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Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

I feel like I’ve been in a time machine, I swear I love the train system here. I can settle into my seat, pull out my computer, or book, or breakfast and just chill. I will never really understand why some people choose to drive to work when the train is right by them and is an easy commute. We US citizens get so attached to our vehicles. That’s why I purposely got rid of mine 1 ½ years ago. Lots think I’m crazy to live in the Los Angeles area without wheels. The truth is I do have wheels, and the motor are my two legs. I would rather ride my bike while running errands, or meeting friends. I know not everyone can do this, but I can and I choose to cut my impact on this world down any way I can. Guess that’s why public transportation in any city doesn’t scare me.

I arrive in Kyoto right on time. The plan is for another raw food teacher is going to meet me, I’ll check into my hotel, then hop another train south to the big

Sweetness in the train station!

city of Osaka to meet with students at Masako’s studio. I’m a bit bummed to finally get to the city I’ve heard so many good things about – then leave it again after 15 minutes… but I’m here to do a job and that job is very important to me. Raw foods is just getting started in Japan and there are lots of young women who are ready to go like gang busters in their country.

How cool - a juice bar in the train station too!

Masako speaks some English, but brought along a translator to make it easier on all of us.

During our train ride I mentioned that I hadn’t yet tried Soba for any of  my meals. I saw their eyes light up – they would introduce me. They took me to a typical Japanese lunch spot and we all ordered our Soba noodles hot (traditionally they should be eaten cold) but it was on the verge of raining and the in wind was blowing and damn it was chilly outside! I know I’m not supposed to be eating wheat.. but these are buckwheat noodles and one big bowl is not going to hurt, right? Yummy,

Hot Soba.. Yummy!

yummy, I did the happy dance in my chair.. I couldn’t help it, it tasted so good. A very light broth and lovely toppings.. one had fresh nori, one had green mountain vegetables, the other had tofu. I got to try all three. Now it is custom and actually expected to make a slurping sound when youeat

The Market

Soba. I know it sounds rude, like something your mom would slap you upside the head for doing, but it IS the way here in Japan… and its fun using all your suction to eat.

We hit the fresh market on the way to her studio and the first thing I noticed is how cheap the prices were. Masako told me it was because it was a neighborhood market and NOT in Tokyo. Plus, she’s lived here all her life and knows where to get the good deals.  We gobbled up (more…)

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Celebrating with Miyumi

Shizouka is one of those cities off the beaten tourist track, but I’m not here to sight see – although I did take an afternoon to go stare at Mt. Fuji (see my “Au Naturel” blog kirstengum.com). I’m here to teach a class for my student and friend Miyumi. Miyumi has a food studio called “Anne Duex”

Food Studio, Shizouka, Japan

where she regularly teaches raw and vegetarian cooking courses. It’s named after her nickname “Anne” which I refused to call her and her cute little pup named “Duex”. Talk about a great facility, this woman has really put some time, effort and money into her studio. A commercial kitchen with two big stainless steal working tables and a cute little reception area. She’s also planning on opening up her own raw food restaurant in Shizouka some time in the spring.

I felt like I was in heaven. Truly I wish I owned a facility like this to teach classes in every week, no

Fantastic Studio to teach in!

more lugging all my ingredients to random places.. just bring the students here – it’s awesome and I’m completely jealous and happy for her at the same time. Miyumi and I decided not to do a dessert course but a recipe quick and easy – and of course healthy. She had a potluck party planned after my demonstration. When we arrived she had two assistants there to help me get prepped… what? help? I’m in heaven!! Students started arriving early so they could prep their own creations for the party.

I taught them (more…)

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The finished product with my friend Sachiko

Christmas is not a big holiday here in Japan. I mean the country is primarily those who believe in Buddism & Shinto,  so although they love the decorations of a tree, snowflakes, reindeer and such, everyone works on Christmas day, just like any other day. The 23rd is big – the Emperor’s Birthday (although it’s not really) and then New Years Day is huge. I fully admit that I forgot it was xmas until about 11 in the morning when my class started. They wished me all a Merry Christmas

Class in Kamakura on Christmas Day

then laughed at my surprise. It happens to me when I travel. I usually always know the date – especially if it is a travel day.. but hardly ever know the day of the week. It really doesn’t matter in my world, I work when I need to work, any place, any time, anywhere. That’s the beauty of being a freelance tv person and a raw food chef. Both really allow me to schedule as I please. To me, it was a no brainer choosing to come to Japan instead of staying home for the holidays. That’s another thing about me, I’m not a really huge holiday person either. I think that stems from always having to work on the holidays. That’s what happens when you are a tv reporter and trying to work your way up the ladder. You move constantly – pretty much every two years which means you are the lacky at the bottom of the totem pole.

