Saturday, August 29, 2009

lunch at Carre' de M in Gion District, Kyoto

About my lunch at Carre' de M:

I arrived for my reservation and without asking, they knew exactly who I was. I followed the man upstairs to a small, modern and sort of plain looking dining room, decorated in yellows and apricots and whites. Of course, they had the westernized napkins for the lap. I really wasn't in the mood for wine, but ordered a Vouvray anyway to get into the spirit of the meal. You see, I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and was in a gruff mood. Yes, it is possible to be in a bad mood on vacation for no apparent reason.

In the hallway at the top of the stairs, there was a window overseeing the bustling kitchen which was a nice site on the way back down to the bathroom. Something I've failed to mention are the bathroom slippers that are waiting for you inside the bathroom door at every decent establishment. First, you are required to remove your shoes upon entering the establishment (and any possibility of "height" and leg length!). You dine in one set of slippers and then when using the bathroom, you carefully step out of one and into the other, without mixing up the bathroom slippers and the room slippers (does that make sense?) For example, one would never remove the slippers from the bathroom, put them on, and then enter the bathroom. NO NO NO You become adept at stepping out of your slippers backward into the bathroom (so your regular slippers are perfectly positioned for when you are finished doing your business). It is quite different and one gets the hang of it pretty quickly (when in Rome...)

The meal was in multiple courses, which I paired next with a nice red Burgundy (name escaping me). Please don't be disappointed that I don't remember any details of the actual dishes in the meal itself, save for the amazing dried soy sauce crystals, positioned in a beautiful little pile on the wide rim of a plate of sashimi. You see, I must admit, I am writing this post way past the fact, as I realized later that in my ramblings I forgot to mention the actual lunch portion of my experience at Carre' de M. After lunch which did provide a bit of an attitude adjustment, I adjourned downstairs to pay my bill and that Mabuchi-san for the hospitality. He met me at the small bar and insisted I take one of his specialty "rolled" cakes with me. The cake was literally that, a vanilla sponge cake rolled with Chantilly cream, full sized, enough for a family of 8 with leftovers. He stuffed my hand with business cards (to bring back to Bruce-san) and a small jar of something black that he said he makes there in the restaurant. We parted ways after a nice photo in front of the restaurant. I made my way back to my hotel to dutifully put my jelly roll into the small refrigerator in my room. In reverence to Mabuchi-san and his welcoming and jolly personality, I edged away at this monstrosity with my tea for the next 4 mornings in a row.

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