Thursday, May 6, 2010

Awesome Golden Week: Tue. May 4

Tuesday for lunch I finally managed to finish off the soup and broccoli leftover from the weekend. After lunch I went to Miyakin (bakery/cafe next to Tsutaya) to meet up with Yu-san and another friend who used to go to nihonbuyo okeiko with me. We spent close to two hours there chatting and enjoying tea/cake.

Even though I'd eaten not too long before going to the cafe, I couldn't decide between getting a strawberry cake or chocolate cake, so I ended up ordering the set that came with both. @_@ It was a little greedy of me, I admit, but I figured I'd been walking a lot over the past few days, so... ^^;;

At 5pm I met up with another friend and we went to Hirosaki Castle to see the cherry blossoms at night. We took the mountain road there, so we were still able to see quite a lot of snow in some places! It took us about 2 hours to get to Hirosaki from Towada.

I have been to Hirosaki Castle during hanami once before--two years ago when my parents, Bren & Ceci came to visit--but seeing it at night is really a completely different experience.

I'd say they were probably the most beautiful sakura I've seen in Japan so far. The only rather unfortunate thing was that it was a little crowded/noisy, but that really couldn't be helped since Hirosaki is pretty much the place for hanami in Aomori.

Again, with my camera I couldn't take the best photos (night shots without flash are difficult), but luckily my friend had a much better camera than mine. This is my hands-down favourite hanami picture:

For dinner we had ジャンボおでん(コンニャク)-- jumbo oden (konnyaku). It was black(!) on the outside but didn't really taste all that different from regular konnyaku (although it's been a while since I've had it, so maybe I just couldn't discern any differences). We also had yakisoba--another thing I hadn't had in a while.

Going back to Towada we took the toll roads, so the return trip only took about 1.5 hr!! I was really really happy we went to Hirosaki when we did (we had made plans to go on Friday night, but if we'd waited until then the sakura would've been well past their peak). It was probably the highlight of an already excellent Golden Week of hanami!

Awesome Golden Week: Mon. May 3

(Random note: This is my 200th post!!)

Monday I did a quick pan fry of shiitake mushrooms and beef (the unused portion from what I purchased for the "soup") and added some colour with mini tomatoes for lunch.

Then I went shoe shopping at Shimamura. Since I've been buying a fair bit of white/beige/light coloured clothes recently, I wanted to get some flat white shoes that I could walk comfortably in for long periods of time. I didn't find any shoes that I liked, but I did get a white shoulder bag for only 580 yen. ^_^

After Shimamura, I took a bit of a walk along the Oirase River to admire the cherry blossoms. As lovely as Kanchogai Dori is, I'd have to say that I prefer the peace and quiet of hanami along the river. Kanchogai Dori is quite congested with traffic and tourists, but along the river I barely saw any cars or people and I could hear birds tweeting and even a (confused, perhaps) rooster cock-a-doodling! It was also a nice sunny day with a warm (if strong) wind, so I felt totally energized by the walk.

As I walked back to my car, I thought: "Days like this, I feel like I could live in Towada forever."

And then it was back to shoe shopping! I went to Chambre/Avail next and found not only the comfortable walking shoes I was looking for, but also a pair of white wedge sandals. Since I still had time before my nihonbuyo practice (okeiko お稽古), I decided to head down to Uniqlo to take advantage of the new Golden Week specials I'd seen advertised in the morning fliers.

I thought that since I'd just been there on Saturday I'd be quick, but I still ended up spending about an hour there. Seeing that some things I'd purchased only a week or two ago at regular price were then on sale for 500-1000yen less, I resolved that I would stop buying things at Uniqlo at full price--unless I was going to wear what I bought the same or next day. (And when there are new sales every weekend, there really is no need to buy anything at full price.)

After Uniqlo I had just enough time to go home and drop my purchases off before going to okeiko.My friend Yu-san also came to okeiko so it was pretty fun. Then the two of us (Yu-san and I) went to Sheep's Bakery and Cafe for dinner.

The menu isn't all that varied, and the food--while tasty--isn't particularly spectacular, but the atmosphere is really great. It's a very stylish, "grown-up" kind of place. I quite liked it and wouldn't mind going again in the near future.

Both of us chose the "Beer Plate" for dinner. It comes with a beer (can be substituted for any beverage of equal or lesser cost--I had a Shirley Temple), "Canadian" burger, onion rings, salad, and mixed nuts. That night they had apparently run out of beef, but they told us we could still order it if we didn't mind getting "bacon" instead of a beef patty. When they said bacon I was expecting something like a BLT, but it was more like peameal bacon, so it was heartier than I expected.

We also both had the berry sauce "Sheep's Parfait"--bread with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet topped with frozen raspberries--for dessert. It was yummy! 

Speaking of the parfait, when I was looking through the menu to decide what I wanted for dessert, I noticed some small errors in the English translations: 1)ジンジャーエール →EspressoGingerale; and 2) 生ハムとモツァレラフライ→Raw Ham & Fly Mozzarella. When I pointed out the mistakes to Yu-san, she suggested that maybe we should point it out to the staff. But we didn't want to seem officious/meddlesome (お節介) so we debated for a while about whether or not we should say anything.

Ultimately, when we were ordering dessert, Yu-san decided to ask first about the "EspressoGingerale"--"Is this an original drink?" The waiter seemed to take our inquiry pretty well (right away he was like "Sorry, it's a misprint"), so she (Yu-san) went ahead and mentioned that we had actually noticed another misprint and explained that difference between "fly" and "fry."

After hearing the explanation, the waiter was like "Oh, that's kind of bad, isn't it" (それはまずいですね) and shortly after we could hear him tell someone else back in the kitchen that F-L-Y was the word for an insect in English. I expect that I'll see the corrections on the menu when I go back next. ^_^  

Following dinner we met up with a friend of Yu-san and took a walk along Kanchogai Dori to see the cherry blossoms at night. They were pretty, but unfortunately with my camera it was hard to take good pictures. At any rate, it was another great day of hanami for me!