International Robot Exhibition – Tokyo, Japan

2015 Robot Show 001

International Robot Exhibition

Tokyo Big Sight
11-1 Ariake, Koto,
Tokyo 135-0063, Japan

http://biz.nikkan.co.jp/eve/irex

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If you are in Japan, GO to the International Robot Exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight!!  You are witnessing the future of humanity (and not-humanity) at the beginning of its era – perhaps one day to get its own scientific classification?  The Robotolithic age ?

Check the website for dates, as these change every year.  In 2015 the show ran Dec 2nd – 5th.  It was held at Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center) on Tokyo Bay waterfront.  The complex is worth the visit just for the experience of being in a futuristic city on the set of a Sci-Fi movie.  It reminded us of Caprica from the modern Battlestar Galactica !

The International Robot Exhibition is the largest robot trade show in the World.  If you find yourself in Japan try to attend, a window into the future.  This is the reason you are in Japan!

IREX brings together roughly 500 domestic robot manufacturers and related businesses with over 50 international exhibitors.  Participating are 100,000 domestic technicians and professionals.

IREX divides itself into two parts.  Large Industrial robots (IR) and then the smaller, cuter service robots (SR), along side small production systems and robots deriving from R&D activities of government, industry and academia, Medicine, manufacturing, security, etc.

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Toraya – Tokyo, Japan

Toraya 002Toraya at Tokyo Midtown

Toraya  Tokyo Midtown

(81)  35.413.3541
Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0052, Japan

www.toraya-group.co.jp

Open Hours:
11:00 – 21:00    Daily

Toraya  is the oldest existing wagashi (Japanese  confections) store.  Dating back to the mid sixteenth century in Kyoto, where it became a purveyor to the imperial court under the reign of Emperor Go-Yōzei (1571-1617).  Towards the end of the Edo period Toraya moved their center of operations to Tokyo, leaving  behind the orginal store in Kyoto.

Currently, The flagship store  is in Akasaka, and  other locations in the main luxury department stores around Tokyo.

The Toraya store in the lower lever of Tokyo midtown,  a commercial, business and residential complex in Roppongi, is a great example of the modern life of this 400+ year old business.  It is an excellent location to go for delicious Japanese sweets.  This Toraya location also serves as an art gallery and a cafe as well as an amazing  wagashi  related souvenir shop

Wagashi  are Japanese  confections) in which main element is azuki bean paste.  This is made by cooking the beans with sugar, mashing them and finally straining the mix through a fine sieve to produce a smooth paste called gozen an (koshi an).  When  the paste is not strained it is called ogura an (tsubu an).

In addition to bean pastes,  other wagashi ingredients can be  agar-agar, rice flour, Kanten (a fiber rich gelatin  made from seaweed) and oldest domestic sugar which is made with rare kind of sugar cane from Tokushima prefecture, commonly made into molded dried sweets (higashi)

Wagashi confections are based on the principle to appeal the five senses; appearance, taste, texture, scent and sound

In Kyoto there are two locations:

The principal store, combined with decent sized tea house, is on a street west of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and garden.  The teahouse holds a lovely small library and some of the tables have a picteresque  garden view.
Address: Karasuma-Nishi-iru, Ichijo-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto

The other is next to the Fujii Daimaru department store on Shijo-dori – the road that connects the Gion district with  wetern Kyoto.
Address: Gokomachi-Nishi-iru, Shijo-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

There are many wonderful Wagashi shops in all of Japan and trying the different styles and specially Toraya!

Toraya 006Monaka; cherry blossom wafer with white bean paste filling
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19_2above photo © Toraya
Tosakura; Sweet mashed potatoe
yokan_1above photo © Toraya.
night plum, reminiscence and green tea Yōkan
(Yōkan in a jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar or Kanten, and sugar)
1_337_1above photo © Toraya
48_1above photo © Toraya
Higashi;  rice flour, wasambonto sugar and starch mixture pressed in molds to form dry sweets.
19_4above photo © Toraya
Bean paste rice cake wrapped in  cherry leaf
124002_1above photo © Toraya
Shiro Monaka;  with smooth azuki bean paste (gozen)
c01401_ph16above photo © Toraya
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Les Cols – Olot, Spain

LesCols_Hisao_00 above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols

Les Cols

(34) 69 – 981 3817
Avinguda de les Cols, 2
17800 Olot, Girona, Spain

www.lescols.com

Open Hours:
13:00 – 15:30    Lunch  – Tuesday to Sunday
20:30 – 22:30    Diner  – Tuesday to Saturday

In the remote town of Olot  in la Garrotxa, a volcanic area in the north of Catalonia; chef Fina Puigdevall – with the help of RCR Architects –  put forth  Les Cols;  a stunning two star Michelin restaurant; voted most beautiful in the world by a handful of publications.

Puigdevall’s culinary proposals are rooted in the surrounding landscape.  The majority of the ingredients are grown and raised at the restaurant, maintaining an ultra local and organic practices.  It is beyond “farm to table” as the table is at this beautiful 13th century farm.

Our three hour long meal started with a glass of cava and mini hot cheese buckwheat crust sandwiches in the garden, them we where guided to our table

Dishes were paraded through the golden room to vanish soon after!

Buckwheat spaghetti in a smoked broth turned out to be a gelatinous signature dish.
Early spring brought us calçots in a charcoal tempura with beetroot romesco (Catalan nut and red pepper based sauce).  This is a Catalan delicacy – and truthfully we coud have repeated this for a few more plates!

The lovely Pumpkin 5 different ways, was educational and delicious!  It turns out the five was are: grated, cold xantana, crouton, soup, & a sliced with black olive oil !

Overall service was good, attentive, and knowledgeable … not to mention patient!  We asked all the questions and  they indulged our curiosity, even letting us explore the entire place, including the kitchen.

Keep in mind this is a really large meal, so don’t eat a big lunch!  Afterwords, we couldn’t move much and sort of rolled back to our hotel!  (Also beware the herbal liquor if you are not used to it .. it is where curiosity crosses to indigestion!)

Les-Cols_010truffles in chanterelle mushroom royal sauce
Les-Cols_012grilled lettuce with lemon- apple vinegar
Les-Cols_005artichoke with tangerine mayonnaise and artichoke chips
Les-Cols_011grilled Brussels sprouts with olive oil and potato puree
Les-Cols_008sweet onion crumble from Croscat, with cheese from Farró and fried herbs
  Les-Cols_018vanilla, thyme, rosemary and orange ice cream
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LesCols_Hisao_01above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols
LesCols_Hisao_03above photo © Hisao Suzuki – Les Cols
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