Friday, 22 July 2011

[Event - Exposition] Celebration of Guilt. And Awkward People. Domo Henjin..

More telling than the intact items seen above, is the carnage at the forefront - a mere indication of the havoc I wreaked this past Friday. Delicious, indulgent, havoc. The items not yet consumed in fury are simply there as a toast to that destruction. So, Kanpai!

The event in question was one I was particularly looking forward to as it would enable me to engage in an activity I do so enjoy. Noms. Many, many Noms. Profuse amounts of piggy noms.

Oh, I guess to explore and further demystify the gastronomic culture of a country of interest would be a welcome benefit as well. Mostly the calorific destruction though. Regardless of which, I would not venture beyond the Food Court and stalls. Ever. Until complete saturation.

~ The Build-up ~
Despite the impulsive, reckless nature of such, it was actually minutely planned, down to the timings. Planned gorging is happy gorging! I was informed of this event more than a month ago, which immediately intrigued me, as previously mentioned, being an exposition centred around a country of particular interest/decidedly obfuscated in its culture to me, and most importantly, being rather cheap, it had its appeal. Then I scoured through the exhibitors list. Rigorously in the "Cuisine" Section of course. DONE. I'm there. And so it became. The unveiling of this event unto me also started me on another road to obsession, of which I have posted about previously. So essentially, my needs would be quenched twofold. And it needed planning. If I wished not to overdose on epic.

The more I viewed through the exhibitor websites, the harder I had to stop myself from eating them. I don't know what loads of 1's and 0's would taste like, with sprinkling of plastic and electronics, but they were quite the temptation. Bite marks abound on my laptop. On the release of the guide, the plan was consolidated. Ready, to devour. Everything. And so, with traffic bolstering the hunger/anticipation, entered into the hall. Money drawn out. Straight. To noms! It did not phase me that I was surrounded by a sea of eccentricity peculiarly dressed freaks, rather expected actually, though my decision to wear a jumper was questionable. Sure, it was large so would allow space to expand, but all these Spandex wearing individuals created much friction burn-related heat. Who cares, FOOD!

~ Lunch! ~
Straight to a stall, and straight to the order. Of two items which I obviously underestimated in size. And price. Jeebus, £11 for some fried balls and an omelette. Not that I cared as soon as said ball entered mouth [teehee]. Despite being of the frozen variety, it was. Awesome. So much so, that the 3 minutes I had to wait for the second course lasted ad eternum. And then it arrived. And, I bit into it. Wow. This actually contains the world. Epic. And fitting, considering that loosely translated the name of the dish means "A plate of everything". An omelette that seemingly contained the majority of food groups, was not particularly healthy, by wholly delectable. It was difficult to pace myself, but I figured I should slow down once I inhaled the fork.

Obviously the arena of this omelette destruction was a matter of destiny, as on its consumption, I caught eye of a revered snack food of the country, not decidedly interesting, but obviously, it returned the stare, thus, it needed to be eaten. Thwarted momentarily by the packaging, it was swiftly consumed in all its ricey entirety, but not particularly as expected. Still. Rice, good. Done. And with the savoury part done, it was time for dessert. As there's always time/space/reasoning for existence, for desserts. Which were essentially, my draw to the wilful gastrointestinal torture. I paced myself, settling for now to have just a couple of macaroons, an item I've largely lambasted as being. Well. I don't know what they are, Doll-house burgers? Or I did until I devoured them. Oh my holy Jeebus. What did I just start. How can toy food be so sinfully good?! Yes, SINFULLY. The noises I emitted could only be blasphemous! If I am sounding of monotonous praise, then you obviously have no idea just delectable everything was, though, the primary act of eating usually evokes a largely similar reaction out of me on its own. I'm a glutton. But certainly not for punishment ^_^.

~ Post-Lunch Lull ~
At which point, I figured. Lunch, is now done. I need some digestive aids for the monstrous deliciousness festering in my stomach. So, Sake it is. First though, a slightly healthier alternative - ooh, Macha Chiller. Green Tea. It will dissolve everything in its path, and hopefully not my stomach along with it. Wait, what did I order. ARGH. Dairy! And now I'm bloated. And a poof. It was lovely though. What I had not planned though is what to do in the resulting three hour emptiness before my next scheduled Self-aimed Humanitarian Effort. A quick scan found not much beyond the hoards of weird, and uninteresting stalls of items no real appeal. Seeing as they were not edible. Sake it is.

