Arros de Favas – Fava Bean Rice and Douro, Portugal

” he tried the chicken soup, which smelled divine. He tasted it and with surprised shining eyes looked up at me, … ‘It’s good!’ It was delicious, made from chicken liver and giblets; … on the table a dish overflowing with rice and broad beans. … He took another larger forkful. … Then he cried: ‘Excellent! … What a bean! So delicious!’ … Faced by the golden chicken roasted on the spit and by the lettuce … drizzled with a little mountain olive oil…, he finally roared: ‘It’s utterly divine!’ ”

 José Maria de Eça de Queirós, The City and the Mountains

When I travel, I often read books and/or watch films of which stories are set in the destination in order to prepare for the trip and to boost my mood for the upcoming adventure. As for the Portugal trip in 2018, I had rewatched Night Train to Lisbon, and read The Sin of Father Amaro and  The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queirós.

view down to the River Douro from “Casa de Tormes”

After three days in Porto, I got off a train at Ermida by the River Douro, en route to Peso da Régua, and took a taxi up to Fundação Eça De Queiroz. The foundation opens the estate, which inspired Eça de Queirósas to write The City and the Mountains, to the public as a museum.

Actually, Eça de Queiroz didn’t live in the estate, Quinta de Vila Nova, i.e. Quinta de Tormes in the novel. The exhibits in Casa de Tormes, such as the library with full of books, writing desk etc. which had belonged to Eça de Queiroz, were shipped from his last resident in Paris after his death.

source: Fundação Eça De Queiroz

There is a restaurant in the premises, which is a must if you visit the museum.  Restaurante de Tormes serves ‘the first meal’ Eça de Queirósas or Jacinto, the main character of the novel, had when he arrived at the estate for the first time.

Of course, I ordered ‘the first meal’ menu – how could I have not? 🙂
It was a wonderful surprise that broa de milho was accompanied. Broa de milho, which I had sought in vain in Porto, is typical bread from northern Portugal made with cornmeal, wheat and/or rye flour.

broa de milho
chicken soup

The arros de favas was literally excellent and delicious!

arroz de favas com frango alourado (and vinho verde)

Having another appointment, I called the taxi back; then, a 10-minute drive took me to a small boutique winery.

Quinta de Covela

One of the significant elements that make Quinta de Covela wines unique is its terroir: It is located in the southern edge of the Vinho Verde wine region, just close to the beginning of the Douro wine region, Baixo Corgo. The ‘Douro Verde’, as they call it, region has mix of continental climate and maritime influence; cold in winter, hot and dry in summer, and unlike in the typical Vinho Verde DOC, much less rainy.

The wine which impressed and attracted me most was their Avesso. Avesso is a white Portuguese native wine grape variety primarily planted in Minho, northern Portugal; however, you would not say it Vinho Verde when you sip their COVELA Edição Nacional Avesso.

Tasting Notes:
Colour: Silver with hints of straw.
Nose: Intense, yet delicate and complex. Citric fruit (grapefruit), floral,
herbal, tree fruit and dried fruit (sweet almonds). Marked minerality and elegance.
Palate: Dry, fresh acidity, excellent mouthfeel, elegant and long finish
that makes the mouth water. (Source: Qinta de Covela)

Tasting Notes:
Bright, citric color. Intensely fresh with subtle mineral character. Notes of zesty, citric fruits and meadow flowers. Dry and elegant. Nicely-balanced acidity and fruity, yet with a strength typical of the sun-soaked “Douro Verde” region. (source: Portugal Vineyards)

the arros de favas recipe isn’t from the book


(for 2 servings)

600 g water
¾ tsp fine sea salt
170 g fava bean, without pods

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
50 g onion, finely chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Carnaroli.)
2 tbsp dry white wine
90 g chouriço* or salami, sliced
salt and pepper

fresh coriander or Italian parsley to garnish

NOTE: * not Spanish chorizo but chouriço with less paprika and spice

Quinta de Covela also produces wine for Quinta de Tormes


  1. Bring a pot of the water to the boil. Add the salt and put in the fava beans and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Take the beans out of the water (retain the liquid to cook the rice) and immediately put into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain and peel the beans. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, place the olive oil with the garlic and slowly heat on medium low. Put in the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly until the oil gets onto every grain, but don’t let the rice turn brown. Add the wine and stir until absorbed.
  3. Pour in the 200 cc fava bean water, put in the chouriço/salami, and bring it to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer stirring occasionally. When the rice appears almost dry, add 100 cc of the liquid and repeat the process until the stock gets thick and creamy, and the grains become tender, with a little bite but no chalkiness. If the stock is running very low, add extra water.
  4. Stir in the beans and mix well. Taste the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute to heat through.
  5. Garnish with the coriander or Italian parsley.


Pink Tonic and Pinhão, Portugal

The summer is still here (fed up with the heat though), so I made a summer cocktail to cool off. The cocktail is called Pink Tonic, which I came across after hiking in Pinhão, Douro Valley.

Three best viewpoints in Pinhão:

Miradouro de Casal de Loivos
Miradouro Torguiano de São Cristovão do Douro
Miradouro Vale do Pinhão

As for me personally, the view over Pinhão Valley was the best. My pictures can’t show enough, but the valley is like a doodlebug’s pit and the views of vineyards in steep slopes are amazingly spectacular!!

