Aoyama Farmer’s Market

Food Sake Tokyo is delighted to host guest blogger Janice Espa. Janice is passionate about food and Japan. She is a great photographer and all of the photos here are from Janice. Janice’s most recent guest post on the Best of Japan Tour now being offered at Coredo Muromachi in Nihonbashi, is very popular and some followers of Food Sake Tokyo have since taken the tour and loved it. Here is Janice on Aoyama Farmer’s Market. Arigato, Janice!

Espa - Market vibe

Market Vibe – Janice Espa

I thoroughly enjoy learning about the story behind things. The food we come across and the people who put it together to make a livelihood out of it. The effort that goes into cultivating crops, the detail and care with which coffee is grown and roasted. The significance behind passing down a recipe from generation to generation in order to make cookies ‘just like grandma used to make’, or the finesse with which dishes are conceptualized and presented.

Espa - Father daughter and amazing mushrooms

Father and daughter’s Amazing Mushrooms and dashi packs – Janice Espa

 This aspect of food and travel is a deeply gratifying cultural experience, and it’s readily accessible too. Farmer’s markets are the perfect place to begin.

Flowers - Janice Espa

Flowers – Janice Espa

In Tokyo, Aoyama Farmer’s Market is a great weekend destination. Every Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the forecourt of the United Nations University becomes a lively bazaar. The market is buzzing from start to finish, but getting there before noon will ensure you don’t miss out on buying any of the fruit, vegetables, breads, pastries, or flowers you’re after.

Fresh from the farm - Janice Espa

Fresh from the farm – Janice Espa

I’d suggest making a morning of it, browsing the stalls, talking to the producers, and then having a brunch in the courtside area – or head to a nearby park for a picnic, because you’ll pick up many tasty things along the way.

On my visit, I was enamoured by the tomatoes, many shapes and sizes, beautifully plump with bright colors. The stalls have clever and cute names. I sampled juicy strawberries that were just in season, as well as surprisingly flavorsome, and healthful, soy yogurt smoothies. My jaw dropped when I counted the number of mushrooms for sale from one of the vendors, and I giggled in excitement as the lady selling sesame paste and sesame seed products freshly ground some seeds for me to take home.   “If possible, all the way to Machu Picchu”, she said.

Kawaii strawberries - Janice Espa

Kawaii strawberries – Janice Espa

This one-on-one interaction, taking all the smells in, the sight of people sharing who they are and where they come from, producers eager to have a chat and tell you their story, and then the surprises and treats that may come from this sense of community, is priceless.

Fresh ginger and yuzu vinegar - Janice Espa

Fresh ginger and yuzu vinegar – Janice Espa

Aside from fresh produce, there are handmade bags and accessories and a selection of breads. Pastry stands offer kinako (toasted soybean flour) shortbread cookies, miso-based sweets, and fresh bagels. There’s also a takoyaki (octopus cooked in a savory batter) stand, a cart selling Spanish sangria, a curry rice vendor, Indian dosa made-to-order, and some German sausages for sale.

Cool Mobile Coffee - Janice Espa

Cool Mobile Coffee – Janice Espa

Aoyama Farmer’s Market, located in a relatively quiet section between Omotesando and Shibuya, is the perfect way to spend a few unscheduled hours in Tokyo. I thoroughly encourage you to check it out and find for yourself the taste of the season. You may bump into some of Tokyo’s famous chefs like Shinobu Namae of  L’Effervescence who often shops here.

Arrive by bike - Janice Espa

Arrive by bike – Janice Espa

AOYAMA FARMER’S MARKET

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-53-70, United Nations University Plaza 渋谷区神宮前5-53-70国際連合大学前

Nearest station: Omotesando (Ginza, Chiyoda and Hanzomon lines)

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If you liked this post, please check out Janice’s other post about Kyoto.

Nishiki Market and Kyoto Uzuki Cooking School

Sake Tasting with JD Kai

 

Janice Espa photoJanice Espa

Janice Espa is a Spanish-Peruvian food enthusiast; an avid traveller and inquisitive taster who explores culture through cuisine.  Janice lives in Sydney where she writes and styles food. Her days are spent visiting grower’s markets, checking out restaurants, and shopping at specialty stores to discover goods from every corner of the world.

Feel free to email suggestions and travel tips, or to contact Janice for her own recommendations, whether you’re visiting Peru, trekking South America or doing a road trip along the east coast of Australia.

