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Friday
Dec312004

ruth's new book, hashimoto, handwritten entry





Ruth's new book, "Me and My Sister", is available for pre-ordering through Amazon.ca! It's the second book that she's illustrated AND written. I have such a cool sister.

Hey, has anyone seen the One Man Lord of the Rings yet?

Earlier this week, Jeff and I went to Hashimoto with our friends Mark, Andrew and Jenny. Andrew & Jenny are in town visiting from California. We tend to only go to this upscale kaiseki restaurant about once a year as an extra-special outing because of its price (choice between $100 and $150 meal option, not including alcohol) and location (a remote strip mall in Mississauga), but it's always worth it. Chef-owner Masaki Hashimoto decides on the menu; you just sit there and eat whatever he makes. :-)

Andrew kept notes on his Palm about what we were served. He says he missed some details, but we were basically served the following (we opted for the $100 option):

- Crab with sudachi in lemon
- Pompano & sheephead (ishidai...a type of fish, not from a real sheep) sashimi
- Clear soup with monkfish & yuzu (citrus)
- Baked persimmon (kakidenga) filled with black codfish, sweet miso, walnuts, eggplant, sweet yam potato. Garnish: smoked salmon, ginko nuts
- Winter bamboo, minced chicken, snow peas, ume, carrot.
- Burdock tai buckwheat rolls
- Sweet rice with chestnut. White miso soup with watercress, shiitake and okra.
- Homemade coffee jelly, homemade vanilla ice cream, wild berries.

My favourite course was the fourth dish, a baked persimmon filled with blacked codfish, deep-fried walnuts, eggplant, and sweet yam potato. Tender gingko nuts were elegantly speared on pine needles, with a few small cubes of unbelieveably good smoked salmon on the side. After we ate the filling, we ate the persimmon as well.

Every serving was exquisitely presented without pretension, and the server (sometimes the chef's wife, sometimes his son) would describe each dish after setting out the plates. Our group was the only table at the restaurant that evening; there was only one other customer, and he sat at the bar. The restaurant itself only has three tables; I wonder if they would have still opened if we had to cancel?

We also had sakura-flavoured Okunomatsu sake, which was served chilled. We didn't know the price until we got the bill; the owner's wife asked if we'd like some sake, and we said yes. Instead of bringing the sake in the usual small porcelain containers, she instead brought out the elaborate decorated box, pulled out the container and opened it in front of us.

As she poured it, she described how the sake was made in one part of Japan, the special process it was put through to give it its special flavour. We smiled and listened and the same thought was going through all our minds: How much was this bottle of sake going to cost?!? It seemed tacky to ask at that point since we had already committed, so we just went ahead and enjoyed it. It was VERY smooth and did have a unique fragrance; I've never had chilled sake before and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. At the end of the meal, we found out from the bill that the sake cost $100. Ouch, but we all agreed it was worth it.

One of the things I love about Hashimoto's is that I inevitably get to try at least one or two things I've never had before. In this case, it was the sake, coffee jelly and the pompano & sheephead (ishidai) sashimi. I may not like everything that's served (though this time, I enjoyed everything without reservation), but it's always an adventure. I love the anticipation of wondering about what's going to be served next, admiring the colours and arrangement of each dish before starting to eat.

This is not a restaurant for the cautious or unadventurous eater, nor is it for someone who's in the mood for simple sustenance, doesn't care about the atmosphere or presentation. Our server noticed some of our party trying to read the Japanese written on the plates beneath one of the courses, example. He translated for us, then told us that the poems were written by the owner's mother as she was hiking through the mountains in Japan.

Yes, it was just a small detail, but it was just one of many such details that enhanced the experience for us.

And here's the last handwritten Blathering of the year (click here for a bigger image). Happy New Year, everyone!


Blatherings: Jan 31, 2004



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Thursday
Dec302004

tsunami



Amanda and Zoë reading one of Ruth's
books earlier this year.


Thanks *so* much for the Blatherchat and Livejournal support in response to yesterday's Blathering, everyone. I was feeling somewhat freaked about the incident; reading your posts helped.

Makes me more determined to take a self-defense course next year. I had resolved to do so this year, but an elbow sprain and resulting tendinitis setback early on nixed that idea.