Miradouro Vale do Pinhão

After tough hiking trails, walked through vineyards in gentle slope to cool down…

Quinta da Roêda vineyards

and ended up with a refreshing cocktail 🙂

writing postcards with Pink Tonic @ Quinta da Roêda, Pinhão


The base ingredient is Croft Pink produced by Croft, one of the original Port houses in the Douro Valley.

source: Croft Pink

Croft Pink is rosé style of Port wine ‘made by a new technique which extracts fresh, fruity flavours and a subtle and delicate pink colour from limited contact with the skins of classic Port grape varieties, grown in top quality vineyards of the Douro Valley. The result is wonderfully fresh and vibrant, full of the rich fruit flavours of Port but with a unique and distinctive appeal. It has created the perfect opportunity for Port to be consumed in the warmer months of the year when Port may not otherwise be the drink of choice.’ – Croft product page


(for one tall glass)

70 ml Croft Pink
200 ml  tonic water
ice cubes
lemon peel
2 mint leaves
lemon zest

the recipe from Croft


  1. Pour tonic water and Croft Pink into a tall glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add lemon peel and garnish with mint  leaves and lemon zest.

High Tea in Lustleigh, Devon 2019

Just a quick post for National Afternoon Week in the UK.

(I have been hoping to come back to the blog, but my second job has forced me to work without any days off for over three months 😦  )

Last year, I stopped by Dartmoor National Park on the way back from Cornwall. At first I was going to see the place where The Hounds of Baskerville is set, however, it ended up with a lovely walk and high tea in so-called ‘the prettiest village in Dartmoor’.

This charming Lustleigh, located in the eastern section of Dartmoor National Park, is an ideal rural English village with many beautiful thatched cottages, narrow lanes and lush green woodland.

Wanted to have dinner with a pint at the pub.

Okay, it’s tea time!

Primrose Tea Room in a thatched cottage
Primrose Tea Room’s High Tea
They were happy to change one of two rolls to a crumpet.
To be honest, I am for the Cornish way (jam first), but followed ‘In Rome, do as the Romans do’ and enjoyed the scone with the Devon way (cream first).
Their Victoria sponge is also ‘cream first’!

How could I resist some more cakes?  Their Devon apple cake was superb – takeawayed JUST one slice 😀

for cider?

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the community orchard.

stone throne for May Queen

Hoping to come back to Lustleigh someday for its May Day celebration, the maypole dance and Morris dancing.

Lustleigh May Queen in 1958 (source: Lustleigh Community Archive)

Kurumi Inari – Walnut Inarizushi / Inari Sushi

my aprons purchased on Etsy

Yes, I keep calm and carry on baking 🙂

my baking: Florantan


Today, however, I am posing an Inarizushi recipe  – one of my favourite rice dishes.

Inarizushi is seasoned rice wrapped in abura-age (thin deep-fried tofu) pouch simmered in sweet soy sauce. ‘The rice filling can be as it is, or mixed with other ingredients such as sesame, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and others. Although Isarizushi is a type of sushi, you will probably not find it at high-class sushi restaurants. It is normally sold at small local stores or specialized take-out stores. One of the charms of inari-zushi is that it can be easily eaten with one hand.’ (source: MATCHA)

The rice filling normally comes with some ingredients, but this one is very simple – just walnuts!




(for 12 inarizushi)

[for dashi stock]
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu (dried kelp)
10 g katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
500 ml water

300 g Japanese short grain rice (or 2 rice cooker cups – 1 cup = 180 ml )
340 ml water, ideally soft water
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu 

12 square abura-age (or 6 rectangle, cut into half to make 12 )

4 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)

60 ml rice vinegar
2  tbsp caster sugar
¼ tsp sea salt

60 g walnut (less bitter ones preferable. I used Howard variety), lightly roasted

optional: mitsuba, boiled (to garnish)




  1. Soak the dashi kombu in the water for overnight.
  2. Put the rice in a large bowl with some water and wash gently in a circular motion for about 10 seconds, then discard the water. Repeat 3-4 times and drain with a sieve or strainer. Soak the rice in the 340 ml water for 60 min (30 min in summer). Then cook in rice cooker with another dried kelp. If you don’t have a cooker, click here and follow 6 in Method.
  3. Meanwhile, roll the abura-age with a rolling pin to flatten and to make them open easily. Cut one side of each and open carefully to make a pouch (no need for rectangle ones). Put the abura-age in boiling water for a minute and drain well and pat dry.
  4. To make dashi stock, put the kombu and water (Method 1) along with the katsuobushi in a pot and slowly bring just below boiling point. Turn off the heat and remove kombu, but leave katsuobushi for 5 minutes and strain.
  5. In a large pot, pour in the dashi stock, 4 tbsp sugar and soy sauce, and bring to the boil. Put in the abura-age and place a drop lid or cover with foil on top of the liquid and abura-age. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost gone (but not all), and gets absorbed into the abura-age. Let them cool in the liquid.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl while hot and slowly pour the mixed vinegar evenly onto the rice by dripping it onto a spatula. Quickly mix using a cut and fold motion. Scatter in the walnuts and fold the rice over from the bottom 3 to 4 times.
  7. Squeeze (but not to much) the abura-age but reserve the liquid. Moisten hands with the liquid and make 12 small cylindrical rice balls so as to fit in the abura-age pouch. Open the pouch and stuff the rice ball in.

    cylindrical rice balls

If you are not sure how to make, watch the below as a reference:


For white ones, turn abura-age pouch inside out


This post made me hungry – almost midnight though!! 


Tokyo Day Out 2019: Cherry Blossoms, Frank Lloyd Wright, Afternoon Tea

Tokyo and surrounding areas had unseasonable snow yesterday: snowing in the central Tokyo at the end of March was the first time in ten years and in 32 years more than one centimetre snow accumulation. The scene of blooming cherry blossoms in a snow fall was very atmospheric.

