Sunday, December 18, 2011

J Mueller's BBQ

Pepper. Lots of pepper.

That's certainly how I would sum up the new J Mueller BBQ trailer on South First. As expected, the meats were delicious, and for a BBQ joint, the sides were okay. Fortunately, on a wettish Tuesday, we didn't have to wait in line, as we were the only ones there! At times though, they see big lines, and when they're out of food for the day, they're out! 

They gave us a big bite of nice charred brisket as they were putting our order together. Tender, smoky, with a big black pepper bite to it.
Two of us split what you see below, which we brought home to eat: from the left, potato salad, sausage, pork ribs, brisket, squash casserole, and chipotle cole slaw. 
The pork sausage has a nice coarse grind, also pretty peppery. The pork ribs were probably my favorite of the meats; great pink smoke ring, and not as much pepper (though you could see it in the rub on the exterior) as the brisket. Potato salad was my favorite of the three sides, creamy, with a few little chunks in it. The squash really didn't do anything for me (but I am generally not a huge fan of yellow squash), though my friend, who ate it all the time at the previous Mueller locations, was quite pleased with it. And the cole slaw had more of a black pepper taste than a chipotle taste to it... not as advertised.

Mueller's is directly across the street from what will be the new Elizabeth Street Cafe (and just to the south of this building is the lot for Izzoz Tacos), which will serve upscale Vietnamese. Too hard to get a decent photo, with S. 1st Street traffic, and the orange construction markers. When I drove past there last night, they had some Christmas lights up on the awnings. Getting close to opening, I hope!
And this building on the north side of Elizabeth is rumored to be a Thai spot.....
The meats of J Mueller's are a great addition to the trailers along S. 1st, and good BBQ is always a good thing. No offense to the Mexican Mile, but South First is finally turning into a REAL food destination!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bits and Bites

Now open:
-- Lucy's Fried Chicken, from the folks at Olivia. Mmmmm! Can't wait to try this one!

Make reservations for:
-- Paggi House is having both New Year's Eve dinners ($95 + up) and brunch on New Year's Day.
-- Parkside is having a New Year's Eve dinner ($60 + up) as well as a party upstairs ($100).
-- Contigo is having New Year's Eve cocktail pairing dinner ($115).
-- Sagra having a New Year's Day brunch buffet, $24 per person ($30 with mimosas).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's pretty hard to go wrong with a place named Bacon.

From the door handle.... the merchandise available for purchase.... the helpful eye chart on the back of the menu (you must be in good health to eat here!).....
 ... to the food (more on that in a sec), Bacon is a happenin' place.

I pick Sunday morning brunch as my first time to go visit Bacon. Fortunately, we were only a party of two, so it wasn't difficult to sit, because the place was certainly hopping. (Hard to believe this was the old Basil's restaurant, and more recently, the Screaming Goat.) You order at the bar/counter, you get your number so the food runners can find you, and find a seat. Both the gal taking our order and the guys running the food were super-friendly, and they all seemed genuinely nice, not just people working another service job.

I had the biscuits and gravy, which were really outstanding (yes, almost as good as my own!). The biscuits are large, and nice and fluffy, meaning the dough wasn't overworked. Good pieces of bacon in the gravy, and no wimpy chive garnish here!
And the corn fritters with bacon aioli. The fritters were ok. I think it's canned corn, and while they were nice and golden, there wasn't a ton of taste to them by themselves. The aioli was the one real disappointment of the meal. It tastes artificial, and I would almost bet they're using the Bacon Mayo, which I've had before, and hated it because it was entirely artificial. Fritters were better when dipped in gravy!
My friend had the butter lettuce salad with bacon and bleu cheese. (REALLY? I am getting b & g, and she's eating a salad?? Whatever.) Have to say, it was one of the prettiest salads, with what looked like a whole head of butter lettuce. Kind of your basic bleu cheese, but nice big pieces of bacon.
I've been the proud owner of a bacon wallet for about 4 years now; hard to tell in the picture, but it's one of the bacon memorabilia items available for sale. When I was paying for my food, the gal at the register commented "That's what inspired this whole restaurant idea!" A pretty good idea indeed! Now, if only someone can figure out how to make the wallet SMELL like bacon........

