Shun Fujimoto at the 1976 Montreal Games. Terrell Owens in Superowl XXXIX. Joseph Mallozzi during Asia foodfest 2006. What do these three individuals have in common? Well, they were all proven athletes in their respective sports (gymnastics, football, eating) who despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles (a broken leg, a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula, stomach-ache and nausea), were able to reach deep down within themselves to play with pain and attain the loftiest of goals (a gold medal, a Superbowl ring, a dinner of incredibly well-marbled Japanese beef and three different desserts). Yes, I’m feeling much better. Fondy will tell you it’s all thanks to the medication she had the foresight to pick before leaving Vancouver, but I’m more inclined to believe in the magical healing properties of the miracle fruit (see related blog entry: December 5, 2006 Part II – review of dinner at Tapas Molecular Bar, still available on newsstands).

Speaking of which – many thanks to Teresa who actually did some research on this seemingly fictitious fruit and happily reports that it does, in fact, exist. Writes Teresa: “…I looked it up online, and it actually is called a miracle fruit (synsepalum dulcificum). It’s from Western Africa and gows on a small tree up to 18 feet, and will make sour things sweet for up to 2 hours, it will even make beer taste like lemonade!” Beer taste like lemonade?! Two words for that: “a” and “mazing”! Kids everywhere will be able to get a buzz without having to suffer the icky aftertaste. I’m buying stock the second it goes public. Again, thanks Teresa and hopefully you’ll continue to grace the comments section of this blog with your thorough research and incredible lotto picks. Also, a big welcome to the comments sections to Buddy #1, my oldest and dearest…well, oldest friend anyway, from way back in high school. You’ve come a long way and it’s great to see you have learned how to use a computer and, best of all, form semi-coherent sentences. Gambatte! (a Japanese word that doesn’t have an English equivalent but roughly translates to “Hang in there! You can do it!”, often reserved for patronizing encouragement).

Yes, feeling much, much better. We went to Omotesando today, an area that boasts many high-end shops, some nice cafes, and Condomania the house of a thousand condoms. But it’s also home to Playland, my destination on this day. Playland is seven floors of toys and tie-ins: t-shirts, leggo, dolls, stuffed animals, stickers, keychains, cards, blocks, mugs, mechanical pencils, stamps, and much, much, more. I’m a huge fan of the wacky Japanese characters, often store mascots, that adorn the shelves of the first level. Two years ago, I picked up stuffed versions of the then store mascot, Aokubi Daikon, and his rotund turnipy side-kick (and various stuffed daikon pens, stickers, and a mug I never use). This time, I picked up a slew of funny character pens and three stuffed characters. From left to right in the pic: Totoro from the anime My Neighor Totoro, a character whose name is presumably written in Japanese on the box who I will refer to as Monty, and the wide-eyed Moomin. Practical purchases all.

We stopped for a quick lunch at a little department store restaurant where we enjoyed some $15 ramen noodles that were good, but not $15 each good. Then, it was back outside where I took pics of the passersby with varying degrees of success. Sadly, this trip is one of missed opportunities as, time and again, I’ve just missed snapping some truly memorable shots: the monk lighting up, the businessman wearing the fox stole, and the Japanese girl with the mini and thigh boots that Fondy thought looked like a streetwalker but I thought looked good-natured and pleasant.

We caught a cab to Ginza where we continued our window shopping, eventually ending up at a Korean barbecue restaurant we have visited on each of our last three trips to Tokyo, a restaurant whose name I don’t know but which Fondy can walk to in her sleep. We asked our waiter for the best meat on the menu and he brought us a some incredibly well-marbled cuts. They were so well-marbled, in fact, that they actually burst into flames when we set them down on fire. The kind of cuts that melt in your mouth and, if you’re my writing partner, trigger your gag reflex. Speaking of my writing partner, Paul will be heading to Switzerland over the holidays and I can’t wait to see all of the exotic foods he will be posting on his travel blog!

We went by Mitsukoshi where Fondy picked up some fruit to add to the giant and incredibly expensive fruit collection we are amassing. Check out the colossal persimmon, apple, and pear. They certainly look great. Whether they taste great is a question for another time because we swung by the hotel pastry boutique on the way in and picked up: a chestnut mont blanc, some chocolate-chestnut cream French macaroons, and a green tea and chestnut cream cake (the Japanese evidently love their chestnut cream). Fondy loved her mont blanc, but I was blown away by the green tea-chestnut cream cake, a flavorsome combination of bitter and sweet. The macaroons were also excellent.

Two more days and we still have plenty of places to hit including Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest and the place that serves the beef fat sesame cracker dessert.

Looks like we may have to make a return trip.

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SueS
SueS

Hey Joe,

Glad to hear you’re feeling better.

Well, your fascination with the toilets in Tokyo had me thinking about my first trip there. My husband was also fascinated with the multitude of options on the toilet. (It must be a guy thing.) I, on the other hand, was rather amused at the warning sign I saw on a toilet in Seoul instructing the user not to stand on the lid.

(This is the part where I insert the witty segue.)

Speaking of mystery fruit, there’s a place in Australia called “Tropical Fruit World”. Never been there. Unless you count visting their website as ‘being there’. Seems TFW has a Miracle Fruit Show where you can not only sample the miracle fruit but also, the ice-cream bean, champagne fruit, chocolate pudding fruit, lemon meringue fruit, fruit from chewing gums trees, red dragon fruit, and fruit like banana bubble gum (to name a few).

http://www.tropicalfruitworld.com.au/

SueS