Unfortunately, however, I have no cherry blossom viewing gatherings this year in order to avoid crowds, so I am posting about the one we enjoyed last year.

The theme was “architecture and cherry blossoms”, and I picked up the site of 自由学園 明日館 Jiyuaakuen Myonichikan near Ikebukuro.

cherry blossoms at Myonichikan

Myonichikan, literally means ‘house of tomorrow’, is the original building complex of Jiyugakuen founded in 1921 based on a Japanese couple’s educational philosophy. Their idea impressed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who was working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo at that time, to make him undertake the design of their new school.

“Myonichikan consists of four buildings; the main, the east, and the west buildings and the auditorium. The main building stands with the two classroom buildings to the west and the east forming a U-shape. ”

(source: Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan)

Myonichikan “represents Wright’s iconic architectural style of what has been called ‘the Prairie Style’, in which the height of the eaves was kept lower to emphasize the horizontal line. The interior was designed in the skip-floors elevator arrangement, one that leads us from room to room, then to the outside space through the change of the height. Moreover, one can find notable traits that represent Wright’s cherished concept of ‘the organic architecture’ everywhere, such as usage of Ohya stones, a design element that was frequently used for the Imperial Hotel, and the unique geometric design based on the hexagon applied to window frames and furnitures, and so forth.”

(source: Tokyo Cultural Heritage Map)

The main campus of Jiyugakuen was relocated to the suburbs in 1934, and today, Myonichikan is open to the public and often used as a venue for wedding ceremonies, concerts and lectures.

wedding photo shooting


Then we move to the Classic House at Akasaka Prince in Tokyo Grand Terrace Kioicho.

This European style building was originally the residence of Yi Un (1897ー1970), the last crown prince of Korea, constructed in 1930, and then adapted as the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka opened in 1955 and used until 2011.

The former residence of Yi Un and Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka Old Building was appointed as one of Tokyo Metropolitan Area-designated tangible cultural properties in  2011, and it is operating as a restaurant, a banquet hall and a wedding venue.


Last but not least, we enjoyed afternoon tea at La Maison Kioi in the Classic House Akasaka 😀


Hoping we all can enjoy cherry blossom viewing next spring.


Hope this post finds you well.

Hello there,

Hope this post finds you all well.

I have been away for quite a while because of one-year baking school attendance and an extra job – now I have three 😀

Unexpectedly, however, I have got around to come here due to the pandemic – I am under work-from-home and  having an extended break as well, so I will visit your blogs, and post what I was going to last year or/and earlier this year (and bake a lot 😀 ).

I hope you are doing okay. Stay well!!

— Rotwein

my bakings: scones, sablés aux noisettes, boules de neige, Käsekuchen



Wagashi of the Month: June 2019


I attended a wagashi workshop the other day, and made three pieces of wagashi: two nerikiri and one kinton. Now we are in the midst of rainy season where hydrangeas bloom beautifully and delight the eye. Here in Japan, Ajisai, or hydrangea, is considered to be a symbolic flower of June and the rainy season, so the three wagashi were hydrangea-themed.



Mine didn’t look sophisticated like the below – Wagashi of the Month: June – but tasted rather good!


Ajisai Kinton made of mashed beans


I had always wanted to try to make wagashi, and one of my blogger friends, Mutsumi-san’s posts on Sakura Junction) encouraged me. Hoping to join her workshop in London someday….


Sakura – cherry blossom theamed nerikiri (source: Sakura Junction)


Today, attended a Shinto summer purification ritual, which I mentioned on Kyoto Trip 2014



and after that, enjoyed minazuki.


Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati – Broccoli Pasta and B&B in Palermo

Today, I am reposting the Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati recipe because it is one of the most popular one in my blog, and some come to see almost every day – so far, more than 1,600 views in total.


Finally, found Sicilian broccoli in Japan!


And also, I’d like to introduce a brand-new breakfast in Palermo. B&B Bandiera 77 located near the Teatro Massimo is their second B&B that my Sicilian friends have opened up recently. Here is the review on Tripadvisor. I must stay next time in Palermo!! Oh yes, the Bucatini recipe is originally from them!

B&B Bandiera77


I always stay at the same bed and breakfast in Palermo. It is located in a convenient area, spotless and comfortable to stay at, but these are not only the reason. I like the Sicilian couple who runs the B&B, so I go back to see them.

I had asked them for a Sicilian recipe to post here, and upon arrival, they gave me a typical one in Palermo: Bucatini con Broccoli Arriminati.


Broccoli Pasta 1


Arriminato means ‘stirred’, and broccoli arriminati is literally translated to ‘stirred broccoli’. This is a pasta dish with broccoli sauce made by stirring well.

Hang on! Cauliflower is called broccoli in Sicily! This is confusing…. The bright green colour of the vegetable confuses us, too!  It’s not ‘broccoli’ but greenish cauliflower what we call! To say precisely, it is cauliflower pasta!


Sicilian broccoli at Ballarò Market in Palermo


So I made it with white cauliflower, and with broccoli (not Sicilian one!) to colour the sauce as green cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli or broccoflower are not easily found here. Now it can be properly called ‘broccoli’ pasta 😀

Bucatini is traditionally used for this dish. It is served with toasted breadcrumbs on top, which is so called ‘poor man’s Parmesan’. Raisin and pine nut are typical ingredients used in Sicilian dishes, where we can see Arabic influence over the island.

I made some alterations, but basically followed the ingredients and instructions they gave me. I’m sure this is going to be one of my rotation recipes when cauliflowers are in season!


