Photo: This is Chasu Pork. The non-torched pieces are just pork belly. And when I say “just,” I’m really saying, “amazing fantastic pork belly.” Torching it turns it into Chasu Pork, which is pork belly, but even more amazing. Apologies to my vegetarian readers!

 

I held a blow torch over some lovingly braised pork belly and charred the hell out of it last night (after I took the picture above. That’s the chef giving his example). That was after hand cutting ramen noodles and sampling some sort of divine eggplant rubbed in some sort of Asian spices. I don’t even freaking like eggplant, but whatever I ate last night was amazing.

For a first ever cooking class, I picked a pretty good one, Dear Reader!

For $90 (a splurg for us), I stood in a beautifully refurbished kitchen in an ancient (pre-Revolutionary war) home and made ramen. It was pretty damn amazing, I must say. There is no sort of way that I’m going to replicate everything that I tasted last night here in my own kitchen. Not because the technique was particularly difficult (it was not) or even because the ingredients were too rare/inaccessible (I was familiar with all of them), but because the thing that makes a bowl of ramen so special is all of the extra fun stuff that you put in it. And all that extra stuff? Some of it can take up to an entire day to cook! An entire day!

But damn if it wasn’t delicious!

That pork belly, by the way? Braised over charred veggies for 3ish hours in sake and soy sauce and other stuff, and then allowed to rest chilled over night before being sliced into those beautiful pieces and then set the torch. Amazing. We also had perfect 6-minute eggs that were just… oh my goodness.

And while I, my friend and 7 others got to try our hand at making the cuisine, our well-traveled and friendly teacher-chef told us all about the techniques, variations and local hotspots for eating this stuff. I was also introduced to Masamoto knives. Holy shit, Dear Reader. I’m a highly educated woman with a fairly good vocabulary and yet I cannot form a sentence that will adequately describe the awesomeness of that knife.

The final results of it… of professionally made ramen with all the fixin’s you can imagine… it was really something. We all had bowl upon bowl of the stuff. I was careful because I was worried about the sodium, but even then, I still ended up overly full. Just one most sip of that broth, one more bite of that noodle. I can still taste that shitake, feel that greasy coating of the broth on my tongue. I’ll always be chasing that taste, that sip, that bite… never to be able to replicate it on my own no matter what I do.

I really must say that I spent a little time last night wondering if I’d missed a calling. Not to be some award-winning chef, but to teach cooking. To have a little kitchen just for the purpose of teaching, to tell stories, invite people to get their hands dirty, make great food and share the love, you know? I had a lot of fun last night and it was obvious that the chefs who were cooking with us live their passion for food and cooking.

Anyway, I don’t know when I’ll be taking one of those classes again, but I look forward to the day when I do. I’d love to take a French class and work on my technique.

Now… how to replicate all of that and make it eligible for Meatless Monday? Something to ponder in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I have little boys to chase around. Yesterday was a sunny day, but a gusty one. Little boys insisted on getting out there anyway. The sun is warm, which helps you forget that the air is still plenty cold.

They had good reason to be out there. First, a dear friend gave the boys these balloon pumps and these weird balloons that you blow up and send flying in the air. The boys love these things and insisted on playing with them, despite the wind.

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Of course, it was all fun and games until too many balloons ended up over the stone fence and into the trees.

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So we switched to the bubble machine, which really was a lot of fun in the gusty wind because the bubbles went all over the place!

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These are the days when I’m reminded that we’re doing ok. It’s not perfect by any means, but we’re doing ok. My children are happy, I even get my own moments of indulgence from time to time and on the sunny days, when the sun is warm and high, the only thing we have to care about is just how far a bubble can go in a gust of wind.

It’s a good life and I’m grateful.

Happy Wednesday to you, Dear Reader. Have you popped a bubble today? You should. It’s wonderful.

I’ll see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

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