Back Cover Text Completed

Yes, I finally got my back cover text written (thanks to my editor Jessica Hatch, and cover artist Masayo Ozawa at abombinabull.com). See below:

The year? 1483. The place? China-adjacent.

If you had told young Simon Lang that he’d spend his best years piloting a boat for a trumped-up Venetian, instead of with his parents in their Exeter castle, he’d have laughed in your face. But King Edward IV stole the throne of England, and now the Lancastrian lordling has fled to the far reaches of the world to brood on revenge.

He’s stranded in these strange waters with money-hungry Captain Aldo Mitacchione, his halfwit first mate Neno, and a crew of starving Italians. But if the strange vessel on the horizon or the unexpected ally on board have anything to say about it, things are about to get all the stranger.

Join smart-talking Simon, legendary samurai Kojiro Takeda, and their band of misfit brothers as they outrun cannibals, outsmart assassins, outdrink Scotsmen, and help Henry Tudor oust the crown from the wicked Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Weaving among actual historical events in the Onin War and the Wars of the Roses, with elements smacking of Monty Python and The Princess Bride, The Rose and the Crane is an historical adventure that brings knight and samurai together for a raucous road trip across the medieval world.

 

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Want to order sake but you’re lost? Order this one.

So…there are a couple of ways to become a sake expert; one is to study hard and become a sommelier, and the other is to drink A LOT of sake. I’ll let you speculate as to the route I chose. Okay, full disclosure, I’m still no expert in spite of having consumed A LOT of sake (I blame the hospitality of the entire nation of Japan), but I do know what stands out and this one does. If I were a sommelier I would tell you about all the hints of fruits and vegetables it contains, but since I’m not, I’ll tell you that it’s dry, light tasting, and if you like Sauvignon Blanc, you might like this. Bonus fact: it comes in this giant bottle. It also comes in a smaller bottle, which oddly, is a completely different color (blue), but who wants a SMALLER bottle of sake? Not this guy.

It’s a Junmai Dai Ginjo (translation-extra rice polishing-and get your mind out of the gutter, that means what it says), so it’s not cheap, but if you want to impress your friends and/or date, work a little extra overtime (something I am familiar with). The company (Hakutsuru), is the biggest seller in Japan so this isn’t exactly a micro-distillery find, but it is their top-shelf product. (They go all the way down to cooking-sake caliber, so don’t let the crane mark alone fool you). If you try it (or have tried it) let me know what you think on my Facebook page (or preferrably my Facebook author’s page because that’s an extra click.)  😉

I bought the sake bottle in the middle is from a mom-and-pop craftsman in the Tosa region of Kyushu, so I’m not solely a big corporation shill.

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Review #2 Tsujita Ramen (They call it “Tsujita Artisan Noodles,” whatever, it’s ramen.)

2057 Sawtelle Blvd ,  Los Angeles, CA 90025   And: I guess there’s one in Glendale now, but I haven’t been there so I can’t vouch for it.

 

Almost everyone comes here for the tsukemen (dipping your noodles in a concentrated broth), and while that is certainly a viable (and tasty) option, it’s not what I order. I order the straight tonkotsu ramen. Why? Because for me, ramen is all about the broth and this is the best I’ve had in the United States. I could eat instant ramen noodles in this broth (don’t worry, these aren’t). Broth will be the overriding factor in my ramen restaurant reviews, so if you’re all about the noodles themselves, you may want to ignore me. (My favorite shio ramen spot uses clearly packaged noodles.)

Here, the tonkotsu broth is rich, flavorful, and very pork-y. The noodles are good (thicker style for the tsukemen), and unlike most ramen restaurants where the pork is an afterthought, here it’s thick, meaty, tender, and delicious, so you’re going to want to order the chashu (or “char siu” as they spell it-no idea why, there’s no lone “r” in the Japanese language). My advice is to go with someone whom you don’t mind sharing ramen with, and try both the tsukemen and the tonkotsu. Then when you go back, you can get the one you liked better, but don’t skip the tonkotsu just for the novelty of the tsukemen.

The restaurant is just north of Olympic at the corner of Sawtelle and Mississippi and parking sucks balls. It also gets really crowded so get there by 1130 for lunch and early for dinner as well.

 

Insider tip: Like I said, go early.