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Archive for November, 2010

I live in a part of Japan known for their grapes, specifically a dark purple variety called Kyoho. So it’s not uncommon to see signs advertising everything from grape juice to grape cookies to grape ice cream. However, when I was on the way to work on Monday, the main street of my town had suddenly burst into bloom with white flags advertising Kyoho grape bread. Grape bread, made with local grapes at a local bakery in small quantities. The very definition of a local limited edition specialty, and you all know how much I love all things gentei♥.

When I went to the bakery yesterday, the head baker apologetically told me all the grape bread had sold out. Apparently, I’m not the only person in the area who has an addiction to limited edition bread. ^^;;
The grape bread comes in two varieties, a mini loaf of standard raisin bread, and melon pan shaped like a bunch of grapes. I raced over today after work, and managed to grab two grape melon pans from the shelf just before a neighborhood granny purchased the rest of the stock.


Melon pan is a popular type of bakery bread which is covered in a layer of cookie like crust. This melon pan consisted of small balls of fluffy bread studded with giant Kyoho raisins, arranged like a bunch of grapes, covered in a grape flavored cookie crust and decorated with a pretzel stick as the stem. A bite revealed the inner bread to be nearly as purple in color as the cookie crust.

The melon has a real grape aroma and color which is pleasantly purple without the use of artificial food coloring. The soft bread goes very well with the slightly crunchy cookie top, and the raisins add just the right amount of sweetness without becoming cloying. I am actually really picky about melon pan, and won’t eat one if the cookie part has lost it’s crunch. (crunchy things should be crunchy!)

If I can ever manage to get to the bakery again while it still has these lovelies in stock, I would definitely buy it again! (back away from my grape melon pan, granny!)

B’langere Marche @ Yamanashi City, Yamanashi, Japan

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There are some things I both love and hate about living in Japan, and limited edition items are one of them. I’ll admit it, I am a gentei 限定 addict. Those two little words are my own personal kryptonite. I can’t help it! I have an irresistible urge to buy and try limited edition things, whether it be the new Chocolate Cake McFlurry (delicious) or the Mon Blanc Pepsi (meh).

In the states, I never really paid attention to limited edition things, because if whatever it was ended up being popular enough, most companies would put it on their permanent rotation. One of the most frustrating things about Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores is popularity doesn’t seem to matter, and I inevitably fall head over heels over some snack or drink that is fated never to return again. (I’m still mourning the loss of shiso flavored potato chips from 2 years ago)

Limited edition can mean several things, kikangentei 期間限定 limited time, suuryougentei 数量限定 limited quantity, or chiikigentei 地域限定 limited by area. The last one is particularly made to torture me. Somehow knowing that the product still exists , but I can’t purchase it makes it that much worse, and makes me want to hunt for that elusive item whenever I am travelling in hopes of finding it.

Case in point, Kanto Tochigi Lemon Milk.

A drink that confusingly contains neither lemon or milk, Lemon Milk tastes uncannily like the cereal milk after eating Lucky Charms. It’s kind of nostalgic, vaguely citrus tasting without any tang. I don’t even like Lucky Charms cereal all that much, but the lemony yet not lemon taste of Lemon Milk is addictive.

My local supermarket had a “Tochigi Fair”, in which they imported Tochigi specialties, such as Lemon Milk, for a week. Unfortunately, it usually can’t be purchased outside of Tochigi prefecture, so when Tochigi week ended at the market, so did my access to Lemon Milk.
I actually tried to talk friends into rerouting a road trip up north this summer to go through Tochigi, with the express purpose of obtaining more Lemon Milk. (We found it, after stopping at nearly every parking area and service station between Tochigi and Fukushima. Yes, I have very nice friends who indulge my crazy food obsessions.)

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My long suffering camera died last week, so I made a trip to Tokyo to pick up a new one. There are some restaurants in the metropolis that I seem to revolve around, like Din Tai Fung in Takashimaya or Soup Stock Tokyo in Shinjuku, but I went to some new (and delicious) restaurants this weekend.

My friend Maya took me to Chaika for some Russian food. I think while I tend to crave things like pho or dim sum, Russian food is fast becoming something I think about when daydreaming about my next meal. Chaika has some affordable lunch sets that give you a sampling of their most popular dishes.

I started off with a hot bowl of borscht, a tomato and beet based soup with beef and vegetables, topped with sour cream and dill. Good on it’s own, and makes for a great bread dipping soup as well.
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