What’s in season: chestnuts, persimmons and DEER

Currently in Japanese countryside, chestnuts and persimmons have taken over/are in season. Oh and deer! The other night, I spotted 5, YES FIVE deer on my drive home which for me, coming from a city where nothing but cats, dogs and university students in jandals roamed the streets, was; absolutely surreal and by surreal I mean, I screamed. Loud. Thank God it was night-time without a single soul in sight and I was completely alone in my fragile bentobox Japanese K-car…!!  Also, I found some antlers in my backyard (as you do) and am now using them as a jewellery stand on my dresser.
Hashtag rurallife. Anyways, back to the edibles.

Now, there are SO many persimmons and chestnuts around that they have literally conquered the sidewalk (not that there ever was a side-walk – Japan has the world’s narrowest roads – don’t quote me on that but I’m sure it’s true). I cannot bike/walk half a meter without spotting one. Persimmons, I have always loved but after some recent study on the fruit, it turns out they’re rather high in calories so, I am cutting back (insert pout) but chestnuts, Chestnuts! Id never tried chestnuts before coming to Japan. Also, I had no idea some nuts had to be boiled before they could be consumed? Did you? Or am I just dumb? I guess I assumed all nuts were like walnuts (came off a tree and able to be eaten raw). Turns out peanuts grow underground? What? Here’s an idea, why don’t schools teach this stuff in place of algebra?

So my lovely neighbour boiled some chestnuts for about 50 min, halved them with a knife and we ate them using a teaspoon. To me, they taste like sweet potato! I can’t wait to cook/bake with them. Suggestions welcome…

the best soup is in shoo

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It’s hotter than a preheated oven here in Japan so I know you’re not going to want to hear about soup but believe me when I say the soup lunch at Piatto Nono is the best I’ve ever had. EVER. Plus, the place is air conditioned so anything’s possible. So what makes their soup so special? Probably the fact that it contains the entirety of Mimasaka’s summer produce. Seriously. Let’s play spot the vegetables.
green beans
spring onion
and if all that weren’t enough of a flavor boost, a poached egg and some very good quality bacon are present, too.  For 1180 yen about hmm $13 NZD you get the nutritious dense soup, a choice of mixed grain rice or a bread roll and a drink, too! So what are you waiting for? Grab your ladle and head to Shoo.
For more information (menu, directions etc) click here.

An additional non-food related note:
restaurant is fancy (doubles as art gallery/jewelry store) so you know, don’t rock up in jorts.

Review no20 Shop Eight Food & Wine


Le Panier Bread w Karakaas butter
Poached courgettes w popcorn, sweet corn, paprika & coriander
Slow roasted carrots & honey w tomatillo, black walnuts, hazelnut & junket
Ellesmere wasabi turnips w peas & cherries
Brown butter potatoes w sauerkraut, hot chilli & parsley

What if I told you, you could wine and dine to your heart (and stomach’s) content and at the same time, do your bit for the environment too? Sounds too good to be true? Not at Shop Eight Food & Wine. Located on the oh-so-adorable New Regent Street, Shop Eight is an eatery/experience you wouldn’t want/can’t afford to miss. Several aspects make Shop Eight so special. The first being there is no set menu – instead, meals are decided and published online each morning. With a daily changing menu, it’s evident chef Alex Davies’ focus is on highly seasonal produce. However; upon arrival we were also told that almost all ingredients were locally sourced and organic too! Meaning, their beautiful produce-driven menus will always include fresh, delicious and creative flavour combinations – most of which diners may never normally select for themselves.

As if all this couldn’t get any better, for the entire month of February, Shop Eight has gone vegetarian in order to raise awareness of the immense damage the meat industry has on our environment. With their website clearly stating that “no animals or fish were killed in the making of this menu”. Last Saturday, for the price of $50pp, my mother and I embarked on a delectable journey (of 5 dishes) through the menu option “a taste of everything” (FYI: I haven’t included a photo of the final cheeseboard as I demolished it within seconds – oops) and were honestly impressed. The flavour combinations were unusual yet creative and minimalistic yet surprisingly flavoursome! A truly unique experience like no other, I wholeheartedly recommend you go.