Home and away, I love to travel. Posts from trips in the UK and overseas including hotel and restaurant reviews and visits to specialist producers.

 

Call myself a foodie* and never been to the home of the pork pie? Shame on me!

Luckily, an invitation to attend the Artisan Cheese Fair in Melton Mowbray gave me the chance to fix this oversight and Pete and I made our way North on the first Saturday in May.

Held in the Cattle Market, which itself is in the heart of this ancient market town, the Artisan Cheese Fair is now in its fourth year and bigger and better than ever. We spoke to organiser Matthew O’Callaghan about how he came to create the event.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXF4NIsHvgM&feature=share&list=UUKdQswQXJXh8KiDjuikxOPg

Unlike other cheese festivals we’ve attended, entrance is just £1 and there are no hidden costs to worry about. Free on site car parking is available and the various talks and musical entertainment don’t require additional payment.

The majority of the stalls were given over to cheese, as you’d expect, though of course, the famous local pork pie was represented by a couple of producers, as was locally produced beer. There were also a few non-cheese stalls selling fudge, cakes, bread and other bakery goods, a variety of alcoholic and soft drinks, ice cream, jam and samosas (though, surprisingly, no paneer-filled ones!)

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5536 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5535
Hunt Cake and Pork Pies at Dickinson & Morris aka Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe – I can recommend both!

As Matthew said, over 50 British cheese makers were represented, most of them showcasing multiple cheeses. We spent a few hours at the Fair so I was able to sample at least one cheese from nearly all of them. Here are my top picks.

Kavey’s Favourites From The 2014 Artisan Cheese Fair

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5507 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5505

Quickes Oak Smoked Cheddar & Goat Cheddar

Smoked with oak chips from their own woodland and made with milk from their own dairy, the Quickes oak smoked cheddar had a beautifully natural smoke flavour which was perfectly balanced with the cheese itself – in so many smoked cheeses, the only flavour is the smoke itself. The texture of the cheese was lovely with a pleasing creaminess from the fat content and I liked the level of salty sharpness.

The Goat Cheddar was also fantastic, indeed it’s one of three cheeses I purchased to bring home.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5515 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5514

Cote Hill Blue

Mary Davenport’s family have been dairy farmers in Lincolnshire for 40 years, but turned to making cheese 9 years ago when the falling price of milk made running the business solely as a dairy less viable.

I loved Cote Hill’s soft mild blue cheese made in particular; though the cheese is mild, the blue flavour comes through clearly and the rind is lovely. The Cote Hill Reserve was also delicious – a semi-hard washed-rind cheese which uses Tom Wood Beers’ Bomber County to add flavour to the rind.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5516

Cheesemakers of Canterbury’s Canterbury Cobble

This stand had a wider range of cheeses on display than most exhibitors, as well as butter and biscuits. It was their Canterbury Cobble that appealed the most. Cheesemaker Jane Bowyer explained that it is made like a brie but then matured into a hard cheese. It was creamy but sharp, with a lovely hint of lemony citrus.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5520 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5521

Belvoir Ridge Rutland Slipcote

Jane and Alan Hewson from Belvoir Ridge Creamery were showcasing a new soft curd cheese called Colwick, having recently revived an old 17th century recipe. It was perfectly pleasant but it was the oozing Rutland Slipcote that stole my attention, and was another cheese I purchased to bring home. Slipcote is a white mould-ripened cheese and is delightfully pungent and gooey when ripe. The Hewsons make their cheeses with milk from their rare breed Red Poll & Blue Albion cattle.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5525 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5524

Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar

As she cut me a sample, Rachel Holden explained that her father Patrick (who was busy cutting and wrapping cheese) looks after the family dairy while she and brother Sam make cheese. The milk from their brown and white Ayshire cows produces a creamy nutty cheddar with a distinct brassica flavour. It’s the kind of cheese you could accidentally eat far too much of!

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5540 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5538 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5539

Thimble Little Anne & Dorothy

I confess I ended up spending ages chatting to cheese maker Paul Thomas and his wife Hannah Roche. The couple have been in the cheese industry for many years and Paul is also the head cheese maker for Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers. Their own cheese making business is in its first year and currently has just two adorable little cheeses called Little Anne and Dorothy. Little Anne is a fresh lactic cheese and Dorothy is a soft washed-rind cheese; both are made from unpasteurised raw cow’s milk.