Onto the first stand, pompous sounding sleazy-eyed fellow, £2 for 3 thimbles of sake, none of which impressed, and he struggled to answer questions by dint of not hearing over his own ego. And they did not have the sake I had wished to purchase from them. NEXT. Some requisite water for a defiance of falling out of sobriety and Yakult for a hope of voiding my intestines for my afternoon snack. As planned. Though obviously the sake would help in that respect. Blatantly.

And then, boredom. More time to burn. On not eating. Which makes such a delay even more infernal.

Finding limited pleasure in circling the unwitting victims of my forthcoming dessert gorging of epic proportions for the 13th time, I then decided it would be an ideal opportunity to start chatting up/forewarning the prospective vendors, letting them know how I had stalked them in the weeks leading to the exposition. I would also later apologise for the drool I had relinquished on their products. First up, the Macaroon stand. I had never really ever sampled macaroons before as I always figured its not nice to steal food away from Barbie & Ken. They just always looked, kitschy. These, as I told the vendor, were truly delectable. Ofcourse she knew. Not really a tradition or very traditional to the Country of honour of the exposition, but some influences were abound. After indicating my return in the near future, and sensing the fear in her eyes, onto my next victim.

Having previously lured me into a dastardly latte' - the heathens - all was forgiven as this was a vendor I had already lined up to buy their entire current stock of inventory at some point in the near future. Which I announced. In a vain attempt for a well deserved discount for my gluttony, or so I had hoped. To no avail. Holding instant appeal to me though is that this store was actually run by, and attended by, one of the daughters of the original creator of the Store. So. Authentic. Sweets. Hunger Building. GRARGH sayeth stomach of mine. Proceeding to leave before I reduced the daughters to just the one remaining, onto the final of my next feeding holes, but not before issuing a purchase at another stall for a rather quirky item. Rather misleading in name, but all the more amusing for it, it just had to be bought. Despite being just a bun. It needed to be in my tummy. Which it will be in the future. Not now. And next door to aforementioned feeding hole before I did something silly and bought something inedible or some similar ludicrous act.

Again, introduced my intention to devour the stall, mentioned how I had previously asked the company via email with regards to wanting their entire inventory in my stomach, and. Mouth agape. Stare glazed over. Seemingly in a state of vegetative consciousness. Oh yay. Nevermind. I will return. Useless volunteer. So. No food yet. May as well pull out and ready the interview notes I had drafted for an intense Q&A Session with the one vendor that arguably started me on a current all-consuming obsession. Beyond that of typing reams of incoherent ramblings on eating. So I approached the Sake of Stand of hopeful Destiny.

In short - unlike the current status of this post - destiny it was. After locating a vendor naively willing to submit to my questions, he had soon become prisoner to my newbieness. Reams of questions were fired upon the unsuspecting victim, aimed at uncovering new facets and trinkets, as well as most importantly of all, establishing a much needed direction for a novice as myself. Unfortunately on that front I was met with the ubiquitous "you have to try them!" paradox - a paradox?! Yes, where do I start from?!! Bah. All my suggestions and quipped drinks/breweries of note were largely rubbished - mainly for being large, corporate, mainstream sake producers, rather than traditional, artisanal sake crafters, which is essentially what I am chasing. Whilst the interrogation progressed, I noticed a couple of sake samples being offered, possibly in the attempt to slow and slur the incessant emanations from my mouth, but their calorific content only served to fuel that fire, much to his chagrin ^_^. It really is refreshing to meet a vendor willing to inform and educate - albeit during forced detention - rather than merely sell his wares, like the one just a couple of stalls over, whom he also rubbished. In my limited/null experience, I concurred, the sakes being awash with a pervasive alcoholic haze. Time flew by, and I was duly informed that the vendor was tired from "The excruciating torture All the taking", so, I figured I'd give him a bit of respite, as Afternoon Snack destruction was quickly approaching, and proclaimed to return for a couple of purchases soon after, only fair for the state if crushed being I had left him in!

