April 15, 2005
Last Friday I made a trip to Kyoto, when sakura or cherry blossoms were just about to bloom in full. I had only one full day there, but it was a lovely springy day and I walked a lot, saw a lot of trees and blossoms, and ate and brought back a bit of good stuff the old city had to offer. I meant to blog this trip ages ago - but it has taken me a whole week to do this, and I am sure by this time most of the blossoms would have been gone. Cherry blossoms have such a short life on the tree, which may be why people go crazy about them and try to capture the year's view of blossoms while they can.
I had a bit of trouble in uploading images here, and am now pretty exhausted, so I'm just posting pictures for now - full text will follow shortly. (Click on the small images for a larger view)
Apr 17 updated: I have only added brief descriptions of food items here... I decided the rest is quite self-explanatory.
Breakfast @ Boulangerie Le Petit Mec
I had heard that this place is one of the best bakery in Kyoto, and had been eager to pay a visit - now I did! The small bakery, now open only three days a week - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays - had a beautiful selection of classic french bread and more creative ones, such as this croissant filled with whipped cream and custard. With a cup of nice coffee it made a small but caloric breakfast to start a long day.
Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace) (in Kyoto Gyoen)
Snack: green tea ice-cream bites @ Tea shop Gion Tsujiri
An old and well-known tea shop Gion Tsujiri has been doing good selling a range of tea-products from fine matcha (green tea powder) to tea cookies and cakes to ice cream. I got a small box of five of them, and immediately popped them into my mouth as I strolled down old Gion quarter. Rich and creamy, yet refreshing in the hot-rather-than-warm afternoon.
Tetsugaku-no Michi (Philosopher's Path)
Tea break @ Tea Room GOSPEL
Located near Ginkaku-ji Temple is this quiet, classic tea room on the second floor of an old house. They serve this beautiful cake roll that is almost legendary among some sweets lovers, made by a pastry chef called Yoko Tsuda, the owner of a cake shop/baking school and author of baking books including Kuru-kuru Roll Cake. The cake looked perfect - almost too perfect to be edible - and, more importantly, tasted good. The cake can be mail-ordered but it is said to take six months and up to fill an order due to the strong demand. I didn't see it quite worth of half-a-year wait, though.
Snack: Nikuman (meat bun) @ 551 Horai
A Kansai (Kyoto-Osaka area) favorite snack that I had wanted to try. Meat bun is one of my staple winter-time snack, and theirs was pretty meaty compared to most of the ones I'd have in Kanto (Tokyo area). Good though.
Kitsch subway train
Dinner @ "Obanzai Cafe" Kuri-Kuma
Obanzai is a collective name for traditoinal home-made dishes original to Kyoto, which nowadays are often served at restaurants like this. I had a Today's grilled fish set, including a bowl of rice, miso soup, grilled mackerel, two small obanzais (freeze-dried tofu and small yams) and pickles, and a separete order of hiya-yakko (chilled tofu). They make such dishes less saltier than those in Tokyo in general, but everything were well seasoned in real not-so-fishy fish broth. A very filling dinner.
They lit up the castle for a couple of weeks including the day I was there, but I missed it by ten minutes... just ten minutes late! O well.
Things I brought home: Sweetwise, Kyoto is associated the most with matcha or green tea, and every merchant knows it so well it seems every single shop has something matcha-related. People don't seem to ever get tired of it, though.
Tsujiri-no Sato @ Gion Tsujiri
Matcha cream rolled in a thin crisp cookie. Yummy!
Tofu & Black Sesame Chocolates
I couldn't help grabbing a box of this at a shop - tofu and black sesame! How could I have not? But I later figured it a little... weird. It wasn't bad, but it really tasted like tofu... but it was chocolate. Strange.
Green Tea Chocolate & Sweet Black Bean Sandwich Cookies @ Cake shop Malebranche
They have an outlet in Tokyo, but this particular kind of cookies is claimed to be only available in Kyoyo Isetan department store. The pairing of green tea and kuromame or sweet black beans has become almost an fixture in Japanese sweets, and this one wasn't any new at all - but the quality chocolate and cookies did make a little difference.
"Chacolate" Pavés au Chocolat au Thé Vert (Green Tea Chocolate) @ Tea Shop Nakamura-ya Tokichi
It made me giggle to find out the name - chacolate, instead of chocolate, with cha meaning "tea". Since it is made and sold by a tea shop rather than a sweet shop per se, it isn't just a green cube with loads of additive colorings and flavorings but obviously uses quality tea in it that you can tell. I bought this also in Kyoto Isetan, but their main store is located in Uji, outside of Kyoto city, in an old-fashioned store that you can recognize in the painting of the box (see link for how the store really looks like).
Those blossoms were in full bloom!
posted by chika at: 4/15/2005 03:31:00 AM