Paul also teaches cheese making classes at the The School of Artisan Food.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5541

Hampshire Cheeses Tunworth

I almost didn’t stop at the HC stall, as I’m already so familiar with Tunworth – it’s a cheese a buy nearly every time I visit Neal’s Yard Dairy. But I saw a window of opportunity when the stall was miraculously free of fellow visitors and took the chance to chat with cheese maker Stacey Hedges.

Of course, the Tunworth was delicious as always, but I was particularly excited by Stacey’s news that they started making a new cheese last year. Called Winslade, the new cheese is wrapped in a band of spruce bark, which adds flavour to the rind. It’s currently produced in limited volume, but she told me to look out for it in Neal’s Yard Dairy.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5542 Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5544

Whitelake’s Goddess

I didn’t mean to make cheese maker Peter Humphries blush when I asked if one of his cheeses was named for someone in particular but his embarrassed expression as he said “yes” was utterly charming. As too was his cheese. It was the oozing yellow centre making a break for it that drew me to the stall – the cheese is (commercially) known as Goddess and is produced (for musician-cum-cheeseman Alex James). Made from Guernsey milk, this is a delicious mild and creamy soft cheese.

Ticklemore Harbourne Blue (no photo)

Ticklemore had three cheeses on sale – Devon Blue (made from cow’s milk), Beenliegh Blue (made from sheep’s milk) and Harbourne Blue (made from goat’s milk). The Devon was a bit plain and the Beenliegh too acidic but the Harbourne Blue was a wonderfully tasty cheese. The balance between sweet, salty and blue was delicious and the rich full fat creaminess was a real delight. This was another of the cheeses I bought to bring home.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5503

Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

I wasn’t able to chat to anyone at this busy stall as they were busy selling cheese but did taste both their hand made Red Leicester and a mild and chalky blue cheese.

 

Talks & Entertainment

Luckily, we learned a lot about the history of Red Leicester (and exactly how anatto came to be used to give it that distinctive bright colour) by attending one of the free talks, An Unusual History of Cheese. In this entertaining and hugely informative talk, Matthew O’Callaghan shared a light-hearted history of cheese that was perfectly pitched to convey lots of information in a very engaging way. His abiding love for cheese itself and for local and national history was self evident!

Outside, visitors were entertained by the Melstrum Ukulele Band and the New St Georges Morris Dancers.

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5519

I was drawn to a recreation of an old milking parlour, set up in an open-sided trailer.

 

The Melton Cheeseboard

Artisan-Cheese-Fair-Melton-Mowbray-KFavelle-KaveyEats-2014-5531

A special thank you to Tim Brown of The Melton Cheeseboard, a local shop specialising in a wide range of British cheeses and local specialities, for his very warm welcome and the generous selection of cheeses and local products he gave us. His shop is located in the heart of Melton Mowbray at 8 Windsor Street and is open 6 days a week.

 

* Actually, I’m more likely to refer to myself as a greedy glutton than a foodie, but you catch my drift…

Kavey Eats was a guest of the Artisan Cheese Fair. Thanks to Matthew, Lin, Rachel and Tim.

 

Although we always chose Japanese breakfasts when our morning meals were included in our ryokan or hotel stays, our Kyoto accommodation was room only, so we headed out for breakfast every day.

Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2354 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2352
Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2353

On the first morning, we headed out to Toji Temple (for the monthly flea market) and decided to find breakfast once we reached Toji Station. Just as I was starting to despair of finding anywhere, we came across a lovely little coffee shop called Kissa Ippongi. We were warmly welcomed and took two seats at the large communal table to one side. We noticed most of the Japanese customers eating a Western breakfast set and followed suit. This was our first encounter with the fabulously light and thick-cut Japanese sliced bread and we both really liked it. We also appreciated the crunchy dressed cabbage salad and the fresh oranges that came as part of the plate. The bill, including coffees, was just ¥880.

We enjoyed our coffee shop breakfast so much that we sought out other Kyoto cafes for more egg and toast breakfasts throughout the week. Don’t worry – we made sure to eat lots and lots and lots of wonderful Japanese food during our trip!

Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2497 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2493
Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2488 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2490
Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2492 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2495

Coffee Smart on Teramachi Dori clearly belongs to a true coffee lover, judging from the careful attention given to roasting beans using an impressive Probat roasting machine just inside the entrance. I couldn’t help but be charmed by its retro interior and I suspect it’s original rather than a modern-day replica. For breakfast, Pete ordered toast and egg, which turned out to be a very generously stuffed omelette sandwich. My French Toast, made with that same thick-cut fluffy sliced bread, was superbly light and served with a pot of maple syrup. A little more pricey than our Toji breakfast, the bill came to ¥2000.

Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2437 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2440
Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2438 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2439

Between the nearest bus stop and Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) we stopped at this “Morning Cafe Evening Bar” called Bear. Indeed, there were a number of soft bears inside including a large one perched on a bar stool wearing a Halloween outfit, who was our only fellow customer. Breakfast was ok but the coffee was too bitter for us here. The bill was ¥960.

Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2958 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2953
Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2956 Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2957

It was the resident cat that first drew us to Shiroi Hana (“white flower”), a coffee shop we passed several times during our stay, walking back and forth along Aneyakoji Dori as we made our way to and from Teramachi Dori (and its neighbouring covered shopping streets). Inside, we were charmed by the bright, polished interior and the row of fancy glass coffee syphons at the counter. Breakfast, with a particularly fine iced coffee for me, came to ¥1000.

Japan2013-KyotoBreakfasts-2960

As we were leaving Shiroi Hana the waitress saw me taking a photo of the exterior and came running out to take our photo in front of the entrance; just another example of the proactive kindness we encountered so often in Japan.

We also tried similar Western sets in a couple of coffee chains, but they were not worthy of sharing.

 

You can read more about this and our previous Japan trip under my Japan tag. More to come soon!

Thanks to Michael for help identifying the names of a couple of these coffee shops and to Ish and Chloe for the coffee syphon know-how.

Feb 272014
 

A random set of images from Japan:

Japan2013-Misc-2426
A friend of bread is a friend of mine

Japan2013-Misc-2695 Japan2013-Misc-2840
Cupola Sanjo, the covered segment of Sanjo Dori (and its delightful chicken logo)

Japan2013-Misc-2989
Waiting at a tram stop, Osaka

Japan2013-Misc-2432 Japan2013-Misc-2434
Details, Pontocho, Kyoto

Japan2013-Misc-2708
Children’s book, Kyoto Coffee Shop – rather surreal to try and understand it from the pictures alone

Japan2013-Misc-3167 Japan2013-Misc-3175
Osaka Marathon support crew; Peeking into an Osaka games parlour

Japan2013-Misc-3266
Takoyaki stall octopus dressed for Halloween, Osaka

Japan2013-Misc-5283
Ice cream twins, Kyoto

Japan2013-Misc-5286 Japan2013-Misc-5295
Fortune slips and berries, Kyoto

Japan2013-Misc-3590
My sweet and malty near-namesake

Feb 242014
 

More images from our last trip to Japan – these ones have a shopping theme.

Japan2013-Misc-2326
Cat and dog purses

Japan2013-Misc-2327 Japan2013-Misc-3139
Trouser mannequins; Hello Kitty Pez dispenser

Japan2013-Misc-5818 Japan2013-Misc-4040
Giant wasp or bee in honey; Mentaiko

Japan2013-Misc-3515 Japan2013-Misc-5817
Kumamon charms; Maneki-neko (beckoning cat) ornaments

Feb 152014
 

A few more images from Japan:

Japan2013-Misc-5311

Japan2013-Misc-5310
Cats of Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

 

Japan2013-Misc-2727 Japan2013-Misc-2726
Pampered Dogs, Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), Kyoto

 

Japan2013-Misc-2429
Model of a biting dog outside a restaurant in Gion, Kyoto

 

Japan2013-Misc-2997 Japan2013-Misc-3000
Cat in a hat, Sumiyoshitaisha Shrine, Osaka

 

Japan2013-Misc-3679
Cuddly Dominion, Kyushu

 

Grammarly is a writing tool that checks spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary usage. It also provides a plagiarism checker which offers suggested citations if references to existing material are found within the text. Please note that this is a sponsored link and I have received payment for sharing this link with you.

