Blackberry Farm – Luxurious Southern Hospitality

My mom had spoken of Blackberry Farm for a long time.  It is only a little over an hour away from my hometown, but I had never been.  I had only seen pictures in Bon Appetit and travel magazines, and of course the little feature on the PBS series, Mind of a Chef. Apparently I have distant relatives that own the place, so she really wanted to see the place she had heard about for many years.  When my cousins who were also curious about this spot came in from Florida, she took it as a good opportunity for them to finally go to Blackberry . After catching wind of this plan, I quickly let her know of my interest in the resort due to my foodie obsession and quickly let her know about the 2014 James Beard Award for the wine program.  They were able to add me to the reservation and I made plans for my husband and I to take the long drive to Tennessee.

The service and the wine program are what impressed me most at Blackberry.  They have won James Beard Awards for both of these elements and rightly so as they are well-deserved.  From the moment you enter the grounds, you are well-taken care of.

My parents and cousins spent the morning in the mountains while my husband and I caught up with people in my hometown that day since it had been over three years since I last visited.  We decided to meet up early at the resort to see the place and partake in their cocktail hour.

When you pull in, they ask for your name and then you really do not have to worry about or do anything.  The staff takes it all from there.  We parked our car in front of the main building.  My family was already there, and my dad had found himself a new toy as he was driving around in a golf cart the staff had given him to explore the large property.

Then we headed to the building that has a porch and the famous view of the mountains that I had seen in magazines.  It really is a picture perfect scene of the East Tennessee countryside and the Great Smoky Mountains.  I grew up in this area, but when you see it every day, you don’t appreciate the beauty that is there.  You take it for granted.  After living in Philly for five and a half years, I find this scene relaxing and calming.  At Blackberry, you have the beauty of the countryside, but the luxuries of the city.

We took pictures gazing out at the porch at the mountains and just spent some time taking the scenery in.  Then cocktail hour soon began just inside the house with the large porch.  There is a small bar where you can grab a cocktail to enjoy with this view outside or spent time inside the cozy lounge around the fireplace.  The genius part of this is that everything is under the reserved name even if you are not staying the night at the resort, and they remember your name, so you don’t even need to say anything. You never have to pull out your wallet until you leave.  Granted, this can be dangerous as well because it doesn’t feel painful to spend that cash until the damage is already done.  I had the signature cocktail which is the Blackberry Bramble.  It’s like their take a on a cosmopolitan, but made with fresh blackberries from the farm. It was quite refreshing.

Then we stepped outside, and the staff was waiting for us with a black SUV. They drove us over to The Barn, which is the dining venue.  We had a nice chat with the driver on the way over.

The Barn is what it sounds like, a very large barn that has been converted into a restaurant.  It is rustic and luxurious at the same time with the high vaulted ceiling with large chandeliers and dim lighting.  There were seven of us, and we were seated at a large round table by the fireplace.

Your options for dinner include a 4 course menu with 3-4 choices for each of these three courses.  This is around $120 a person.  A chef’s tasting menu is available.  However, as with many places, everyone at the table has to participate or it is not possible.  There is an optional wine pairing with that as well.  It was our first visit here, and everyone went with the 4 course menu.

I inquired about a wine pairing for this option and the server said it was possible and he would send the sommelier over.  The head sommelier, Andy Chabot didn’t seem to be there that night, but the gentleman they sent over was amazing.  He first asked if I was more interested in doing a traditional pairing or something more off the wall.  I liked that I was given that option, so of course I chose something less traditional and more interesting.  I don’t remember exactly, but I recall it was around $100 more to add the wine pairing to this 3 course menu.  Whatever it was, it was completely worth it, because it was the best part of the evening.  Of course my husband and I had different wines because we opted for different choices on the menu.

The menu is seasonal and they get ingredients from their farm, so the courses I had will probably not be available when you dine here, but just to give you an idea of the food that was offered, here is what I had:

Bread – Two types were offered, a seeded roll and a french loaf.  Both were good, but I preferred the seeded roll.  Fresh butter and an excellent mild and creamy sheep’s milk herb cheese were served with it.

Amuse BoucheSmoked Quail Leg with White Barbecue Sauce – This was probably a tie for my favorite amuse bouche ever given.  It was the smokiest thing I’ve ever eaten, and the meat was so tender it just fell off the bone.  I would have been happy with just more of these.