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bits and Bites

-- I've been trying to figure out what the old Furr's Cafeteria on South Lamar is going to turn into. On my way to Target in the beginning of November (I think that's when it was), I saw two of the Stubb's BBQ trailers parked on the backside, by the old Lacks, and an inquiry on Twitter came back with one reply of a Stubb's anyone want to confirm this?

-- Contigo, in east Austin, has winterized both their outdoor seating and their seasonal menu.

-- And speaking of BBQ, the County Line franchise will happily ship you some ribs (or other tasty items) wherever you'd like to send them! They also do gift cards, and even vegetarian options (!). See their website for info.

-- And then speaking of vegetarians, there's a new vegan queso on the market made by Food for Lovers and it's available for shipping! I've heard it's really good, but have not tried it.... I am curious, but I am a non-vegan, die hard Austin Slow Burn Green Chile con Queso kinda gal......

-- The Monument Cafe in Georgetown will be open on Christmas Day from 9 am - 2 pm, serving traditional holiday feasts.

-- Sagra will be holding New Year's Day brunch; reservations recommended.

-- A Torrid Affair is hosting a special holiday six course wild game dinner at Springdale Farm on December 19th. For more info and tickets,  see their website.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Odds and Ends!

Went 2 weeks ago to Luke's Inside Out, the trailer adjacent to the Gibson Bar; my first time at either place, actually! How can you not love a place that calls their sandwiches by what they are: The Pig, The Cow, The Cheese, etc. So of course, I had The Pig (duh!), which was quite a tasty little number. The full description: pulled pork, with bacon, mozzarella, chow chow, bbq sauce, and onion  rings. Messy though! Very nicely done, and a nice contrast of sweetness with the addition of pickled peaches, I believe.

Last week, I got a slight wild hair and drove out to Baguette et Chocolate at 2244 (Bee Caves) and Hwy 71. Located in a non-descript newer retail/office park, they are a sophisticated French bakery that I have heard great things about. Apart from the fact they were out of almond croissants when I arrived for an early lunch, I was not disappointed, and it was delicious. I had a lunch of crepe complete -- a buckwheat crepe (traditional for savory crepes in France) with egg, ham, and Swiss cheese, with a small side of greens. A little to my surprise, it comes folded into a rectangle, but that had no affect on how tasty it was! Very nicely pan seared, not only so the cheese melts, but so the outer edges become crispy. They have a ton of savory and sweet crepe choices, it was hard to narrow it down! Must go back and try other varieties! I had picked out a chocolate croissant for the following day's breakfast (it got slightly burned heating it in my toaster oven, but it seemingly had a thousand little layers to it!), an order of choquettes, little light as air bite-sized cream puffs with coarse sugar on top, and a sourdough baguette to go with some soup already at home. Wished they had demi-baguettes, because that full loaf was addictive.Very cute little place, though too bad it IS such a drive!

This past Friday, I went to Chen's Noodle House, another favorite spot, even though it is WAY the heck up north! (Well, northwest.... 183 and Spicewood Springs). I was a little concerned that they'd be too crowded with no place to sit (it's a tiny spot), or they'd be out of the really good stuff. Fortunately, by the time we got there, close to 8 pm, it was only half full, and they were out of two items I wasn't as interested in. We started with the green onion pancakes, which are as fine as you will find anywhere. Crisp and flaky, slightly soft on the inner concentric circle layers.... Could have eaten a whole lot of those! We had the lamb skewers next; 8 metal skewers with 4 or 5 pieces of tender, succulent lamb on each. These were done with a spicy (and a bit salty) szechuan peppercorn rub, that also had some heat to it. They were grilled perfectly, and just melted in your mouth. In my excitement, I failed to take pics of the pancakes or the lamb, ooops!  I had gotten a tip from a friend to try the noodles with black bean sauce, but to get them with the handcut noodles, which they did without hesitation when we asked. Such great flavor in the sauce, it was really perfect with those wider irregular noodles. We also had the thin noodles with ground lamb, which was quite good, but not quite as good as the first one.
While at Chen's, we heard another customer talking to the man behind the counter (Chen himself?), and got the scoop: they are opening a LARGER location on Anderson Lane! Hopefully within 3 weeks (so right before Christmas?). And hot pots!!! It's in the same shopping center as Korea House and the Alamo, which will definitely make it closer for those of us down south!!!

