Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kurokawa's Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki (いやしの里 樹やしき): Part 3 - Final Breakfast

On our final morning at Kiyashiki, I was close to tears, because it would mean that we were about to leave. Between the relaxing baths, the charming town, and the gracious service that we received from the entire staff, I was like a little kid finishing up her first visit to Disney World and faced with the realization that life is uncertain, and sometimes you don't get to return to a place so story-tale wonderful. I missed it before it was even over. But at least there was breakfast.
So our final breakfast began in the same room where we had indulged in one of the most decadent dinners of my life. And yet again, Kiyashiki served up one of the finest variety of fresh, delicious dishes one could ever imagine.
On walking into the room, there were many dishes already set before us. One of them was a simple dish of cleanly broiled salmon. The pink meat was sweet and flaky, unctuous and still moist as we broke apart each layer of flesh and enjoyed the salty skin.
And what is breakfast without eggs. Two raw eggs were seated in a little plate. There was an iron nabe pot, with a little paper round set on the bottom so that the eggs would not stick. These eggs tasted more natural and of healthy chicken than anything I could have dreamed of in the States. The yolks were a deep red color, and on cooking, even to the point where the yolks were firm, revealed a silky, rich, and creamy texture.
Deep red yolks from nutritious eggs
There was again the same fresh little salad with a juicy tomato slice. Tomatoes back home are still not ripe, and so this was a real treat. The soy/vinegar-based dressing was also delicious.
Wonderful breakfast salad
The next little plate had a few bites full of sweet barley. It was unexpectedly delicious, and something I might try to replicate at home.
Sweet barley salad
Next a small dish of simmered bamboo and root vegetables. Salty, sweet, and again a touch vinegary, another wonderful taste sensation to enjoy.
Simmered bamboo salad
Another small bowl featured diced fruit, including melon, pineapple and apples, mixed with a touch of tangy yogurt. 
Diced fruit and yogurt
And what would breakfast be without a little glass of milk? This cup of sweet, local gyunyu (so fun to say), was some of the best, fattiest, richest milk I've ever drank. And it came in one of the most adorable little stone cups I've ever seen.
Sweet local milk
Mentaiko is a speciality of Kyushu, and most famous in Fukuoka. We enjoyed a couple small pieces, salty, a touch spicy, and sweetly fishy, along with a couple slices of mustard smothered lotus root. 
Mentaiko and lotus root
Shiitake mushrooms, sliced and stewed in soy and sugar made for a fantastic topping for the rice that came out shortly.
Shiitake mushrooms, with seaweed and onions
A fresh little salad of cabbage and sauteed celery, all topped with bonito flakes rounded out our trio of toppings for the rice.
More light vegetables, stewed and then chilled
topped with katsuobushi
One of the beauties to behold at Kiyashiki was their perfectly balanced miso soup. Each version that we were served throughout our stay proved to be more than the simple miso soup that we would enjoy as an appetizer in the States. These were all based in the same light, salty miso and konbu broth, but each version also included an extra special ingredient. In the case of our breakfast, the miso soup came with floating teeny heads of savory mushrooms, the same type that we had grilled the night before, but this time, we were only treated to those buoyant little caps. Delicious, clean, and comforting in every way.
Miso soup, fit for a king
In a second little nabe pot, off to the right, house made silken tofu cooked while we ate the rest of our meal. When the lid was removed, the soft jiggly bean curd was ready to consume with a touch of grated daikon and a little bit of miso/soy sauce.
Cooking silken tofu
And then there was the rice, springy, sweet, and fragrant, grown in the next village over, which we enjoyed with just about all of the previously mentioned toppings. 
Enjoying rice with the salty mentaiko
I will remember Kiyashiki for the rest of my life. Even today, I fail to attribute words to the experience, and give up without even trying to convey how special the entire stay was when asked by coworkers how the trip was. If someone tried to explain it to me before I went, I'm sure I wouldn't have understood. You're surrounded by calm, by staff who are eager to help you relax and proud of the region that they are from. And then in every direction, there's something delicious to look forward to. 
Even at night, we were treated to the most wonderful little bar area, with a view that I don't know I deserved to lay eyes upon. I'm afraid that I don't have any pictures of the cocktails that the skilled, friendly bartender had crafted for us with remarkable precision. But he was again a fantastic representation of the staff at Kiyashiki: acutely specialized, chatting with us in Japanese, and switching to English when we could not understand. Can you imagine relaxing at a bar with a view like this, sipping incredible cocktails, and all after a meal that so indulgent? I never would have suspected it. Just so perfect.
View in the lounge
The liquor room
I am sure that some people will be a little overwhelmed by the array of traditional Japanese food. But I think that with a few questions, and an understanding smile, anyone can come to appreciate all of this, and get a little swallowed up by the wonder of it all. 
If you are considering a little adventure in Japan, please consider going the extra mile and visiting Kurokawa Onsen. And if you can stay here, please stay at Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki. 

Iyashi no Sato Kiyashiki (いやしの里 樹やしき)
0967-44-0326 (If you call, there is an English speaker at the ryokan)
Here is the email address where we had confirmed details (but I recommend calling first)

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