Cold Appetizer CourseFresh Pea Salad with Farm Cheese – This was my favorite course if you don’t include the amuse bouche.  It was fresh, crispy, and the cheese was packed with flavor. It was beautifully presented with red radishes around it and some flowers on top. This dish screamed spring and freshness.  This was paired with a French Wine, a 2002 Cour-Cheverny from Domaine des Huards.  It was very fresh and light and completed the salad nicely.

 My husband had a beet salad with cheese, balsamic, and walnuts.  It was paired with an Italian 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.

Hot Appetizer Course –  Shrimp and Grits -This was an upscale version of a traditional southern dish. It was very well-executed and had a lot of flavor and the creamy texture was perfect. Most people at the table ordered this dish and were very pleased.  It was paired with a 2002 Pinot Grigio from the Alsace region.  It had a little sweetness which worked with with the spices in the grits.

My husband had the sweetbreads.  He seemed pleased with them. That’s not my thing, so I’ll just take his word for it.  It was paired with an Italian red wine.

Main CoursePoussin – which was a disappointment compared to the quail.  It was a little smokey, but not nearly as much. It was served with farro and asparagus.  Good, but not earth shattering like the quail leg.  I thought the sides were a little salty.  My husband had some type of red meat.  He had no complaints.

 Dessert –  Olive Oil Ice Cream – This was boring in terms of both taste and presentation.   It looked like it was made in ice cube trays and tasted a little frost bitten on the outside.  There was no olive oil flavor, it just tasted like vanilla. The garnish was powdered sugar.  I was hoping for something like the olive oil gelato I get at Pizzeria Stella in Philly, but this was no where anywhere near as good and creamy and olive oily as that.  I will say that other people’s desserts looked good.  Maybe I just ordered wrong.

The wine pairing only covered the savory courses.  I ordered dessert wine for my dessert course though, so dessert was not a total fail.  I don’t remember what it was other than madeira because I didn’t get a picture of the bottle, but I remember being impressed with it, unlike the actual dessert. Also, the free little desert that was brought to celebrate one of my cousins birthdays was lovely. If only that could have been the main dessert!

When it was time to go, our cars were all warmed up and outside waiting for us as the valet had already brought them around.  Again, the service was truly excellent.  The wine complemented the food extremely well and was on par and possibly even better than some wine pairing we have had at some Michelin-Starred restaurants.

Blackberry Farm is truly a beautiful, luxurious place that utilities the best things about  East Tennessee where I grew up — the mountains, fresh produce, and southern hospitality.  Of course this luxury comes at a cost.  For my parents and my husband and I, the damages were around $1,000.  My folks had water, but the two of us had a wine pairing.  The resort offers something that you don’t see so much of in this area. It is definitely not something you would get in the habit of doing. I do think it is the best option in the area for a special occasion though and was worth the splurge.  I’d certainly be happy to return.


Yuyado Souan – Modern Japanese Luxury (Part II)

This is the second part of my experience staying at the ryokan, Yuyado Souan in Izumo, Japan. It’s probably better to read my previous post first.

Yuyado Souan not only has amazing private onsen baths in most of the rooms, but they have many private family baths you can use for free with your stay.  There are wooden signs you just put on the front of the door to show that it is occupied, and you can lock it from the inside.  The rock bath with the view of the forest was my favorite.

All of the family baths have a changing area and a basket for your personal items.  There also is a vanity with some toiletries and a hairdryer.  However, you bring the towels that are provided in your room with you.

We took a look at the other baths, but didn’t really use them because we liked the bath in our room and the rock bath so much.  Also, I find the indoor ones not as enjoyable due to the level of heat and humidity.

Our favorite family bath.

Our favorite family bath.

Family bath with blue tiles and stained glass windows.

Family bath with blue tiles and stained glass windows.

DSCF7535DSCF7539Then, we went back to our villa to relax.  Soon after returning, we turned in onto our thick comfy futons in our tatami mat bedroom.  I quickly fell asleep looking up at the moonlight peaking in through the thatched roof.  I usually don’t sleep all the way through the night, but I didn’t wake up once!

The living room.

The living room.


The bedroom

This is what you see when you are drifting off to sleep.

This is what you see when you are drifting off to sleep.

After yet another nice hot bath, we headed over to the main dining hall for our breakfast.  There are two breakfast times available, 8:00 and 8:30.  We chose the later one and were the only ones in the dining hall!  The staff was cleaning off the other tables from the rest of the guests who had chose the earlier time.

