Wednesday, December 23, 2009

La Vie Boh...mmm TOKYO Part 5 "The Fans"

The last of the LAVBM Tokyo episodes is dedicated to the fans! Thank you for welcoming us so warmly to your country. Our stay in Japan is an experience we will never forget. THANK YOU! WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Loui's -Providence, Rhode Island

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I'm a Food Network junkie. Yes, it is my channel of choice, and it's usually my background noise in my hotel room...I love falling asleep to the soothing sounds of Alton Brown's voice while watching Good Eats. My other guilty pleasure is Diners, Drive In's and Dives. I sit there salivating and taking notes on all the places I must one day visit. During our run in Providence, RI. I made sure to visit Loui's Restaurant, a Providence favorite recently featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives.Loui's was definitely more of a dive than a diner. I must say that it looked a lot better on television. I ordered a very simple breakfast with a side of pancakes. The restaurant was full of Brown University students who had their heads in their books as they chugged away their morning coffee. I guess what made this place an institution was that it was reliable. A great place to go and feul up for the frills and thrills...just good, simple food. Ahhh... sometimes theres nothing like breakfast at a"greasy spoon" to start your day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fong's Pizza Des Moines, Iowa

Chinese food and pizza? I love them both, but together? While in Des Moines, Iowa, we came across Fong's Pizza. Yes, Chinese Pizza. I wish I can say it was delicious. All I can say is that it wasn't bad. I love the idea of it, but maybe my love for NY pizza has made my taste buds a little narrow minded.
I think its the whole idea of Chinese food and cheese. Both very good things individually but not so great together. An old relationship of mine suffered the same problem. Both of us were great people separately, but not your ideal couple. Everyone around us questioned us constantly because they couldn't see why we were together. Did we? Yeah, for a while. We had such deep admiration for each other, although we knew deep down something wasn't right. We didn't bring out the best in each french fries and ketchup. I think the main reason I stayed in it as long as I did was because I kept saying to myself "this is an amazing person. It has to work!" But the relationship, just like the pizza, wasn't as delicious as I wanted it to be. It just left a funny taste in my mouth.
So we ended our "Chinese Pizza" relationship and are now good friends. And, I learned something valuable... just because something is great, it doesn't mean that its great for you. Which is probably why you won't find cheese in the Chinese diet!

Monday, November 16, 2009

La Vie Boh...mmm TOKYO Part 4 "Kyoto"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Love At First Sight at Aritsugu Knives Kyoto, Japan

One of the things I knew I must buy myself in Japan was a Japanese Chef's Knife. In preparation for my travels I watched Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" Japan which inspired the hunt for a great knife! But which one would I pick? How would I know which knife would be the right one? Knowing I'd have to live with my choice, the idea of picking a knife quickly became reminiscent of choosing a new lover.
While strolling through the Nishiki Market I came across Aritsugu, the most popular knife shop in Kyoto. As soon as I walked in it felt like the knife Mecca! All the beautiful gleaming knives showcased on the walls made me feel like they were flirting with their sharp smiles. It was like being fresh meat walking into a bar!
Like my grandfather was, I want to be a master in the kitchen. Nothing excites me more than the idea of not only loving food, but being able to prepare it for others with creativity and grace. I know that part of that would entail mastering my knife skills. I wanted to find a knife that was approachable, and felt like an extension of who I am. This is probably part of me finding my own identity in the kitchen. From tools to ingredients, I know that I want to be one with all the elements. I wanted the perfect companion.

My experience of picking a knife was very much like speed dating. I picked out a bunch from the showcase and then spent some time with each of them. "This one has a good handle...this one's is too intimidating...this one is too high maintenance" I thought as I made my way through all of them. And then there it was sitting there, the perfect knife! My new Japanese lover! It was the perfect size, it was durable, classic and inspiring! And I could engrave my name on it as well! SOLD!They engraved my name, and wrapped up my new companion which even came with instructions on how to care for it. Ahh...If only dating were that easy. Wouldn't it be amazing!? And the staff at Aritsugu were so patient, accommodating and helpful with me making my choice. I was so excited!
My new knife is waiting for me at home until I'm done touring. In the meantime I fantasize about the day I get to unwrap it and master my skills with my new relationship. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nishiki Market 錦市場商店街 Kyoto, Japan

