I recently received an email from someone who introduced herself as Audrey. The first email was kind of weird because all it said was "we can bring you some chocolates, let me know". But when I checked my other email address, a clearer picture came from it. Apparently, she was googling for information about something in Osaka and came across my blog.
If you have been reading my blog, you'll know that Satoshi takes German language lessons and that I take beading lessons and of course, how much I heart dark chocolate. Well, Audrey felt that those points, parallelled her and her husband with us. You see, she is a jewelry designer and her husband is a former pastry chef, who was trained in Germany by a Swiss master and is now an artisan chocolatier in Oakland.
She wrote that they would be travelling to Japan and would be in Osaka and Kyoto for a couple of days, and would like to meet up for coffee. Now, I like to make new friends and meet new people and try to see the good in everything but I still had mixed feelings about the whole idea--kind of cautious about the whole thing because I didn't actually know who this person was contacting me through the internet and yet, kind of excited because a jewelry designer and her chocolatier husband wanted to meet up with us! Wow!
So, I asked Satoshi if he would come with me, and though we were both cautious about the whole situation, we arranged to meet them in the lobby of their hotel. The weather was just awful, sleety and cold. Still, we were able to locate their hotel and meet up with them. We chatted a bit and asked them what they had been up to and where they wanted to go for lunch. They had seen a shop in their guide book which advertised homemade soba (buckwheat noodles). We made our way to Shijo Avenue and went to Gontaro. The restaurant was very nice and we enjoyed chatting over lunch.
After lunch, we walked the nearby Nishiki market. If you've only shopped in a supermarket, this place is a great experience. All kinds of fresh and dry foods all along this arcade there is definitely an air of excitement.
They had wanted to try some cakes, so I took them to Au Grenier D'or which just off of Nishiki market, I've posted about this place before, (here). Satoshi's dessert was called Pyramid--a chocolate sponge cake with ganache, a chocolate coating and cocoa powder is sprayed onto the coating to give it a kind of fuzzy look--It is supposed to look like the pyramid at the Louvre.
My dessert was called Sicile, a dacquoise japonais meringue with a fluffy ground almond filling and pistachios on top. We all tasted each other's desserts and had a nice tea time. Audrey had a grapfruit tart and Michael had a tart with all kinds of nuts on it. Everything was delicious!
After dessert, we walked to Kiyomizu temple and enjoyed all the shops and sites along the way.
Since we were all getting a bit hungry, we stopped in to have chanko nabe at Kawamura. Chanko nabe is the dish that sumotori (Japanese wrestlers) eat everyday. It is a pot filled with stock and different kinds of meats and veggies. I think the owner of this restaurant used to be a sumotori. Satoshi has taken me to this restaurant before and their food is good. It was nice that Michael and Audrey were willing to try new foods andwe all had a nice time talking and drinking.
It was then time to say goodbye to our new friends and we promised to meet up again either in Oakland or Osaka.
We were fortunate to receive some of Michael's designer bars: From the left clockwise: 72% cacao ginger bar made from single origin criollo Ecuadorian chocolate, 72% cacao orange bar made from single origin criollo Ecuadorian chocolate, 65% cacao cherry, cranberry and blueberry bar made from single origin criollo Venezuelan chocolate, and 65% cacao orange and cranberry bar made from single origin criollo Venezuelan chocolate. Thank you!
I'm not an expert on chocolates, but these chocolates were really delicious--creamy and a bit acidic and I was impressed with the amount of fruits that were on these bars, usually other chocolates kind of skimp on the fruits. These bars had a nice balance of fruit and chocolate and all matched really well with the type of chocolate that was used. Satoshi, who is a milk chocolate lover was impressed by these chocolates and enjoyed them. These chocolates also went very well with the 2003 BIN 555 Shiraz that we had from Wyndham Estate.
If you are in the Oakland area, or are planning a visit to SF, check them out:
Michael Mischer Chocolates
3353 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
Open daily 12:00-21:00
3313 Grand Avenue Suite 202
Oakland, CA 94610
It was a great weekend, hope you have a nice week!