Tried once with ‘broccoli’ while in Sicily



(for 2 servings)

50 g bugget (leftover or stale bread is ideal), finely grated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 liters water
2 tsp salt
180 g cauliflower (about 1/2 head)
80 g broccoli (about 1/4 head)
200 g bucatini (I used no.6)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100 g onion, finely chopped
2 fillets of anchovy
20 g raisins
20 g pine nuts
blackpepper (to taste)
a pinch (1/16 tsp) of saffron powder


Broccoli Pasta 2



  1. For toasted breadcrumbs: Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the breadcrumbs to toast on low heat, stirring consistently for 5 minutes or until crisp and brown.
  2. Bring a pot of the salted water to the boil. Put in the cauliflower and broccoli and cook over medium heat until easily broken apart (about 10 min for broccoli, 15 min for cauliflower). Remove from the water and set aside. Retain the cooking liquid to cook the sauce and pasta.
  3. For the sauce: In a pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent. Put in the anchovy, and break with wooden spoon or such. Add the raisins and pine nuts to fry for a few minutes. Put in the boiled cauliflower and broccoli, then mash and mix by stirring. Season with the pepper, add the saffron and 100 cc cauliflower/broccoli water, and cook gently on lower heat for 5 min stirring occasionally. Make sure it doesn’t get too dry – add some more cooking liquid if required.
  4. Meanwhile, add some water to the cauliflower/broccoli water and bring back to the boil, then cook the pasta until just before ‘al dente’ (bucatini no.6 for about 6 min).
  5. Transfer the pasta into the sauce. Mix well all together while cooking for 1-2 min. Taste it and add salt if required.
  6. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs on the top when serve.


Broccoli Pasta

baked version
Baked version with short pasta (baked at 170C for 15 min)
Pasta con Broccoli, Scampi e Gamberi
Also made seafood pasta with broccoli (Pasta con Broccoli, Scampi e Gamberi ) – without raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs – while in Sicily


Bed &Breakfast in Palermo

La Via Delle Biciclette – You will find where the name comes from. 



Tokyo & Yokohama Feb. 2019

One of my relatives came up to Tokyo last month, so I showed him around a bit of Tokyo and Yokohama.

First we had lunch at Nemuro Hanamaru, a standing sushi bar on the basement of Tokyu Plaza Ginza. There is another Hanamaru, which is a sit-in kaiten-zushi restaurant, on the 10th floor, but we chose the bar to avoid a queue.


A piece is inexpensive and ranges from 108 to 358 yen – some, like today’s special for example, are around 500 yen – although the sushi toppings are fresh and flavourful. They are mostly from Hokkaido, and some of them are local fish and shellfish which are unfamiliar to outsiders. My relative ate a lot and I finished off with my favourite anago, and our bill came to ¥4,606 (equivalent to $42, £32, €37)!!  I will definitely go back when desperate for sushi!

Then we headed to Hama Rikyu Gardens, or Hama Detached Palace Gardens, adjacent to the River Sumida where enters Tokyo Bay, which was originally built as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence in 17th Century.

Hama Rikyu (source:

Passing by ex Tsukiji Fish Market on the way, we remembered that we had nice sushi breakfast last August.

Iwasa Sushi
Iwasa Sushi reviews on Tabelog Tripadvisor and  Yelp

The fish market had moved to Tokyosu, but Tsukiji Shijogai is still busy with lots of tourists.  Some restaurants remain but Iwasa Sushi had also moved to Toyosu.

At this time of the year, Hama Rikyu becomes more popular for cherry blossom viewing.

(c) Tokyo Metropolitan Association
source and more info. amuzen

When we visited the gardens, rape flowers were in full bloom and smelled honey – actually, busy bees were working hard.

And plum trees also.

After a stroll, we took a Tokyo Water Bus (more info on Tokyo Cruise and Tokyo Mizube Cruising) to Odaiba.

Tokyo Water Bus
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Athletes’ Village
Toyosu ‘new’ Fish Market
Rainbow Bridge

On the following day, I took him to Yokohama Chukagai, or Yokohama Chinatown.

Guan Di Miao Temple
flying dragon lantern(s)

The Chinese dishes we had for dinner were so-so, so I don’t mention the name here. Instead, I recommend 翠香園 Suikoen where I usually go for their 肉糸湯麺 samma-men, which is a regional specialty ramen served in Kanagawa prefecture.

Suikoen’s samma-men (source: Yokohama Noren-kai)


We had a nice time together in Tokyo and Yokohama for three days. There had been some ‘distance’ between us although we are close kin. However, we became a bit closer when we got together in Tokyo last summer, and I am looking forward to doing some more Tokyo sightseeing in the near future 🙂

Bolo Rei and Porto, Portugal

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all have a great year!!
Here is my first post in 2019 with the revised Bolo Rei recipe for Epiphany. Now I’m  writing this eating the cake – too good to stop!

Upon arrival in Porto after Lisbon and Coimbra, I launched another eating project.

Porto by the River Douro

The first target was Pastel de Nata as I wrote last October, and Bolo Rei was the next. I had always wanted to have the authentic one since I tried the recipe and posted it here two years ago.

My Bolo Rei baked in 2016

Bolo Rei, or King Cake (or King’s Cake, Kings’ Cake), is a traditional Portuguese cake typically eaten during Christmas time until 6th of January. My visit being in September, I had done lots of research in advance – as usual – if it is obtainable even in summer.

Pastelaria Itaipú

I explored the town, finding five bakeries/pastry shops with Bolo Rei. Can you imagine how much I got excited when came across the cake for the fist in my life? 😀

Pastelaria Cristo Rei
Confeitaria do Bolhão

I had assumed that Petúlia might sell Bolo Rei all year round, and I was right! It has a tea room attached, so I enjoyed a slice along with proper English black tea – they have Tetley’s. Yay!

