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The prep work and the dashi were finished so the chef instructor at the cooking school in Tokyo moved on to the main courses. 

First up was Braised Meat and Vegetables, Japan’s take on beef stew, which used dashi for the broth.

We moved into the kitchen to start the teriyaki chicken stuffed with asparagus, which reminded me not to complain about the small size of my kitchen (they run a cooking school and restaurant with a two burner cooktop and a portable electric burner!).

The sugars carmelized in the pan…

Sesame seeds were ground in the suribachi, Japan’s version of a mortar and pestle, for the dressing on a Spring Vegetable Salad.

And tofu was prepared two ways.


Brian plated the teriyaki chicken.

The final products:

Braised meat and vegetables

Teriyaki chicken and the Spring vegetable salad

Tofu with amber sauce

Tofu sauteed with asatski (Japanese chives)

And miso soup of course

Our business partner (and interpreter!), Bill, had to run to a meeting part way through our cooking school experience, leaving us suddenly verbally silenced. But through giggles and smiles and fumbled words and actions, we bonded–Brian and I with the chef instructor and his assistant. (Thanks Bill.) We all learned new words and Brian and I learned new cooking techniques and new food items, like burdock root in the miso soup and myoga (ginger flower) in the vegetable salad and asatski (the long very thin green onion) in the sauteed tofu.

Then we went upstairs to the dining room and ate all these creations.


And sadly, we said goodbye. 

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday Rentals travel blogging competition.

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Cooking school in Japan: making dashi

Tokyo: A chef’s tour

Coffee from the source-Nicaragua

Being a chef entails hovering over burners when the summertime kitchen temp is 120 degrees, working when your friends are out socializing, and being expected to gracefully receive criticism of your work from the public. 

But once in a while, being a chef has its rewards. Those rewards are even greater if you’re married to the chef.

We’re co-owners Black Bottle, a gastro tavern in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. Two of our partners live in Tokyo, considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of the world. We had to go.

With Bill and John at our sides, Brian and I spent a week eating our way through Tokyo. How lucky are we? Very.

Here’s lunch number one:

In Japan, presentation and quality are of utmost importance. Maguro (tuna), tai (snapper) and hamachi (young yellow tail or amberjack) sashimi. 

Starting in left corner, jellyfish, mentaiko (lotus root with spicy cod roe), takenoko (bamboo shoot), goma dofu with wasabi (sesame tofu), fish cake, ebi (shrimp)

Steamed rice with ikura (salmon roe) and green peas with tsukemono (pickles) on the side.

Left to right: braised tofu with ginger, pearl onion, fuki (type of mountain vegetable), kabocha (squash), grilled sliced gyuniku (beef), hijiki (type of seaweed), dashi with grated daikon

The detail that went into each item in this bento box was unbelievable. Have you ever seen such gorgeous food?

For more food and travel stories, check out wanderfood wednesday!

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First taste of the Caribbean

One photo, a thousand words

Our chef, and an attempt at a recipe


Thank you all for submitting your dreams! I am grateful to have had the privledge of reading them all. A realization about dreams came to me with this contest, I’ll share more about that later.

In the meantime, read the dreams of your contemporaries here and here!

“A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers.” -unknown

Win a $50 gift certificate to Black Bottle!


1. “Like” the A Dream Made Truth Facebook Page

2. Tell us a dream you’d like to make a truth.  Your answer doesn’t have to be a huge, life changing idea you’ve harbored for years, but it could if you’d like. Post your answer here, or on the Facebook page.

3. Tell your friends there’s a $50 Black Bottle gift certificate up for grabs! Tell them about my blog and suggest they Like A Dream Made Truth on Facebook.
I’ll take answers until Wednesday, August 11th at midnight (that’s only 2 days!), then I’ll throw all the names into a hat and draw out one lucky winner, to be announced Thursday.
Aren’t in Seattle? What are you waiting for? There’s no time like Summer and Fall to visit. But don’t worry, there’s no expiration date, you can use the gift certificate whenever you want. One more thing you should know: Black Bottle serves customers over the age of twenty one years. If you’re under twenty one and you win, the kitchen is happy to pack your yummy food to-go, or you could treat your parents and give them the gift certificate.  🙂

Want to hear my dream? I’ll go first.