After dinner, we walked  across the strip center to the site of Sambet's Cajun Deli. Unfortunately, they had a fire at Thanksgiving, while deep frying turkeys. Their damage was heavy, and even spread a bit to neighboring businesses. Dynasty Chinese next door remains closed. Ann's Kitchen, a cake shop, is closed as well, but the note on their door said they are still filling cake orders, which could be picked up a few doors down at the pharmacy. Fortunately, Asia Cafe was spared any damage. And judging from the note on the door, it doesn't look like Sambet's will reopen. 
And tonight, I just got home from a dinner with good friends at Enoteca, always one of my favorite spots, and here in the neighborhood. We shared everything: suppli, pork rillettes, duck confit salad, gnocchi, and carbonara, but with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. And wine. And polenta almond cookies for dessert.  Now it's cold out, my plants are covered, and it's time to make more hot tea!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bits and Bites

I am admittedly behind on food news in Austin....ever since I've been back from Japan, I've had a ton of things to catch up on, and haven't been following Twitter as faithfully. If there is some big food news, event, restaurant opening/change, etc, that I should know about, please let me know!

-- Coming up, December 3-10 is the 5th Annual Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week, which helps raise money for the Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots. From the press release: "Guests are invited to dine at over 50 participating restaurants that will feature a locally sourced menu, and to attend eight signature events throughout the week that raise awareness of Austin’s vibrant local food scene." Check their website for a list of participating restaurants and various events. Eat local!!!
-- On Wednesday, December 7th, Better Bites of Austin presents their holiday food fair at the Domain II. This event is also part of Eat Drink Local Week, and will showcase local food and beverage makers, and you can purchase their treats just in time for gift giving! (Why oh why does it have to be way up at the Domain though? Can't there be another event held down south??!)

-- Jack Allen's will be hosting a wild game dinner, paired with Treaty Oak Rum cocktails and other local spirits, on December 6th. The menu includes wild boar chili, achiote grilled quail and antelope osso buco; I have the full menu if you'd like me to forward it. $100 per person, reservations required (512.745.4713 or

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Phil's Ice House

The fine folks of Amy's Ice Cream created the "Austinville 78704" retail triangle at South Lamar and Manchaca. All locally-owned businesses, including their own: a second installment of Phil's Ice House, this one an actual hybrid of Phil's and Amy's under one roof. A treat for big kids and little kids alike!
I think this location has been open for almost a year. Usually when I drive past in the evenings, the place is overflowing with cars, literally, as they park on the South Lamar shoulder. I have figured that lunch would be my best time to take a stab at Phil's. But, taking a chance on Friday night around 7:45, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few open parking spots in the lot, and there were a couple open tables inside, and plenty available outside. The noise level was a little high, as it is a kid-friendly establishment, but it soon quieted down some, and the noise from the kids playing outside didn't affect us.

The burgers mostly have neighborhood names, very catchy for Austin. They've also got dogs, frito pie, chicken sandwiches, and some vegetarian options. Cleverly, they have a sampler basket with three sliders, mini versions of their grown-up neighborhood namesakes. And that became my choice for dinner, cooked medium rare, along with onion rings. My dining companion chose what I believe was the Travis Heights burger, with Swiss, grilled onions and mushrooms; I don't see it on the online menu. The chatty high school order taker said it was her favorite, and suggested adding blue cheese, which he happily did.
Both the regular burger and my sliders were good sized portions. My slider basket consisted of (from top to bottom in the picture) the Crestview, with chili and cheese; the Rosedale with mesquite bbq sauce; and the Violet Crown, with blue cheese and grilled onions. The Crestview burger was cooked to more of a medium/medium well, and while there was enough chili to make it messy, there wasn't a ton of chili on it. The mesquite on the Rosedale was very sweet, and probably my favorite was the Violet Crown. Sort of surprisingly given the strength of blue cheese, it was the one where I could best taste the grilled flavor of the burger. All three were served on kolache-style rolls, as in, a sweeter bread, rather than just a traditional roll. (The large versions each come on specialty breads, like jalapeno cheese buns.) The onion rings were a nice thin cut, with a light batter, and were really good! Likewise the sweet potato fries. And there was no complaining about the Travis Heights burger, and the eater definitely liked the blue cheese addition.

