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Thursday, November 3, 2016

5F Day 12: My Most Memorable Day on this Trip

This was both a good and bad day, but mostly fabulous, after all, I'm on a Fabulous Fall Food and Foliage Fantasy.  At one time I was planning to just rest today.

However, I changed my train schedule and left the Prince Gallery at 7AM for Shinjuku, where I caught the Super Azabu to Matsumoto.  I saw Mount Fuji, but the Sun made taking a photo difficult.  What a welcome when I arrived at Matsumoto:

Turns out, to my pleasant surprise, November 3 is a national holiday, called Culture Day.  First celebrated in 1868, in honor of Emperor Meiji, as this is his birthday, there is a move to rename this Meiji Day.   Emperor's Day is also a national holiday, but held on December 23 for Akihito.

Well anyway, Matsumoto goes over the top with parades and all kinds of festivities.  While I normally see, perhaps, a few hundred on the streets and at Matsumoto Castle, today, there are several thousand roaming around.  There are booths, vendors and a wide variety of foodstuffs being cooked/grilled/BBQd.  Here are a few photos:


I led the ladies for this dance (the one above).


There are six stages for continuous entertainment.


I had a pork cutlet (great), mushroom/vegetable bento and a dish of beef/onions:


The beer was Grand Kirin and the sake a Junmai.  Most important of all, I ate across the street from the moat of Matsumoto Castle where I first dropped of a capsule of Pearl's ashes a few years ago.  A Gold Koi ate it, and I have since then kept coming back to visit Pearl's Gold Koi.  The anticipation was overwhelming as I had my picnic, for there have been times when the koi was not there.  However, when I first walked up:


My heart almost stopped, as here was Pearl's Gold Koi to greet me.  Mind you, 95% of the koi are black and this is the ONLY gold one, and the smallest.

Here are some shots of the castle, beginning with my Blue Bar Pigeon and an attack by some samurai warriors:


On my train ride back to Shinjuku, Mount Fujii was viewable from the right window for at least 45 minutes.  Compared to the Kansai/Kanto Shinkansen ride, which only has access to Fuji-san just around 3 minutes, where 75% of the time the mountain is behind a bridge or pole or something, this Matsumoto to Shinjuku segment almost continuously reveals the peak for approximately 45 minutes.


I returned to the Prince Gallery, checked out and caught a taxi to the Ritz Carlton Tokyo.  This was the only negative of the day.  The first two times I stayed here, I was placed at the Club level, where there is access to the Club Lounge, which I labeled as Heaven.  Well, I'm now a Marriott lifetime Platinum member, but RC thinks it is classier than Marriott (which owns it) and Starwood.  Therefore, you need to pay exorbitant rates to get into the Club level.  Platinum membership gets you NOTHING here.  At the end, the person checking me in gave me a free breakfast, but noted that if ate more than $5, I would pay for anything more.  Well, it was more than $5....but no cocktail hour...nothing.  I told them that unless they made some adjustments, I won't return here.   I'm sure he couldn't have cared less, and he was nice all the time.  I have downrated the Ritz Carlton Tokyo back to earthly status, skipping the Purgatory part, which is at present only 15 Craigside.

I was walked to my room on the 51st floor and was initially disappointed, for here was my view, just merely spectacular:

But in a few minutes:


The Sun was obscuring Mount Fuji.  A few minutes later:


After a long bath, I headed down to my 4 Hands French Extravaganza, featuring French Celebrity Chef, Pierre Sang Boyer, and Franck-Elie Laloum.  Get it?  Two chefs.  Four hands.

Laloum is with the Ritz Carlton, while Boyer, from Paris, told me that he is from South Korea, but was adopted by French parents, and now has three restaurants in that country.  I ordered their wine and dinner combination, which included 7 wines, each at 100 milliliters.  If you can multiply or add, this would be about the equivalent of full bottle.


Loloum, with his staff that served me, Abe on the right:


This might have been my most exciting meal ever, because I could view what was happening in the kitchen through the reflection on the picture glass window, plus the outside attractions were classically stimulating.  Interesting that a diner bought the chefs a bottle wine, and they toasted him while in the kitchen and cooking.

This gastronomic feast started with a 2015 Laurent-Perrier brut:


Such a busy shot that you can't imagine why the view was so significant.  Certainly, mine was a choice seat, if you look closely, you see Tokyo Tower:


Then the Odaiba ferris wheel, which kept changing colors and shapes:


Rainbow and Gateway Bridges:


I had the wine pairing set, all served in Riedel glasses.


Next, a slightly smoked mackerel (saba), cucumber, yogurt and Thai basil:


Nothing special.  Okay.  Next 


That black web has something to do with squid ink, and the dish is Celerlac (a kind of celery root) and fennel cream in a shelfish emulsion.  The wine was a 2015 Sancerre Les Baronnes Henri Bourgeois.

Then wild mushrooms vin jaune (a kind of white wine), fir, with a 2014 Patrimonio Carco Blanc, Antoine Arena.  So far, each dish has been understated in terms of taste.


Red Snapper cooked in seaweed salt crust, with spinach salad and a 2013 Macon Busier Domaine de la Saraziniere (these wines sometimes feature grapes new to me, but I suspect price has something to do with this):


Then, a roasted Hokkaido venison loin, confit grapefruit, hazelnut paste, with a 2012 Plo Roucarels IGP cite de Carcassonne Pepieux (yes, never heard of this one, too, but it was very heavy bodied and a good substitute for Bourdeaux):

I'm not saying much about the excellence of the cuisine because this is an almost experimental effort. I appreciated the thinking and effort that went into the production.

The dessert featured red berries Chabrot style with a NV Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut:


The place was, of course, at capacity, but if they had been more commercial, they easily could have fit a few more tables.  I noted that on every table (but mine), there was a stunning female Oriental (probably all Japanese) female.  Her companion more than not was not Japanese.


This photo is purposefully out of focus to protect the diners.  Never happened before, but I left drinkable wine on the table:


I had to gauge my ability to walk back to my room.  Pierre and Franck signed the menu:


Yes, this was my favorite meal on this trip, and in the top ten of all the meals I've ever had.

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I might mention that Tropical Storm Meari will become a Category 2, but, first, will pull away from Japan, and, second, I'll be back in Honolulu if not:


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