Month: October 2012

Shinsen-en // Garden of Divine Springs

Shinsen-en (神泉苑) or Garden of Divine Springs is a surprise discovery, en-route to Nijo Castle. I was a little lost, walking a long way from Nijo Station and not seeing the castle, I wandered into Shinsen-en hoping to get some directions from the kind-looking locals sitting in the shade. I was really glad that I did. This is one of those moments I will always love during travels – not really planning, and stumbling upon a beautiful place or a hidden corner that was not as widely-written as those on my itinerary. In all sense of the experience, a discovery of a hidden treasure. It is after seeing this beauty that I did some research after I returned from Kyoto. The crimson bridge will catch your eyes when you first enter Shinsen-en. Hosei Bridge 法成橋 has an elegant curved line, which reflects perfectly in the pond surface, where its strong vermilion seems to quiver with every ripple and every wave. The azaleas shrubs along the length of the pond made mirror images on the pond …

Casa Tartufo // House of Truffles

Recently, I have been feeding my addiction to truffles in what I hope is a modest way. Trying not to burn a hole in my wallet, I have stocked up 2 condiments – white truffles olive oil and black truffle-infused sea salt, and made some really simple, but satisfying dishes at home, whenever the addiction hits. Having similar addiction, some of my friends organized a dine-out session at Casa Tartufo Ristorante (House of Truffles Restaurant), making a reservation 3 weeks in advance – something that we seldom ever do, and take the wonderful opportunity to try some really expensive dishes at special prices found only during the Restaurant Week. During this Restaurant Week, there are 2 seatings (one at 6pm and another at 8pm). The Restaurant served a fixed dinner menu at S$55++ for antipasti (starter), main and dessert. Like any good Italian restaurant that I’ve encountered in Rome and Venice, Casa Tartufo served up herb-infused bread, good quality olive oil and vingarette. It would have been made perfect if they were warm. Be careful …

Katsura River // Arashiyama

Before I left the bamboo forest, I met a local elderly man who was sharing that beautiful view with me. He kindly advised me to hike to the halfway mark at Arashiyama Park (嵐山公園) for a good vantage point of the rolling hills and the Katsura River (桂川). After a slippery hike up a pathway of big, smooth rocks, I had a misty view of the Katsura River, meandering through the mountains with a few huts lining the shore. A few lungful of fresh air made me understand what the Japanese meant by 空気美味しい (translated as the air is very delicious). I made my way down Arashiyama Park and passed little spots of tranquility. If only I could read all those difficult Kanji. Japanese maples provided the perfect canopy for my walk down, letting slivers of the gentle sunlight through. Last night’s rain and the morning dew made their leaves a fresh green – a contrast from the toasty reds of the fallen leaves. Upon reaching the end of the measured steps down, I saw …