By the way, I've resolved not to make any New Year's Resolutions this year except for the resolution not to make resolutions. I also know I still owe some of you Special Prizes for posting resolutions last year; you will get them eventually, I promise. And no, that's not an official resolution. :-)

---

I've been following the coverage of the tsunami disaster. 116,000 dead so far. The number is beyond comprehension for me. Even one death is tragic, forever affecting the lives of the people who cared about that one person...trying to imagine the number of loved ones affected by this tragedy is heartbreaking.

Amanda, Scott, and Zoë went to the Canadian Red Cross yesterday to donate funds to tsunami relief. From Amanda: "We are encouraging everyone we know to do the same. $1, $5, $10. It all adds up!"

For any who wish to help, here's a partial list of organizations posted on the CNN site. Also, Amazon.com currently enables users to donate directly to the American Red Cross to help in the evacuation of survivors and distribution of first aid (thanks to Mary Ellen Wessels for the heads up).

As some of you know, Arthur C. Clarke lives in Sri Lanka, one of the areas affected by the tsunami. The sf author and family are fine; here's a letter he posted yesterday.


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Thursday
Dec302004

Too paranoid?

Encounter


I've never been attacked or mugged, but I've heard enough stories in the media that I generally try to be smart about personal safety without obsessing about it. I avoid walking through empty alleys and areas in the city at night if I'm alone, for example, and try to stay aware of my surroundings.

After what happened earlier this evening, however, I'm torn between feeling incredibly naive/unprepared and the fear that I'm way too paranoid.

Around 10:30 pm, I was heading home after spending some time at my sister's place. I'm lucky enough to live very close to a subway station (at least until we move :-)). Usually I take the direct route out of the subway station onto the street. Because of the cold, this time I decided to take a slightly longer but warmer route that took me through part of an underground passage connecting two shopping malls.

I found myself walking behind a man (medium build, looked like he was in his mid-30s, scruffy hair and clothing) carrying a large rucksack; two other people were a ways ahead of him. I barely registered the fact when the couple went through the doors ahead, but definitely noticed the man just ahead of me stopping as soon as the couple had disappeared, and turning around to face me.

"Are you familiar with the downtown area?" he asked.

Thinking he was just going to ask for directions, I cautiously replied, "Sort of. Why?"

He then launched into a long and rambling story about how he had just arrived in the city and wasn't familiar with the area and that he was planning to visit some relatives in Ottawa but found out he needed to take a bus bla bla bla.

The "bla bla bla" was me tuning out of his conversation because I suddenly realized that the guy had dropped his rucksack and was walking slowly towards me, fumbling in his pocket and pulling out some id to show me (perhaps to prove he wasn't homeless?).

I slowly started backing away and interrupted his story to ask politely but firmly what he wanted. Instead of telling me the point of his story, he continued his rambling but kept moving closer to me as well as glancing up and down the empty hallway.

The combination of the last two factors set off alarm bells in my head and I belatedly realized that I had put myself in a position where IF I screamed for help, it was unlikely anyone was going to hear me.

I immediately interrupted him again and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you if you don't tell me what you want" and with heart pounding, walked quickly around and past him, ready to break into a run if I heard him coming after me.

"Fine!" he yelled after me angrily. "Just forget it, then!"

A moment later I was up on the street, wondering if I was being overly paranoid.

In retrospect, I realize I should have asked him right away to stop moving towards me. I should also have looked more closely at his id to get his name (though that would have meant moving within arm's reach, which I wanted to avoid). And instead of going past him, I should have simply retraced my steps and gone immediately back to the main subway station, where I knew there were people. But most importantly, I should have not been a wimp about the cold and taken the safe route instead of the warm one.

But y'know, at the same time, I also feel guilty. What if the stranger's actions were perfectly innocent and he really did need help?

To you women out there: What would you have done in my situation? (other than not putting yourself in that situation)


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Wednesday
Dec292004

cartoons and photo graffiti

My Life In A Nutshell


Finally got around to updating My Life In A Nutshell. Click on the image to go to the main page. Also posted an entry for this week's "Illustration Friday." This week's topic was "magic":

Illustration Friday


And another handwritten Blathering (see big version here):

Blatherings: handwritten entry



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Monday
Dec272004

handwritten

I've decided to do a handwritten entry today, so click the image below to see an enlarged version:


Blatherings entry


For those without easy access to graphics: Today's entry is basically a stream-of-consciousness blathering about nothing in particular, and way too many graphics.


December 2004 comments:
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