Confeitaria Petúlia

Their cake was so scrumptious that I couldn’t resist to bring a whole – about 2 kilos – back to Japan with me. I am sure the fragrant smell, especially of Port wine, filled in the train carriage and aircraft cabin tempted the passengers 🙂

@ Confeitaria Petúlia

I had another ‘things to do’ in Porto: to do Portuguese traditional grocery store hopping, and also to purchase marmelada, or quince jelly/paste, and some stuff for Bolo Rei.

Portuguese traditional grocery stores are a wonder! You will be fascinated by the wide variety of products: deli, traditional Portuguese foods, products from the local, ex-colonies including Brazil etc. I wish I had had more time to examine each item!

The names of some stores, as well as the commodity such as spices, teas, etc., are reminiscent of Portuguese discoveries derived from their maritime exploration.

A Pérola do Bolhão with an impressive art nouveau style façade

Pérola means pearl, which was one of the luxury goods through the trade with the Orient and South America in those days.

Casa Chinesa

Chinesa means Chinese.

Japão is Japan.

O Pretinho do Japão sells good selection of tinned fish, Port wines, teas and coffees, and I bought a herbal tea. They have a cafe with a lovely garden at the back.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais – The hams, sausages, cheeses etc. looked good.
Comer e Chorar Por Mais didn’t have Broa, Portuguese cornbread, but the rye bread was really tasty.

My favourite was Casa Natal. The interior space is beautifully organised – the walls are covered by wooden cabinets and shelves filled neatly with goods. One of the shopkeeper was really friendly and helped me to choose the proper ingredients for Bolo Rei, which were in good quality and I liked the dried figs from Douro Valley most. Oh, marmelada was nice as well.

Love Portugal tin packaging design


Talking of Porto and Bolo Rei, Port wine is a must! I bought a bottle of Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny not only for the cake but also for Stilton cheese 🙂

3 Port wine tasting @ Quinta do Bomfim in PinhãoDouro Valley
Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny @ Quinta do Bomfim


Thank you for waiting. Here is the recipe, which needed to be revised because I had experienced the genuine taste!


For the dough
70 g assorted crystallised fruits (incl. 20 g orange), to chop if necessary
35 g raisin
30 g dried fig, roughly chopped
4 tbsp Port wine*
1 tbsp dark rum*

80 g full fat milk, lukewarmed
5 g honey
3 g instant yeast**
125 g strong white flour

50 g unsalted butter, room temperature
30 g caster sugar
15 g honey
2 g sea salt
2 egg yolk, whisked and room temperature

100 g plain wholemeal flour
25 g strong white flour
3 g instant yeast**
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp orange zest
20 g sliced almond, lightly toasted
20 g walnut, roughly chopped
20 g pine nuts
(optional: a dried broad/fava bean)

For the topping
egg white
crystallised fruits of your choice

For the glaze
20 g honey
15 g water

For the decoration
icing sugar

*  If you use good quality Port wine, add 5 tbsp without rum.
** Use yeast for doughs high in sugar/sweet breads (I used SAF Golden Instant Yeast).


  1. Soak the crystallised fruits, figs and raisins in the Port wine and rum for 1-2 hours. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Dissolve the honey in the lukewarm milk, scatter in the 3 g yeast and allow to sit for 7 minutes. Stir well and leave another 8 minutes.
  3. Tip the 125 g strong flour into a bowl, and pour in the yeasty milk to mix. Knead by hand for 15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pour in some more lukewarmed milk a little at a time if required. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, and cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough gently to degas.  Shape into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover again and sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Mix well with the wholemeal flour, the rest of strong white flour and the instant dried yeast, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, honey and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flours to combine. Then tear the dough ball into small pieces and add in the batter making sure it is evenly blended together, using your hand and create a sticky dough. Knead by hand for 20-30 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put in the zests and soaked fruits, and knead for another 5 minutes or so. Add the nuts (and a fava bean) and lightly mix until all the fruits and nuts are evenly covered by the dough.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper and scatter over some strong flour. Scrape the dough on to the tray, shape into a round loaf (about 20 cm in diameter), and make a hole in the centre. Place a cup or something in the middle so that the dough maintains its wreath shape. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 90-105 minutes or until it has 1.5 times in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 190. Brush it all with the egg white and decorate with cristallised fruits. Covered again and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven. Cover with aluminium foil if the surface becomes too brown (Do not burn the fruits!).
  7. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, put the honey and water in a small pan over low heat. Stir until completely melted and slightly thickened. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully lift out and place on a wire rack. Immediately brush the honey over the cake. Cool completely and dust with the icing sugar.
  8. Store in an airtight container any leftovers, but finish in a couple of days. (To revive leftover or slightly stale Bolo Rei, toast lightly.)


Hope you like my Bolo Rei!

My experimental Bolo Rei

For the people who is going to Porto at Christmas time, here is ‘Where to buy Bolo Rei in Porto‘ tips.


Christmas Markets in Germany and Riga 2017

It has been too hectic for the last three months to come here and read your posts – sometimes I had to work at weekends. Sorry guys, but I will try to catch up during this festive period.

The photos below are from my Christmas market tour last year. Hope you all have a very happy holiday season!!



I was dreaming of a white Christmas…, but no snow!

If you are going to purchase a Dresdner Christstollen, try Schreiber ‘s!!




Rothenburg ob der Tauber 

Snow in Rothenburg!!!



Made a visit to Munich on the day of Krampus!