Email:  janicespa at gmail.com

Viron Boulangerie

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My go-to lunch when on a run is a sandwich from Viron. Excellent baguettes with a chewy crumb that can stand up to the crispy exterior. The sandwiches are classic French-style including pate de campagne, rillettes, and jambon.

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The large window display case in the front of the store has a dizzying array of sandwiches and pastries.

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The breads are authentic and take me back to France. The baguette is my favorite, but also excellent kouign amann and fougasse as well. Of course, much more than you would pay for in France, but it is a treat to have such great bread in Tokyo. Flour is brought in from France to make Viron’s signature retrador baguette and other breads. There is also a brasserie at each location. Viron has a branch at Marunouchi in front of Tokyo Station and in Shibuya. Now, if they would only expand and open more branches around the city.

Viron Marunouchi

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-7-3, TOKIA Bldg. 1st floor

03-5220-7289

Viron Shibuya

Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 33-8, Tsukuda Bldg.

03-5458-1770

Le Pain Quotidien at nonowa Higashi-Koganei

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I lived in Brussels for a year and one of the things I remember the most is the Le Pain Quotidien down the street from my apartment. The bakery opened up early in the morning so I could stop by and get a croissant or pain au chocolat to start the day. The large communal table in the middle of the cafe is perfect when dining solo. On the table were jars of jam and nutty and chocolate spreads for bread. Open-faced tartine sandwiches as well as salads round out the menu here. The menu sadly does not have any Japanese influences. It is pretty much the same menu you’ll see in Belgium or in New York City. A fun shop to come in solo or with some friends.

Le Pain Quotidien is in a new shopping complex that opened up recently, nonowa Higashi-Koganei, which is on the Chuo line between Mitaka and Kokubunji. nonowa can also be found in Nishi-Kokubunji and in Musashi-Sakai, also on the Chuo line. The shops are in the train stations and this Higashi-Koganei shop is all underneath the Chuo line. A smart move to use the space underneath the train tracks. While it’s possible to hear the trains passing above, it is not nearly as noisy as spots like the restaurants underneath the Yamanote line near Yurakucho station.

The organic coffee is served in a bowl. Reminds me of bowls of hot chocolate in Europe. The coffee comes in a pot and is about two cups plus. Next time I come back I will bring some reading with me and settle in and be transported back to Belgium.

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The shop is brightly lit as one wall of windows faces south. On this day there were a few older couples and many young women in the shop. There is a small, but well-stocked bakery in the front of the shop for take-away or for eating in the cafe.

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There is also outdoor seating which will be perfect once the weather warms up. And, operation hours are 7:30 – 22:00.

Le Pain Quotidien has branches in the city. It’s not worth the trek out to Higashi-Koganei. But, if you find yourself traveling on the Chuo line, it’s good to know that it’s here.

Le Pain Quotidien

Koganei-shi, Kajinocho 5-1-1, nonowa Higashi-Koganei

Chuo line, local stop at Higashi-Koganei

042-316-7041

7:30 – 22:00

Focacceria Altamura

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A gift from my cousin, some focaccia from a shop in her neighborhood. These are as focaccia should be, light, airy, with a crispy crust and moist crumb. Very simple flavors of rosemary, zucchini, and tomatoes. Tokyo is filled with great bakeries, and this is a good one to know about if you find yourself near Kagurazaka station.

Focacceria Altamura

Shinjuku-ku, Yamabukicho 5 Banchi

03-6265-3842

New York Rings at The Roastery

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I finally scored a New York Ring from The Roastery. Somewhat similar to Dominique Ansel’s famous cronut, it is a doughnut made from croissant dough. While I hear that the cronut is filled with flavored creams, this is simply seasoned with a cinnamon sugar. It’s very rich and filling. And, like the cronut, not the easiest to get your hands on. The first time I went, early in the morning, soon after the store opened, I was told that the NY Rings are not brought to the store until 11 a.m. And, I was warned that they do sell out quickly and another batch comes around 1 p.m. It’s good. Just time your visit around the delivery times, if you want to guarantee you get one. The shop also had a bacon scone that looked good – will save that for a future visit.

The Roastery by Nozy Coffee

Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-17-13

8:00 – 20:00

03-6450-5755

The New York Ring was much, much better than the copycat version made by Banderole.

La Boutique de Joel Robuchon

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J’adore Joel Robuchon. For special occasions we love L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Roppongi. The food is exquisite, service is professional yet friendly, and it has a great wine list. But, at the moment we don’t have the luxury of dining out for long meals. So La Boutique de Joel Robuchon offers a taste of Robuchon, without the commitment of a time. A good friend first put this on my radar right after it opened. He was addicted to the tarte au citron and served it at all of his dinner parties. La Boutique de Joel Robuchon is both a patisserie and boulangerie. In the photo here the Roppongi shop shows off its most popular bread, a curry pan, stuffed with curry and crispy on the outside.

