Ramen Heresy

Japanese/American Cultural Collision

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Heresy in Progress

This isn't a Ramen Heresy...It's a Pasta Heresy. I'm making a tomato sauce. No big deal, what's a heresy about that? It has crushed whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, and sage.
What's the heresy? Elk Polish Sausage and Cinnamon. American Elk is the same animal as Caribou and Reindeer. It's pretty expensive to buy and you don't usually find it in sausage. Fortunately, I can get wild elk free from people who are (or know) hunters. The funny thing is that wild elk is actually a little safer than farm raised elk. Like cattle, elk are vulnerable to bovine spongiform encephalitis (bse) also known as Mad Cow Disease. By law, 100% of wild elk and deer harvested by hunters in Colorado are tested for bse.
Many people don't really care for the taste of venison (deer and elk meat) but I like the lean, earthy flavor a lot. I don't know the exact recipe for the Polish Sausage, but the fat has to come from somewhere else, probably pork. It's still very lean for sausage and the flavor is distinct.
Right now I've got a small amount of cinnamon in the mix too. At the moment I'm trying decide whether to add more or not. As it stands now the cinnamon adds a noticeable aroma but a barely perceptible flavor. I don't know yet whether I want it to be more assertive. It sure smells good though.


Obviously I've failed to make much of an impression on my future father-in-law. My fiance met her cousin yesterday. Her cousin told her she was looking forward to meeting me and that she would like to come visit. My fiance told her she would be welcome. Then her cousin asked her where in AUSTRALIA! I lived. My fiance then said I lived in the U.S. and why did she think I lived in Australia. Her cousin replied that a lot of the family thought it was Australia because her father was telling everyone I was Australian.
I can't even manage a decent fake Australian accent. Poor guy...He's going to suffer for that. His daughters (and maybe his wife) are going to make fun of him for that. The upside is that by the time they are finished, no one will expect me to be Australian. I suspect that the reason he made the error was that my fiance was a foreign exchange student in Australia...actually I think twice.
He was pretty easy to get along with when I met him, so hopefully they don't tease him so bad he hates me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

w00t!!! Goodbye Sling!

6 weeks later my arm is out of the sling! I was so ready! The fracture has healed to the extent that I only need to use the sling for my comfort. Yeah...I'll need to be pretty damned uncomfortable to put that thing back on. I have so much I need to catch up doing, now that I don't need to worry about aggravating the injury.
Yes...I'm going to try to get my bike started tomorrow. I don't think I can ride it far yet, but it needs to be run and given a little TLC.

Restaraunt Genroku

I have found a Japanese restaraunt that is actually owned and operated by Japanese people. Only the second one I've found so far in the Denver area and the other one isn't very good and therefore will remain unnamed.
Genroku is in Englewood on South Broadway a couple of blocks north of Dartmouth. The food is good, it's reasonably priced, and they seem like nice people. I'm glad I stopped in.
Sushi restaraunts are currently a huge fad here and most of them are rather mediocre, so I rarely stop at someplace I haven't been before. It wasn't that long ago, there were only a handfull in the entire city. I have passed Genroku almost everyday since it opened at this location and had been debating with myself whether to stop or not. I finally decided to try it when I saw their flyer in the Japanese market. If they were trying to attract the local Japanese population, I thought they would be worth a try. While Genroku does serve sushi, it also offers one of the more complete menus of Japanese food I've seen and the grilled mackerel is quite good.

On a different subject, I've been told there were people who wanted to leave comments on this BLOG and didn't because they didn't want to register. This surprised me quite a bit as I thought there were only two people reading it. So I'm opening comments to anyone. I'll use word verification to avoid spammers instead.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


It seems that my future sister-in-law doesn't believe Denver is an actual city with actual buildings. This is my fault I think, because I rarely take pictures of buildings.
We'll start with the old Denver Railway building. Years ago, when Denver had trolleys, this was the main trolley hub. It's been 'The Old Spaghetti Factory' restaraunt for as long as I can remember. The trolleys disappeared long before I was born. I have a strong emotional attachment to this restaraunt, because they moved in and made something of this place when downtown was decaying and blighted. Now it's very cool and they have themselves a prime location. It's hard to believe they've been there over thirty years now.

