Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grande Mama, Yoga

Yeah, I can see where that name is a bit funny in English.

Well, the staff here at eoitwj never like to let an opportunity pass. Today saw us gettiing our skates properly on for a bit of Hanami in Yoga (yes Shaft, at Kinuta! The trees were quite non-compliant. In fact I worry that next week might even be too early.) And hey, why not check out the neighborhood after and see if anyone wants to give us a square meal on a Sunday night?

The menu is of a decent size; I didn't get into much detail, just checked the main ingredients and found a couple dishes I felt like eating. A bit of wine, and we were off.

Pazta time, a concoction of store-made bacon, sky beans and white asparagus. Actually, the pasta was store-made also. actually we wonder what jikasei bacon really means - they cured it here? Smoked it here? The staff is wondering if we can do it at home...regardless, it sure was smokey and tasty. And importantly, it was on store-made orecchiete, which we remain ignorant of the proper preparation techniques despite trying it a couple times (and being perfectly competent with regular pasta, thank you very much).

Jikasei bread too. Small, warm, crusty rolls that immediately made us feel very kindly disposed toward Grande Mama despite her French name and questionable taste in overhead Italian pop music.

For the main, Auntie's urging made it difficult to go past Cherry Pork. Not her urging so much as her disbelief that there could be a difference. There is. Especially when it's roasted over charcoal with lots of rosemary. I came close to throw-the-fork-down delight, which is not what I expected in Yoga on a Sunday night.

Along with the pork, the house wine kept reminding me of cherries - no mean feat for an Italian red. Barossa pinot, OK, but not in Italy. Easy to drink, yet structured and tasty.

No dessert was needed after that...but with predecessors like those, who could say no? I went with the caramel sherbet. What the heck is that? It reminded me of amaretto cookies, crushed, caramelized, and made into icy quenelles. If this were a higher-end place, I'd be pizzed at the iciness. As it was, I was fairly enraptured by the taste.

A funny thing about Japan - as everyone knows, worldwide, the Japanese are really into their thing. Whatever that thing is, boy are they into it. That doesn't always mean it's good; the triumph of enthusiasm over experience. And skill. You can get a bunch of old Italian wine bottles, you can get the odd pink page from Gazetta delo Sport, but your food might not turn out so well. These guys, on a Sunday night when the three staff were barely outnumbered by the one couple and two lonely guys, were cooking and serving like their lives depended on it. Even if they didn't know it. I'm getting a little teary even now. As mentioned after Mikawa's whitebait, I love Japan.

What was on the jukebox? 'I get knocked down. But I get up again.'

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