I told you I had a lot to share from Japan! This time were heading over to Kyoto and taking a stroll through the Nishiki Market, also known as the "kitchen" of Kyoto. Located in the center Kyoto, The Nishiki Market is a covered arcade 6 blocks long where you can find just about anything!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Expedition Eats: Climbing Mt. Fuji

I attempted to climb Mt Fuji all the way to the top.... I didn't make it. Here, you'll find no heroic story about a long and arduous journey that turns out victorious in the end. You will not find pictures of me celebrating at the summit of Mt. Fuji watching the sunrise with the wash of accomplishment over my face. I cannot report about all the goodies you may find to eat at the top should you one day decide to climb for yourself. In fact, I hear there is a great curry up there awaiting those who make it to the top! This is a story about what failure and giving up tastes like.

On one of our days off in Tokyo, myself and 4 members from the RENT technical crew: Timmy, Hector, T.J. and Jeff, decided to head to the great Fuji San and do an evening climb that would have us arrive at the the Summit just before sunrise. I know...crazy, considering that it was on my day off after performing 8 shows that week and I was already exhausted. But it was something that seemed like such a great idea and I had to do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Disney Sea, Tokyo, Japan

This is by far my favorite theme park ever! If you love theme parks and are in Tokyo you must spend a day at Disney Sea. Not only is the park absolutely beautiful (you can tell there was a lot of money spent) but the atmosphere and genuine customer service the Japanese provide makes the experience extra special. There is such care and detail taken, there are no parents yelling at their kids, and everyone is decked out in Disney memorabilia from head to toe! The rides are also so much favorite was Journey To The Center of the earth...oh what I would give to ride that again right now. The whole park is nautical themed and lies right by the water in Tokyo. Here are some fun videos of our day at the park!

Yes..Yes...The food! The food was my favorite part! I have never seen so many different and interesting types of food at a theme park. They had your typical hot dogs, fries and burgers, but also had gyoza sausage buns, spiced chicken legs, apricot fritters, meat pies, churros, delicious mexican food and of course, sushi!Also, scattered throughout the park were different flavors of popcorn..caramel, black pepper. curry, sea salt and our favorite, strawberry! It made the whole experience incredibly adventurous and satisfying. You never knew what was around the next corner!

Friday, October 9, 2009

La Vie Boh...mmm TOKYO Part 2

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tsukiji Fish Market-Tokyo, Japan

Our first days in Tokyo exploring the city, eating and shopping were amazing! One of the first things we did was visit the Tsukiji Fish Market. The Tsukiji Market is a must see if you're in Tokyo. You'll be amazed as you walk through one of the largest wholesale markets in the world. If you get there early enough (5:00 am) you can also catch the live fish auction take place. Not only can you see the fish being processed but you can eat some of the freshest sushi you'll ever eat! Make sure to come back tomorrow and catch LAVBM Tokyo Part 2 for the full experience!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

La Vie Boh...mmm TOKYO Part 1

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Epcot Food and Wine Festival with "67 Days of Smiles"

I just spent a week in Orlando hanging out with Kyle and Stacey winners of "67 Days of Smiles" feeding elephants, watching shows, hot air ballooning and of course, eating at the Epcot Food and Wine festival! Make sure to check out the photos and my review of the festival on their blog.
67 Days of Smiles

Elephants eat too. Celery, actually.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Im retiring my chopsticks and heading to San Fransisco!

After 2 amazing months in Asia, RENT- The Broadway Tour will be playing the Curran Theatre in San Fransisco for 2 weeks starting October 6, 2009.

I have so much to share with all of you...Tokyo and Seoul blew our senses away! I'll be spending the next 2 weeks we have off laying by the pool, editing videos and uploading posts from our culinary adventures through Asia. And,To kick off the next leg of RENT- The Broadway Tour, the first of many "La Vie Boh...mmm" episodes from Tokyo will be premiering on opening night in San Fransisco. I am so excited about these new LAVBM episodes! I'll take you on my expedition to Mt Fuji, Cast weekend trips to Kyoto, Disney, and Okinawa, wandering through markets in Tokyo and Seoul and lots of backstage footage from our amazing stay in Asia.

