Clementia and I were getting along famously until I smashed one of her lovely glasses. I'm still not quite sure how it happened. I barely tapped it... (with my i-phone as I tried to get a shot of the wine label - yeah, I would have been pissed off with me too if I was the owner. He was sweet enough but I could tell he wasn't overly excited by my clumsiness and trashing of his tiny eatery).
I'd been recommended to this Italian restaurant in the north western corner of Kyoto's downtown area by a friend of a friend about a year or so earlier - apparently it is a local favourite. A 6 course lunch with coffee for $40 is cheap as chips anywhere else in the world but in Kyoto - well it is considered quite an investment in a town where many decent lunch deals can be found for around for $10-20 dollars - amazing but true. Not 6 courses mind you - but still - a decent feed can be had for not very much without having to look too far. So, there was a certain level of expectation.
And after one sip of this chilled soup of pure tomato essence with basil oil and Parmesan wafers I was pretty certain it was money well spent. I had a grin from ear to ear. Sheer pleasure.
and the wine didn't do any harm either - they told me the name translated as playboy... I told them to leave the bottle! (not really honey... ;+ xx)
White asparagus was in season - lightly grilled, nama (prosciutto like) ham , paprika sauce, Hollandaise sauce, balsamic... all the sauces.... most pleasant, even if a little too much going on
Next up was the homemade sausage with cabbage puree, leek, cabbage and porcini saute and mustard on the side - simple yet delectable
After the three starter courses a selection of 5 pastas was on offer - I chose the home made taglierini of wholemeal flour (from Shiga), butter sauce, fresh bamboo shoots, mushrooms, warabi stems. It was truly delightful, toothsome yet elegant. I would return just for the pasta - any of them. Having Carbonara made with eggs from neighbouring Shiga or lasagne of wild?? beef and pork or a fresh tomato sauce with new onions on the menu it was pretty hard to make a decision.
Noting how much I was enjoying myself the owner poured me a glass of the wine with the gorgeous label. He told me it was Shindo Funi from Hitomi winery in Shiga, his home town (hence all the Shiga produce!). It had a bouquet of strawberries but the finish was dry and full bodied. Too easy to drink. And I wish I'd managed to get more of it past my lips before desiccating the glass.
Interesting to note that the chef does not use olive oil but a local canola oil in this dish and throughout his cooking. Although... I did note that the homemade foccacia came with olive oil - so I'm guessing it does feature from time to time. Or the explanation was lost in translation... totally possible.
Mille Feuille of vanilla custard with cassis sorbet - the desserts are made by the chef's wife. Clever thing she is - this was a fab finish!
Italian coffee ? - si, grazie. So not all offerings on the menu were entirely Italian - you expect that in Japan, but the meal was most enjoyable. And for $40 who's ever going to complain?