Category Archives: Travel

When Ramen And Michelin Stars Intersect In Tokyo, Japan

“The ultimate ramen is something that exists perfectly in the moment”

~ Quote from the Ramen Heads documentary

On November 29, 2017, Nakiryu was awarded its first Michelin star.  Nakiryu is only the second ramen restaurant in the world to receive this prestigious honor.  Tsuta was the first and they are both located in Toshima, a Tokyo Prefecture.  We visited Nakiryu in early October of 2018.

To be awarded a Michelin star and ultimately be listed in the Michelin Guide is no easy accomplishment.  There are no specific guidelines available for restaurants regarding how to obtain this level of recognition.  Some known objectives are the chefs ability to achieve the highest levels of mastery in terms of flavors and cooking techniques.  Consistency in regards to the food and dining experience are also key.  If the first visit by the anonymous Michelin Guide inspector is favorable, a second visit will take place approximately one year later. The road to a Michelin star is not a rapid one.  Receiving one star is not a guarantee that more stars will be awarded in the future, and restaurants can lose stars if they do not maintain the Michelin standards. The most stars a restaurant can be awarded is three.

At Nakiryu there was a clear reverence for the ingredients and the noodle preparation.  The way the ramen noodles were expertly and visibly laid out on the counter waiting for their arrangement in the bowls elevated our anticipation.  From the precise placement of the noodles, to the ladling of the broth, to the moment the bowl is handed to the customer, there is a sense of ceremony.  This was my maiden voyage to Japan as well as our first visit to a Michelin star restaurant.

There is no question in our minds as to why Nakiryu received their star.  For us, the taste of the ramen and the moments we spent there were impeccable and we won’t ever forget it.

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Empty Nester Adventures in Italy: A Photo Gallery of Our 5 Day Visit to the Amalfi Coast

“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life” ~Anna Akhmatova

The hills of the Amalfi Coast are steeped in romance and tradition.  As a travel enthusiast I’m extremely grateful to have the had the opportunity to visit many unique and beautiful destinations.  This particular area of Italy holds a special place in my being that keeps calling me back.  I am of Italian descent so maybe that’s why it feels so much like home every time I return.

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Travel Minnesota: 24 hours in Shakopee

“Every Hundred Feet The World Changes” ~ Roberto Bolaño

There’s something to be said about taking the scenic route, in both life and travel and the lesson here is, you don’t have to trek very far to find an adventure.  John and I had the opportunity to experience a brief but action packed 24 hours in Shakopee, MN last weekend. This historic city is just across the river from our home in Chanhassen but other than our outings to Canterbury Park, or the occasional trip to Valley Fair when the kids were young, we haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time there. The essence of discovery is something that we embrace so we really looked forward immersing ourselves in this mini-vacation.
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Empty Nester Adventures: Our Photo Gallery of Thailand

StreetCartBangkok“Wherever you go, go with all of your heart”  ~ Confucius

Traveling to Thailand was an ethereal experience.  When the opportunity to meet John in Bangkok arose last summer, I jumped at it.  I’ve always had a weakness for Thai cuisine and I had long hoped I would have the chance to visit and immerse myself in the magnificent and historic culture.

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Consider Me Caffeinated: A Global Espresso Art Gallery

 

“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee is even better” ~ Justine Chen, North of Beautiful 

My search for the perfect cup of coffee knows no bounds.  I am ardent and unapologetic regarding my caffeine infatuation.  Whether it is our weekend latte treks in the Twin Cities or when traveling abroad,  I am always on the hunt for the consummate coffee experience.  While the quality of the java holds high significance, it is as much or more about the venue and who I’m getting caffeinated with that matters.  Sipping a morning espresso alongside the locals at the Mercado De La Boqueria in Barcelona or slipping into a café near the Campo De Fiori in Rome with John are a couple of my very best café memories.  Today I am sharing some of my favorite coffee occasions through photos.  Enjoy and please share yours with me, I look forward to seeing your pics and hearing your cafe recommendations.  Read on if you would like to learn more about the definition of espresso and the associated terms.

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Destination: Pinot Noir Tasting in the Willamette Valley

Maya: “Why are you so in to Pinot?  I mean it’s a thing with you.”

Miles: “Uh I don’t know, I don’t know.  Um, it’s a hard grape to grow as you know.  It’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early.  It’s , you know, not a survivor like cabernet, which can grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected.  No, pinot needs constant care and attention.  You know?  In fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it, really.  Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinots potential can then coax it into its full expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they are just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and…..ancient on the planet.”

~Quoted from Sideways, one of my all time favorite wine themed movies.

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