In the meantime, a little research...San Fran! Where are all the good eats??? Where should we go!? We have 2 weeks to explore the tastiest recommendations you may have....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Deadly Delicatessen: Eating Scorpions!

Written by RENT-The Broadway Tour company members Greg Bober (Sound) and Tracy McDowell (Ms. Cohen)

Our second battle of the Deadly Delicatessen was an impromptu event on a rainy day off in Tokyo. We began our night with raw eggs and anchovies served over Caesar salads, and plenty of drinks with friends at the Mermaid bar in Akasaka. Then we moved back to the hotel for Mario Kart and Chu Hi, a delicious and potent blend of soju, soda water, and a citrus of your choice.
Late that night a group of us reconvened at our favorite sketchy soul nightclub near the hotel in Akasaka. It isn’t so much a nightclub as it is some Japanese guy’s living room. But there is a small bar, records on the walls and ceiling, low lights, and a great dj spinning records from the 70’s and 80’s. After a couple hours there, Joe Parker, Tracy McDowell, and myself left the club with the intention of going back to the hotel when the bright red lights of the underground, 24 hr Chinese restaurant down the street caught our eyes. We had heard from someone earlier in the week that you can order scorpions there, so down we went!
Once inside we sat down and ordered Asahi’s, Bok Choy, and a double order of scorpions. If we were gonna die from scorpions, at least we were going to get a healthy dose of vegetables and garlic first. First came the beers, followed by the garlic drenched Bok Choy, and finally an impressive serving of scorpions atop a mound of fried rice noodles. We are not sure why it is okay to eat these, the scorpion is completely intact from its legs to the little stinger on the tip of the tail. The beers were cold, the Bok Choy was delicious, and the scorpions were the saltiest thing on earth! Crunchy salt bombs! They literally had no other distinguishing flavors or textures. But none the less we ate them all, took plenty of pictures and drank lots of beer to get them down. Next!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Deadly Delicatessen: Fugu! Can Eating Blowfish Kill You??

Written by RENT the Broadway Tour Company Members: Greg Bober (Sound) and Tracy McDowell (Ms. Cohen)
While in Tokyo my epicurean equal and I discovered a new food fetish. Deadly Delicatessen. Foods that if not prepared properly could kill you.
First we decided to tackle the poisonous blowfish Fugu! While Tracy first learned about Fugu from Anthony Bordain on the travel channel, I first learned about it from Homer Simpson, and if its good enough for Homer, its good enough for me. Lucky for us there was a restaurant specializing in this deadly fish between our hotel and the theatre. “Fugu me!” We kicked off our shoes and slipped into our private Fugu chamber, not really sure how to make this happen. We hoped the chef was in a good mood and not hungover like the rest of us, and presented our coupon for a 4 course plus all-you-can drink meal.
First we had Fugu fin hot sake. The Waitress brought it out in a square cup inside a square coaster covered by a small lid. She lit a match, lifted the cover and set the sake ablaze! After a few minutes we took off the lid and out poured the stench of hot feet in seal tank! If the smell wasn’t bad enough, the taste was even worse, plus there was a grilled fin in our sake. But we drank it fast and moved on to the skin and scallion salad. The blowfish skin was chewy, almost the texture of a stale gummy worm, but tasted really good. Tracy swears her mouth started tingling from the salad, which we had heard could happen, so we ordered cold sake. Next was the Fugu sashimi, super thin sliced blowfish meat accompanied by scallions, radish, and a vinegar soy sauce. Umi! More sake.Next heaven on a plate was served; beautiful golden brown southern fried side of blowfish. It was the most amazing, perfectly fried piece of fish we had ever had. Sake and beer. Then the main course! A hot pot was placed on the burner in the middle of the table and a brine was set to boil. Served on a platter with tofu and various vegetables came meaty chunks of the body, mouth and cheeks topped off by a piece that was still fluttering! Tracy asked if the pulsing piece was the heart still pumping and the waitress replied “No, it’s the brain.” She added all of the ingredients into the pot and Tracy said that if anything was still moving when it came out of the pot that I had to eat it. We ate the contents of the pot, cheeks and all, with a sweet soy sauce and of course more sake and beer.
Finally when the waitress came to clear the table she also said that she would bring us dessert. We asked what blowfish dessert consisted of and she said “marrow.” We briefly tried to figure out how they were going to serve marrow, but were surprised when she returned with two plates of melon. Damn language barrier! While we sat and continued on our seemingly endless supply of sake and beer, we were pretty sure we heard someone whispering Tracy’s name. Are we hallucinating? Is this the first step in losing our battle with the Fugu? No. We are winners. Then the door opened and in walked Justin Johnston. Turns out we weren’t the only ones interested in tempting fate that night. So we ordered him the sashimi and fried fish. He loved it! And as quickly and mysteriously as he had arrived, like a ninja, he snuck away into the night. More sake and beer.In the end we left with full stomachs, a good buzz, and a win in our first battle with deadly delicatessen.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Pocky? You never call me Pocky!"