So after burgers and beer, these big kids could happily take home a pint of Amy's Mexican Vanilla so we didn't have to overdo it at Phil's! Solid food, friendly, fun service. They've got a good thing going!

El Tacorrido

They don't call the stretch of South First street from Gibson to Oltorf "the Mexican Mile" for nothing. There's El Mercado, Torchy's & Izzo's trailers, Jovita's, La Mexicana Bakery, La Reyna, Polvo's, Little Mexico, and Habanero, though it's squarely on Oltorf. (Did I forget any?) And now, adding to the list, we have El Tacorrido, which took over the former Baby Greens drive thru spot at the northwest corner of South First and Oltorf. Did we REALLY need another Tex Mex spot?
I'd say the jury is still out.

I ordered a gordita with carnitas and a salad, which I don't see listed on their online menu. The very friendly young woman who was working the window asked if I wanted any salsa with the gordita; I asked for her recommendation, and she picked the verde -- avocado, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. Really nice and creamy, with a bit of a bite, but not overpowering. The salsa was the best part of the gordita! The carnitas meat was not all pulled apart/shredded. There were some chunks in there, and I hate to say it, I passed over a few of them, because they looked like they were a little past their prime, with a bit of that shimmery look to them. I sort of thought to myself "am I taking a chance here?", but I was fine, no illnesses to report. The gordita was fairly greasy, and the bottom portion of it was thick and soggy. Not the best gordita by a long shot.
The salad I saved til dinnertime. For $6, you get a bowl of spinach with tomatoes and avocados, topped with tortilla strips; you can add your choice of meat for $2 more, and I opted for the habanero-marinated chicken breast. Hate to say it again, but the honey chipotle vinaigrette might have been the best thing about it. Some of the greens were past their prime, and I didn't really get any habanero heat from the chicken.

For a Mexican/Tex Mex spot, I find their dessert choices to be a bit odd: ice cream sandwich (vanilla on chocolate chip cookies) or banana bread.

This location of El Tacorrido is the third installment around town, and it seemed like the site sat idle for months, with an "opening soon" banner on it. I have no idea who's behind these joints, and there's no additional info on their website. This was only their second day open, so I will give it a little time to shake down, and go back and try some of their al pastor and breakfast tacos. Their prices are reasonable ($2 for a breakfast taco with 3 ingredients, additional ones 25 cents each) and their hours are great (7 am - 10 pm, let's see if that lasts...). They also seem to be catering to both the traditional Mexican population as well as the gringos; there are some diverse meat options (cuerito, buche) on the board, as well as menudo on the weekends, and meat can also be bought by the pound.
 Let's wait and see if the Mexican Mile can sustain another place....

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Happy hour with my food blogger friends -- epicuriosities, Girl Gone Grits, Tequila Tracker, Austin Gastronomist, and Franish Nonspeaker! And now that the weather is decent enough to sit outside, it was a great opportunity to go to Contigo, an east Austin, all-outdoors spot, that is generating a lot of buzz, and now I know why -- the food and service was great!

Contigo has some covered seating areas, but let's be clear, it's still outdoors. I CAN'T imagine what it was like in the brutal heat of the summertime. They did install fans and I think some water misters, which have now given way to heaters, but when it's 100-and-whatever-degrees outside, no thank you. I will stick to the air conditioner. On a cooler November evening though, it was perfect. And when you put six food people together, everyone wants to share!

Like a dork, I walked out of my house without my camera, and as we know from past experience in low light, the camera on my cell phone is of no use. So a big *thank you* to the lovely Christy from for her willingness to share her photos! :)

Tempura green beans with sambal aioli.
PEI mussels in a kimchi and lemongrass broth.
Pigs in a blanket. French fries with aioli. Olives.

Foie gras with chestnut butter and apple gastrique with brioche toast. OMG!
Two different pates, a country (with apple and Dijon mustard; on right in photo) and a smooth (with tempura eggplant drizzled with honey; top left in photo).

S'mores with sweetened lardo....almost too sweet, but still amazingly good! Chocolate and pig fat! That's right.
Housemade ricotta with almond tuille, sort of a deconstructed cannoli. Light, and not real sweet, almost savory. (Would have been perfect with mini chocolate chips!) The tuille looks huge in this pic, and I guess it was....I could have eaten two bowls of that!
I feel like I am forgetting something, other than the two Moscow Mules that I consumed. They change their menu, because what is currently listed online only has about half the dishes we saw on the menu.

