Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu.. and Kotoshimo Yoroshiku!
I'm actually still in recovery mode from my road trip with a huge emphasis on the "road" part. I never made it to Seattle (or Portland for that matter) but more on that later. Hungry, I went to one of the few places I knew would be open today. I don't remember Sakura ever being closed on any holiday it being Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's Day.
They were offering a New Year's Oshogatsu Osechi-Bento for twenty-bucks. A bit more than what I was planning to spend on my lunch meal today but I thought what the heck to show my appreciation, while injecting a bit of culture and tradition into me wasn't a bad thing after all the gas station coffee and Reese's peanut butter cups I ingested over the course of the week..
Looked very lovely and the biggest sell for me being the hot Ozoni soup. But the room temperature serving of Osechi foods seems to have had a reasoning behind it all along which I didn't know.
I was sitting close to a large group of people so it was hard to go camera happy. Going clockwise in an outer spiral motion starting from the lower right - Slices of marbleized roast beef, roast duck in a light sweet soy sauce flavoring, Sakura's ubiquitous Sanma nitsuke, a nice crunchy simmered takenoko bamboo shoot, herring roe laid kombu (Kazunoko Kombu, sometimes also called Komochi Kombu), a very nice tasting grilled fish (I forgot to ask what), a grilled eel wrapped in tamago Umaki hiding in the back, a shrimp that I sucked the yummy brains out while I peeled and ate the rest, the yellow spiral in the center is a Datemaki - a protein rich sweet tamago omelet made by adding ground fish paste, and finally some kamaboko fish cakes.
The clear and light broth of the Zoni was nice. I can't believe I used to hate Shiitake mushrooms growing up and now I'm an absolute fiend of them. Other ingredients were konyaku, sato-imo taro, burdock gobo, carrots, daikon, nice tender pieces of chicken, and of course the all important mochi.
I believe the mochi symbolizes longevity (like with how it stretches) and wealth. Gotta get me some of that karma luck so I ate it all.
A good sampling of a nice cultural and tradition rich meal I had today. My Katsu Curry and Karaage can wait for next week. ;)
So... My ROAD trip was fun, really it was. I got out of it what I wanted, some time on the asphalt, listening to my music playlists, spacing out, appreciating the scenery..
When the Christmas Card picturesque snow scenes came up I got really excited..
Until the fun snow quickly turned into not-so-fun snow..
I was stuck at the Northern California / South Oregon border for at least a couple of hours.. chatting with strangers..
Then when it seemed things were moving again, I was later forced to make a U-ey at a check point because I failed to own a set of snow chains.. I'm from SD and barely own an umbrella damn it!! If things could get worse, I sat in freezing Southbound I-5 for three to four hours while they figured out how to clear a multi car accident that I saw on the way up. My will to proceed further was crushed and I slowly headed back southward, napping in the parking lot of a Denny's somewhere North of Sacramento.
While I was really looking forward to the food carts in Portland, all were not lost. I had an awesome Cioppino in San Francisco.. In fact two.
Looking forward in sharing those next time, but wanted to say again thanks for all the support and here's to another great year. Cheers!