The breakfast was a lot more traditional than dinner.  As with dinner, there were a lot of small dishes, but this time all of them were already sitting at our table, with the exception of the miso soup and rice that was brought over soon after we sat down.

The rice was particularly good as it had beans it in and had a nice chewy texture.  My favorite individual dish was the tofu that was served in a thick mushroom based sauce.  I am a huge fan of Japanese pickles, so I was happy to see a variety that included eggplant, daikon (Japanese radish), and cucumber.  We were also served a green salad with a side of potato salad, mountain vegetables, seaweed, an onsen egg, and some dishes that I’m still not quite sure what they were.


Salmon, Lotus Root, Fish Cake, Carrot, and Celery

Salmon, Lotus Root, Fish Cake, Carrot, and Celery

Tofu with the thick mushroom sauce.

Tofu with the thick mushroom sauce.

Yuyado Souan is a small upscale ryokan with only nine rooms.  The room we stayed in was called the Shoya Room.  You can view all the rooms on their website here.  Make sure you book early especially during peak seasons such as autumn leaves, sakura season, and national holidays.  Both the Shoya room and Tenpo room will run you 35,000 Yen a person (roughly $350 depending on the current exchange rate).  I’m not sure about the cost of the other rooms that don’t have private baths in them.  The price includes the lavish dinner and breakfast courses.

In terms of the room, this is one of the best places I’ve stayed.  However, although the meal was tasty, I’ve had better kaiseki, especially for this price point.  Overall, we were very happy with our stay here and impressed with the resort.  We would most definitely return if we were in the area, although I’d think we’d reserve a different room just to try something new.

© 2014 Kurogoma Blog

Yuyado Souan – Modern Japanese Luxury (Part I)

When my husband and I go back to Japan, we usually spend one night in an upscale ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) with a private onsen (hot spring bath).  Usually two lavish meals are served – dinner and breakfast.  Admittedly, I’m guilty of finding the place I want to stay first, and then planning an entire road trip around it.  It usually works out well though, because we get to relax and eat good food while exploring a new part of the Japanese countryside.

This past April, we headed to Yuyado Souan in Izumo in Shimane Prefecture.  While driving through some fields on a small road with not much else around, our GPS lead us to a dead end off the main road.  Luckily when we got back on the main road, we saw the sign for the place and parked.  Then strangely enough, we couldn’t find the entrance as there was a large bamboo fence around the place.

The sign to Yuyado Souan's parking lot.

The sign to Yuyado Souan’s parking lot.

Sakura tree in the parking lot.

Sakura tree in the parking lot.

About ten minutes later, another car pulled up, and I decided to ask the couple who got out of the car.  It turns out you have to walk a bit away from the parking lot to find the entrance.

My husband and I in front of the entrance to Yuyado Souan.

My husband and I in front of the entrance to Yuyado Souan.

One of the staff members was waiting for us, and quickly checked us in and showed us to our private villa.  The room looked impressive online, but in person it was even more amazing.  The roof of the villa was a very high thatched roof that was about 150 years old.  However, the amenities inside the room were very modern.  There was a large screen tv, minibar, comfy leather sofa, and of course wifi.

The living room.

The living room.


Tea and snacks in our room.

Besides the food, the other big reason I booked this place was so we’d have our own private hot spring.  This one was made of bricks imported from Korea. It’s indoors, but the whole back wall opens to a small patio which fresh air can flow in from.

If you’re not familiar with Japanese onsen, what you do is wash yourself before you get in the bath.  You can see in the third photo below that there is a black stool.  You sit there and use the bucket or the hose to shower to clean yourself off and to slowly warm up your body, so it’s not so much of a shock when you get in the hot water.  No soap goes in the bath.  You have to make sure you’re fully rinsed off before you enter.

Most onsen are public, but I prefer the private bath.  I find it much less stressful.  This one was large, and the water was the perfect temperature for me.  It was actually a little less hot than other onsen I’ve tried.

photo 1-2IMG_1480IMG_1482We also had our own little private garden to look out at from the patio and the living room.

photo 3-2After using the bath, many, many times, we went to dinner. Usually at an upscale ryokan like this, dinner is served in your room.  However, since the room was more modern and only had one tatami room, dinner was served in the main building of the resort on the second floor in a private, dimly lit dining room with wooden floors, tables, and chairs.

