Saturday, October 9, 2010

Costco Pilgrimage

Sometimes when you've been living in a new country for a bit you start to overlook those unremarkable events that make up an important part of your experience. For example, you probably wouldn't think of Costco as an essential part of life in Japan, but you'd also be hard-pressed to find any expat in Asia who would turn down the offer of a Costco trip. That's because in just about every major Asian city from Shanghai to Sapporo, Costco is the cheapest source of Western staples like peanut butter, sausage, and cheese.

So when a co-worker offered us a ride to Costco this morning, we jumped at the chance!

But there's more to an expat's Costco visit than cheap groceries, as Costco's "food court" (read: concession stand) is also the only real option around for cheap American-style pizza and hot dogs. Despite the ensuing stomach ache, those treats alone would have been worth the journey--including those harrowing 20 minutes when we got lost, accidentally blew through a tollbooth without taking a ticket, and threw ourselves on the mercy of a thankfully kind toll collector who could speak a little English.

As it is, we also came away with several pounds of peanut butter, dried cranberries, and Quaker Oats. All in all, a stirring success!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Formatting Weirdness

Wow--the formatting on that last post went really wonky, didn't it? I think I'll go back to the simple layout from now on!

Say Cheese!

It's tough to find good cheese in East Asia--tough enough that every now and then, they'll devote a whole restaurant to it, like some sort of delicacy.

Such is the case with Cheese Dining Angelo, a restaurant in Tenjin that specializes in all things cheesy.

(Many thanks to our coworker, Dayle, for showing us the place and guiding us through the menu!)

The menu at Angelo is built around a bunch of different types of fondue, some familiar, some exotic (think "squid ink"). We stuck mostly to the familiar stuff: plain, basil, tomato, and sesame (our one adventure).

 Here's plain (on the left) and basil (which was my favorite).

Here's tomato (on the left) and sesame.

As per usual, you're given bread and veggies to dip in the fondue--but the addition of squash, okra, and little cocktail weenies provided a distinctly Japanese touch. (The Japanese are obsessed with hot dogs.)

We also had a great caesar salad with hunks of bacon and tofu in it. The cheese, ironically enough, left something to be desired (it was that chewy, plasticy Asian cheese), but the dressing was awesome--a hint of smoked red pepper, I think.
After our fondue, we indulged in some risotto made inside a giant wheel of Gran Padano cheese.

Our deserts were also cheese-themed. Here's a surprisingly light baked cheesecake.

And a tart with cheese, nuts, and chocolate. (Plus the world's smallest fork.) Yum!