Celebrations

No.186

Hello!

As it has been an eventful week for my family and I and I have some photos to show you I am writing this post today. It is not about bento nor cooking but I hope you will enjoy!

Last Thursday my husband and I drove 500 km from Oslo to attend our daughter’s graduation ceremony at her University in a city called Trondheim.  We left Oslo at around 13:00 and when we arrived it was almost 22:00. It took longer as we did not choose a highway but the route we took was so scenery and photogenic!

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This route goes along a big river and mountains,

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On theway from Trondheim

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On theway from Trondheim2

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We were very lucky with the weather and as we proceeded the scenery changed, we really enjoyed this trip. Norway is such a beautiful country and June and July are very nice.

If you ask a Norwegian “What is your favorite dish which your mother cooks for you?”, probably many people will say this is the dish. Norwegian meat patties Kjøttkaker and brown sauce, boiled potatoes and cream stewed cabbage.

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When you go to a country side in Norway by car you can stop at these small inns and small restaurants. We ate this lunch on the way up to Trondheim and it was so good that we came back when going back to Oslo. The sauce!!! it was amazing!! And I fell in love with this homemade cream stewed cabbage. It tasted much better than in Oslo!!

The next day, Friday June 3, was the graduation day and we had a full program.

My daughter’s boy friend also has been studying in the same class and they both graduated last week. We were together with his family and it was a nice weekend together.

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The dinner party was held after the graduation ceremony in a historical building in town, this used to be a bank but has been remodeled to be a party venue.

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Her class is a small class but it is a Master course and they have been studying together for 5 years. From August 1 our daughter will start working for a IT company in Oslo, her boy friend also has got a job at another IT company.  His family and we are planning more celebrations for our children’s new phase of their lives and I am really looking forward to it!

The graduation party was very nice, there came a famous choir from Trondheim, nice speeches, a movie from their school trip to South East Asia, and of course good food was served!

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Forest mushroom soup with halibut to start with…

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Reindeer roast with red wine jyu, potato millefile,

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A lemon tart, berry sauce and caramelized pistachio nuts for dessert.
It was prepared by good chefs and I was impressed by their cooking!!

5 years have passed so fast.

I was thinking about the day when she found out that she got in this school.

We were in Milan that day and I remember I took her to a nice restaurant in Milan to celebrate, we had some champaign to toast and ate very authentic Italian food.

Can’t believe my little daughter will be a working lady soon.

The life goes on-
and let’s embrace and celebrate it.

xxx Rie

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Where to eat in London?

No.173

I went to London with my family 4 weeks ago. We all had worked very hard for the entire summer this year and we needed a good break and a nice family trip. London is not so far from Oslo, it takes a little longer than 2 hours by airplane. When we plan a family trip, my husband usually checks flights and I check hotels and most importantly… restaurants! Choosing a hotel was easy as we always stay at the same hotel in London, but choosing some places to go and eat was not so easy!! It is like Paris, there are so many good restaurants I like to visit and the restaurant which I wanted to go most in London was closed for the whole month of August because the owner returned to Italy for his summer vacation!! I could not make a reservation ahead of time and it made my planning a bit more difficult but finding out this restaurant was driven by an Italian family that had a strong bond to Italy was good, it was like another assurance that their food should be good! I called the restaurant as soon as the restaurant resumed and I managed to make a reservation. Well, it was the last table available.

So here is the list. As I wrote in my post “Where to eat in Paris?“, again I repeat, food is a matter of personal preference and you might not like the place I liked.  I included some personal comments, both positive and negative ones.

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●  Da Mario ☆☆☆☆☆
63 Endell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9AJ  
Nearest tube station: Covent Garden
Rie’s comment: This is the restaurant I was talking about. I read about this restaurant on a couple of blogs and wanted to visit. From outside the restaurant does not look so specially fancy but if you enter you will know why this place is so popular. I felt so warm surrounded by people who are really having a good time. Laughters, cheers and good food and wine. What else do you need more at an Italian restaurant? We started with Bruchetta with fresh tomatoes and shared Carpaccio di Manzo and a bottle of Chanti red wine. I had a fish (Seabass) and lemon sauce, it was good but I would like to try a pasta dish next time. My daughter had spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce and it really looked nice. For dessert I had Italian vanilla ice cream with a shot of expresso over it and it was divine. I really recommend this dessert. My husband had a mint ice cream with chocolate sauce. He just LOVED it! I am already looking forward to going back to this restaurant. Reservation is very necessary.

