So one of the best things I ate on my birthday was Yusho’s lobster chawanmushi. It was delicious!! When it showed up on their menu a while back, I had never tried chawanmushi before, but I didn’t hesitate to try it, and today I was kind of thinking about why. There are a number of dishes – honestly, mostly Japanese ones – that I first heard about because of a video game. When we were in Tokyo I was determined to try takoyaki because Persona 3’s Maiko drags you to the takoyaki stand. I wanted to (but failed) to try dango because Sanosuke Harada takes Chizuru out for some in Hakuouki. And in Devil Summoner 2, Jungo has a habit of making chawanmushi for people for almost any occasion. I realize this is pretty ridiculous, but so far it hasn’t steered me wrong.
Chawanmushi has a texture that’s kind of unlike anything else – the ratio of dashi stock to egg is pretty high, so it’s not a solid texture like flan, but it’s also not like a soup… it’s just a really light, amazingly delicate custard. It’s not easy to find restaurants that make chawanmushi here in the states, but there are plenty of recipes online if you’re curious enough to try it!
Guys it was my birthday on Wednesday! I had to work, so I had to fit in little ways to treat myself throughout the day, until I could get to my fabulous dinner and cocktails at Yusho. It was a great day! I had a steamed bun from Chiu Quon bakery, I wore my favorite scrunchy winter socks and a pretty newish dress, I made myself a fantastic bowl of butternut squash soup with mushrooms, onions, goat cheese and a drizzle of sriracha for lunch.
And then we had ourselves an amazing, amazing dinner at Yusho, complete with a little birthday candle in our fantastic dessert, and when we got to the end and I asked for a check, they handed me a note that said: “Happy birthday Sarah! Your meal is on us. Love, Mom and Dad.” My mom is SNEAKY you guys. I had IM’d with her in the morning that we had plans to eat at Yusho that night, and she sneakily called Yusho and told them to charge our dinner to her! It took me completely by surprise. She totally got me! I was overwhelmed. What a day!
It’s not easy having a February birthday in the northern midwest, but this was a great birthday, possibly the best birthday in a long while.
I still don’t like licorice very much. I’ve had a few pieces that were okay, but for the most part, this stuff tastes pretty bad to me. I like a little anise, especially as a seasoning for meat, but I like it used sparingly, because the flavor’s pretty intense. And let me tell you, if you don’t like licorice, you will SUPER HARD not like salty licorice. I had no idea real licorice was so dangerous, though – toxicity is rare, and although I haven’t turned up any cases of people dying from too much licorice, there have been a few people hospitalized for it. And that doesn’t seem to be a danger when most licorice candies here don’t even contain that much real licorice root.
Oh hey! There’s an interview with me up on Logan Squarist if you’re into that sort of thing.
I stopped at Amy’s Candy Bar on my way home to get some fancy licorice for Niles for Valentine’s day. He loves licorice! I am… less enthusiastic about it. He’s brought home some interesting licorices before, that I ended up enjoying, but for the most part, licorice, it’s not for me. I found him some Dutch sea salt licorice, some British allsorts, some Australian licorice twists and some licorice mint caramels. It should be exciting! For him, anyway. Amy’s actually had another dozen or so licorice varieties, which led me to look up some facts on licorice tonight. Did you know that the plant licorice comes from isn’t even related to anise? and that the Netherlands seem to like licorice especially well, especially the salted variety? I learned some interesting things, which might have to end up in the next comic!
Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s! Oh! And a few announcements. 1) There’s a fun behind-the-scenes article about the paintings I’ve been doing for Yusho on Saveur.com, with a gallery of some of the paintings. and 2) I don’t often talk about my day job here, but I just finished designing a new website for Nori Chicago, and I’m especially proud of how it turned out, and there are all sorts of little doodles by me all over the site. Are you in Chicago? Do you like tasty sushi, reasonably priced? You should check them out!
As a rule, I don’t like to draw comics about drawing comics, because it’s just a little too meta (and boring) for my tastes. But this has been my life for the last few weeks – every day I go to work, come home and draw until bedtime, sleep, rinse, repeat. I love it, and I absolutely love the paying work I’ve been getting, but it can be a punishing schedule when you have a day job. Some of you might know that I’ve been working on a third graphic novel too. It’s written, it’s been written for a long time. I’m ready to start drawing it, but I have no idea when I’m going to find the time for that!
Still, I’d rather be busy than have nothing to do, so I’m happy. On to the next project!
Okay, so Pączki are kind of like jelly donuts. But they’re so much more! Chicago’s got a large enough Polish population that not only can you find these delicious puffs of joy at most bakeries, but you can even find them at large chain grocery stores. I was in the little grocer by my office (buying sushi for lunch) today, and I even saw them there – but I didn’t even register that I’d seen them until my friend Denise wished me a happy Pączki day. I haven’t had time to get any of my own, but I might run out this weekend and see what I can find – if you walk north/west on Milwaukee Avenue from Logan Square, you eventually get to a whole slew of wonderful Polish groceries and bakeries, and I’m sure there’ll be Pączki-a-plenty!
(Apologies, I feel like this one’s a little bit sloppy, but it’s been a crazy busy week of nonstop drawing projects, and I’m exhausted!!)
It’s not always easy to eat healthy when you work 8ish-5ish in an office, but it’s doubly important to, especially if you’re sitting on your butt in front of a computer all day, like I am. I’ve got a few good standby healthy lunch formulas, but the weather’s super cold now, and salads aren’t always going to cut it. I’ve become a big fan of these boxed soups (roasted red pepper and butternut squash are my favorites) because they’re quick, they’re easy, and they’re super easy to embellish. It’s kind of like, with a sandwich, you’re painting on a bread canvas. With a salad, you’re painting with a canvas of leafy greens. And with these soups, you’re painting on a canvas of pureed vegetables!
Or… maybe not everyone reduces things to art metaphors?
So we just got back from a trip out to Arizona to visit Niles’s family. It rained almost the whole time, and poor Niles’s mom got sick, but we still had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back.
They have orange trees, a grapefruit tree, a Meyer lemon bush, a gorgeous garden, and three chickens! Niles’s mom made us delicious lemon curd and lemon bars, I ate super-fresh eggs, we cooked fajitas, we drank tasty tequila cocktails made with fresh grapefruit juice. Plus, his dad’s family gets together every year for a giant kielbasa-making party. They filled our suitcases with delicious foods! I’m astonished the eggs made it back without breaking. There’s probably more oranges than we’ll ever be able to eat, and we eat a lot of oranges. So we’re set for a while!
Thank you, Mark and Eileen and Greta!! We totally owe you guys a do-over trip!