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Kiritappu, Hokkaido I, Japanese Seascape Painting


Kiritappu, Hokkaido, Japan I

 

From the top of the cliff at Cape Kiritappu in eastern Hokkaido, I could see several fishing boats bobbing in rough water.  As its Japanese name implies, the area around here is often foggy but on the day I was there it was mostly clear - only freezing cold.

 

On a small boat three fishermen were hard at work but I couldn't tell what was caught in their nets.  No matter what, their catch must have been of excellent quality.  Hokkaido, Japan's nothernmost island, is surrounded by the three oceans and has the most fertile fishing grounds in the country.  Salmon from there, among others, is no doubt the best in Japan.  If you get a nice cut of salmon next time, eating this dish originally created by Hokkaido fishermen will make you feel like you're there (recipe courtesy of Powderlife).

 

 

Kiritappu, Hokkaido, Japan I

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Kitchen (Seoul, Korea) II, Interior Painting


Kitchen (Seoul, Korea) II

 

As soon as I sat down in this restaurant, I couldn't help noticing cooking flare-ups from the partially open kitchen (Click here to see another painting of the kitchen).  It didn't take long before my curiosity got the better of me and I peeked inside.  One of the cooks was heating up black stone pots or what they call dolsot in Korean.

 

Dolsot bibimbap must be one of the most popular Korean dishes.  Several kinds of colorful, tastefully-prepared ingredients neatly arranged on top of cooked rice, the dish is foremost a visual delight.  When it's served in a piping hot dolsot, the sizzling sound of everything in it is so inviting.  What's more, the dolsot will continue cooking, so to speak, even while we eat, often resulting in a toasty flavor of the ingredients and crispy rice on the bottom.

 

I attempted to create a painting where you can smell the food, hear the sound and feel the temperature - a piece that I hope is entertaining in more than one way - sort of like dolsot bibimbap.  Click here for a recipe of this delicious dish (courtesy: Dolsotbibimbap.com).

 

 

Kitchen (Seoul, Korea) II

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

- Join me on Facebook and follow my blog on NetworkedBlogs.
- Visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks.
- Follow me on Twitter
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Cortona, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy V

 

"As travel pushes me forward, memory keeps dragging me backward." - Frances Mayes.

 

When I think of autumn in Tuscany, the first memory that comes back to me is not a sight but a taste, from many years ago:  It was well past lunchtime when I finally found a tiny family-run restaurant in the remote countryside.  Inside was quite simple - no tourists but a few local people chatting together.  I was feeling a little out of place and not sure what to order, but apparently that was not a concern for a madam who seated me.  She said something rapidly in Italian, with "Va bene?" (Is it all right?) at the end.  And she disappeared into a kitchen.

 

There I was waiting... and waiting for quite a long time, wondering if I had ordered anything at all.  At last, she came out with a generous portion of warm risotto with porcini mushroom.  Risotto does take a long time to cook, and she must have made it from scratch for me.  Her smile and the creamy risotto with the earthy flavor of this autumn delicacy of Tuscany gave me a big smile, too.

 

Here's recipe of a similar dish (courtesy of Food Network).  Buon appetito!

 

 

Cortona, Italy V

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie

 

 

April is around the corner, and April Fool's Day may be on your mind.  Are you usually the one who plans a prank or you tend to be on a receiving end of it?  If you happen to be in France on April 1, and hear someone say "Poisson d'avril (Fish of April)!" behind you, you've been pranked.

On a street in the Montmartre district, I found this poissonnerie (fish monger) with strikingly blue awnings.  It was late in the afternoon but the business was already finished for the day at this shop, as the owner was washing the glass cases.  Coming from a culture with a diet rich in fish (Japan), I would have been really interested to see what kind of fish he had.

It's been said that the more fish you eat, the better it is for your memory.  If you feel like cooking fish tonight, French-style, maybe you like this recipe (red snapper cooked in thyme-flavored salt).  It looks very easy and the pictures on the site are beautiful, too.  Bon Appétit!


Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Roma, Italia XXVII, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXVII

 

When I wanted to paint this scene, I was most attracted to how the lines were forming an interesting design already.  Long, vertical lines of buildings on both sides of a narrow alley and diagonal lines of shadows cast on the incredibly bright yellow walls seemed to be melting into the dark shadows on the ground.

Then, there was a small outdoor café.  When it's so hot it feels like roads are literally melting, there's no doubt in my mind that everyone will love granita di caffe (sweetened coffee slush) – con panna (topped with whipped cream), of course.  

