite!

We did have to wait a little while for our mains though.
The server came up at one point to tell us they weren’t far away now but it would have been nice if she’d offered us another drink for our patience or something like that.

FullSizeRender (14)I couldn’t help but be disappointed with the size of mine when it came.
It just looked like a little heap on a big plate.
The taste however, was something else. Every ingredient in there was fresh and bursting with flavour. The sugo was delicious. Although I couldn’t see a lot of crab, the taste was strong throughout.

Unfortunately I also got a bit of shell in my dish which really spoiled it for me.
I’m normally weirded out by seafood but really wanted to step out of my comfort zone by ordering this dish and that shell didn’t do much for my bravery! However up until that point I had really been enjoying it.

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Hubby was really looking forward to his calzone as it had been a while since he had one.

Yes, it was served on a wooden board. You can’t see it in the picture but there was also a large crack on it – that’s where the germs live – at least, that how I saw it.
To make things worse, an ant came up out of somewhere, crawling along the edge of the board.
Those are the type of things you have to put out of your mind when you’re hungry.

As for the taste… the filling was delicious! The sugo was divine! the pastry? Well that was uncooked. As soon as I saw it I could tell but I tasted some also and it just tasted like completely raw dough. Now THAT was disappointing for a place that is supposed to be serving quality food.
I’m not sure if it’s able to be seen in the photo I took but that is absolutely raw dough.
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They had made us wait for that food and honestly I would have waited longer, that would have been ok, rather than have food that is not cooked properly.

Although it sounds like I’m having a big whinge, there were lots of things I liked about Jimmies. I think the chef is on track, he, or whoever  is preparing the food, just needs to pay a little more attention to detail. The quality of the ingredients and food is undeniable but shell in your food and raw dough is unacceptable.
I hope this doesn’t put you off going there though and I’d be inclined to revisit in twelve months or so to see if anything has changed.

Have you been to Jimmies?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below….

Till next we chow….

 

Turning Japanese – Part Eight

We woke up to a drizzly day in Osaka. The first day we’ve had here with rain.
Not to worry, our airbnb host has umbrellas in our room so after googling a few places we wanted to visit, we were off… on foot…

I think you get to see a lot more if you go on foot. The only thing you have to be conscious of are the people on bicycles. I would love to know what the accident rate is here.

Our first stop was the Kuromon Market. This place is just amazing!!! Wall to wall people. We were there on a Sunday and I’m not sure how that compares to other times during the week but it was difficult to walk through!
I’ve heard that vendors come here to purchase produce for their restaurants.
If you were a seafood lover you would NOT want to leave this place!
Unfortunately, I’m not a seafood lover and the smell was making me feel ill, however, for everyone else, it was heaven.
I’ll share a few pics I took while in the market with you.

 

After wandering through the markets we found a place to have some lunch. I’ve seen this chain around the place in Tokyo and in Osaka – Italian Tomato – Yes, we went Western again.

Although I’ve been told Italian food is not that great here, I didn’t mind it.
I have been craving pasta and bread though so maybe that had something to do with it.
I chose a spaghetti bolognese
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The menu says that the meat is angus beef.

As I told hubby while I was eating it, if I’d been served this in Fasta Pasta, I probably wouldn’t have been happy however everything was ok. The pasta was ok, the sauce was ok… the parmasen cheese on top was ok…

As “ok” as it was, it was exactly what I wanted so I was happy with it.

Even as it repeated on me for the next couple of hours,  I was happy.

I love my pasta…

 

Hubby chose the doria with hashed beef and soft boiled egg. What is doria I hear you ask… Doria was originally created in France however now is found almost exclusively in Japan. It’s basically a rice gratin. The rice is either flavoured or topped with other ingredients such as bolognese sauce or sauteed prawns, covered in white suace and cheese and then grilled.FullSizeRender-32

 

Hubby was really happy with this. The egg was gloriously runny.

Unfortunately we hadn’t ordered bread with it otherwise it would have been good to mop up that egg with some bread.

There were quite a few people in this restaurant and all were using forks…. another comfort for me even though I’m becoming quite a pro with chopstickts.

 

 

 

FullSizeRender-40I’ve got to show you a pic of the napkins in this place as I thought they were pretty cute.

 

Don’t you just love them!! Loving, singing, eating.

 

It’s all about me and not necessarily in that order either!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we left that place we got a scrumptious cake from the bakery next door.

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How could I go past it? It has my initial on the top!!!

It was filled with smooth sweet custard and such great value! This cake was only 100 yen.

The food here is just amazing.
Hubby and I walked to another food market which was about two kilometers away. Again, wall to wall people. Where do they all come from!!! We got another pastry from there and then walked back to our room for a little rest before dinner.

For dinner, we went to the same place we went to yesterday. We’d seen these enormous bowls of noodles going out of there yesterday and we wanted what they were having!
This time, when the server saw us coming up, he immediately got one of his work mates. Apparently the workmate spoke English.
I really applaud him for trying but we didn’t communicate. I pointed to what we wanted on the menu but I had no idea what it was. If I’d thought about it I would have taken a picture to share with you guys, then someone might have been able to tell me what we’d eaten!

In any case, two enormous bowls came out. They were full of noodles and veggies and it was so goddam tasty!! I just loved it!
I left my hand in the pic so you can get some perspective of how big this bowl was.

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And look at me using those chopsticks like a champion!! (Not really but it’s a photo and I can get away with writing that)

Tomorrow we’re hoping to get to Kyoto!! Can’t wait!