Throughout our month in Tokyo, the Japanese fans made it a rare thing for us to leave the stage door empty handed. It was endless...candy, rice crackers, chopsticks, mochi, t-shirts, hats, handkerchiefs, fans, beautiful handcrafted cards and origami to name some...even 5 fingered socks. One of my favorites, a personalized bottle of Soju. Most of the cast would join me in saying that they absolutely love the Japanese fans.'s easy to win us over with candy and gifts, but it was their spirit and genuine enthusiasm that stole our hearts. They asked very little, which made us want to give more and more. Not a dis to our U.S. fans, we appreciate you as bake us elaborate cakes after all!! I just want to confirm the well known rumor that Japanese fans are amazing.

We kept a table right by our dressing rooms were we would drop off our edible gifts and share them with the rest of the company. I don't know how many different things I tried, and most of them so delicious. Sometimes, in between scenes, I'd run to the table and grab a pocky stick and run back for an entrance. What's Pocky? Pocky is basically a very thin pretzel like cracker stick that is dipped in chocolate or other flavors. Haneefah Wood who plays Joanne received countless boxes of Pocky, well known by the rest of the cast. One night, Nicolette Hart, who plays Maureen, almost called her "Pocky" instead of "Pookie"! Watch the video below.

I particularly loved Galbo Chips...crisp, chocolate rice chips that would melt in your mouth with every bite. So good! I hope they have them in the states.
I also loved this little mound of rich yumminess (pictured on the right) that I have no idea what it was. Can anyone tell me? I want a whole cake made out of that!

It was also really great to see so many faces I recognized from doing RENT over the years. Thank you for welcoming us so warmly to your wonderful country. We really feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to perform in Japan. Arigato Gozaimasu! We miss you!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ninja, Tokyo, Japan

Eel Sushi with Camembert Cheese
Hello all!! This is John Watson! I play Mr. Jefferson and others on the Broadway tour of RENT! I know I’m not a regular, but Andy asked me to come on this blog and tell you about one of the most amazing food experiences of my life. As you may know, Rent just finished a month-long run in Tokyo, Japan. This country will open your eyes to a completely new way of eating, but none of the hot spots I went to were as fun as Ninja.

After hearing about it from a friend, my fiancee, Amanda, and I decided to give this fantastic restaurant a try. I say restaurant, but it was really more of an experience. The idea is to immerse it’s customers completely in the ancient Ninja culture.

To start off, even if you know where the restaurant is located it’s still hard to find. The Ninja of Japan used to put great importance on invisibility and misdirection making them appear magical. Once you walk in there is someone to guide you through dark corridors and secret passages until you reach an old ninja village hidden inside the building. This is where you eat! Amanda and I were lead to a room inside an old house where we were shown menus made out of scrolls for our drinks and food courses. I have to say that everything we ordered had flawless presentation and tasted great!

Amanda ordered a spicy sake that was served in a large, bowl-shaped glass garnished with what looked like chile peppers. For dinner she ordered a “floating” sashimi that came in a bowl that you had to see to believe. I ordered a steak tenderloin that was stacked on top of potatoes and topped with an excellent Foie Gras, which I had never tasted before. It was a great way to be introduced.

