From Spring Break

We’ve been so busy with shrimp and razor clams I almost forgot to post these pictures from last month. We went to California to visit the grandparents, and had a fantastic time being tourists. I’m usually not much for zoo-type settings, but we loved the Steinhart Aquarium. Strangely, it made the kids and me want to go fishing!

Another highlight was the Exploratorium, with more hands-on science exhibits than anyone could do in a month. We did our best in one very full day of zooming from exhibit to exhibit, and still managed to squeeze in a great eating experience at the San Francisco Ferry Building, which is basically the Exploratorium of food. That’s Skyla and Weston below, trading places.

One more thing, even though I’ve posted about it before: Iyasare! One of my favorite lunch spots in the world, on 4th in Berkeley. If you are ever even close to the East Bay, go there. Enjoy the sumptuous braised-pork-belly ramen noodles with miso broth, but most of all, be sure to order the shredded-burdock-root-and-prawn “kaki-age tempura” pictured below. Crispy, savory, succulent…one of my Top 10 favorite things to eat. Ever.

 

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Bay Area Treats

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So many great places to eat, so little time… As I may have mentioned before, the side benefits of a book tour are time with friends, family and new foods. At the San Francisco book event, one of the women who works there handed me a list of restaurant recommendations, and one of the names stood out: Iyasare. My mom had mentioned it in the past, and already had plans for us to eat there the next day! Sweet.

I have to admit, my expectations of this place, which has been receiving a lot of media love and amazing word-of-mouth recognition, were sky high. What’s not to like about traditional Japanese cooking techniques with creative thinking and the very best, often unique, ingredients? And Iyasare did not disappoint.

We started with their kaki-age tempura appetizer, pictured above.This is a delightful, crispy “cake” of shredded burdock root, yellow and green onions, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms and prawns, fried quickly in tempura batter, and served with a bonito-soy dipping broth. Holy smokes! This is simply one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And the hearty portion would be enough to make a meal on its own. Mind blown.

Then, because, well…who knows when I will have another opportunity to eat here, I went for a large bowl of the day’s special ramen, with a savory duck confit/shoyu broth. Mind blown again. The broth had uncommon depth and subtlety, and the fresh, firm noodles, loads of duck and daikon sprouts, satisfied beyond belief. That’s the bowl below. To top off the meal, my mom and I were able to eat outside in the warm, California sunshine.

It took me almost a day to recover from the gluttony, but I’m already dreaming about going back. Not to mention attempting to recreate some of this food on my own. Question is, how do they hold all the shredded stuff in the kaki-age tempura together to batter and fry it? My guess is it must have something to do with freezing…but who knows? Could be magic. Sure tasted like it.

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