 

A photo album of Pete and I enjoying Japan.

 

Japan2013-Misc-3753 Japan2013-Misc-4070 Japan2013-Misc-3944
Pete loved his vending machine coffee and got antsy if he couldn’t find his favourite brands; Pete buying ramen

Japan2013-Misc-2342 Japan2013-Misc-2419 Japan2013-Misc-3816 Japan2013-Misc-4079
Pete feasting on gyoza, katsu don, beef don and yakinuku

Japan2013-Misc-2786 Japan2013-Misc-2800
Us enjoying okonimiyaki in Kyoto

Japan2013-Misc-3234 Japan2013-Misc-3850 Japan2013-Misc-3703
Us, feasting again

Japan2013-Misc-2815 Japan2013-Misc-2449
Pete with coffee and beer

Japan2013-Misc-2524 Japan2013-Misc-2962
Japan2013-Misc-5590 Japan2013-Misc-3290
Pete on the bus, local train, tram and shinkansen

Japan2013-Misc-2905 Japan2013-Misc-3349
Pete enjoying ice cream; Pete buying doughnuts

Japan2013-Misc-3250 Japan2013-Misc-5744
Kavey in the tower; Kavey with Kumamoto Castle

Japan2013-Misc-2817 Japan2013-Misc-2875 Japan2013-Misc-5902
Japan2013-Misc-2901 Japan2013-Misc-3260 Japan2013-Misc-5747
Kavey with Hello Kitty, zebra and giraffe, Tanuki-san, Snoopy, Daruma-san and as a Samurai

Japan2013-Misc-5750 Japan2013-Misc-4094
Pete as a Samurai (with amused schoolboys) at Kumamoto Castle; Pete with tiger bag, in a Tokyo shop

Japan2013-Misc-5594 Japan2013-Misc-2872 Japan2013-Misc-2874
Japan2013-Misc-3005 Japan2013-Misc-3006 Japan2013-Misc-5759
Pete with Kumamon, with his hand up a pink sheep, behind a stone pagoda and with another Kumamon

Japan2013-Misc-3960 Japan2013-Misc-5686
Pete trying (and failing) to win chocolate in an arcade; Pete in front of street art shutters

Japan2013-Misc-2718 Japan2013-Misc-2734
Japan2013-Misc-3933 Japan2013-Misc-3990
Pete at various temples and shrines

Japan2013-Misc-5841 Japan2013-Misc-5824 Japan2013-Misc-5873
Pete placing a stone on a torii, throwing a coin and admiring lilies at Umi Jigoku

Japan2013-Misc-5835 Japan2013-Misc-5899
Us at Umi Jigoku

Japan2013-Misc-5812 Japan2013-Misc-3391
Pete ringing the large bell at a temple in Usuki; Pete admiring Takachiho Gorge

Japan2013-Misc-3447 Japan2013-Misc-3757 Japan2013-Misc-3797 Japan2013-Misc-3823
Views of Kyushu, as Pete drives

Japan2013-Misc-3489 Japan2013-Misc-3525
Pete outside the entrance and Kavey in our private outdoor onsen at Sanga ryokan

Japan2013-Misc-3621 Japan2013-Misc-3619
Japan2013-Misc-3636
Us at Mount Aso

Japan2013-Misc-4039 Japan2013-Misc-2960
Pete being a chicken, Us outside a Kyoto coffee shop

Feb 112014
 

I was really happy with our Kyoto hotel choice for last October’s stay. The previous year, we’d split our 5 nights in Kyoto between the gorgeous Shiraume ryokan in Gion and Hotel Granvia, located in the large and modern Kyoto Station building. That worked wonderfully for our first visit to Kyoto.

This time, I wanted a location near Nishiki Market, Teramachi Dori, Shijo Dori, Pontocho… I booked us into the Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa, near the corner of Kawaramachi and Oike, chuffed to nab a rate of less than ¥ 10,000 per night for a clean, comfortable and spacious double room. We didn’t take any meals in the hotel – instead we enjoyed breakfast in several different nearby coffee shops, lunch at whatever site we were near during the day and dinner at a variety of restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel.