The icing on the cake for me, however, was the Eel Sushi with Camembert Cheese. I have never tasted sushi that good. We ordered it twice. For dessert we shared an apple gelatin with vanilla ice cream on top. Again, something I had never tasted before, but quite good.

Everything was delivered by a man dressed in a full ninja outfit who would appear suddenly with our orders. As we ate he would visit our table and show us a magic trick. During dessert he presented the “Master Ninja” who came with a case of coins and cards. For the next ten minutes he proceeded to blow our minds with card tricks and coin tricks, even allowing us to help him with a few. We were amazed!
After paying for the meal we were lead through a “short cut” which brought us to the front of the restaurant and were met with a fond farewell from the staff. Amanda and I have not stopped talking about our experience ever since. I’ve heard this restaurant also exists in New York City, but if you want the most authentic experience you must visit Tokyo, Japan and take a subway to Akasaka. Only there will you experience the magic, mystery, and delicacies of Ninja.

Monday, August 31, 2009

McDonalds, Japan

As I've said before, I don't discriminate any kind of food. I am not a food snob. We have been eating very well here in Japan and over the upcoming posts you'll read about a great range of Japanese meals we had from traditional Kaiseki dinners to theme park snacks. Yes, I love fancy dinners, but what really gets me salviating is comfort food. Food that you can dig your teeth into, that reminds you of home or other great times in your life. I'm the type of loyal foodie that revisits a restaurant over and over again if I like it. You're probably wondering what this has to do with McDonalds? I love McDonalds! There, I said it. I do. Sometimes, there is nothing more delicious and satisfying then a Big Mac, fries and a coke...and of course an Oreo McFlurry.

Yes! I saw the movie "Super Size Me" and it broke my heart. I did lay off of the cheeseburgers for a while...but within time the cravings kept coming back. Of course they would, it is so deep seeded into my psyche and tied to so many childhood memories that I cant stay away! Everytime we went on a family road trip the best part of the trip was stopping at McDonalds. One particular trip from Disney back to Miami I remember quite well. Growing up I used to fight over dumb things with one of my sisters and this time it was the pickle in the cheesburger. See, I didnt like pickles, but when my sister asked me for mine I said "no" to get her back for teasing me earlier on. Everyone knew I hated pickles but I was'nt going to give her the satsifaction of having it! My mom insisted I give my pickle to my sister knowing very well I didnt like them, but I stood my ground claiming my new found love for them, clearly lying. To my dismay, once we got home, mom brought out the jar of pickles, sliced them up and put them in my cheesburger. She stood by my side and made sure I ate up every single one. I suppose thats when I developed a liking for pickles!?

My favorite growing up was Chicken McNuggets. I remember when they first came out. They were like little nuggets of gold, except for the dark meat ones. I was very happy when they introduced the all white (bleached) meat version. Even on the few rare occasions I wake up early enough to have McDees breakfast it is so rewarding. Sure I feel like poop afterwards, but those first few bites are heaven. I dont know how many cheesburgers I indulged in when McDonalds opened across the street from the Nederlander in NYC. And when traveling abroad, you can always find salvation in the golden arches when craving something familiar.

Today, McDonalds is a special treat I give myself every now and then...and I'm not the only one is the cast!Like any other city in the world, McDonalds is also found on every corner all over Tokyo. And the rumors are true! Its better here than in the US! Not only does it taste better, but the sandwiches look like the ones in the pictures! Remember when they used to deep fry the apple pie? They still do in Japan! It really is tastier deep fried...I know, what isnt!? In this post you'll find some of the menu items we don't see in the US. Click on the photos to see them up close.
Remember when the Egg McMuffin had an an actual egg with a yolk?

Delicious, black pepper fried chicken.

Someone in the RENT company was saying that it would be a great idea to have an international McDonalds restaurant that served all the products from all over the world in one restaurant. I thought that was such a great idea!

So readers....What else does McDonalds serve around the world? Where are you from and what differences are there?? Can't wait to hear!