The food was very different from what I’m used to at ryokans.  Although it was served kaiseki style, there were many influences from other places in the world in some of the courses.

We asked the server what sake she recommended and chose a local one that was quite tasty and smooth and only cost us 670 Yen (about $7.00 USD) for two people’s worth.  Soon after the first course, a series of small dishes including tofu, fresh mountain vegetables with yuba, fish, and fruit, came out.  It was all very beautifully presented in different types of ceramic and glass dishes.  I liked the presentation, but none of the flavors wowed me.


Mountain vegetable and yuba

Mountain vegetable and yuba (tofu skin)


Melon wine

DSCF7517This was followed by the sashimi course. The seasonal fish that evening was tuna and squid.  It was covered with rice paper with little flecks of gold in it when it arrived.  I wasn’t a fan of the presentation as it reminded me of saran wrap I use to cover my leftovers in the fridge.

IMG_1514After I removed the paper, it looked much better.  The tuna was very buttery.  I’m not a fan of raw squid as it’s a little too chewy for me, but it wasn’t bad.


The next course was simply tempura, but the dipping salt that was served with it was an amazingly flavorful ume shiso salt.  Ume is a Japanese apricot that in this case is pickled and sour. Shiso is a herb that is a member of the mint family.  It was tart and herbal and really made the flavors of the vegetables come out.

IMG_1517Then the main course arrived, basil chicken with zucchini and pickled vegetables.  This was not at all what I was expecting from a ryokan, but the chicken was super tender and packed full of flavor, and the basil sauce was rich and the vegetables were crispy. Too bad it was only a tiny bite.  I could have eaten a large plate of it and actually been more satisfied with my meal overall.  It was the only dish that really wowed us, and when it arrived, we thought it would be the most disappointing.

IMG_1519This was followed by a more traditional course.  Seasonal vegetables simmered in dashi.  Dashi is a Japanese stock made of bonito (shaved, dried tuna), kobu (kelp), soy sauce, and mirin (a type of cooking rice wine).

IMG_1520Next came sakuramushi.  This was a light steamed egg custard flavored with cherry blossoms.  I usually hate chawanmushi, which is the basic form of this dish as it tastes too creamy and fishy (because of the dashi stock).  These are just flavors and tastes I don’t like combined.  However, the sakura mushi was quite pleasant because of how light it was, the lack of a dashi taste, and the light, salty sakura flavor.  I wouldn’t got out of my way to order it, but I’d choose it over chawanmushi any day!

DSCF7524Finally came the traditional dishes that let me know that the meal was almost over:  miso soup, Japanese pickles, white rice, and tea.  Simple, but delicious.

DSCF7526Dessert is usually my favorite course in Japan, but here I found it disappointing.  It was fruit jelly and a tiny bite size piece of cheesecake.


That was the end of our dinner that night.  I enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite kaiseki meal.

In my next post, I’ll tell about the other bathing opportunities the resort offers, more about the hotel room, and of course the Japanese style breakfast that is served at Yuyado Souan.

© 2014 Kurogoma Blog

Kichisen, Kyoto – Japanese Kyo Kaiseki at its Finest

I finally got to cross a restaurant off my bucket-list this year when I visited Kichisen in northern Kyoto, Japan.  The experience was everything I’d hoped for and more.  Kichisen specializes in traditional Kyo Kaiseki cuisine.  The ingredients are chosen based on what is in season, fresh, and at its peak.  The natural flavors of the ingredients shine through in the dishes, and the beautiful presentation of the courses incorporates aspects of nature during that season as well.  This restaurant currently has three well-deserved Michelin Stars.

There are many courses, and one does not choose the individual dishes.  That is up to the chef.  Instead you choose a price point and will be presented with finer ingredients the higher up you go.  Kyo-Kaiseki does not come cheap, and being that this was my first experience at this restaurant, I chose the lunch course that was 8,000 Yen per person. The exchange rate varies, but that’s roughly $80 a person USD. Keep in mind there is an addition of about 20% that will be made to your bill later for service fees and tax.  This is a steal considering dinner starts at almost double the price, and you are getting service and food that would cost you at least twice this price in the U.S. for food of this quality.  The lunch also took about three hours, and was a culinary experience not to be forgotten.

Having lived in Japan and visited many times, I am not new to kaiseki.  I chose to visit Kichisen because of Chef Tanigawa.  You may know him as the chef who defeated the Iron Chef Morimoto in the Iron Chef “Battle of the Pike Eel” episode.  This guy can do some amazing things with food.  I have quite enjoyed some Asian fusion cuisine at Morimoto’s restaurant in Philadelphia several times.  I had to see what the guy that beat him was capable of.

When my husband, my friend, and I arrived at the entrance, we were greeted by a server who took our name from the list and lead us inside to the genkan (entry hallway where you remove your shoes) and took our coats.  We were then lead into the area with the counter seats that my friend had reserved for us a month prior.  If you don’t speak Japanese well and you don’t have a friend who does, you can have your hotel call to make the reservation for you.

The building is very traditional just like the food.

View from the counter.

               View from the counter.

Since it was April 1st and the beginning of the cherry blossom season in Kyoto, we were first given sakura (cherry blossom) water.  The liquid was very fragrant, but the taste was very subtle and pleasant.

Sakura Water

                         Sakura water

Traditional Kyo-Kaiseki is based on some elements of the tea ceremony.  We were given tea ceremony sweets (wagashi) next. I liked the idea of starting with something a little bit sweet.  Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you don’t get dessert later.  The inside was sweet azuki or red bean paste.  My husband’s was particularly special because it was covered in matcha (green tea) powder.  Both were presented in black lacquer boxes.

My wagashi and jelly.

                 My wagashi and jelly.

My husband's wagashi.

                My husband’s wagashi.

And what would wagashi be without matcha?  Oh yeah, this was the good stuff.  Nice and grassy and frothy.  I was in heaven.

IMG_1355 - Version 2

We ordered some amai or sweet sake to share between the three of us.  Surprisingly it was only about 1,200 Yen for this bottle, and it was presented on a bed of ice with some cherry blossoms.  This sake was so smooth that we proceeded to order two more during the course of our meal.

DSCF7337Then the first savory dish came out.  It was beautifully presented in little ceramic containers shaped like birds, with real cherry blossoms placed on the plate.  The chef’s assistant was very friendly and saw that I wanted to take pictures.  He would wait for me to take a picture when the dish was presented and then open the containers for me.  It sounds simple, but it’s very nice because many upscale establishments like this, especially in Tokyo, won’t let you take photos of the food.  I also didn’t feel rushed or uncomfortable for doing so.

Inside the large bird was a medley of fresh seasonal vegetables, while the small one was full of sweet and salty seaweed.  I loved the presentation of this dish.  It was also exciting anticipating what dishes lay inside.

IMG_1357 - Version 2

IMG_1358So far I hadn’t seen Chef Tanigawa.  I really wasn’t surprised because I’ve been to Morimoto four times, and of course have never seen him.  Still I was hoping I’d see Tanigawa since this is such a small restaurant.

Then out of nowhere he appeared and brought us the next course!  I was so excited and for the next two hours, he was around most of the time serving us, and spent a lot of time talking to us.  My Japanese isn’t so great, so I can’t carry on a conversation for very long.  Luckily, my friend speaks excellent Japanese due to living in Japan for around eight years, and he was able to ask Tanigawa the things I couldn’t.

Tanigawa brought us this beautiful dish of what he said were beans (usui endo) and not peas in a light syrup.  This dish was possibly the freshest thing I’ve ever tasted.  It was screaming spring and the texture of the beans were creamy and tender.  The syrup was so light, but it brought out more of the natural sweetness in the bean.  The beautiful cobalt blue and gold glassware it was served in was the perfect vessel for this simple well-executed course.

The freshest beans I've ever tasted.

The freshest beans I’ve ever tasted.

IMG_1359 - Version 2The next course was also impressive due to the quality of the ingredients.  It was another very light dish.  This time a soup with a slightly sweet clear broth, fresh greens, tofu, and the most flavorful, tender mushroom I think I’ve ever eaten.  I asked Chef Tanigawa if the shitake mushroom was marinated in something to give it that amazingly rich flavor.  To my surprise, he said it wasn’t seasoned at all, but just put directly into the stock.  The reason it tastes so amazing is that it is incredibly fresh.  I think I could have eaten a giant bowl of full of those mushrooms.

The soup when it arrived at my seat.

  The soup when it arrived at my seat.

DSCF7347Then what I’d really been looking forward to, the sashimi course, came out.  There was a large variety of fish with different garnishes and we were brought two different dipping sauces.  Six different types of sashimi were brought out on one plate and each one had beautiful edible garnishes.

We all kind of hesitated for a moment, as we weren’t sure which sauce would be best for which one.  However, that moment didn’t last long as Chef Tanigawa came out and showed us which pieces taste best with which sauce and explained some of the best taste combinations with the garnishes.

My favorite part of this course was of course the amazing piece of tuna.  However, I was surprised how much I liked the baby eel with the raw egg york on top.  I thought I originally misunderstood what he was saying since he just said it was eel, and it didn’t taste or look like eel.  They looked very similar to a cellophane noodle you would see used in Vietnamese cuisine.  However, a quick Google search after I returned to the hotel confirmed that they were indeed baby eel. I really enjoyed the variety of this course.

Garlic Sauce and Shoyu for Sashimi Course

Garlic sauce and shoyu for sashimi course


                          Sashimi course

The next course was all wrapped up in a silk bag inside a wicker basket.  I felt like a kid on Christmas day waiting to open the next present.

DSCF7356Inside was a very flavorful rice topped with fresh mountain vegetables in a beautifully decorated cup.  The rice had a nice chewy texture and the mountain vegetable was tender.

DSCF7358DSCF7359After that, we were brought a bowl containing fish poached in a light broth scented with yuzu fruit rind and topped with crisp snow peas.  The broth was steaming hot, and the yuzu was very fragrant.

DSCF7361 - Version 2DSCF7362This was followed by another fish course. Do you see the little green dots on the raw fish on the right?  This is a seed is Bassia scoparia or tonburi in Japanese.  It is crisp and the texture resembles caviar and tastes very fresh and earthy.  I really liked it and it added a new dimension of texture and flavor to the raw fish.  It was served with a sweet glazed salmon with miso and fresh spring onion.

IMG_1375Just as I thought, surely that’s the last course, out came another rice course with a side of Japanese pickles.  This time the rice was simply topped with fresh peas and red shiso (perilla leaf).

DSCF7365DSCF7367 I was pretty full and satisfied at this point, but there is always room for dessert!  We were brought a pokan, a type of Japanese orange.  Inside was a fresh jelly made of the inside fruit and then we topped that with a sweet fruit liquor.  The jelly inside was slightly sweet, tart, and smooth.

IMG_1378DSCF7369 - Version 2We had such a wonderful experience here, and I’m already thinking about making a second visit during another season.  The food is delicious, super fresh, beautifully presented, and on top of all of that Chef Tanigawa is incredibly friendly.  He loves to talk about the food, and is told me he is very interested in getting more people from outside of Japan to visit the restaurant.  He was curious about how we learned of it, and what people overseas were saying about it.  He’s also interested in learning English and asked us in Japanese how to say a few things and English and took some notes.

He was kind enough to let us take a picture with him before we departed, and gave us a copy of the DVD where he defeated Morimoto.  If you are ever in Kyoto, I highly recommend checking out Kichisen.  It’s well worth the cost and the time to come out there.  Just make sure to make a reservation well in advance.

From Left to Right:  me, my husband, Chef Tanigawa, and our friend

From Left to Right: me, my husband, Chef   Tanigawa, and our friend

If you’ve never explored the Shimogamo area around the restaurant,it’s also worth it to either come early or head over to the Shimogamo shrine and Kawai Shrine or visit them after your meal if you go for lunch.  Shimogamo Shrine is more famous, but we really enjoyed Kawai Shrine because of the mirrors people make to pray for beauty.  I’ll write more about a delicious juice that’s available at Kawai Shrine in a future post.

© 2014 Kurogoma Blog


What is Kurogoma?

Kurogoma 黒ゴマ means black sesame in Japanese.  While living in Japan, I found that the most delicious things were often things I would not think of combining.  I discovered so many new tastes and flavors, and tried food that I would have never dreamed of trying before.  It made me more curious about not only Japanese cuisine, but food from around the world.

Black sesame by itself may not sound strange, but to most people in the states, black sesame ice cream does.  It has a wonderful nutty, earthy flavor, and like most Japanese desserts, isn’t overly sweet.  I got hooked on it early on in my time there.

In this blog I hope to explore different flavors that I’ve discovered from my travels, and from cooking in my own kitchen.  I would like to introduce people to delicious ingredients and dishes that they might not know about otherwise.

If you love food and adventure, then you’ll want to follow me.

Pictured below:  Kurogoma and vanilla cream topped with kuromitsu (black sugar) from Neuf Cafe in Hiroshima, Japan.Image