 

 

 

Roma, Italia XXVII

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Market Day, Brioude, France IV, French Landscape Painting

 

Brioude marché, France IV

 

 

Among locally-grown vegetables, colorful ripe fruits, freshly-baked breads, all kinds of honey, jam, sausages, vendors cook and sell ready-to-eat food at the outdoor market, too.  The aroma of roast chicken wafts through the air.  Paella, cooked in a huge pan, is always popular.  But here in Brioude, and perhaps in other towns in the Auvergne region, there's one unique food, called aligot, that is not sold outside the region. 

Aligot may be compared to mashed potato but is more flavorful and definitely different in texture and taste.  To make it, potatoes, local cheese and other ingredients are beaten until the mixture looks silky and gooey.  The result is a rich and hearty dish that may become habit-forming.  Here's a recipe if you'd like to try it.

There's one more week to go until the 4th Biennial of Watercolors comes to a close.  If you're anywhere near here, please come and visit us in Brioude, France.


Marché, Brioude, France IV

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Le Vieux-Nice, France II, French Landscape Painting

 

Le Vieux-Nice, France II

 

 

Shown here is one of the squares, an open space, so there's plenty of sunshine hitting colorful walls of the buildings.  But if you wander into one of the small alleys behind these buildings, there is quite a different scene.

The alleys run like a maze between buildings, with small restaurants and shops lined up right next to each other.  These alleys are so narrow that the sun doesn't reach all the way down to the ground most of the time.

This is the Old Town of Nice, France.  While it has become a bit touristy, this is a place where we can get a feel of what life in this city used to be like.  One of the local snack foods they sell here is called "socca (recipe)," a kind of pancake made from chick-pea flour.  Originally made for the working class people, this is something you won't probably find at a posh beachfront hotel restaurant.  Maybe not so glamorous, but in the Old Town we can find Nice in a more authentic way.


  
   A square in the Old Town of Nice (Le Vieux-Nice)


Le Vieux-Nice, France II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on a 12 x 9 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Journey Home VII, Japanese Landscape Painting


Journey Home VII

 

The seasonality of food is very important to the Japanese because they want to savor food when it looks and tastes the best.  It is also customary for many Japanese to eat a certain dish on a particular day or a special occasion.  Osechi New Year's dishes, nanakusa gayu  seven-herb rice porridge on January 7, chimaki rice cake wrapped in a bamboo leaf on May 5 (Children's day), sekihan red bean rice on celebratory occasions, toshikoshi soba buckwheat noodle on New Year's Eve, etc.  These are just a few examples, and there must be dozens more if regional food to be had on special days are included.

Late in July, on a day of Ox in the Zodiac calendar, the Japanese eat unagi, grilled eel.  This fish is popular all year round, but it is an old tradition to eat this expensive delicacy at the height of hot, sultry summer in Japan.

This painting shows a young fishmonger at work at his storefront, facing an old shopping street in the southern city of Uji in Kyoto, Japan.  I went to his shop early to purchase unagi for my family before they were sold out.

I hope you can see, feel, smell or hear the smoke, the sizzle, the heat and the aroma.  I wanted to create a painting that would appeal to all senses, but for the taste, I can only share a recipe for charcoal-grilled unagi with tasty glazing sauce.  When it is done, put the fish over white rice and pour a little bit more sauce.  You'll see why this dish is so popular in Japan.


   
People waiting to buy unagi in Uji


Journey Home VII

Click here for a larger image of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Sorrento, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Sorrento, Italy I

 

With Memorial Day (U.S.) considered to be the unofficial start of summer, we are feeling excited about all the things we can enjoy in this season.

Limoncello is one of my summertime favorites.  The dazzling color of yellow of this famous Italian lemon liqueur, reminds me of the bright sun in southern Italy.  Since lemons used to make limoncello are traditionally from the region near Sorrento, it was a perfect place for me to paint yesterday... to celebrate the beginning of summer and all the fun it will bring.

If you'd like a recipe for authentic limoncello, here's one to try (Courtesy: Slow Travel Italy).


Sorrento, Italy I

Media: original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size 14 x 18 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Venezia II, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia, Italy II

 

Venice cannot be Venice without its canals and lagoons.  Venice depends on the water that surrounds and cuts through it.

