Ichiban Sushi Downtown

Ichiban Sushi Downtown

I am a vegetarian and The Man is a pescetarian. Yes, that’s a real word. It’s basically a vegetarian that also eats seafood. Fancy, right?

There are people in the world who sometimes actually say things like “I love sushi!”, or “Oh my god, if I don’t have sushi soon, I’m going to die!”. I’ve never been one of those kinds of people. My sister has been trying to convert me for years though, bless her cotton socks. I guess as a vegetarian, raw foods are just a little more common than most diets. So yay!, it’s rolled up can get dipped in ponzu or umeboshi instead of flat on a plate. Woo hoo! (Note sarcasm.)

Well, along comes The Man and his family who are all a little sushi crazy. And I find myself at sushi places more often. The family favorite has always been the Ichiban Sushi up on north 43rd St (in the same plaza as 43rd St Deli and Las Margeritas), but now that there’s one opened up downtown near Emiliano’s, we’ve been going to that one more often.

Of all the times I’ve been, with all of the assorted friends we’ve taken to dinner, I’ve not seen anyone unhappy with the food. Except for when they eat too much and sit there carefully as if they’re about to explode raw fish out of their ears. The Man generally goes a little crazy when he orders rolls and pieces, and I let him order for me because he knows his way around the menu. (I’m going to let him talk about his favorites in another post since that’s a whole book.)

My favorites are the asparagus and the veggie rolls, and I always have to have a wakame salad (cruncy threads of seaweed). And of course inari to finish–little fried tofu pockets stuffed with slightly sweet sushi rice. Inari can be savory as well, but at Ichiban it is a lovely little two-bite sweet to end a meal. Or just order about ten of them and that can be your meal, if you’re crazy like me. But really, don’t do that. More than once anyway.

Because I’m not a sushi fanatic, I also explored the rest of their veggie options which includes some delish Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and other noodle dishes. You should try the yakisoba and the pad thai if you want to dodge the sushi one day. And they do serve the usual variety of Asian beers, wine, and some fancy mixed drinks. If you like ginger, try the ginger martini. Yum!

The downtown Ichiban is a nice alternative to the usual downtown restaurants, but it still tries to be hip and trendy. It’s a little less homey than the 43rd St one. And it gets a bit busy, so don’t plan on this being a one-hour dinner. This is a place to go with friends and enjoy a dinner. This is a place to share food, boast about sushi-eating abilities, and do stupid things with chopsticks.

We tend to spend a bit more here than most places we go for a casual dinner, but it’s usually the opportunity for The Man to binge on seafood which he doesn’t do often. The meal can be as inexpensive or “Wow, I ate all of that!?” as you want it to be since you build your own dinner from rolls, pieces, and extras. If you’re on a budget, bring a pen to make a list so you stay on target because it’s easy to let the food go to your head.

And a helpful hint from your favorite food spy, park somewhere a few blocks away. You’ll appreciate the little walk (or waddle) back to your car to get the digestion going.

Ichiban Sushi
(Downtown)
15 SE 1st Ave
Gainesville, Fl 32601
352-376-8220
ichibanflorida.com

[Girl21]

Sweetwater Coffee

Sweetwater Organic Coffee

I confess, I love coffee more than almost anything else. If I had to give up food and drink only coffee for a year, I wouldn’t hesitate. Well, maybe cheese would be hard to give up.

It’s not just coffee. I mean, I love chocolate covered espresso beans too, but it’s not the same thing. Coffee is also about the morning ritual of easing into the day. Filling up the kettle and starting the water on the stove. Pulling out the grinder and the beans, and pouring just the right amount into the hopper. The buzz of the burr grinder converting the oily dark ovals into rough grounds. Scooping the grounds into the French press and eventually topping it up with steaming water. The foam of coffee bean oils on top. The long-anticipated moment when you press the plunger and the coffee is ready. All leading towards that first sip and the day is carefully launched off the dock and into the current of life.

Don’t waste a lot of time in the coffee aisle and specialty boutiques trying to find the best coffee out there. Coffee is like wine. Drink what you like. Have fun exploring and experiencing different brands, different roasts, different sources. You might find similarities in the different coffees you enjoy. You might notice you like a specific roast, or a blend of origins.

We try coffees now and again when we stumble across something new. But we always have one thing in stock in the house. You absolutely have to check out the Sweetwater Organic Coffee company. We adore the single source Ethiopians, either Sidamo or Yirgacheffe. But they have some lovely blends and other single source options, as well as espressos, half-cafs, and decafs.

On top of the deliciousness of the coffee, it’s also fair trade, organic, and roasted right here in Gainesville. You can find it at a lot of locally owned businesses that stock fair trade, or organic, or local products; and others shops that just like the coffee. We usually find ours at Ward’s, Alternatives, or Book Gallery West. And note to you brunchers out there, a few local restaurants offer it on their menus, so keep your eyes peeled.

Sweetwater Organic Coffee
Ph: 352-372-8342
SweetwaterOrganicCoffee.com

[Girl21]