I wouldn't like to call this week frenetic, because confusion was rarely in play, but it has been fast-paced and occasionally exhausting. It's been a huge challenge getting all of the things that really have to be done this week completed.
In preparation for a shipment of dragon beard candy, I've been working with my graphic designer, Jennifer, and I needed to arrange buyoff on our chosen design from the company that makes the candy. Beyond that, I had a couple of rounds of conversations to resolve some issues with a legal agreement with that company.
By Thursday afternoon, I completed the details with the agreement and struggled with my fax machine when I tried to send it off. I had the same struggles trying to send off some documents related to credit card processing to my bank. On the same day I needed to pester my bank to clear some funds to wire them to Hong Kong, get some materials printed up at Kinkos, arrange for payment for an attorney, find some slacks to replace some shredded ones, and a whole bunch of other little things.
Early in the week I got an appointment with a Portland-area specialty market to show off the dragon beard candy, and that meant I needed to hurriedly find decent but not outrageously expensive hotel accommodation. I planned to go with a friend of mine who is helping out with some of the promotions, so that meant my budget challenge was more complicated, but somehow I stayed on budget finding two rooms in a hotel that wasn't scary; it wasn't special, but at least it didn't seem too dodgy. We arrived late at night because with all of the other errands I was running, and a need to eat something simple before leaving town, it was at least 8pm before leaving Seattle.
The Portland meeting went surprisingly smoothly, and the results were better than I expected. Later that afternoon, we met with Jim Hill, the editor of Yuuyake Shinbun, a Japanese and English paper that is distributed widely in the region and published in Portland. He took photos and talked with us about the dragon beard candy project. He also gave us some suggestions on other venues we should approach.
Traffic was pretty brutal in Portland, but the weather was pleasant. On the way out of town, we stopped at a restaurant called Castagna, which was surprisingly empty for a Friday night. It was a bit of a hidden gem... We ordered two starters and a main and shared everything. The "trio" of marinated artichoke hearts, blanched flat beans, and fried morels was elegantly simple, and very sappari. The three little mounds of simply seasoned dishes was unexpectedly refreshing. A modestly portioned arugula salad with aged goat cheese and roasted beets was similarly pleasant. Some "risotto cakes", which tasted like yaki-onigiri with a slightly crunchier crust and creamier center, were placed atop some fava beans, morels and other spring vegetables with seasoned with restraint. The presentation was somehow French, but the approach to ingredients was more Italian in its simplicity. We finished with a nifty black currant ice cream drizzled with cassis liqueur.
I dropped Kazue off at her home in Seattle and then came home and did a little bit of work from around 12:30-1.30 am.
After I headed off to bed, Hiromi sent me some messages on MSN Messenger, which drew me back to my laptop. Some issues with my network caused lots of messages to get lost. Hiromi got frustrated and called me.
Tonight I had a plan to meet at Patrick's and bake my jagaimo pizzas. I started a potato around 8am and got the dough going before I left my apartment. At the Pike Place Market I got some excellent tomatoes, and the last of the asparagus and morels. I got a bulb of fennel and a nice peach. I picked up some cheese at PFI and went home to do some prep work.
At Patrick's I made a simple pizza with quillisascut lavender fennel cheese and buffalo mozzarella. Out of the oven I added some lemon and salt marinated shaved fennel. Another one I made was pesto and colorful tomatoes, and a pesto/morel/asparagus/roasted pepper pizza (less heavy than it sounds... the asparagus was the only heavily applied topping). For dessert, I also made a peach and lemon-honey mascarpone pizza with a little sprinkling of the lavender cheese. Of course, there were a bunch of other dishes since it was a potluck... a nice salad, some kuri-gohan with goma-shio (chestnut rice with black sesame seeds and coarse salt), and some items that were not vegetarian that I nibbled around. I think one of the dish was boiled pork and lettuce, there was some dramatically plated crab, Naoko made a ton of gyouza, and some itamemono.
Patrick sampled a lot of wines and some sake. It was a good learning opportunity, though there were so many choices that I promptly forgot the names of most of the wines. I usually don't drink particularly expensive wines and I tend to rely on local wines just to make decisions more easily.
Tonight I prepared a matcha infused gin with a modest amount of sugar, in the style of a matcha liqueur I've had a couple of times in Japan and experimented with for a while when I had a bottle or two of it in the U.S. Mine is much less sweet so it should be drinkable by itself, but it might be diluted with a little bit more gin to make a drier drink.