 

● Super Star (Chinese Dim Sum) ☆☆☆☆
17 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BE  
Nearest tube station: Leicester Square

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Rie’s comment: It was my husband who suggested this place and both my daughter and I were very happy that he did. (My husband lived in London for 3 years for his work and he loves the China Town in London!) We had Dim Sum and enjoyed good Jasmine tea. The steamed pork Gyoza with chives (do you see it on the photo?) was so good that we had to order it twice. If you are looking for a place to enjoy Dim Sum in London, I can recommend this restaurant. Next to this restaurant there is a big Chinese food supermarket. It was very interesting to go there as well.

 

● OKA (Sushi and Japanese Robata Grill) ☆☆☆☆☆
14 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW
Nearest tube station : Oxford Circus

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Rie’s comment : There are so many sushi restaurants in London but I chose this place because they offer some Robata grill dishes on the menu as well and it is located right in the shopping area in Oxford Circus. The food was just amazing, maybe you also can see it from the photos. They create very modern type of sushi and it was different but very very delicious! You have to try their beef Tataki, it is  tender beef fillet grilled on the chacol grill and oh boy, it was so good. The place is very small and crowded. If you like to go to a more spacious restaurant, this place is not so recommended. This place is for more a quick and really yummy lunch in between your shopping and sightseeing, I think.

 

● Balance Soho Society  ☆☆☆
187 Kensington High St, London W8 6SH
Nearest tube station : High Street Kensington

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Rie’s comment : We were looking for a restaurant near the hotel after a big day and we were too tired to go far away for a dinner. We stopped at this restaurant and saw their menu to find they had a bit of everything. Actually they have quite an interesting menu. Asian, Indian, English, Western and all fusions. My husband and I had Chef’s choice, it was a beef roast. My daughter had Red Curry and everyone was happy. I got interested in their  “triple-cooked chips”on the side menu. If you come to this restaurant, please try these chips as well. They are so crisp and delicious!! and please try the ketchup on the table (photo). It goes very good with the chips. The service was very good.

 

● Bubbleology (Bubble Tea) ☆☆☆
They have many shops in London, the one we went was in the huge shopping center “Westfield Stratford City“, 1st Floor. They have one in Oxford Circus as well. 

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Rie’s comment : Have you had Bubble Tea before? I heard about it from a friend of mine, she is a medical student who had a study tour in Taiwan. She said I had to try it as it is very delicious.  Bubble Tea is originally from Taiwan and it is getting popular in many places in the world. It is a tea with chewy tapioca in it. My daughter and I had it for the first time and we loved it!! The flavor we tried was Matcha milk tea and you may see the black tapioca in the cup on the photo, they were sweet and chewy and a delicious dessert!!

 

● Pho (Vietnamese Restaurant) ☆☆☆
They have many shops in London, the one we sent was in the huge shopping center “Westfield Stratford City“.  

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Rie’s comment: We went to the Olympic Park in Stratford and this shopping center is right next to the park. The Food Court offers various types of food, I chose this vietnamese restaurant, my husband had a hamburger, my daughter had a pizza. We all bought our lunch from 3 different places and still could eat together in the Food Court. My Chicken Pho was very tasty! Mint Ice Tea was also very refreshing.

 

● Kintan (Japanese BBQ) ☆☆

34 – 36 High Holborn, London WC1V 6AE
Nearest tube station : Chancery Lane

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Rie’s comment : This is a Japanese-style BBQ restaurant in London. Have you tried Japanese BBQ? You sit around the table and there is a grill in the middle of the table. You get meat which is cut in bite size and you grill it quickly over the hot grill. There is usually a dipping sauce and you can dip your meat or vegetables in the sauce and eat it.  Popular meat is beef loin and chuck slices, beef short ribs, beef tongues (very thinly sliced), chicken, seafood. Vegetables like onion, pumpkin, shiitake mushroom, green peppers and egg plants are very good too. We had a good dinner at Kintan but it was very expensive. Actually it turned out to be the most expensive dinner we had in London and still I had to cook…. We experienced this Japanese BBQ together and that was fine, we do not have such a restaurant in Oslo so it was fun. The quality of the meat was fantastic, I was rather disappointed with the seafood… Anyway, I think we will not come back to this restaurant.