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Time to get serious

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Our chef, and an attempt at a recipe

Brian did a lot of planning, shopping for, cooking, and serving of the three daily meals, but his additional responsibilities meant a second cook was a requirement.

So we hired a local chef. I’ll call him “Check”. Check and I got off to a bad start. On day one, our toddler and new puppy were wrestling, as youngsters do, and when the puppy’s sharp teeth made Simon cry out in surprise and pain and hurt feelings, Check rushed to Simon’s defense and swatted the puppy across the room. In turn, I rushed to the puppy’s defense. Our relationship spiraled downward from there.

More than once I’ve been told, “You’re so….calm.” Maybe it was a kind way of saying I’m dull or emotionless, but never has anyone told me I seem explosive or the type of person who thrives on conflict. But that was Check’s and my relationship. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

The after effects of each conflict reverberated to Brian. I lost track of how many conversations we had about whether to let Check go. But, where would that have left us? With Brian cooking and prepping every single meal, every single day. Check was too skilled in the kitchen, too capable of creating his own menu, and too able to wow our guests with his food. And they liked him. How could they like him? At the time, I didn’t get it.

Now that some time has passed, the reasons for that continual clash are clearer to me. Check was well read, had lived outside his country for a period of time, had strong opinions about foreign and local politics, and knew well the life of injustice, including a double whammy of recent occurrences. Then I landed on his soil–a white American woman with countless freedoms, slightly younger than him, ready to take charge and make my personal dream a success. A recipe for disaster.  

In honor of Check, I wanted to share a signature recipe of his. However, he didn’t leave his recipes lying around. So I thought I would recreate the parfaits he often made for dessert. How hard could it be, I thought. Hard enough to point out that a food blogger I am not.

I thought I would be all style-y and pour the warm panna cotta in the glass at a tilt, but I didn’t think through that the coulis wouldn’t stay in place at an angle, and the mousse definitely wouldn’t cooperate with the angle. So each one is a new attempt to make it look presentable. It didn’t work. The good thing is that each of these three layers is still delicious.


Comments from the tasters: Simon (now 8): “It’s delicious just the way it is.” Remy (now 11): “If you like mango, you’ll like this.” Even our Akita, Hoshi, tried it. He would have eagerly finished it off if we allowed him. For what it’s worth. 

What I should have done was consult with my chef husband before starting this experiment, rather than after. His suggestion of starting with the mousse on the bottom, then add the coulis, then the panna cotta was the answer. Here’s my final attempt.

Since the panna cotta had already set, I whisked it again which made it creamy enough to spoon over the top. Or alternatively, you could put a dollop of the mango mousse on top the panna cotta. Or scoop some mango mousse into a bowl and decorate with the coulis. Or try just the panna cotta with a zigzag of coulis over it.

Go ahead Check, shake your head at me again.


Mango Parfaits

Check would make parfaits with whatever fruit was available, be it mangoes, guavas, passion fruit, bananas, even plumrose. Pasteurized heavy cream isn’t available on St. Vincent so instead one is forced to use this gloppy stuff labeled as cream that could, if you’re careful, retain the shape of the can from which you expel it. Using real, refrigerated, liquid cream is a luxury here.

 Mango Mousse (or Fool)

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2000

1 ¼ tsp unflavored gelatin

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

3 large ripe mangoes, flesh coarsely chopped

¼ c sugar, or to taste

¾ c heavy cream + 1 tbsp sugar

Sprinkle gelatin over lime juice in a small heatproof cup and let stand 1 minute to soften. Purée mangoes with sugar in a blender or food processor and force through a sieve into a large bowl.

Melt softened gelatin in cup in a pan of water on low heat, then stir into purée. Beat cream and sugar with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks and gently fold into purée.

Chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

Mango Coulis

1 large ripe mango, flesh coarsely chopped

1 – 2 tbsp sugar (to taste)

Puree mango and sugar in blender or food processor. Force through sieve into bowl.

Panna Cotta

Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

1 cup milk

1 (1/4 ounce) pkg unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup sugar

Pour ½ cup of the milk in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it, let sit for 5 minutes. Heat on low, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved.

Add remaining milk, cream, vanilla and sugar and cook over medium heat until steam rises from the pot. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Pour into six cups. Refrigerate until set.

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