This little ramen-ya (ramen shop) was very close to our hotel and we stopped in twice during our 6 night stay. Friends have helped me identify the restaurant from my photos – it’s part of a chain called Kairikiya Ramen and this is the Kitashirakawa branch, located on the corner of Ebisucho and Kawaramachi.

The menu includes English translations, one member of the staff had (limited) English and I had a translator app on my S4 so ordering was very simple.

Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2334 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2338
Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2336 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2337

Across our two visits we ordered soya ramen, chicken kaarage (fried chicken), gyoza, cheese crisps and fried rice. (The dishes we had the first time were so tasty, we chose mostly the same ones on our second visit).

Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2331 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2456

For one visit, we got the last table. The other time it seemed quiet as we entered but the seats filled up within minutes. The majority of diners were eating alone but we never felt rushed. That said, we didn’t linger for ages, as it’s clear that this kind of business relies on a fast turnaround.

Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2340 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2453
Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2344 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2460
Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2452 Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2345

Prices can be even lower than the menus above show, as there is also a page of Sets combining a bowl of ramen with one or more of the side dishes, for a discounted total.

Japan2013-KyotoRamen-2448

It so hard to beat a steaming bowl of rich broth, tangled noodles, soft fatty chashu pork, brightly oozing ni-tamago egg and crunchy menma fermented bamboo shoot. When you add in hot, freshly fried chicken, steamed and fried gyoza, intensely savoury fried rice and those marvellous deep fried cheese crisps, it’s virtually impossible to resist; it was only my determination to also enjoy sushi, tonkatsu, yakiniku … that stopped us visiting another few times… more of which coming soon!

More posts on Japan.

 

Suizenji Joju-en Park

Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5606

Suizenji Joju-en is a beautiful park in Kumamoto. When we visited at the end of October last year, it was still lush and green; the autumn colours still to descend.

Daimyo (feudal lord) Hosokawa Tadatoshi originally built a temple, Suizenji, on the site in 1632 but just four years later he replaced it with a tea house, designating the new surrounding gardens a tea retreat; he believed the natural spring-fed water (from nearby Mount Aso) made excellent tea. Tadatoshi named the garden Joju-en for a character in a poem by 4th century Chinese poet Tao Yuanming. Both titles form part of the full name of the park today.

The garden took subsequent generations of the family a further 80 years to develop and represents, in miniature form, the 53 post stations of Tokaido, the road that connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period. The largest of the many rounded tsukiyama (artificial hills) represents Mount Fuji.

It is typical of the Momoyama period of garden design – a central lake is bordered by artfully arranged boulders and pebbles and there are stepping stones within. Paths wind through the gardens, showcasing landscapes designed to be admired from a distance; they are connected by low stone bridges over the lake.

The Izumi (Inari) Shinto Shrine was built in 1878 as a memorial to the Hosokawa rulers and the garden became a public park in 1879. The impressively thatched tea room, Kokin-Denju-no-Ma, was originally in Kyoto’s Imperial Palace but was moved to the park in 1912.

With the sun shining, we took our time to walk around, pausing to admire the view along the route and resting on benches beneath the trees. I was particularly mesmerised by the park gardeners, mowing the tsukiyama in ever-ascending circles, around and around and around…

Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5609 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5608
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5610 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5614
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5611 Japan2013 Suizenji Imo-5635
Japan2013 Suizenji Imo-5640 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5648
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5655 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5659
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5621 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5626 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5623
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5622 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5632
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5642 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5643
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5644 Japan2013 Suizenji Imo-5646
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5678 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5657
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5663 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5670

Inside the park, there were also a few souvenir and produce shops, including one selling “Kumamoto Banpeiyu” fruit. As far as I can tell, it’s a Japanese cross between a yellow-fleshed pomelo and a red-fleshed grapefruit.

Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5675

 

Sweet Potato Dumplings

Sweet potatoes – both yellow and purple varieties – are very popular in Japan. In Kumamoto, the purple kind feature in a variety of local sweets.