Also chose the day to see Das Engelsspiel.

Engelsspiel / Angel Performance




Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler 


Ahrweiler Markt



No snow even in Riga!

Believe or not, but it is said that the first ever Christmas tree was set-up and decorated in market square, Riga in 1510.

Monument to the First Christmas Tree on the plaque marking the site of the first New Years (Christmas) tree ceremony

What is your favourite? – Pastel de Nata

As far as I can remember, I had 10 Pastel de Nata(s) during the trip:

Santo Antonio

Six in Lisbon, one each in Coimbra and Porto, one from a gift box and the last one served with an in-flight meal.

Nata and Hóstias Conventuais for breakfast @ Pastelaria Briosa, Coimbra

Somehow, I had none whilst in Lisbon 10 years ago, so I was going to try as many as possible.

And besides, I had planned to participate in a nata baking class in Porto, however, it was cancelled on the very day of the activity…. It was really disappointing and ruined a part of my trip…. What a shame!!

So I am writing about the pastries I had in Lisbon instead of the baking class. Those nata places are:

Pastelaria Batalha


Pastéis de Belém


Fábrica da Nata




A Nata de Lisboa

custard filling @ A Nata de Lisboa


Pastelaria Santo António


My top three pastel de natas are…


  1.  A Nate de Lisboa
    This place may be less popular than others, but I liked theirs most. The crispy thin layers of the pastry case and the smooth and creamy custard are very harmonious. I loved the thinner flaky layers.
  2.  Manteigalia
    As good as A Nata de Lisboa’s, but the crust is thicker. If you prefer crunchy one, this would be for you. and the filling are well balanced.
  3. Pastéis de Belém
    Took it away and had on the following day, so it may not be fair to compare with others. Still very good even though it was not fresh.

Me personally, the rest were so-so or the crust and custard filling, which was too rich, didn’t go well together.


I had 10 pastel de natas, but not enough!!! I would have had more if I hadn’t had other eating projects!!  😀

What I regret most is that I missed Aloma’s. I was going to buy one at Lisbon Airport, unfortunately, however, I had to rush to the boarding gate….


source: Aroma website


Have you tried pastel de nata in Portugal? What was your favourite? Let me know!

Ichijiku no Kanroni Cake – Japanese Fig Compote Cake


The loaf cake baked with the Ichijiku no Kanroni, Japanese Fig Compote, is sooooo good.


Ichijiku no Kanroni


The recipe was adapted from the Roasted Fig and Almond Cake.



Method – based on the Roasted Fig and Almond Cake:

  1. Omit the 12 figs, honey and icing sugar from the ingredients and skip Process 1.
  2. Add in 300 g ichijiku no kanroni (roughly chopped) after Process 4, and mix evenly.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake as instructed.



Umeshu Matsuri 2018 – Plum Wine Festival in Kyoto & Tokyo

From time to time, some people visit my blog post on Umeshu Matsuri 2017, so I am reposting it with the links, dates and venues for 2018. It may be better to try Friday to avoid crowds and disappointment – last year, too many weekend visitors prevented my friends from stepping in!

in Kyoto:
14-17 September 2018
venue – Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

in Tokyo:
5-8 October 2018
venue – Bentenmon, Ueno Zoo in Ueno Park

If you would like to purchase umeshu while in Japan, have a look in department stores. In Tokyo, visit 検校(Kengyo)at Ginza – I have never tried, however, you can buy not only a bottle but also a glass of regional sake, umeshu, wines, beers etc. at their bar.

Ginza Sakagura Kengyo 銀座酒蔵検校
Kengyo on Tabelog (in English)
Kengyo website


Umeshu Matsuri – Plum Wine Festival in Tokyo (posted on 7 October 2017)

If you live or happen to be around in Tokyo this long weekend, why don’t you pop in Yushima Tenmangu, or Yushima Tenjin to sip umeshu, Japanse plum wine?

Umeshu (梅酒 : 梅 ume = plum, 酒 shu = sake) is made by steeping unripened Japanese plums in alcohol and sugar to allow the flavours to infuse. It is called plum ‘wine’ in English, but it is liqueur type of alcohol.

venue: Yushima Tenmangu, near Ueno

Over the weekend, the Umeshu Matsuri, Plum Wine Festival is held at the Shito shrine, which is famous for its beautiful plum blossoms in spring. Beer is nice – Oktober Fests are thrown here and there around this time of the year even in Japan, but it may be a good idea to try this aromatic, sweet and plesantly sour liqueur.

the leaflet and token coins

At the entrance, purchase 18 token coins for 1,600 yen (advanced ticket was 1,400 yen). 1 or 2 coins are required for a small cup of umeshu (about 30 ml/cup), but 3 for some or award winning ones. Okay, now you are ready to sip. Enjoy and find your favourit(s) out of 156 umeshus from sake breweries all over Japan.

made with distilled alcohol – from Hiroshima
made with sake – from Hyogo
made with sesame shochu – from Fukuoka
Kosher umeshu – made with sake – from a brewery in Kyoto (established in 1673!)
made with brandy – from Akita
blended with yuzu juice – from Wakayama
blended with gyokuro green tea – from Kyoto
nigori umeshu from my favourite sake brewery in Hyogo producing Kotsuzumi which I mentioned on Kinosaki Onsen post (left: more fruity and tastes like peach juice right: with plum pulp and full flavour)
umeshu hopping

If you find your favourit(s), you can buy it/them!!

