michael lambe's scrapbook

little irish jackhammer

  • Last Friday, Mewby & I celebrated our 4th anniversary together. Many thanks to Eric Johnston for recommending Valencia, a wonderful Spanish restaurant by Utsubo Park. Charming staff, great service, lovely food and a perfect atmosphere it gets four thumbs up from us!

    They do cute cappuccini too!

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  • Halloween was Mewby’s birthday so I took her out for a meal at a posh French restaurant. You can read the details on Deep Kyoto, but basically they had great food and great coffee, but a crap drinks menu and they served me whale. Mewby liked her dessert anyway, so that’s something.

    After the restaurant, our thirsts still unquenched we popped in at Kisui. Every year Setchan makes a big point of celebrating Halloween and having all her customers dress up. Setchan really loves Halloween. Anyway the place was full of lively characters, all in costume and all in high spirits who immediately burst into a rousing “Happy Birthday to you…!”  as soon as we walked through the door. Setchan and Risae’s costumes were particularly impressive:

    And though we didn’t come in costume, Setchan has her own stash of wigs and accoutrements on hand and so we were encouraged to dress accordingly:

    Then home for cake and candles – and as it was Halloween it seemed appropriate somehow that Mewby wear my AC/DC devil horns…

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  • At the weekend I went to the National Museum of Art in Osaka to see an exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto entitled “The History of History“. If you’re interested this is what the museum looks like (I don’t know why it has rabbit ears):

    img_0477And here is a close up entitled “Girl Eating a Sandwich”.

    img_0482But anyway, back to the exhibition – wonderful! The artist has displayed his artwork alongside his collection of fossils and historical artifacts, forming all kinds of thought provoking juxtapositions between the worlds of history and art of course. But also following his concerns with religion, architecture, science, medicine, the exploration of space… in a nut-shell: life, humanity and the world! Anyway, I’d recommend visiting this exhibition, it’s on until June 7th, but give yourself a few hours to see everything because there is a lot and everything is just too fascinating! After that we strolled back along the river towards Yodoyabashi Station and Mewby noticed this lovely old building sandwiched in between all the modern high rises. One word caught our attention on the signage: Organic.

    img_0492Turns out it was a Solviva Organic Cafe and whole grain rice restaurant. So naturally we stopped and had a bite to eat. I had a cream croquette and Mewby had a tofu stew:

    img_0502img_0503

    Very nice! Here’s a glimpse of the interior:

    img_0497And of the exterior:

    img_05051Satoyama No Shokutaku by Solviva is located here: MAP. Tel: 06-6241-5757 Open: 10:30 – 20:00. We recommend it!

    Finally here we are on the train home having fun with reflections:img_0511

    img_0509

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  • I just tried out this GenderAnalyzer thingy. It uses artificial intelligence to find out if a blog is written by a man or a woman and apparently it usually works pretty well. So I tapped in urls for both this blog and for deepkyoto and do you know, in both cases, I’m a lass. Who would have thunk it? I wonder what criteria they are using to judge one’s gender by. Perhaps I need to write more about football and erm… cars?

    Anyway, we just had a glorious three day weekend so here’s what I’ve been up to…

    Friday

    Fine wine and cake at Bocca del Vino. If you want to treat yourself or someone else to something reet posh – this is the place for you.  I spent over 20,000 and I don’t regret a single yen. Here’s a picture of some very very luscious cake:

    After that we moved onto Joao for some Halloween frolics…
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    And finally onto Kisui where Setchan was being a cheeky monkey:
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    Saturday

    Lovely weather so we had a picnic by the river and cycled up to Kamigamo where I prayed for some luck in regards to (ahem!) future endeavours. When I got home I discovered two very exciting (yet entirely unconnected) emails from magazine editors who had discovered Deep Kyoto and want to work with me. I’ll let you know more about that as and when it develops.
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    Sunday

    Went to a bar called Ringo where they play Beatles hits ALL THE TIME. Weirdly, I enjoyed it. I also finally managed to finish this: In Search of… Vinyl.

