Good Saturday morning, friends! No, no … don’t take your coats off, for we are going on an adventure today! It’s been ages since we went exploring new places, and Jolly has the Filomobile all warmed up and ready to go! Don’t worry … we’ll have you back in plenty of time for you do go do some Christmas shopping with the family.
First stop on our agenda today is Honolulu, Hawaii … let’s hope it’s warmer there than it is here, eh? You may be surprised that we are going all the way to Hawaii to visit … a candy shoppe! It’s one of the oldest Japanese candy stores in the United States, and I’m told they have quite a unique selection, so I thought it would be fun to start our adventure with a bit of something sweet to give us energy. Well, here we are …I know it doesn’t look like much on the outside, but let’s go in and see what they’ve got to offer. Oh look at all that! Doesn’t it all look yummy? Welcome, friends, to Nisshodo Mochiya where the sweets are made in the Japanese-Hawaiian culinary tradition that stretches back to the mid-19th century, when the first Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii as indentured laborers on sugar plantations.
One of these immigrants was Asataro Hirao. He was already living in Honolulu when, in the 1910s, he decided to return to his home city of Hiroshima for a visit. That’s where he learned to make Japanese confections. When he returned to Honolulu, Nisshodo Mochiya was born. Hirao tweaked traditional recipes, adapting them to local Hawaiian ingredients, and his descendants continue to make sweets based on his creations to this day. The shop is so rooted in tradition, Hirao’s successors were using his original vertical mixer until just a few years ago. And the whole family continues to come together around the holidays, making mochi to fill the rush of New Year’s orders from customers who have been returning to the shop for decades.Everyone has their favorites, but the pink-and-white chichi dango, wrapped in translucent white paper and powdery with starch, is Nisshodo’s best-selling item. “We sell out of chichi dango pretty much every day,” says Mike Hirao, the shop’s third-generation owner.Looks like we got here in time! The thing that Nisshodo is most famous for is Mochi, a sweet, chewy glutinous rice cake (which also happens to be gluten free, for those of you who care). Every Asian culture has its own style of mochi, but the Hawaiian style is soft, sweet, and not quite as chewy as Japanese mochi. Grab a sample, then we’ll be moving on …
Next on the agenda, we are going to Australia to visit … bees!!! Yes, Joe, I know you’re allergic, but you’re not going to get stung … these bees are ‘stingless’ bees!
The sugarbag bee or bush bee is particularly notable for the beautiful hives they make. They tend to be smaller in size compared to other stingless bees. They are predominantly black and their bodies are covered in microscopic hairs.The sugarbag bee builds hives in a distinctive spiral pattern unique to the species. The hives are broad and flat but each spiral rises in height as they turn, giving the hive a flattened conical shape.A fully developed nest may consist as many as twenty spirals. The hives have only one entrance, which is heavily protected by guard bees and coated with a mixture of beeswax and resins. Antibacterial properties from the resin clean any pathogens from the bees as they enter the hive. The substance also keeps out predators such as ants and beetles.I find it fascinating that those tiny critters can build such an intricate structure! And without bulldozers, cranes, bricks ‘n mortar!
One last stop, and then we’ll need to get home, for I know you all have other things to do besides flit about the planet with me ‘n Jolly! I have a treat for you … we have been invited to visit the Los Angeles home of the famous singer, Mr. Rod Stewart! No, no … we’re not going to hear him sing, but to take a look in his attic! You see, he has built the most awesome model railroad … more of an entire city, actually, in his attic.
Hey, Rod … thanks for inviting us! We’re dying to see your model trains!
Rod has been working on this project for the past 26 years!
The model spans 1,500 square feet (it occurs to me that my entire house, two-stories, is a mere 1,190 square feet!) and is based on the cities of New York and Chicago as they were during the 1940s. He started building the model in 1993 and continued working on it in between tours and making music. Often, Stewart would work on his models even when he was away in another country performing.Stewart’s love for model railways started in his childhood when he lived on Archway Road in north London, near to the London Transport Highgate Depot and the Wellington Sidings coal yard. While on a holiday with his parents in Bognor Regis at the age of around eight or nine, Stewart saw a railway layout in a model railway shop window, and he thought—”if only I could get paid to build a model railway like that.”
“The only thing I wasn’t very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that.”
Isn’t this simply amazing?Thanks again, Rod!
Well, folks, we better get back to our home turf. I’ve got some birthday shopping to do for Miss Goose today, then I need to spend some time planning for Thursday … ‘tis Thanksgiving here in the U.S., y’know, and I will be cooking for a crowd … best to have a plan. I hope you all enjoyed our little adventure, and that you have a wonderful weekend!