I bought a bottle of 梅申春秋, Baishin Shunju from my fav brewery!

left: Baishin Shunju / right: Daku Daku

Umeshu Matsuri

Facebook page
Period: 6th – 9th October 2017
Venue: Yushima Tenmangu
Access: Nearest staion is Yushima on the Chiyoda Line. Take Exit 3 and the left, turn left at the first intersection and walk down about 30 metres. It’s on the left hand side.

Now that you’ve come all the way, why don’t you look around the site?

Tribute to the Shito deity: the first rice sheaves of the harvest are presented as offerings, called shinsen, to the kami, deity or sacred power of Shintoism during agricultural and other festivals.

Yushima Tenmangu(湯島天満宮)a.k.a. Yushima Tenjin(湯島天神)was originally founded for Ameno Tajikaraono Mikoto in 458, and became one of Tenjin shrines in 1355 – Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto is the most famous one.

‘Tenjin’ is the name of Michizane Sugawara (845-903), a scholar and a high government official. Like other Tenjin shrines, Yushima Tenjin is visited by students to pray for passing exams and inscribe ema – small wooden plaques – with petitions for success in exams, esp. entrance exams.

Among lots of ema, you will find Michizane on a cow. A cow, a typical feature of a Tenjin shrine, is believed to be the servant of the deity.

In the precincts of the shrine, there is a bronze cow, which is known as nade ushi (a cow to stroke). People believe that touching or stroking the cow will cure physical illness, and that is the reason why its head  and forehead are so shiny.

You will also see plum trees in the garden and bonsai as well.

Tenjin is strongly related to plum because Michizane had always favoured the trees and blossoms (There is a legend about him and his tree, called ‘Flying Plum Tree‘),  so ‘plum’ became a crest of the shrines.


plum blossom crest in the blue circle

Strolling in the precincts, you might come across a wedding ceremony.

Would you like to try omikuji, sacred lot?

If the fortune telling is not a good one, tie it around branches of a pine tree or some such. If good, keep it in your purse or wallet!

Hope you enjoy umeshu and the visit.

See you!  S/he is cute, isn’t s/he?


More about Umeshu:
Umeshu seminar in London last year
Umeshu made with whiskey by Suntory produsing Hakushu, Yamazaki, Hibiki whisky

More about Tenjin, read the post of one of my blogger friends.


Shimanami – Onomichi

Last month, I made a quick visit to so-called ‘the Aegean Sea of Orient’. The area has been famous for its scenic beauty, but what made it more popular as a tourist destination is the Nishiseto Expressway opened in 1999, known as the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido or just Shimanami Kaido (‘shima-nami’ refers sequence of islands and ‘kai-do’ (海道), sea route. The route connects Honshu, Japan’s main island, to the island of Shikokuwith a 60 kilometer-long toll road passing over smaller islands in the Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai).

Source: SHIMAP

There are two other land connections between Shikoku and Honshu, the Seto Ohashi/Seto-Chuo Expressway and the KobeAwajiNaruto Expressway. However, only the Shimanami Kaido is traversable by foot or bicycle. That is the reason why so many cycle lovers and tourists head to the area in order to push pedals enjoying one of the most stunning sceneries in Japan.


The Shimanami Kaido runs from Onomichi on the Honsu side leading across the six islands, Mukaishima, Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima and Oshima, to Imabari on Shikoku.

Ikuchijima and Tatara Ohashi Bridge – view from Omishima


Hakata-Oshima Ohashi Bridge – view from Mt Karei, Oshima


Hakata-Oshima Ohashi Bridge – view from Omishima

This time of the year, a triathlon race(s) is/are held on the island(s): on Ikuchijima and Hakatajima in 2017 and on Hakatajima in 2018 (tomorrow, the 2nd of September! – I saw some triathletes checking out the bike course whilst I was there).


Before flying back to Tokyo, stopped by in Onomichi where Yasujiro Ono’s Tokyo Story was set. The film has attracted many since 1953 and a German film director, Wim Wenders is one of them.

I have always wondered where my favorite film (yes, of all times) Tokyo Story (or Tokyo monogatari in Japanese) actually takes place, except in Tokyo, of course. Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece from 1953 depicts a small seaside fishing town in which the story begins and ends. An old couple departs from there, in order to visit their kids in the big city one last time. After their return, the old woman dies, and her husband is left alone. Eventually someone told me that this coastal town was called Onomichi, in the South of Japan. So one day my wife and I made the reverse journey and traveled from Tokyo to Onomichi where we stayed for a week.

— Wim Wenders, Journey to Onomichi (source: Wim Wenders)

Got off Shimanami Liner, bus services between Fukuyama and Imabari, at Innoshima Ohashi for a local bus to Onomichi Staion.  Instead of the terminal, alighted at Onomichi Gakuen on Mukaishima, and walked down to a small port to take a ferryboat for Onomichi.

100 yen (single journey) for a passenger

Left my luggage at the station and explored the town with many temples, steep slops and stone steps for the first time in ages – actually Onomichi is quite familiar to me.






Unfortunately I had to take a 11:11 train to Mihara, then a bus for Hiroshima Airport, so I had no time for Onomichi Ramen 😦
It was not the best, but luckily I had a bowl at the airport.

Onomich ramen @ Hiroshima Airport



A bit about the local food.

I love takikomi gohan, Japanese seasoned steamed rice with meat, fish, vegetables etc. Above all, the rice cooked with tako (octopus), tai (sea bream) and anago (saltwater eel) from the Seto Inland Sea are my favourites – not  mixed up all together but each.

tako meshi (octopus rice)

Citrus fruit, especially lemons and mikan mandarin oranges, is grown in those islands and they are good quality.

lemonade and lemon cake

Amochinmi‘s Onomichi Ramen(阿藻珍味 尾道ラーメン)is a packaged ramen with fresh uncooked ramen noodles, but this is really tasty! I get some whenever I come across in Hiroshima.