    Monday

    A return trip to Kobe. Took in China Town, Ijinkan and Harbourland. I also managed to remember where Piccolo is. Kageyama-san introduced me to this rock bar – a “Deep Kobe” institution – the last time I was in Kobe. This time the master of the joint was completely wasted, so much so he fell asleep standing up and could not be awoken. Fortunately he has some very honest customers who left their money with him when they left… Most funtertaining.
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  • Baby Rowan

    Congratulations to old pal Rik Abel and Adrienne Copithorne on the birth of their new baby Rowan Alexander on March 19th, which coincidentally also happens to be Rik’s birthday. Hurrah!

    Deep Kyoto is back!

    It’s spring and time to bring Deep Kyoto out of hibernation with a new article on Cafe Proverbs [15:17], the new vegan phoenix that has risen from the ashes of Cafe Peace. I went down there at the end of last month and having mentioned my blog, was introduced to the owner, one Marre, a charming fellow and quite a Rennaisance man (that’s him on the right with his wife). While talking to Marre I was overheard by another customer, who was courteous enough to introduce himself as a reader of Deep Kyoto by the name of Thomas Bertrand. As it happens, Thomas also writes a blog on Kyoto by the name of la riviere aux canards (Kamogawa sounds awfully romantic in French, don’t it?) which he has been writing for a good three years now and as a result he has been employed by a French publisher to write a travel guide to the city. It just goes to show what’s possible if you stick at something… Anyway, his blog is worth a look if your French is up to it. Or like me, you could just look at the pretty pictures. LINK

    The 12th Japanese Beer Tasting 2008

    Paul Sparks held his twelfth and final (?) Japanese beer tasting at Chez Sparks in Ichigaya, Tokyo last Saturday evening, thus ending a long run of enjoyably exhausting parties that first began in Fukushima-ken back in 1995. 48 beers were tasted, blind taste-testings held, quizzes quizzed, buzzers buzzed and a heck of a lot of cheese was consumed. I love cheese with beer! As usual, my old friends Chris Cotter and Graham Chave were also present as well as a host of other regulars : drool-worthy Mayumi of Beer Bar Bitter, big Mark of the massive leather jacket, some newer good-characters such as Henry and Sean who I hadn’t met before and my team-mate Rei who was a total star in the quiz. And my team won! Amazing. I forgot to claim a prize in the end but I don’t really care, it was so much fun. And I got two taste tests right too (!) – correctly identifying four beers each time in a blind tasting. As Paul took pains to point out I’ve always been utter crap at these in the past so I was super pleased with myself on this occasion. I shall miss the annual beer tastings, they were a great event and a good opportunity to catch up with old friends, and I shall miss Paul too, one of my oldest friends in Japan (I first met him in a Tengu izakaya in Koriyama city back in 1997), he has gradually gained status over the years as one of my bestest (and most supportive) mates. He and his wife are moving back to Australia later this year so I think I a wee Lambe-tour of Australia may be on the cards in 2009! Anyway, a big お疲れ様 to Paul and Kaori, they obviously worked super hard to make the beer-tasting a really great night. Here’s some piccies (the one of big Mark making team-mates Rei and I look like hobbits is worth waiting for), there’s some commentary on most of the pics if you hover your mouse over them, or you can click on them for a closer look.

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    UPDATE (March 21st): Just got a mail from Paul today which reads: Absolutely poptastic having you stay for a couple of nights. Sunday night was very natsukashii. Baeren’s winter ale Ursus, which is a weizen bock won with 14.2 points and Sankt Gallen’s barley wine came second with 14.1. Those points are out of 20. Paul told us on the night that Baeren’s future is in doubt however as there was an explosion at the factory recently during which the owner was killed, and prompting me upon tasting the beer to declare it “dead good”.

    Holy Crap

    I saw this video on the imminent collapse of the U.S. dollar today and thought “Holy Crap!”. “U.S. balance of payments deficits is so strong and irreversible, that we must accept that at some future date there will be a run against the dollar. Probably the kind of disorderly run that precipitates a global financial crisis.” Dr. Paul A Samuelson (Nobel Prize winner in economics) said that in 2005. Obviously some big changes lie ahead…

    GOOD.

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/4n3g5lUgkWk" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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  • There’s a fresh posting up on you know what which is not so much a review this time as just a guide to stores in Kyoto supplying organic food and other eco-friendly products: Natural Food!