Before last night, I had a hard time wrapping my head around Contigo's location. The best way to describe it is the southern border of the Mueller tract. I took Manor Road east of Airport Blvd, and about another quarter mile down is Anchor Lane, and turn left. Contigo is on the left, and you can see Mueller houses on the right. A great spot for that part of town! And granted it was a Friday night, there were hardly any free tables; I'd say they're not hurting for business. And I'd happily return.

Chez Nous

Chez Nous has been downtown Austin's reigning French bistro since 1982. I've been aware of it (and have wanted to go) practically since I moved here, in late 1994. Success!

The night before Halloween, we were brave enough to venture downtown; Chez Nous lies just off 6th Street on Neches, in the middle of all the hubbub. My dining companion had been there innumerable times over the years, and even knew some of the wait staff by name. The inside is more rustic than I had imagined. Very comfortable and casual, not at all "snooty" like the French and their establishments have a reputation for.

I had attended the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival at the Long Center earlier in the day, and was not starving. Side bar: I now know what all the fuss over the brisket from Snow's BBQ in Lexington is all about. It and Franklin BBQ easily were the best briskets on site. But back to French food. We split the pate for an appetizer, and my friend's salade Lyonnaise with poached egg is in the background of the picture. The pate looks more pink in the picture than I recall it being in person, but it was very nice and smooth, mild flavor.
For a main dish, I had the escargot and salade du marche, in an effort to eat a bit lighter after lots of bbq. The escargot (the middle dish, in the pic below) were a little difficult to find amongst all the mushrooms. The menu description says they are sauteed with traditional garlic and parsley butter, but to me, it had a very strong white wine flavor, and it  hadn't been cooked off all the way. Have to say, I like the escargot at Justine's better, just pure garlic butter that makes you want to lick off the plate. My spinach salad was a nice combo with endive, haricot verts, roquefort, and lardon with a citrus vinaigrette. My friend had their menu du jour, which consists of an app, main course and dessert. Her main course was grilled rib eye steak, which was cooked a perfect medium rare.
For dessert, we had the chocolate mousse, which was underwhelming (gummy and with skin) and the crepe Normande, a slightly thick crepe with undercooked apples, but a really delicious caramel sauce that makes you want more. Overall, I found the service to be odd. The staff was friendly, but sort of aloof, and that's all 4 of the different wait people who took drink, food, and dessert orders, cleared plates, brought new silverware, etc. We couldn't tell if they were a bit short staffed or what the situation was, though my friend did say it wasn't usually like that.
So I can now say I've been to Chez Nous. It's comfortable, a good value, and overall, quite decent food. But I don't now that there was anything about it that makes me want to go back in the near future. Seeing how it took me 17 years (!) to get there in the first place, I can wait a little while before heading back over.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bits and Bites

I am slowly getting back on track in the Austin food scene after being in Japan....also, my regular desktop computer is in the shop, so I am working off my notebook, which gets old after awhile! I am sure there's plenty I've missed, but here's the latest Bits and Bites installment! Drop me a line if there's some good food news that needs to be shared.

-- Pastry chef Plinio Sandalio is leaving Congress for The Carillion.
-- Sagra is debuting a new menu.
-- The spot that housed the former El Arbol is being taken over by parkside's Shawn Cirkiel, for a Southern Italian restaurant named Olive and June, hopefully to open by March.
-- Farmer's market mainstays Tiny Pies are offering free delivery of their yummy pies through the holidays.

Around the Bouldin Creek 'hood, I've spotted construction progress at the old Bouldin Creek Cafe home, the soon-to-be upscale Vietnamese, Elizabeth Street. And directly across the street from it, in what's been rumored to be a Thai spot, the land has been cleared around the building for parking. That building has been pretty much non functional in the years I have lived around here, so anything would be an improvement at this point!

And I haven't been yet, but hear that Lick, the upscale ice cream place in the building next to Barley  Swine on South Lamar has opened. My source said Pure Puck goat cheese ice cream with thyme. Yes, please!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Incredible Journey East

This is probably multiple blog posts rolled into a big one, but with a little bit of jet lag, a lingering cold and problems with my desktop computer, it's time to get it done! Japan was a wonderful experience. We had terrific tour leaders whose first-hand knowledge of the country, customs, and traditions proved to educate us all extremely well. Domo arigato goziamas to Davis, Matt, and Deborah!