The huge Venetian lagoon is especially important not just for transportation but also as a unique ecosystem.  When fresh water from rivers and salt water from the Adriatic Sea meet here, interesting things happen.  One example is an abundance of fish that makes Venice one of the best places for fresh seafood.

Underneath these gondolas and far out near the horizon, there could be sea bass, mullet, eel, cod, squid, octopus, clams, crabs, just to name a few.  Mullet cooked in red wine is one of the regional dishes, but why do they use red wine?  Isn't it normally white for fish?  It's the lagoon.  It gives the fish a distinct (heavier and stronger) flavor that goes better with red.  Here are recipes of some of the popular Venetian dishes.


Venezia, Italy II

Click here for a larger image of "Venezia II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in.
Mat Size 14 x 11 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Le Vieux-Nice, France I, French Landscape Painting

 

Le Vieux-Nice, France I (sold)

 

 

Two years ago a friend of mine and I, both Francophiles, took our kids to see the movie Ratatouille.  The story was about a rat who had a big dream of becoming a chef in a restaurant and found an unusual way to make it come true.  The key dish that brought him a success was ratatouille.

After the movie, we went to my friend's house to enjoy ratatouille she had made, following an authentic Julia Child recipe.  What a way to end the day!  Any ratatouille recipe calls for many different vegetables; tomato, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion...  This time-consuming dish was originated in Nice, a coastal city in the south of France.

Old Town of Nice somehow reminds me of this dish.  I don't know exactly why.  Maybe it's because of all the bright colors seen in the architecture. Or, because a melange of cafes, restaurants, churches, squares is tucked in one section of the city.  Whatever the reason, both are very flavorful and my favorite!


Le Vieux-Nice, France I

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 10 x 5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size 14 x 10 in.
Purchase: Sold

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San Diego 100 (#46) - Rancho Santa Fe, California Landscape Painting

 

Rancho Santa Fe (SD100-46)

 

 

Here's another painting of Chino's Farm in Rancho Santa Fe (click here to see the other one).

Early spring on a hazy day, everything here looked soft.  There was hardly any movement that would have disturbed the tranquility.  This farm is bordered by a palm-lined street on one side.  I included it as a part of the painting because it adds a flavor of Southern California to the scene.

As I talked about it before on my blog, the produce from this farm is out of this world.  Even chef Bobby Flay invites you to try a recipe that uses beans from Chino's (courtesy Food Network).


San Diego 100 (#46) - Rancho Santa Fe

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 10 x 14 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 16 x 20 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Cavalletto II, Venice Italy Painting


Cavalletto, Venice II

 

The carnival in Venice that started on February 14 is about to end.  Party-goers will leave town soon and Venice will be just for its residents for a short while before travelers flock again to this famed canal city in spring.  But no matter when you visit, you almost always find a moment like the one in this painting and understand Venice does live up to its name - La Serenissima (the most serene).

One of the traditional sweets for the carnival in Venice is Frittelle and Galani.  Click here for recipes.




Cavalletto, Venice, Italy II

Click here for a larger image of "Caballetto, Venice II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat Size: 18 x 14 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Paris Café XIV, French Landscape Painting


Paris Café XIV

 

It was a chilly day for the summertime in Paris, even drizzling from time to time.  When I was walking to search for painting ideas in the neighborhood of Montmartre, nobody was out on this narrow street.  Under the overcast sky, gray buildings standing on both sides suddenly felt like lifeless giants.  I was cold and couldn't feel inspired enough for some reason.

I thought a nice warm bowl of soupe à l'oignon (onion soup) wouldn't be a bad idea on a day like this.  I decided to go to the end of the street to see the windmill and leave.  It was at that time this couple appeared from around the corner.  That moment was my inspiration for this painting.  Do you feel l'amour in the air?

 

 


Paris Café XIV

Click here for a larger image of this painting.

Media: original watercolor
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in (mat color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings in my Paris Café Collection.

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Joyeux Noël (Part 1) - Crèche Provençal

Crèche Provençal (graphite)

 

My childhood memory of Christmas includes a small box my parents would take out and put by our Christmas tree.  Inside the box were tiny, finger-sized ceramic figurines, all hand-painted.  They looked simple but incredibly charming.  I liked arranging and rearranging them on a soft bed of straw to create a nativity scene.

I didn’t know until much later that those figurines were called santon from Provence, the southeastern region of France.  I also learned that my father had been collecting them on his many research trips to France and brought them, a few at a time, back to our home in Japan.