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Monsieur Robuchon’s quiche with salmon and spinach or mushrooms. Notice how each one is made by hand.

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Kouign Aman is very popular in Tokyo and it is found at many bakeries throughout the metropolis. But this is the first time I have seen it with sweet potatoes that are in season at the moment. Actually, it looks like a nice fusion of kouign aman and daigaku imo, a traditional sweet made from sweet potatoes and sesame seeds. A nice nod to the local cuisine.

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And yes, you read correctly in the back sign, “Croc” foie gras et pomme, garnished with pink peppers. In front, croque monsieur aux champignons. We are so spoiled in Tokyo.

There are three locations in Tokyo of La Boutique de Joel Robuchon. These photos were taken at the Roppongi Hills location. The other two are in Marunouchi Brick Square and Yebisu Garden Place. My only complaint is that the boulangerie doesn’t open up earlier. The shop I pass the most often, Marunouchi Brick Square, does not open until 11 a.m.

Le Pain Quotidien

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For one year I lived in Brussels. Just down the street from my apartment was a Le Pain Quotidien. I went about two to three times a week. Some nights for a baguette to have with wine and cheese. Mornings I could pop in and pick up a croissant. There was a small garden in the back with some tables and inside a large communal table. On the table were jars of confitures and chocolate-hazelnut spread. It was a popular shop and I loved seeing what the customers were dining on. Usually the signature open-faced tartines or salads.

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I then moved back to New York City and couldn’t be any happier when Le Pain Quotidien opened in Manhattan. The branch I went to the most was in Soho, just down the street from the French Culinary Institute where I took both the bread and culinary programs. The ambience was a bit different in NYC, but the bread was just as good. Here we could order wine by the carafe and some cheese to enjoy with our bread.

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And, now Le Pain Quotidien has followed me to Tokyo. I believe the first location opened near Shiba Koen which is an area I hardly ever get to. And, as there are so many great boulangeries in the city there is no need to make a special trip. The shop in Omotesando is just around the corner from where my cousin lives. She has a young boy and this is a kid-friendly shop so we came for lunch.Pain4

I was excited to see the breads I love so much, a communal table, and the familiar menu. This Mediterranean platter has hummous, tahini, and tabbouleh. The only thing that really changed from the other restaurants I’ve been to in the past is that there is a mini-buffet where the complimentary spreads are congregated. While there is a communal table, everyone this day was sitting at the tables.

It’s perfect for the solo diner or if you want to come with friends. The menu has frittatas, salads, and tartines. A great spot to keep on your radar when in Omotesando and vegetarian-friendly.

And, as one would expect of a European bakery, it is open bright and early in the morning, starting at 7:30 a.m. Some great bakeries in this city that don’t open until 10 a.m. or even later. This and Gontran Cherrier are an exception.

Pain5Le Pain Quotidien Omotesando

Minato-ku, Kita-Aoyama 3-5-15

03-6721-1173

7:30 a.m. – 23:00 (last order at 22:00)

Other branches at Shiba Koen 3-3-1, and Opera City in Nishi-Shinjuku.

Shinjuku Gontran Cherrier

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We are so spoiled in Tokyo with amazing bakeries transplanted from France. While living in Singapore one of the popular bakeries was Gontran Cherrier’s Tiong Bahru Bakery. Local Singaporeans as well as Japanese expat wives filled the seats of the shop in the afternoon. One afternoon Cherrier was in town and it was great fun listening to everyone swoon about how sexy he is with his long hair. Regardless of his appearance, I do find his breads very appealing. The signature croissant here is very rustic and it is tempting to pull it apart layer by layer.

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One of my new favorites is this tarte flambée. A speciality of the Alsace region of France across the river from Germany. I traveled a few times to Alsace while living in Brussels and tarte flambée was one of my favorite culinary discoveries that year, along with Belgian french fries served with mayonnaise. Cherrier’s tarte flambée is on a puff pastry crust so it’s crispy and delicate. There is a tart white sauce generously covered with lardons and caramelized onions. These were yakitate, hot out of the oven. I only regret not buying the whole tray. Tarte flambée is a dish I’ve tried a few times making at home, but it’s never as satisfying as this. Next time I buy this I will be sure to drink an Alsatian riesling along with it.