~ Wagashigeddon ~
And so it began. Well, not immediately as still an hour remained. I however got bored with the wait. To hell with it, I'll spread them out over a long amount of time, eat more, obviously. So after stalking the stalls for half an hour, I leaped in for the kill. The Macaroon stands. Deliberation ensued for a good 10 minutes - do I buy just two, or a box of 10. Do I buy some to share later? SHARE?!! BAH! They can buy their own! Actually, no, I have to contend with the fact I only have so many limbs to drop off with the looming glucose overload. That, and the Cafe' is on my route to London. Done. I can shed a leg on the way to London. 5 Macaroons purchased - mine being Asian Melon and Sakura. On to the next stall next door, the fiends that tricked me into that cup of dairy loveliness. Two filled Pancakes acheté, one for later unfortunately, and a promise to return for one of the delectable ice-cream flavours once the others were devoured.

Onto the disappointment that was the comatose-manned Confections stand - not knowing what was what, but obviously sold on everything was previously mentioned, and especially goaded by the delightfully cute packaging, I picked 5 sweets at random. I had initially wanted to ensure that at least some contained fibre but I would only be lying to myself. Fibre is non-sugary carbohydrate, what use is it of here, pfft. And the scene was set. Disgusting amount of granular diabetes at the ready. And.

[Pleasure Coma]

My world. Riding on a high so grand I fear broken legs on the fall, my world has literally turned upside down. As had I. As had I, hanging from the rafters in sugar-induced lunacy. I started with the bean-filled Pancakes, which were just the paramount of delicate - just getting to be a bit sweet, but a delightful earthiness diffused through the light pancake dough. This was followed by the macaroons, which like the post-lunch treat ones were absolutely divine. So. Damn. CREAMY. The only macaroon I had had prior to this day of Epinoms, was seemingly filled with jam, which basically ruined any notion of natural flavouring or decadent creaminess. These just suffused their heart-attack inducing decadent flavour in the most light-hearted of manners. No time for romance, onto those peculiar Confections from the coma girl. The first one was a bit of a particular one - merely a sesame encrusted bean-filled rice-ball, it was absurdly chewy, which just added to it. As much as I like rice, it is generally bland, and any supplementing of its texture only serves to make it a better. As it exercises my jaw. Done. Calories in, Calories out. The next one was largely the same, but this time the bean-filling surrounded a sweetened chestnut, and surrounded by a pastry. Only quick thinking kept my arm from following off from the instant Diabetes hit, it was quite the sweetened confection. Still pleasant, though the pastry was oddly. Gummy? Can pastry even do that? 

Staring into the bag of "Spares", I built up my self-restraint, and instead of devouring them, bags and all, I went over to purchase what would be the dessert to top them all off. Some Golden Chestnut-flavoured Ice-cream. Round a corner I hid, lambasted the lack of proper utensil slowing down my ability for face-ice-cream interfacing, then when I had managed to get a decent mouthful. Groans of pleasure. Which didn't illicit any odd looks in this festival of weird. So I carried on. Creamy but not excessively so, just the right amount of sweetness and a subtle earthiness from the chestnut. They will be responsible for my cetaceanification through ordering their full catalogue. They owe me a discount. 

~ The Remainder ~

With the minutes after the culmination of my atrocious enabling of my sweet tooth seeming like hours, such was the effect of this towering level of awesome on the space-time continuum, I washed it down in some vain hope for digestion, and returned to the sake stand to inflict more verbal torture! Diving as if escaping from a live grenade, I demonstrated my white flag to the vendor and instead proceeded to purchase the aforementioned drinks, before saying my thank you's for letting me emotionally destroy him with my Inquisition. Hey, it got me a discount and some networking, mission accomplished. And onto the Sake Tasting event, to further aid in. Digestion. Obviously.

Primarily though, I wanted to add to my repertoire of around 3. 

And I completely misjudged it. Obviously, at an exposition roaming with and obviously catering to hoards of individuals believing they live in a television, the material of the sake tasting would obviously be aimed towards such. And not to my boundless expertise of 3 whole sakes. Bah. Forty minutes of an terminally infernal announcer, stuttering and unrehearsed host and rather unimpressive sakes - by dint of being aimed at novices, and thus slightly more interesting than water for the first one, and being made of alcohol and death for the second one - flew by like a dead bird. Solace/escape arrived in the form of the arrival of a friend. From thereon in the pace slowed to a crawl - having been at this exposition for around 5 hours now, and more importantly, having been without food for around 2, I was eager to leave. And so we did. Leaving behind a rather impressive gastronomic fallout in my wake. 

So. The official Kill List:

- Cocoro Restaurant: 
  • Takoyaki [Deep-fried Octopus Balls]
  • Okonomiyaki [Squid & Vegetable Omelette]
Delicious, filling, and all this despite being frozen! Really wish I had some sake to go with this to further elevate what is essentially street food.