Santon means "a little saint" and came from the word santoun in the Provençal language although its origin is santoni in Italian.  Actually, it was Saint Francis of Assisi who is believed to have started displaying the nativity scene in the 1220s in Italy.  Then at the end of the 13th century, the tradition was brought to Provence, to the land where his mother was born (read more here).

Another memory, a more savory one, that I hold dear is a Christmas cake I sometimes helped my mother make.  It was a Yule log cake called Bûche de Noël.  It was so good that I think I have to blame this one for my developing a weakness for chocolate cake.  If you haven’t decided on what dessert to have for Christmas, here’s one recipe to try.

(... to be continued; read Part 2)

(Text partially excerpted and translated with permission from Through the Azure Sea and Sky of Provence: A Tribute to Her Joie de Vivre by Tamotsu Tanabe, the author; Illustration by Keiko Tanabe originally appeared in the book and is used by courtesy of the author)

- Visit my website to enjoy French landscape paintings.

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Uji, a Town for Green Tea Lovers

Uji, situated in the southeast of Kyoto, is a town sitting on the Uji River.  It is famous for the premium quality green tea this region produces.  So, naturally, the town is dotted with many tea houses roasting Uji-cha (Uji tea) and selling all kinds of green tea products.  I visit there often as I like walking while enjoying the rich aroma of green tea.  It is also famous for the Byodoin (Phoenix pavilion) temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and many other sights to see.

One November afternoon, I went there just past lunchtime.  All the lunch cruise boats on the Uji River had returned to be cleaned up by these ladies, as seen in "River Cruise II."  A chilling wind suggesting the cold winter was near, many tourists who came to Uji on this day to enjoy autumn foliage and traditional Japanese meal on the boats disappeared quickly to the warmth inside tea houses.  These small flat-bottomed boats are used during the summer months for cormorant fishing, a once-popular method of river fishing but rarely seen in today’s Japan.

Now if I may tell you my real purpose of going to Uji, it is to have their matcha green tea ice cream.  It’s simply the best.  For anybody interested in making it yourself, here’s a recipe you might want to give a try.  As people in Kyoto say, Yoroshu Oagari (Bon appétit).

- Visit my website to view more Japanese landscape paintings.
- Read related posts on my blog.

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Saudade in Portugal

Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Portugal (14"x 21")

 

 

The first Europeans who set foot in Japan were three sailors from Portugal.  That was in 1542.  Then Jesuit priests came to introduce Christianity.  Their influence is being felt to this day beyond religious ideas.  For example, in Japanese, there are still quite a few words that have a Portuguese origin such as tempura and pan (bread).  Geographically Portugal and Japan are far distant from each other but, in fact, have had a long-time relationship.

In Portugal, I felt at home, even on my first visit there.  I don’t know if I was somehow thinking about the connection of a time long past of the two countries.  Portuguese people were friendly and polite even if I didn’t speak their language.  Lisbon's old-fashioned tramways running across city streets were just like what I remembered from my childhood in Japan.  In one neighborhood, the smoky smell of grilled sardines was permeating the area.  When I had the fish and rice, I almost forgot I was in Portugal as it was just like eating at home.

Here’s an easy recipe for Portuguese-style grilled sardines (from Foodnetwork).  For those who miss Portugal, this may be a temporary cure for Saudade.

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Gourmet Veggie Tales - Chino's Farm

"Chino's Farm, San Diego, California III" (2005)

 

There is a farm sitting quietly in the middle of one of the America's most expensive communities, Rancho Santa Fe, just north of San Diego, California.  I drive by it often and see a few workers tending the vegetables.  Considering suburban sprawl rapidly approaching to nearby communities, I can hardly believe there is still a place so simple and serene right here.

Chino's Farm is one of the best-kept secrets here in San Diego as the owner family keeps a very low profile (there’s not even a sign nearby) and their higher prices make it a little harder to reach the mainstream market (but you get the money's worth).  That being said, their produce is much sought after by many gourmet chefs from all over California as well as people looking for the best-tasting vegetables.  As a Japanese, I am also intrigued by the story of the Japanese immigrant family and their children who are behind the success of this farm (read more).

Wolfgang Puck, one of their customers, wrote this recipe, Chino Farm Carrot and Ginger Soup.  I haven't tried it yet but it sounds awfully good especially in the cooler months.  Bon appétit!


Chino's Farm (San Diego, California) III


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 inches
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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