 

 

GC3Cherrier’s creativity is reflected in his use of local ingredients. In Singapore some of his breads are served with curry. Here he does a mattcha croissant.

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Cherrier’s newest shop in Shinjuku has just opened and it’s already very popular. The shop used to be the Hiroshima antenna shop, which moved to Ginza.

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The second floor of the shop is a brightly lit space with plenty of seating. It overlooks Shinjuku’s south exit and the Southern Terrace. It is popular and often hard to find a seat at peak meal times.

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This day I was in the mood for cheese and meat. Far right is the tarte flambée. Above is a croque monsieur croissant which was covered with a handful of cheese and stuffed with ham before being put back in the oven. A meal in a sandwich. The bottom left is a cheese and prunes stuffed into a chewy dough.

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In the entrance the store posts the bakery schedule for baguettes, croissants and the croissant mattcha citron.

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Here is the curry baguette with grains and the squid ink baguette with cumin. I’ve had both of these in Singapore. Everyone is always curious to try the black ink baguette, which I like slicing thin and using for open-faced sandwiches. Topped with ham or smoked salmon. I also love his red miso bread which is dense and rich with umami.

The location is just outside of the Shinjuku Shin-Minami Guchi (New South Exit). Best of all, it is open from 7:30 a.m. as a proper bakery should be. This can not be said for most bakeries in Japan. His other location is in Shibuya, also close to the station.

Gontran Cherrier

Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 2-2-1, Southern Terrace

03-5302-2282

7:30 – 22:00

 

 

Tsukiji Cheap Eats – Orimine Bakers

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Tokyo is filled with many wonderful bakeries. I have favorites throughout the city including Viron, Gontran Cherrier, and Maison Kayser. As the city is so big it’s a good to have a knowledge of where the great bakeries are as you never know when you’ll find yourself in an area with great bread. Orimine Bakers is a shop to keep in mind if you find yourself near Tsukiji Market of Higashi-Ginza.

 

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On a side street leading up to Tsukiji Market is this quaint bakery. I felt like I was back in New York City when I walked up to the bakery. It reminded me of the Magnolia Bakery in the West Village with its awning. The green bicycle parked in front of the green storefront for some reason also felt like New York City to me.

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I was first fascinated by this shop when I saw the seafood “oyatsu pan” breads they produce including this iidako (octopus) focaccia with tomato sauce, a taste of the Mediterranean. Other interesting breads include a grilled mackerel sandwich, grilled salmon sandwich, smoked salmon sandwich, as well as a variety of pastries.

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There is a wide variety of oyatsu pan (sweet and savory snack breads), sandwiches, croissants, and pan de mie. The friendly staff can help you to pick from their wide selection.

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I loved this shirasu foccacia with shiso and sesame seeds.

Orimine Bakers is a short walk from Tsukiji Market. Most visitors to the market will take their breakfast or lunch at Tsukiji. However, it’s convenient to pick up some bread from Orimine Bakers for later in the day. Orimine Bakers also has a second shop near Morishita station.

Orimine Bakers
Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 7-10-11 中央区築地7-10-11営
hours: 7:00 – 19:00

closed Wednesdays

Phone: 03-6228-4555

http://www.oriminebakers.com

 

Gontran Cherrier Tokyo Boulangerie in Shibuya

Fourth-generation baker Gontran Cherrier (BC Salon, 1-14-11 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku; www.gontran-cherrier.jp) enjoys a rock-star following among foodies in Paris. After a successful boulangerie opening in Singapore, the first Japan outlet has opened near Shibuya station. Signature selections include a delicately layered artisanal pain au chocolat and pain melon. The baker has a talent for incorporating local ingredients into traditional French recipes—be sure to try the squid-ink or curry baguettes, hearty bread made with red miso, or the yuzu cheesecake. There is a small eat-in area on the first floor and a café on the second.

From Metropolis issue #968 on October 5th.

Having studied bread baking at the French Culinary Institute, I am very particular about my bread. Gontran Cherrier is very creative with using local ingredients and I am particularly fond of this squid ink baguette. The red miso is also a hearty, dense bread that I like for sandwiches. Do make a point of visiting his shop if you are in Shibuya.

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Updated on 21 June 2013:

Gontran Cherrier recently opened his third Tokyo location at Shinjuku Station’s Minami Guchi (South Exit) at the Southern Terrace. Long lines to be expected the first few weeks as the Japanese love going to newest shops. Best news, is that the bakery opens at a proper French time, first thing in the morning, at 7:30 a.m.

Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 2-2-1, Shinjuku Southern Terrace

03-5302-2282