Here are some of my favorite images from the 18 days I was in Japan. Please feel free to comment/ask questions, as I will fill in the captions as I have more time. Enjoy!

Food (real and fake)

Our sayings before and after each meal.
Hedgehog? (It's actually the outer layer of a chestnut.)
Recently harvested rice
Drying onions
Drying squid (or cuttlefish?)
Daikon radish
Making fresh tofu for breakfast! One of my new favorites!
Sashimi -- snapper, crab, calamari, Spanish mackerel (@Nishimura in Kinesaki)
Fresh tofu and enoki mushrooms
Vegetables for shabu shabu pot (@Benesse)
Market in Kyoto
Fake omelettes

Examples of platters available thru one of the fancy department stores

Crepes, from the food court of Takeshimaya, one of the big department stores.
Chestnut season (and one persimmon snuck into the picture!)
One of my other new favorites, grilled eggplant with miso....mmmmm
Breakfast at Kinmata Ryokan in Kyoto; a bowl of rice (gohan) is customary, with jako (itty bitty sardines to mix in the rice), as is miso soup. The white square in the middle was sesame tofu (REALLY good -- tasted a lot like tahini), in the top right, a tofu dumpling, grilled salmon, grapefruit, butterbeans, daikon pickles.
The chef at Kinmata, giving us a cooking demo; here's he's chopping a fresh chestnut to be used as a batter for shrimp.
Fresh caught ayu, or river trout
Chirashi, also known as chirashizushi. It's sushi rice, topped with various garnishes, and it can vary regionally. Here we have strips of nori (seaweed), the  pink is pickled ginger, and the yellow is a very fine scrambled egg. Totally loved this!
This is just a portion of this meal (dinner in the mountain onsen); potato chips, kabocha squash, meiji mushrooms, ground chicken (at 3 o'clock.... it was pressed into a loaf form)
"Typical" breakfast -- hot pot with vegetables, egg to be scrambled and put in hot pot, salad with apple slices, trout, pickled veg, beans, plum paste, sauteed greens, rice.
From the Tsukiji fish market
My what nice eyes you have!

Art and Architecture
Part of the futuristic train station/subway/hotel/mall complex in Kyoto
 Our view from the hotel room, with a yummy baguette in the front. (The hotel had a great French bakery!)
Gardens at Heian-jingu shrine

For handwashing at Heian-jingu shrine

Visiting the Moss Garden, also known as Saihoji.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi's red torii gates
Tunnel to the Miho Museum

Looking back at the tunnel from the Miho entrance

Bamboo basket maker
Man we saw on a morning walk
Visiting a silk spinner's workshop
Handpainted kimono

We had a nice gathering with the temple priest.
Even the man hole covers are pretty! We saw tons of beautifully designed ones.
At Benesse, this wonderful Keith Haring original art work was in our hotel room. From his 1985 Apartheid series.
The view from the hotel/museum in Benesse.
One of the pumpkin installations by Yayoi Kurasama.
Exploring on the island of Inujima (day from from Benesse)....a fabulous modern art island, mixing old and new. Here, walking down the steps of an old shrine.
Back at Benesse, another pumpkin.
It may only look like  a concrete bunker, but it was a beautifully designed museum by Tako Ando.
Moonrise over Benesse in the early morning.

Cascading waterfall at the Benesse hotel/museum

The Oval at Benesse, where our rooms were.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Takayam. The digital installation scrolled through many different sayings, in both English and kanji.... this one said "Stupid people shouldn't reproduce."
The exterior, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
Visiting a master sword maker
At the ryokan (inn) of a cormorant fisherman's family, a dying art.

Morning view from our room
In Takayama, to the NW of Tokyo. This statue was on a bridge, opposite one with really long arms; they are said to be greeting travelers near and far.
The Zen temple in Takayama.
At the Matsumoto City Museum, which featured works by the pumpkin artist, Yayoi Kusama.
Real flowers! Some of the gorgeous displays we saw.

Textures/Patterns (you can probably figure these out, but if you have a question, just ask!)