It is strange how my favourite photo of all my time in the Philippines was of roast pork. Or rather, of the Cebuano dish lechon, no doubt Spanish-inspired but the chillies, kalamansi, spices, lemon grass and general method of eating (in tropical heat, washed down with San Miguel beer) are very Filipino. I’ve eaten Kagoshima black pork (a descendant of Berkshires brought over from England), bellota-grade Iberico in various forms, and had cochinillo at el Duque (in Segovia) but I think this is the best roast pork I have ever eaten. How they get the skin so crispy but not burned is a marvel (a quick dr. googles seems to reveal this is from a glaze made of Cola drink or condensed milk) – and the skin is very, very crispy. When I last roasted a suckling pig on my Weber at home the skin looked good but had the texture of cardboard. In this case, the pig wasn’t whole but just the belly rolled up and stuffed with spices. It was unbelievably good. Of course there were other dishes – tocino, fried skin, pancit, fried danggit, and the inevitable adobong, but lechon deserved a post to itself I think.
It has been about 20 years since I last went pistol shooting, somewhere in Florida: shot the Glock 17, which had recently come out to take the world by storm, and the Beretta 92 that had just been adopted by the US Army to replace the 1911. I think I had a go on a .38 Special revolver as well. The M92 was the least impressive, malfunctioning after two shots (FTE) despite the range officer singing its praise. Well, Guam being America I had another go: an aged CZ75B (a thing of beauty), M1911A1, Walther PPQ and a Smith & Wesson Model 686 revolver in .357 Magnum. I am not a drooling gun nut, but in my opinion shooting the .357 Magnum was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. And when the target came back, it looks like I still have the knack! I know it is not a particularly impressive group, but this was shooting .357 Magnum (Federal 158 grain JSP) for the first time in my life, at 20 yards, and 13 out of 18 rounds are 9, 10 or bull.
Wahoo x 4. Thank you Captain Ray and the crew of the Island Girl, sailing from Hagåtña Boat Basin, for a great trip.
The tako-ojisan makes an appearance (I’m wearing a mask because of a cough and I am preparing food for all the family, not because I am some germ-obsessed lunatic). Here the octopus have been de-slimed (using Captain Yutaka’s secret method) and are ready for eating/cooking…
Somewhat inevitably, the takoyaki machine was wheeled out.
Dessert was takomeshi (one-pot octopus and rice) made conveniently in the rice cooker:
My memory after these dishes becomes a little patchy, but the octopus was delicious and it is all thanks to Captain Yutaka of Yutakamaru, sailing from Nakaminato Harbour, Ibaraki!
The sea it was a-boiling!
It’s tako time!
No fishing for me this time (only work) but lots of fish, including this Satanically delicious triumvirate (ohtoro, akami, chutoro) of Sanriku maguro, to be had at a local kaiten-sushi restaurant.
Iwate remains probably my favourite place to visit in all Japan (of course if you have been reading my blog for a while now you know what happened the last time I travelled to Iwate for a work trip). By strange coincidence, I was taken to dinner to eat a nice meal of Maezawa-breed wagyu and other things at exactly the same hotel I stayed in on the night of March 11th/12th 2011. The lobby looked a lot different this time round, including being turned into some kind of chapel (probably for weddings) – in the corner where I slept most of the night there is now a pipe organ.
It was also odd seeing so much other familiar stuff from that day again: the same gift shop at Morioka station where I was standing with the wind-chimes hanging from the ceiling (they gave the first inkling of the earthquake’s strength) and the beam that was bending inwards; the neon sign at the soba restaurant that was smashed, now replaced; the buses lined up outside the station, no longer swinging crazily on their suspension; the taxi company whose car took us to Akita; the professor’s old office and the restaurant we ate our first hot meal in. I hadn’t been back to Iwate since 2011 but I remember most of it.