A few of us took an overnight trip to Aomori in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. I was told it would be freezing cold there so I bundled up in about ten layers of thermal linings and we headed off the in camper in the wee hours of the morning. All in all, it was about an eight hour drive, minus a bunch of stops to eat and stretch our legs.
As we pushed on along the freeway, we could see the sunrise from the windows of the camper. Our first meal of the day was a bowl of freshly cut oil-free fries, prepared at about 4 or 5 AM that morning before we hit the road. We flavoured the fries with curry powder!
Mid-morning, we took a break at a truck stop. Well…I call it a “truck stop”, but in Japan they are totally different from the ones in North America. Instead of a greasy diner, a gas station, and a bunch of burly truckers, Japanese truck stops are set up almost like mini malls and can be a lot of fun to browse. They often have big luxurious bathrooms, a gift shop, and a small food court.
As a snack, we bought these neat buns made out of brown rice flour. The bread had a soft, almost gooey texture (but in a good way). We tried out two types — one was filled with kimpira gobo, which is a traditional Japanese dish made of finely sliced burdock root and carrot, cooked in soy sauce and sesame oil. Kimpira gobo is usually eaten as a side dish, or with rice, but this was my first time having it inside a bun. Very good! The other bun was filled with veggie curry.
For lunch, we pulled in at another truck stop. Here, I had a big hearty bowl of miso soup filled with potato, carrots, daikon radish, taro, tofu, and green onions.
We finally reached Aomori in the early evening. One thing that Aomori is known for is it’s incredible apples. As an offshoot of that, they also have a whole range of apple-based products such as apple juice, apple cider, apple jam, apple chips…you name it!
We stopped at an apple producer and bought a few cases of their finest apples as gifts to take back home with us. I’ve never seen anything like them before. The apples that we bought are red even on the inside, and when you cut into them, the core is in the shape of a little star! And get this…they don’t turn brown. It’s true! I cut one open and let it sit for a couple hours. Yup, still red on the inside!
The farmers were incredibly kind, and in return for buying so many apples they gave us three huge bags of apples and pears for free. 😀