One type, is imokoi; imo means potato and koi can mean either love or a dark colour, so it’s either “dark colour potato” or “potato love”, I’m not sure which! And I love that the local name is ikinari dango which means “all of a sudden sweet round dumpling”, so-called because it’s said to be a treat one can make very quickly for unexpected visitors. Inside a glutinous rice wrapper is a layer of sweet potato and another of sweet azuki (red bean) paste.

Another plainer dumpling contains a sweet potato filling within a glutinous rice wrapper.

This stall outside the entrance to Suizenji Joju-en Park was selling the simpler dumplings for just ¥ 85 (56 pence) each. There were also whole sweet potatoes available, but no ikinari dango on sale, though they were shown on a laminated picture list of products. When I asked if I could take some photographs, the owner nodded, pointing out the large poster portraits hanging behind her and her colleagues; I gather her shop had been featured in a documentary or magazine.

Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5604 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5602
Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5596 Japan2013-Suizenji Imo-5595

Entrance to Suizenji Joju-en Park is ¥ 400.

Want to read more about Japan?

 

Japanese consumers love limited editions so there was a lot of advertising and press interest when Burger King announced their Kuro (Black) Ninja burger in October. And this special edition was given its own mascot in the form of a cute cartoon ninja complete with black outfit and… a tongue stuck cheekily out! (No, I don’t know why, either…)

Japan2013-BKKiroNinja-3187 Japan2013-BKKiroNinja-3188

I love BK Whoppers so when I learned that the Kuro Ninja was being launched during our recent holiday in Japan, I really wanted to seek it out.

On a day of eating that a hobbit would be proud of (during which we stopped for multiple breakfasts, multiple lunches and an enormous dinner), we finally tracked it down in Osaka.

Japan2013-BKKiroNinja-3191

Most striking, of course, is the black bun, coloured with bamboo charcoal. It’s impressively black and with no discernible oddness of taste that we could detect.

Inside is a whopper patty, a round hash brown and a ridiculously long slab of thick bacon that lolls lewdly out from two sides. The regular lettuce, onions and sauce are complemented by Chaliapin sauce – this onion and garlic sauce is named for Russian opera singer Fyodor Ivanovich Chaliapin; during a visit to Tokyo in 1936, a steak and sauce dish was created for him by a hotel chef and has been named in his honour ever since.

Apparently, various of these elements have been seen before in some of Burger King’s earlier limited edition specials – the black bun also featured in 2012’s Kuro Burger, essentially a regular whopper but served with black ketchup (flavoured and coloured with garlic and squid ink); the bacon “tongue” was at the heart of Big Bacon Whopper, just a month or two before Kuro Ninja was available; and the Chaliapin sauce was a key component of the XT Steakhouse, a 2011 creation.

Japan2013-BKKiroNinja-3195

What did we think? We liked it!

The balance of flavours and textures worked well enough. I found the hash brown made the burger a touch too big to eat easily; Pete had no such problem. The bacon tongue we folded inside, though that made the burger even bigger. Personally, I’d still choose a regular whopper over the Kuro Ninja… but I would really like to try the Kuro Whopper (no longer available) with its garlic and squid ink ketchup!

BKninja

Although the Kuro Ninja was advertised as ¥ 680 (burger only) / ¥ 830 (burger, fries and drink) the branch we went to in Osaka had increased the meal deal price to ¥ 1040 (about £7). But hey, we did get cute Kuro Ninja stickers for that too!

Read more of my Japan content, here.

Tokyo Bento

24 Jan 2014  6 Responses »
Jan 242014
 

One of the (many) pleasures of train travel in Japan is buying a delicious bento box to enjoy during the journey. Bento boxes sold for this purpose are so popular that they have their own name, ekiben – eki means station – and most large stations have multiple ekiben shops to choose from.

Often the contents reflect local regional cuisine but my knowledge of Japanese food is still insufficient to recognise much of what I find inside, let alone be sure of where in Japan in might originate.

Still, the pleasure of presentation, variety, texture and taste is a joy and whiles away the time not spent gazing out of the windows at the beautiful views.

Japan2013-2319

Japan2013-2323

Japan2013-2325

This ekiben from Tokyo Bento in Tokyo Station was just ¥880 (less than £6).

© 2006 - 2014 Kavita Favelle Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha