I could spend hours in the Japanese grocery store

You know your a dietitian if...

this looks like Disney World!
I could spend hours walking around the Japanese grocery stores.  I could walk up and down every aisle, and still think I missed something and should look again.  I could look at the pictures on every package of Japanese cookies.  In other words, I am not to be left unsupervised when in a grocery store.

Here's why:


Oh yes, they sell giant snail things in the grocery store.


Kraft cheese!
Instant ramen
Oh, and did I mention this grocery store is in the basement of a department store (about the size of a small mall, with many "stores" inside).  It was awesome!  Thankfully I had Ryan with me to make sure I didn't fall into a rabbit hole and get lost in Wonderland.

Well, there was also the little issue of actually being hungry and ready to eat dinner at a French restaurant next door.

The place was really cute, and definitely one of the more upscale places we have seen in the rural area where we live.  Actually, this place is in Aomori City, so it was a bit of a drive from where we live.  We didn't sit at this table, but it was cute with the little couch.  We sat next to this at a table next to the window and watched the people walking around in the snow.
I thought this was so funny (in a good way, seriously the Japanese are so cute!)
Of course I had to order a sweet drink, right?  I'm a lady!
Ryan ordered a beef dish, and was accidentally served someone elses, but we had no idea it was the wrong thing until they came to apologize.  He kept on eating it, but said the meat wasn't quite up to his preferences (I can't remember, but I think it was too much fat, but otherwise it was good).  This is a beef tagine, and I liked that they uncovered the tagine at the table.
We had planned to start with the cheese plate, but because he was accidentally brought another dish, which came out first, we sort of had this in the middle (as in between his dinner being served and mine being served).  This was really good.  I was in serious need of a good cheese sampler.
For dinner I ordered the vegetables, which came almost like a fondue-it was a heated dipping sauce, but not as thick as a cheese fondue.  I really liked this.
We almost bought dessert in their bakery downstairs.  Apparently they don't allow you to take pictures, but there was no sign to say this, so they had to tell me to stop, which is fine and I respect that, but they really should have had a sign that was noticeable.  At least I took this one picture of their signature cake. Maybe I'll get to try it another time.
Another nice meal we enjoyed was a lunch special at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  Ryan is not really a fan of Chinese food, but there is something about this place, and he really enjoys the food here.  The offer a multicourse lunch special, so we go there sometimes for lunch.

On this day we started with some pickled diakon, which is a giant Japanese radish (so big it doubles as a weapon, no joke!).
Next came a seaweed salad.
I ordered this awesome egg and mushroom dish.  So good!
Ryan had this chicken dish.
We also got egg drop soup with this.
Then, to finish off the meal, we were served a small scoop of ice cream.  I think the lunch special costs around $12.  It's definitely worth it.  Oh, and it comes with a cold beverage and hot tea.
Speaking of good food and tasty meals, Ryan and I tried this place one night.  I heard good things about it, and I also heard they had a lot of good vegetarian dishes.
You may notice that this sign says "International Ethnic Food".  You may wonder what this means.  Basically, Gordon Ramsay would have a field day discussing with the owners why this menu won't work, except here it does.  The menu contains a little of everything.  A little Chinese, Thai, other Asian cuisines, and even Mexican.  Yep, Mexican.  There is an extensive menu covering all kinds of ethnic foods, and I know Gordon would have a few things to say about this, mostly that they need to pick one cuisine and stick with it.  Nope, they do it all here.

Ryan and I started with cheese rolls, which are the Japanese equivalent of mozzarella sticks.  The cheese is wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried.
Ryan and I both went with Thai food.  He had Thai chicken curry.
I had the Thai vegetable curry.  It was really good and definitely on the spicy side.
I have a few random pictures, and I know if I don't just stick them somewhere, they will never get posted.  First up is this loaf of challah that I made in my bread machine.
The last thing is this small thank you gift I received from a Japanese woman in my building.  I found her wallet in the snow in front of our building, and I was able to find her ID to check for her name.  Our building has all residents names written on the doors, so I thought it would be easy to find her that way, however I name found the name, but I did recognize her from the picture.  I posted on a Facebook page for the base and was able to get in contact with her husband, and then returned the wallet to him.  The next day he rang my door bell and dropped off this gift.
It's a little decoration and a box of little baked goods, a little like a moon pie.  It was really sweet and unexpected.  We really enjoyed these, but more importantly, I am glad she was able to get her wallet back.  I saw her a few days later and she came over to me and thanked me again, which was good because I got to thank her for the little cakes.

It was a cake on the outside with cream filling sandwiched between.  It's from a bakery in a nearby city, and since then we have discovered they sell these at a few places around town.  The even have them at the airport gift shop.  They are really, really good, so I am glad she introduced us to them.
QUESTIONS:  Do you like to look around in grocery stores?  What is your favorite Asian cuisine?  What's your favorite ladies drink?

Valentine's Day Dinner and Tofu on a Stick

I have just a few pictures left from Sapporo, before I show you what we had for Valentine's Day.

First, here is my last breakfast from the hotel in Sapporo.  We really liked the salmon for breakfast idea, so I made sure to get some on the last day.
Before we boarded the boat home we found a soda machine and thought this was so crazy that it needed to be bought.  Do you have this flavor in the US?  We had never seen this before, so we definitely bought it to investigate.  Ryan actually drank it and as best as I can remember, he said it was good.
My last picture is this cheese cup that we bought at the convenience store by the hotel as part of our lunch on the boat.  It was good!
Alright, on to Valentine's Day.  I guess you could say we celebrated with a trip to Sapporo, but there was still the actual day, and of course we decided to do something.  So, what did we do?  I picked up ingredients for dinner, we cooked together, and then watched a movie.  It was a work night and the restaurant on base didn't have reservations at a good time, so we decided a quiet night in would be perfect.

It was a Tuesday, so I headed to the grocery store in town that has 100 yen specials on Tuesdays.  Curious what 100 yen equals these days?  It's about $1.32.  This specific grocery store has produce specials on Tuesdays and you can get small bundles of various items for 100 yen, and then they have some other items on sale too.  It's a good day to go there.

Obviously Ryan and I are on a salmon kick, so I picked out some salmon.  This package cost 358 yen, which is about $4.71.  Not bad at all.
Then I grabbed some miso.  I have no idea what kind of miso I bought, but I know it was in the miso aisle, so I picked one that wasn't too expensive.  
I decided to marinate my fish in soy sauce (the less sodium one, but still packs it in) with the miso.
Check out what else I bought at the store.  I picked out some string beans and potatoes.  Each of these packages was 100 yen.  That's a pretty good deal.
We also decided the apple wine was a good drink to enjoy with our meal.
I also bough some strawberries, which is another reason why apple wine sounded good.
So we had some wine, strawberries, and chocolates all ready to go for dessert.
But before we could get to dessert, we had to actually cook dinner.  I started on the fish, while Ryan worked on the veggies.
I thought the grill pan would be perfect for cooking the salmon.  I was right!
Here ya have it!  It was so, so good.  Very simple.  I am definitely doing this again.

Now, just as promised, tofu on a stick.  Hey, it's on my Japan Bucket List, so when we went to the market where I first saw it for sale, I made sure to give it a try.  Ryan was more than happy to take pictures if it meant he didn't have to give it a try. 

This is garlic miso glazed tofu...on a stick!
Here goes nothing.
Taking a bite.
Still smiling!  It was pretty good, but just way too much tofu for me at one time without anything else to go with it.  It wasn't too expensive, so I think I would try it again in the future.
The last thing I want to share is this crazy spread we found.  It came in many varieties, but went with something that looked like chocolate and PB, or we thought perhaps something like nutella.
It came in a little packet like this.  You can see in the picture how this works.  You bend it in the middle and squeeze, and the spread comes out the middle.
The two kinds are on two sides, so I think chocolate and then PB (although I can't read Japanese, but that is what it seems like).
To balance it out a little bit I ate it on a whole wheat bagel (at least I got 7 grams of fiber in the process).  Yummy!
QUESTIONS:  What did you do for Valentine's Day?  What is your favorite bagel topping?