Velvet Foam and Latte Art in Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?

I consider myself a bit of a coffee snob. Coupling the facts that I have worked briefly as a barista and that I live in Seattle, the coffee capital of America, coffee has worked itself thoroughly into my bloodstream and way of life. Not a morning passes where I don’t grind and brew a pot of joe; my morning commute to the office always includes my trusty Thermos. When I order an espresso drink–usually a 16 oz. triple shot white mocha with no whip cream, but with a half inch of microfoam instead–I remember which baristas know how to properly texture and which baristas don’t and from whom I order an americano instead.

So when Cocoa watched Rize’s demonstration of latte art and succeeded in her first try, I wanted to cry foul! Call it pride if you will, but I doubt a girl who entered Rabbit Cafe for the rabbits alone instead of the coffee would know how to create her own designs when I wasted many a pitcher in my attempts on the art, despite knowing the theory. Even the simplest of designs, the heart, can be difficult to achieve, and the crux of the ability is in the steaming of the milk.

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How to be a Conscious Consumer, Silver Spoon Style

As the food lover I am, I try to keep my mind open about trying anything and everything.  This of course includes all parts of the food chain, especially meat! Unfortunately, making sure that the foods you obtain and consume are safe and cruelty-free can be difficult, and sometimes even impossible.  Silver Spoon gives us a setting where produce and livestock are very much close to the plate.  You might handle a piglet one day, only to fry it up into bacon four months later. It’s smart to keep your emotions at bay when raising these beasts if the dinner plate is indeed their final destination, but at what point do you draw the line between treating them like pets and bordering on animal cruelty?

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Keema Matar and Addicted to Curry

I recently stumbled across a manga titled Addicted to Curry–a long running series that will soon come to an end, yet still hasn’t been serialized in America.  The manga is true to its name in that the characters really are addicted to experiencing curry in all its forms.  Despite all the various kinds that I read about in the nine volumes I could find of the forty-six, it was the very first chapter that re-energized me.  In it, gifted curry chef Kouenji Makito  makes Sonezaki Yui, the heir to a declining curry restaurant, a well known Indian dish: keema matar.  The ground meat and pea curry revitalizes Yui with its familiar taste and spiciness and helps her realize that she truly loves her restaurant and is not yet ready to give up.  What once seemed impossible suddenly begins to look achievable.  Given my current situation, I couldn’t help but cling to that vision as well.

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Sunny Place House Karaage!

Hidamari Sketch has always given its viewers plenty of examples of Japan’s inventive and colorful snacks, as well as shown us just how conflicted Hiro is with her love for cooking and nervousness about body weight.  This time around, it’s little Nazuna in the spotlight along with her kitchen incompetence and impending visit from the parents.  What makes this particular episode so charming is the homey and family feel that the fried chicken, “karaage”, brings to the residents of Hidamari Apartments, their home away from home.

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The Pastries and Confections of Dog Days’: Biscotti, Galette, & Pastillage

When watching the first season, it never occurred to me that there were more food connections to Dog Days than just the well known eclair and biscuit.  Perhaps those with a background in European culture or knowledge of their foods would have been more receptive to the numerous sweets that populate the peoples of Flonyard; but, it wasn’t until the second season that I became curious enough to research some of the names’ origins and see how they might affect their owners’ personalities.  Not surprisingly, the foods after which characters like Eclair and Brioche, as well as the titles of the nations, are named do take significant part in shaping the large variety of identities.

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[OISHINBO COOKING] Kitchen Princess and Green Tea Crème Brûlée

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but I am not actually a very big fan of sweets. After going on a two-year-ish break from excessive sugar during my early undergrad years, afterward I found that my palate was easily overwhelmed by the smallest amount of sweetness.  That being said, there’s one dessert that, despite being a dessert, gets me every time.  Whenever I discover it on the menu of a new restaurant, I can’t help but order it! Crème brûlée continues to enchant me no matter how many other sweets I taste, and to this day is my absolutely favorite dessert whose taste and texture reveal surprising nuances despite its seeming simplicity.

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Hanasaku Iroha’s Message of Omurice

Omurice takes up quite a bit of spotlight in the 2011 spring anime Hanasaku Iroha, displaying a wide range of emotions by those who cook and eat it.  Despite the simplicity of its appearance, the hearty meal demands a surprising amount of time and effort that is often done for the sake of another.  One of the most memorable aspects about omurice is the popularity of the ketchup design.  Anything from abstract squiggles, to images, and even to words can be drawn as a finishing touch.  Such a simple gesture can have a powerful effect on the ones who give and receive, as displayed time and again by Ohana and her friends.

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Karuta’s Insatiable Sixth (or, Is It Fifth?) Sense

She [Karuta] isn’t just thinking…it’s something deeper.  She probably knows instinctively what’s right.  That’s it.  She’s like a jungle hero.  She’s like Tarzan.
-Watanuki Banri, of Inu x Boku SS

Cooking is about seeing the possibilities clearly.
-Roromiya Karuta

After the sixth episode of the currently airing show, Inu x Boku SS, Roromiya Karuta has vaulted over all other competitors to become my favorite.  As adorable as I find Ririchiyo, there’s just something irresistible about Karuta’s bottomless stomach and natural desire to help those in need.

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