Kirsten making Autumn Spiced Carrot Cake

Class was held in a traditional style Japanese meeting room, complete with low tables, cushions on the floor and sliding paper doors between the rooms. It was gorgeous and it really got me into the swing of things. The sun was shining, it was cold and windy outside and warm and cozy inside. If you are a teacher, this is the perfect scenario all you have to do is woo them with  a great dish. I decided to make my Autumn Carrot Cake again since it was such a big hit at the party in Tokyo. I had about 16 students who were on the edges of their seat. (more…)

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Daiutsu of Kamakura, Japan

I’m out of Tokyo. While it was good fun, I started to feel a little claustrophobic. There are billions of people living in a very small area… and in complete harmony no less. All the concrete was bringing me down, so heading to Kamakura came at the perfect time. Masae helped me through the massive subway system to Shinguku station, one of the busiest places in Tokyo. This station is not only subway but the major hub for al

I have no idea where we are!

l the trains heading out of Tokyo in just about every direction. We had all my gear with us which consisted of two large carry-ons  and a big ass suitcase. I’m not sure how many ups and downs we did in the station but it seemed like overkill to me to get to our track and I was so glad to have my friend at my side. I have lived in New York and am really versed in trains and subway.. but this station was complete sensory overload way too early in the morning.
My train ride wasn’t on the bullet train as I had hoped, instead I took a local train which was much like a subway car.. a full one. For the first 20 minutes I had to stand in a corner hovering over my bags as we weaved through the outskirts of the city. Then it cleared out. I had about a two hour ride south to the town of Kamakura, famous for its’ Daibutsu.. the “big budda” shrine. It’s just south of Tokyo and on a sweet little bay. It’s also known as a big

Look mom, I'm famous in Japan!

surf town get away, although it’s winter and there’s no way I would get in the water at the moment. I was coming to town a day before my class to do some sight seeing and to shop for ingredients. Sachiko, a student I know from both LA and Tokyo classes, was my host and I was honored to teach her students on Christmas day.
She picked me up at the train station, we hopped into her car and turned up the music. Sachiko is a young 25, a little hottie

Lunch with my friends in Kamakura, Japan

hipster who is just starting out in her career as a raw foodie. Her energy was a welcomed change and I fed off her playful and flirty ways. Her English is not great but we found a way to hold conversation non-stop trading names in our native languages. At our first stop – a health food store in the middle of the center of town, she had a little surprise… my very own (more…)

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Raw Cranberry Mint Torte

Teaching raw dessert classes is one of my favorite classes to teach. Here you are – a raw food chef who’s made the choice to rely  on vegetables, fruits and seeds as nutrition – and now you get to say the magic words all your students wait for -“dessert, yes you can have it too. Learning how to make healthy choices and realizing you truly are what you eat can intimidate many people. What, give up what I love??? In actuality, eating raw is eating what you love in its’ most natural state, then adding flair. You’re not giving up anything, especially when you experience first hand how nice and balanced you’ll feel after a raw dessert, not jacked up on some sugar rush!

Dishing out secrets to making raw chocolate

I always find reward in those shocked faces who think if they have a sweet tooth, they can’t follow a healthy raw diet – again I echo, it’s all in the choice of ingredients. I like teaching raw desserts as one of my first classes because it seems like the easiest, logical, back door way to start into a life of raw foods. Guys like it, girls are glad they don’t have to abandon their indulgences and well, let’s face it, raw desserts, good ones, impress friends and bring smiles all around.

Japan is not the biggest chocolate consumers but I find myself yearning for something sweet after a plate of sashimi, so I thought, let’s

Proud of my raw creations!

teach how to make quick and easy chocolate truffles. The recipe is one a friend passed along, then a changes some ingredients to satisfy my taste buds. I happen to bring along just the right amount of

Happy Raw Food Students

molds so that each student could choose their shape and fillings inside. I really feel student involvement is a necessity in all raw classes – if you can’t feel, smell, taste and participate, you just won’t remember that clearly when you got to make it again. The chocolate recipe is so easy, you could teach it to a 5th grader. Just 5 main ingredients and a few tricks. The students went nuts with all the choices and were laughing and giggling on like little school girls… and there was a lot of licking extra helpings of chocolate off (more…)

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Cranberry Orange Breezer

It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for, game time here in Tokyo. Today is my 6 hour raw food demonstration where I

The Team

get to wow eager young students with new recipes, tricks and technology. For the menu today, a lovely cherry, apple ginger spritzer using a nut milk bag instead of a juicer (juicer is optimum but not available), Sweet and Sour Spinach Cilantro Soup (recipe by Elaine Love) a Apple-Pomegranate Salad (altered for Japanese ingredients) a yummy Mushroom/Almond Stuffing with Cranberry Relish and Raw Chocolate Truffles. These are my take on Elaina Love’s creations – she’s great magical soul. That’s how any type of “cooking” is, you take the basic recipe and then add your spin or pizazz – this includes presentation, focus flavors, textures, ingredients.

It takes 4 of us to get all the ingredients and equipment to the restaurant, I don’t ever think I’ve done this much

Teaching how to make a zesty relish

prep.. even for a catering gig. Even the simplest of techniques for us in the states are brand new for Japan, so I’ve gone over my list numerous times trying to highlight all that will wow and empower. True there are many obstacles teaching in a foreign country, or should I say challenges – and I always love a challenge. It has made me realize how very lucky we are in the states to have access to some ingredients which make raw food much more gourmet. For instance, you’d think I could get Young Thai Coconuts

Answering Questions during class

here in Japan, since Thailand is merely a hop, skip and a jump, but from what I think I understand importing them is not allowed. I can’t expand more than that at the moment, but I intend to find out more. So any dessert recipe with coconut was completely out the window. I mean it makes no sense to teach a course if they don’t have access to the ingredients. There are also only a few with Vita-mixes, food processors and dehydrators – which allows you to take raw to a whole new level. Mostly it’s because – no joke – they cost more than triple the price here – another item on my list to check.

Students digging raw food!

There are many familiar faces in my audience, students who (more…)

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