    Kotake-san is currently serving piping hot pots of tasty tasty nabe at Little Bamboo right now. And no-one is ordering it! I guess the weather hasn’t been cold enough for rich autumnal broth just yet… because you know… THE WEATHER IS MAD. But I had a pot of vegetable nabe in a rich and creamy tomato sauce last night and it was swee-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! I could barely walk afterwards I was so full but still – recommended!

    And here’s another “Crazy Clef” video from Saturday afternoon.

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://uk.youtube.com/v/UYPJFb8c1Bs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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  • This has to be the most uncomfortable summer I’ve had yet; too hot at night to sleep, and too hot in the day to eat… I spend all day indoors sitting in my underwear in front of my fan. But perhaps you don’t want to picture that. (Email me if you do). And of course, always in the background I hear the tick-tock-ticking as summer winds down to… BACK TO SCHOOL TIME! Yes, I’m depressed. But I keep busy!

    Another fresh fresh posting up on Deepity-Deep Kyoto today telling you where to find Kyoto’s best pizzas:Pizza-Ya. Yeah! Yeah! Tasty pizza!

    Tell me you don’t want to eat that!

    And here’s a curious video (just for you Chris) of Dick Cheney, back in the alternate universe of 1994, telling us just exactly why it would be absolute madness to get involved in the “quagmire” of Iraq. Well, thank goodness we didn’t do that then.

    Just how many additional dead Americans was Sadam worth?

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  • A fresh review up on Deep Kyoto today of the restaurant/gallery Neutron Cafe.

    Yesterday, Kageyama-san, Betty and I went on a little day trip to Kobe. Kageyama-san is an excellent guide to Kobe as he often “escapes from Kyoto” to enjoy the more cosmopolitan atmosphere there and also – the good food. The first place he took us was a real Italian restaurant (with a real Italian pizza chef!) near Sannomiya Station called Ristorante R. Valentino. Here’s some pictures of the food:

    前菜

    Tuna & Olive Spaghetti

    Pizza Margheritta


    A set lunch consists of pizza or pasta, coffee or tea and desert. We ordered three set lunches; one pasta and two pizzas and shared. It was good value and damn tasty but the pizzas are pretty massive so we might have been better off ordering for two. After that we wandered round the Kitano-cho area to view some of the famous European residences there. This may have been a mistake as it was a super hot and muggy day and pretty soon we were wilting in the heat and ducking into air-conditioned shops at every opportunity. Kageyama-san also took us on a window-shopping tour of some the stores under the railway tracks and finally to bar Piccolo. Kageyama-san described it as the Tsurugi of Kobe and in that it is a “rock bar” it does bear some resemblance. The master here is also a sometime visitor to Tsurugi himself. However, Piccolo opens promptly at 7.30 p.m. and rapidly fills up with a young and varied crowd. It is also spacious and neat and organized. Cool place. Nice beers. Here are some more pictures, just hover your cursor over them for extra information or double click for a closer look:

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  • What is the correct spelling for “kworr”? You know, “kworr” a la Sid James, as in “Kworr! She’s a bit of alright…”. Cwor? Kwaurgh? Quor? Anyway…

    Two fresh reviews up on Deep Kyoto today. In one I check out the hype around Café Opal and find it somewhat lacking… In the other I find love at Bangkok Garden. Well, love the food anyway…

    Here’s a soppy love song to keep you funtertained till I think of something more interesting to write.

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://uk.youtube.com/v/XmgRNxcy07s" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

    Mikey goes to the pub. Going to Joanne-Matsuri tonight. Will explain more (with pictures) later…

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  • School’s out for summer! Yay-hey-hoo-hoo-ha!

    Ahem. There’s a fresh review up on Deep Kyoto of Café Bibliotic Hello! today. I first went there three years ago on the recommendation of one Duncan Flett, and then somehow forgot all about it until my colleague Helen Bisset reminded me of it today. In the intervening years the Palm trees have gotten a little bit out of hand.

    Nice place though (if a little pricey).

    And following on from yesterday’s mini-rant, here is further confirmation of the ineptitude of officials: Japan Admits Greater Nuclear Leak

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