Click here for more about Shimanami and Onomici.


Octopus Salad and Croatia

I was going to post this recipe earlier – before the summer holiday season started – and to write about my trip to Croatia in 2017, esp. about Croatian wine…. Oh well, the summer is still going on and the salad is perfect for hot days. As for the wine, which shall follow later on, the information would be of help to the future visitors, anyway.

Dubrovnik, July 2017

Last year on Hvar Island, I had scrumptious salad as I mentioned on Sardine Escabeche and Croatia.

Hvar, July 2017

This is the Salata od Hobotnice, or Dalmatian octopus salad.

Salata od Hobotnice @ Konoba Menego

The restaurant staff wouldn’t tell me the recipe (of course!), so I imitated it adding my own taste.



(for 3-4 servings as appetiser)

200 g boiled octopus*, cut into pieces
200 g tinned chickpea, drained and rinsed
160 g cherry tomato, halved or quartered
100 g cucumber, diced
100 g red onion, thinly sliced
1-1½ tbsp caper (preserved in vinegar), drained well and patted dry
1 tsp garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp white wine vinegar (I used acidity 6%)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1½ tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 dried bay leaf, crushed into small pieces
¼ tsp dried mint flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

½-1 lemon, cut into wedges
(optional: extra-virgin oil and flat-leaf parsley, to garnish)

Note: * See the bottom of this blog post.



  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients (First, add 1 tbsp of the capers and the parsley, and add more if necessary.) except the lemon, and mix well.
  2. Chill in fridge for 30-60 minutes.
  3. Drain well and put in plates with the lemon wedges, and garnish with the parsley. At table, squeeze lemon juice over the salad, and drizzle olive oil over if desired. Bon appétit!


my cooking whilst in Dubrovnik: mussels from Gruž Market cooked in Pošip (Croatian white grape variety) wine

I should have paired Pošip wine with the Salata od Hobotnice!


How to prepare and cook octopus

How to prepare and make boiled octopus

How to cook a tender octopus

If you preder to make it tender like tako for sushi, massage fresh raw octopus with handfuls of natural sea salt as Jiro mentions in Jiro Dreams of Sushi (c. 1:10-2:00).


How to prepare and cook tako sashimi on You Tube

Maybe massaging for 15-30 minutes should be fine, and then rinse well under running water. Boil water in a medium pan, add the octopus with some salt and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stick skewer through thickest part of a tentacle. When the point goes through without finding rubbery resistance, it’s done. Put the octopus into a bowl of ice-cold water and drain once cool.


Cherry and Coconut Cake

On 29th of June 2018, Tokyo saw the earliest end to the rainy season on record. The official announced that it had come 22 days earlier than the average and lasted only 23 days although it normally does 40 – 45 days…. How could we survive in the heat for the next three months and avoid shortage of water?

The cherry season here is almost ending, sadly. I guess the shorter rainy season has hastened it! Fortunately, I could manage to complete the recipe in time. On the other hand, apricot one is unlikely to be successful…. Oh well, probably in the next year! Anyway, here is the cherry one. Hope you will like it.




(for 21 cm round cake tin )


100 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80 g caster sugar
20 g coconut sugar
1 egg, whisked
50 g coconut cream  (I used 25.6% fat cream)
50 g Greek yoghurt
120 g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
50 g fine desiccated coconut
200 g cherries



Shortbread Sandwich Cake



The strawberry season here is almost over, which is a shame! As I did last year, I have been making the strawberry confiture hanging on until the last minute!


Scones with my strawberry confiture (posted in May 2017)


This year, I made shortbread which goes beautifully well with the confiture. I was not sure if it should be called ‘strawberry shortcake’ or ‘Victoria sandwich shortbread’ – it’s not raspberry jam though, so mixed them up: Shortbread Sandwich Cake.




(makes about 8 )

for the shortbread
180 g white rice flour, plus for dusting *
20 g almond flour
½ tbsp baking powder
60 g caster sugar (I used extra fine caster sugar)
⅛ tsp salt (I used finely powdered salt)
110 g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 – 3 tbsp whole fat milk, to adjust
½ tsp vanilla extract

for the filling
strawberry confiture ** or jam

for the topping
fresh strawberries, hulled
double cream, whipped with sugar

*If you try Japanese rice flour, buy komeko or rice flour for baking, not joshinko, mochiko or shirotamako for sticky rice cake.

** Japanese strawberries are sweeter, which is the reason I made the fruit/sugar ratio 5:1. Add more sugar according to taste.




  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking sheet.
  2. Sift the flour, ground almond, baking powder, sugar and salt together into a bowl. Put in the butter and rub in until smooth. Combine the 2 tbsp milk and vanilla extract, stir in the flour mixture, then together to form a dough.  Add more milk little by little as needed, but not sticky.
  3. Roll out to the thickness of 6 mm on a lightly floured surface, then stamp out using a 5 cm diameter round cutter. Carefully transfer using a serving knife or something to the baking tray and bake for about 8 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. When done, leave on the tray to cool completely.
  4. Sandwich the shortbread together with the confiture, and top with a strawberry and whipped cream.







Sake Fair 2018

If you happen to be around in Tokyo this coming Saturday, why don’t you try Sake Fair 2018 in Ikebukuro?

Click here for the detailed information.


There is another option: the 1st Sake Tasting Fair organised by Tokyo University of Agriculture.


Not sure yet, but I might pop in the university…. 🙂

For the further info, click here and/or here (in English).



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