 

● Patisserie Valerie ☆☆☆☆☆

27 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4LL
Nearest tube station: High Street Kensington

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Rie’s comment : Lovery belgian cafe, our favorite breakfast place. 🙂  Our hotel is a good hotel but the breakfast they offer is very expensive (20 £ per person is just little too much). There is Whole Food right across the street and we often bought our breakfast there. On the last day we were kind of tired of the breakfast from Whole Food and we walked around and found this place. Very lovery cafe and they serve good home cooked-like breakfast. I had Egg Florentine and it was very very good. Coffee they serve here is very good as well. We were so full that we could not try these wonderful cakes, but we should try next time. I am glad we found this charming place for breakfast!!

 

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There are many more restaurants I can write about in London but I have not been there for awhile and am not sure what kind of food they serve now. The list above is my latest list and I visited them in September 2015 with my family. I hope this information will be helpful for someone. Have a good time in London!! xxx Rie

Trip to Japan Spring 2015 Day 16 – Ryoutei bento

No.165

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Hello from Kanazawa. How are you? I am writing this post on Saturday April 4. We are in the middle of the season of Sakura. I don’t know how many cherry trees are here in Kanazawa but when they all bloom at once it looks like we have so many cherry trees. Literally everywhere is pink, pink, pink. Both Kanazawa Castle park and Kenrokuen park are now open late to the public free of charge and at night you can experience the cherry blossoms light-ups. Today I took some Onigiri and a bottle of tea with me and sat under a blooming cherry tree and enjoyed the beautiful flowers.

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Oh, it was so peaceful and beautiful. I wish you were sitting next to me and experience this.

My mother was home for a few hours yesterday as my sister and her family came from Tokyo to visit us. My sister’s daughter, she is the oldest niece of mine, came together with a little son of 2 years old. He is a cute rascal and he kept us all very busy for 3 days. My mom wanted to gather everyone for a nice lunch at home and we catered bento from a Ryoutei called “Kinjouro 金城楼” in Kanazawa.

Kinjouro is an old and traditional Japanese restaurant in Kanazawa. It has a long history since 1887. Even if you say “a Japanese restaurant” in one term, there are many types. In an old and traditional city like Kyoto or Kanazawa, there are luxurious first-class Japanese restaurants called “Ryotei”. The best Ryotei I have ever experienced is Kikunoi in Kyoto. It is not a cheap restaurant but the experience itself is a life-long memory. The Japanese food they serve is just amazing and when you come to a Ryoutei like Kikunoi or Kinjouro, you feel you are welcome and entertained and everything they serve you is more than perfect. I have always admired the Chef and the owner of Kikunoi Mr. Murata for his philosophy and hospitality. If you like to read how he explains what Ryotei really is, here is his testimony here.

As Mr. Murata says a little luxury will move you out from your everyday life. When I came to Kinjouro to pick up our bento, I felt I was in a different world. Through the thick and heavy door I was welcome into a time slip. A super polite old man came out and helped me. He perfectly remembered my name, the type of food I ordered for the day and how many bentos to be picked up.

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The photo shows the gorgeous entrance hall of Kinjouro. (You can click on the photo and get it enlarged) It is simple in style but very beautiful. When you want to be simple and beautiful you have to get close to perfection. With a magnificent gold Japanese Byobu folding screen and a wonderful antique kimono hanging on a special kimono rack in the hall, it was very holy. I was standing and waiting for the bento, behind me were 4 large glass doors framed in Japanese Shiraki wood, the floor I am standing on is a black Japanese stone floor. On my left there was a sofa where you could sit and wait for your car to come. Of course you will get super service once you entered into this space. They will treat you like King or Queen. When the season changes, they change the Byobu screen and the decoration. It should be seasonal, customers come in to their space and they should be able to feel the season they are in.

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I hurried home, everyone was waiting for this special lunch. It was delicious. More than delicious. In the 9 different compartments of the black bento box they have cooked and packed the luxury and the extraordinary with care and hospitality. The family lunch with bento from Ryoutei, it was another memorable time.

xxx Rie