- Natural Natural: 
  • Ume Onigiri [Plum-filled Rice Cake with Seaweed Wrapper]
Palm-sized rice-pyramid cake. Rice, Good. Sour plum. Meh.


- Wagashi/Kitaya:
  • Macha Chiller [Green Tea Latte']
  • Traditional Dorayaki [Azuki Bean Paste-filled Pancake]
  • Golden Chestnut Ice-cream

Epic. Dairy overload awesomeness. The Dorayaki was lightly doughy and lightly sweetened, the Golden Chestnut Ice-cream extremely light, highlighted by the chestnut bits. Bought to savour later in sin:

  • Green Tea Mascarpone-filled Dorayaki - Oh my word this was decadent; combine the light texture and subtly doughy aroma of the previous with the rich decadence of mascarpone cheese. Epic. 


- Cafe' On

  • Mango Macaroon
  • Black Sesame Macaroon
  • Sakura Macaroon
  • Asian Melon Macaroon

I would figure the sheer number consumed would adequately depict the sweet enlightening diabetes provided by these little Barbie-house morsels. Truly decadent yet delicate in equal measures. Hard to not consume in industrial amounts. No need as the Cafe' is on my route into London anyway, and I purchased some for sharing
  • Earl Grey Macaroon
  • Piña Colada Macaroon
  • Some other Macaroon

- Minamoto Kitchoan: 
  • Ohagi Kurogoma [Black Sesame-covered Azuki Bean-filled Glutinous Rice Cake]
  • Oribenishiki [Golden Chestnut & Azuki Bean-filled Pastry]

Revelatory, and a foot fell off do to acute diabetes. Nothing can ever go wrong with glutinous rice, but it was amazing just how chewy the rice cake was, and the delightful nutty hint added by the sesame. At this point Azuki bean is really winning me over. The Oribenishiki was slightly less successful but no less enjoyable, only its face imploding sweetness drawing gripe, and the awkward texture of the pastry. Selecting at random, further morsels were selected for future succumbing: 
  • Ayashirabe [White Bean-filled Pastry] - Oddly yet delectably creamy and rich, fabulousth!
  • Darumasan [Jellied Azuki Bean Sweet] - Moderately sweet, beany
  • Oshishi [Azuki Bean Rice Cake] - A softer mochi than the previous, with a lightly sweet sesame filling, graciously diabetes free


- Akashi-tai Sake:

  • Selection of Honjozo, Daiginjo Junmai & Genshu Sakes

Interesting variances aside, overtly alcoholic pervasiveness. Pompous vendor.


- Hasegawa Saketen:
  • Selection of Different Sakes

Purchases for future samplings/enlightenment of divine proportions:
  • Katsuyama Koshu Sake [5 Year Aged Sake] - Subtly sweet with I think a caramel nose, really grew on me. When slightly warmer its just even more fragrant, and like suggested works quite well with cheese. Especially so with Duck and Orange Sauce!
  • Saika Umeshu - Lovely umeshu, similar to the Hakurei but perhaps with a less diabetes inducing finish. 


- Sake Tasting by Satomi of Zuma:

  • Ginrei Gassan Soft Junmai "Sasaratsuki" Sake
  • Niseko "Meisui Kyoguko" Junmaishu Sake
Noob oriented but appealing soft in the mouth, and made of alcohol and death respectively.


- Japan Centre 

  • Meronpan! Melonpan [Melon-shaped Bread Bun]
It's only a bun, but it's a cute bun. Therefore, it needs me to it. At some point ^_^

It was however, the sweetest loaf of bread, EVAR. Which posed an issue as I had only found out only after I had filled it with slices of smoked salmon. Not the worst combination ever, quite the contrary - the saltiness of the fish served to give some respite from the glucose overload. Really, just, very sweet. Quite the opposite of what I was expecting.


 So. The hell was I?

But ofcourse. And despite the metric ton of glucose and associated sweeteners coursing through my veins and doing their best to turn me into a Notsoteenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I didn't get that hyper [just hungrier], and as a celebration of Japan. It was rather stark. As a celebration of my guilt though, deliciously achieved.

And whilst going strong on my Tour de Gorge, what better way to top-off the evening than with a delectable dinner.

Where at?

Being only three miles down the road, I would have had to be bound, gagged, and dead - rendering the first two conditions redundant but still valid - not to exploit said opportunity ^_^.

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