Next is a shot of the new Denver Convention Center with the statue of the giant bear looking in the window at the convention goers. I love this statue, or rather the humor behind it. There really isn't anything remarkable about the statue itself. Of all the events held at this building, the only one I've actually attended is 'The Great American Beer Festival'. If you are a beer geek (like me), you have to attend this festival at least once. If you think you don't like beer, you should probably go and check out the true variety of flavors that qualifies as beer. It isn't just about a pale yellow lager.
Back to the building. This is the new building. The previous building existed on the same site. The city took a chance when they tore down the old building and built the new one on the same spot, because there was not a good convention site suring the construction time. Kind of a risky thing I think.

This picture is for my fiance. This building is the old Denver Gas and Electric building. Now it's full of telecommunications companies, including mine. When I got called out last night, this is where I went. When I go to work downtown, this is the building I ususally go to.

I'll end with a random street shot. Uploads have been sucking today so I'll quit for now.

Friday, March 31, 2006

More of Jojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower looms behind Jojoji Temple in the first photo. I rather pleased with the way this one came out. You can't even tell there is a major street in between the the grounds of the two. The contrast of old and relatively new pleases me. You would never guess it but, if you were to move a couple blocks closer to the train station you wouldn't be able to see the tower. It's 333 meters tall and still obscured by buildings until you get within a few blocks.

The second photo is of Jojoji Temple from the observatory at 150 meters. As you can see the temple grounds are really quite extensive. Yesterday's photos were taken in an area out of the frame to the left.

This monster of a building is Roppongi Hills. The photo is taken from the Special Observatory at 250 meters (820 ft). Roppongi Hills is kind of like having the resteraunts, stores and businesses of Beverly Hills and Sunnyvale all put into a skyscraper. Yuppie Heaven! Except I'm not a yuppie. My future father-in-law wanted to take me to this place and my future sister-in-law vetoed the idea because she didn't think I would be interested in a place like that. She was right, but there is one thing there I would like to see. Somewhere in there is a gigantic sculpture of a spider that is so large many people can stand under it. I would visit Roppongi Hills just to see that. I don't have interest in anything else there, but that would be a sight worth seeing.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Matter of Perspective: Wilderness in Tokyo

Here we are on the grounds of Jojoji Temple. This particular area is on the edge of the grounds and it is possible to visit the temple and never see this place at all. I presume this is a shrine to those who died as children. The pinwheels are available for sale in the shrine area. If you've ever seen the anime 'Otogi Zoshi' then you may recognize this place. From this perspective (and the one given in the anime) it's somewhat difficult to believe it's only a couple of blocks from Tokyo Tower.

But as you can see it's really only a few feet from the street. Not nearly as isolated as it seems from a different angle. Incidentally, the other side of the street is the grounds of a hotel.
I went looking for this place because I had seen it in the anime and I wanted to see if it really existed. I was pleased to find it.
My fiance's friends were somewhat amazed that a foreign tourist could manage to navigate his way around Tokyo on his own, but riding the trains in Tokyo is really easy. Buying the tickets is a hard, but I had a JR pass so I didn't need to worry about it.
I got directions here from http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/ the website of the Japanese National Tourist Organization.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Almost as Cute as Thomas

Isn't this just the cutest (other than Thomas) freight engine you've ever seen? To be honest I don't remember where I took this picture, but it was probably somewhere along the Chuo Line given the amount of time I spent riding that particular line.

BNSF should take a cue from this. A little more cheerful than their standard orange and black. Then again this might not be a regular freight engine. It definitely isn't a passenger train engine but it seems like it could have more crew space than a normal freight engine. Possibly it's for some special application. Regardless, it's a cool paint job.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

International Alarm Clock

My fiance's friend and co-worker is undergoing fertility treatments and will have her fertilized eggs put back into her womb today. That means that she can't move around much for the next four days while the eggs re-adhere to the womb wall. My fiance will have to do both their jobs for the next few days, so she cannot afford to be late for work. Consequently it becomes my job to make sure she gets up for work on time. "So what" you say? Did I mention we live sixteen time zones apart? You know it's love when you'll make an international call to make sure she gets up for work on time.

Ganbatte K-san! Hopefully, you'll be preggers when I return to Japan next month.