Archive for ‘summer’

August 7th, 2011

The greatest discovery of summer 2011

What is the most memorable food you’ve tasted this summer?  Did you finally try grilling a peach?  Did you get that perfectly cooked catch of the day at your favorite seaside restaurant?  Did you eat that burger so juicy that you were sad to see it go? Although I enjoy all the previous, the best food find of the summer of 2011 was purchased at the most unlikely place, and it’s somewhere, most of us have been……That place is Costco, and that dish, is the hand dipped ice cream bar ($1.50).  If you’ve been reading my blogs, you may remember me mentioning that ice cream is too heavy when it’s hot out.  But exceptions have to be made once in a while, right?  Try one and you’ll understand.  These bars are so good that Häagen-Dazs may have to move back to Denmark, Bronx.   What makes Costco’s ice cream bar so special…the two words: hand dipped.  Yes, a human hand actually dips your ice cream bar into milk chocolate sauce, and then has the nerve to coat that with a downpour of almonds.  It’s not for the faint-hearted dieter, as it is about twice the size of on an Iphone, but with better reception (at least from me!) .  I used to dread the crowds of Costco, but now I have a reason to join the herd.

The idea of Costco itself, is hard to comprehend.  A store on such a massive scale with an endless variety of everything seemed like a friend’s exaggeration. I’m from Tokyo, where land is scarce and from there, I moved to big American cities like Boston and New York where you don’t buy in bulk because you either don’t have the room for it, or you don’t have a car to haul it home.  So when my husband gave me a Costco membership card (along with an AAA card), I felt like I became an official American.  Sadly, our trips to Costco are only few in number, as we lack the storage space in our garage and in our ‘trunks’.But maybe, we should go there more often…

August 5th, 2011

Summer Treats

During those hot, air-conditioning-less summer afternoons in Japan, my grandparents used to cool us down with one of my favorite treats–shaved ice.  In Japanese, we call it kaki gohri but by any name, it still tastes as sweet.  Thankfully, my grandparents always had a huge block of ice in their freezer and a few choices of syrup in the cupboard, including melon, lemon, and my favorite…strawberry.  Of course it tasted nothing like strawberry, but in the middle of scorching heat, it was easy to convince myself that strawberry was bright pink and tasted like sugar.  Besides being a tasty and refreshing dessert, shaved ice gave us some entertainment value as well, as my cousins and I made a game of sticking out our tongues to see whose had turned into the strangest color from the syrup.  I still laugh when I think back to those carefree days.  As I grew older, my tastes began to change, and I started liking sweet red beans on ice and/or green tea syrup.  While I enjoyed the mores sophisticated taste, I missed my bright red tongue.  With that in mind, is it surprising that whenever I go back to Tokyo, I always make sure to visit a sweet shop to recapture a taste of my youth?

Ice cream is a great cold treat no matter what the temperature is outside, but its texture gets a little too heavy beneath the daunting heat and humidity of summer.  I guess more people agree with this sentiment, as Hawaiian ice seems to be gaining in popularity these days.  Hawaiian ice is very similar to Japanese shaved ice, which is nice, because it lets me enjoy a taste of home without having to take a ten hour flight.
The other night, about thirty food trucks made their home in our neighborhood so my husband and I had to visit.  You can imagine how excited I was when we came across the Breezy Freeze Snowball shaved ice truck.  I just had to stop and check it out, and I have to say,  I was not disappointed.  They had about 2 dozen flavors to choose from, which put my grandparents few syrups to shame.  And keeping with recent developments in the pop culture world, they even offered a “tiger’s blood” flavor!  Of course I had to ask, and luckily, it was just a mixture of strawberry and coconut–sorry Charlie (Sheen).  On this particularly hot August night, the line was long, and full of anxious children waiting for their chance to brighten the Los Angeles summer evening by sticking out their syrup stained tongues like my cousins and I used to do.What flavor did I finally decide on?  To make matters easier, you were allowed to pick two, so I had to re-visit my childhood friend, strawberry, which I paired with cotton candy.  To add more sweetness to the mix, I topped things off with sweet milk.  It was a great way to rekindle old memories, as just like in Japan, it tasted nothing like strawberry (or cotton candy for that matter), but that wasn’t the point.  The finely shaved ice was like eating sweet velvet snow.  Nostalgic for my childhood, I couldn’t resist sticking my tongue out at my husband and asking, “How bright is it?”