Staying in a Traditional Japanese Ryokan in Izu

The dish that arrived on our table was met with confused feelings of fascination and disgust. Dressed in our yukata, sitting cross-legged under the low Japanese table, we’d enjoyed round after round of incredible food – thin, oily slices of beef that sizzled on a tabletop grill and melted in our mouths; chilled tofu with vegetables and pickles; grilled fish and crispy chicken karaage.

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Miyajima – A Day Trip Exploring One Of Japan’s Most Scenic Islands

Under the shade of rustling Japanese pines, a walking path traced the low rock seawall towards the Itsukushima torii gate. The smell of dried pine needles swirled in to meet the salty ocean air. Looking out to the sparkling waters separating Miyajima Island from Hiroshima Bay mainland, we saw one of Japan’s ancient icons.

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Which Is The Best Okonomiyaki? Tokyo Monjayaki vs. Hiroshimayaki

Okonomiyaki is one of my favourite things to eat in Japan, a kind of fried pancake-omelette, based on cabbage and egg, with different combinations of vegetables and meats. It is fried on a teppan, a large hotplate, until both sides are brown and crispy, then served to the plate sliced up with a small spatula for eating.

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Visiting the Highlights (and tourist traps) of Osaka

Osaka Castle

The samurai screamed a short, sharp battle cry, and drew his sword to expose the blade halfway from the hilt. The noise caught my attention, and I turned to see the commotion. The tourist walked away, and a new one walked up, also dressed in samurai costume, to join the staff member in full samurai gear.

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Hiking the Magome – Tsumago trail (in winter)

We were the last ones in the bus, sitting in the back seat with our backpacks still on. We craned our necks to find any kind of sign as to where we were, but night had already fallen, and there were no streetlamps on this zig-zagging mountain road. It reminded me very much of the bus stop scene in My Neighbour Totoro – a cold rain drumming on the roof of the bus, the dark and eerie forest climbing over the mountains, the squeaky old bus, occasionally a weathered street sign in Japanese characters.

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Trying poutine for the first time

If you want Canadian cuisine (and not the Canadian habit of flavouring everything maple or cinnamon), there’s only one real contender for the crown of ‘most Canadian’. The poutine.

 

Ok, maybe ‘most Québécois’, the home state of this beloved fast food. It’s simple and weird, like something thrown together when the kitchen cupboards are almost empty and you need to improvise a makeshift dinner. What lands in front of you is a heap of limp fries smothered with gravy and cheese curd. I don’t know exactly what cheese curd is, but it’s sort of like eating strips of white rubber. It looks something like this:

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Paris, the best bread in the world

When you’re in Paris, Paris is all that matters. The fresh morning air and cool rays of light poured through the trees like gold, illuminating the smooth stone walls of cream, painting shadows of iron lattice balconies over the flourishing flowers adorning every balcony. Shadows of leaves echoed onto the pavement in grey blowing pointlilism paintings. Men dressed in dark jackets and aviators carried baguettes under their arm, and for good reason, as the bread was world-class. Cafe terraces spilled out onto every street corner, as youths and hipsters watched the world pass by over espressos and lagers. Slick black sports cars exchanged engine noises and three-wheeled motorbikes weaved through traffic, keeping the bustling city centre at a fast pace. Below ground, the labyrinthine metro system shuttled Parisians around like a beating pulse. Fashion pervaded; kids sported tiny converse and designer scarves, and the grandparents made bold statements of taste with small, circular spectacles of red, green and blue. The beauty was all around in the shape of towering monuments that lent their shadows down great boulevards of falling leaves and cutting-edge clothes boutiques.

Paris has many exciting aspects to write about, so for this post I thought id make a few comments on the high standard of French cuisine, a treat for my taste buds after many months of fried rice. Here are some of the best things that I ate in Paris…

Snacks

Saucisson

Pride of the French cold meat section, this member of the salami family is mild in spice but greasy and flavoursome, perfect with cheese, and highly addictive! Together, Cindy and I made short work of several saucissons!

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Not actually a saucisson, by these sausages with ham and sauerkraut could not comprise a more typically European dish. Also; great beer…

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