Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not a bad way to return to A Womb....

My second full day back in Kyoto had been planned for several weeks - there would be a lovely morning shiatsu session with the fabulous Bridget Scott then lunch at an old favourite - A womb.

Bridget's place is near Shisendo - so peaceful and green I took a few moments to take in the surrounds before heading in for a quick pre-shiatsu tea.

In the summer it is popular to grow vines, like this bitter melon, in front of the windows to keep rooms cooler. I was surprised by the amount of growth at this time of the year - I also spotted these chillies and over the last couple of days have also found pomegranates and persimmon and some less familiar fruits. 
What a precious gift - after I'd flippantly expressed an interest, several weeks ago, in tasting some of Bridget and Tad's freshly grown edamame (soybeans) they generously reserved the last of their plants for me to pull out of their veggie patch with my very own hands - the same hands that would cook and eat them that night!  (And for my friends and family who don't believe I was actually "working" in the garden - here, check it out for yourselves...ok so I wasn't really dressed for it but it was sprung on me rather suddenly!
Here they are above - ready for the plucking...
so very chuffed...

A few moments later a small snake slithered past ( WHAT!?!?) then a large praying mantis/stick insect ( I dunno - one of the two - I don't really do insects!) came out to play - can you see him below.... and a fat, horned (dangerous looking) caterpillar was also found lurking nearby...then I noticed the spiders.... god, I thought I was getting away from all that. Having really only been here for longish stints in winter or spring I had not previously experienced such critters. Or the chirping of crickets in the evening - which I ain't complaining about! They can stick around if they like - but the rest of you - bugger off - winter is on its way - go hibernate....
critter alert - bottom left hand corner of window..... 
you can't see him? 
here... see below - ENORMOUS!
sayonara spidey!

My lovely friends and suppliers of warming cups of tea, soybeans , shiatsu and critters (except monkeys which apparently only appear when I leave) - le Tadget!
This is a taro plant in Tadget's garden - it appeared out of the blue. WTF?? See Bridget above - this plant is taller than her - god knows what size taro is brewing.... 
After the terribly hard work in the garden had been completed I unwound with an amazing shiatsu session with Bridget before walking to lunch at A Womb. The charming owners remembered me and engulfed me with a warm, effusive welcome  - its good to be back!

This lunch plate was only ¥1050 (around $12AUD) and worth every cent. Starting from the middle square at the top and working left to right...

row 1: Cabbage, shimeji and nama yuba (fresh soy milk skin) + Nama fu maple leaf with aka konnyaku (fresh wheat gluten maple shape and jelly of red devil's tongue starch)

Row 2: eggplant with dengaku sauce (miso sauce with egg yolk) and toasted almonds, chestnut in a bed of white fish paste, coated in somen noodles and deep-fried, yaki (grilled) yuba with spring onions and white miso

Row 3: simmered pumpkin, chicken simmered in soy broth and fresh sansho pepper, sashimi hamachi (yellowtail - one of my least favourite fish  - cooked or raw...)

The little dessert in the top, left corner was some black sugar warabi mochi and a little white chocolate pudding. 

In the bowl next to it were some somen noodles in broth with some grilled age-tofu and an onsen tamago (egg cooked at the same temperature as a natural hotspring - which is the place a real onsen tamago is cooked! they are very soft and gooey - love it!) There was also rice and kombu tsukdani on top. 

Because one dessert is never enough when they are the size of a thimble we simply HAD to order some Matcha - which always comes with something sweet - this time a lovely cheesecake  with sesame crust. 
I bid farewell to Bridget and walked for a little while - admiring the fulsome ginko trees which are always bare when I'm here in winter.

Its the end of a long hot summer - I really wasn't expecting the lushness or the flowers... in Australia everything is pretty dry and barren, even scorched post the heat... 
So back at home it was time to prepare my edamame... 
I snipped them from the vine with scissors then rinsed them well to remove any dirt. I then rubbed them with some salt to help soften and remove the slightly spiky hairs. 
then into well salted boiling water they plopped for 2-3 (long!!) minutes
And there they were... so nutty and sweet it was like eating the world's best popcorn...I sprinkled a little smoked local salt on top....
Another generous foodie gift from my landlord was left in the fridge for my arrival - this gorgeous bowl of plums, grapes and mikan (a type of mandarin - this version green on the outside and orange within) have been a godsend on a couple of warm days. At the  back were  kabosa (a lime variety) 
Below are a few pantry items needed to get me started - the bottle in brown paper on the left is soy, rice vinegar to its right, then sake, sesame oil and mirin. On the very far left is a jar of hachimi - that's one spice more than shichimi (7 spice mix) - purchased during my dinner at Omen.
More from the kitchen later...  x

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