Sunday, December 14, 2014

Conquering Mont Blanc at Cafe de Ginza Miyuki-kan Ginza, Tokyo

Always trust your stomach's intuition!  My betsubara (Japanese term for "second stomach, for dessert only") and I were walking along Ginza one evening a few weeks ago when we passed by this cheerfully lit coffee shop that seemed uprooted straight from some sidewalk in Europe. 

Plant boxes filled with festive red flowers and fairy lights were a welcome sight on this cold and rainy evening.  It certainly looked warm and cozy inside.  I had just come from an office dinner but my betsubara had me rooted to the spot.  

The other reason why I just couldn't move on was this large poster showing the signature dish of Cafe de Ginza Miyuki-kan.  This is not spaghetti or any kind of pasta noodle -- this is a picture of a Mont Blanc, a pastry made of cream and pureed chestnuts.  While I had frequently read about it,  I had yet to try one.  
Now, I would finally conquer Mont Blanc!

As it says on the door, Cafe de Ginza Miyuki-kan has been on the scene since 1969.  However, they only started serving the Mont Blanc a little more than 10 years ago so I suppose even if you put these  pastries one on top of the other, they wouldn't be as tall as the real Mont Blanc.

The shop is indeed charming and reminded me of any one of these quaint little coffee shops you'd find in a small town in Europe.  I imagine the french windows open up during spring or summer and you can probably have your coffee al fresco.

While waiting for my tea and Mont Blanc -- the table tent card showed  how a Mont Blanc is constructed.  The base is a meringue disc followed by a topping of cream and then pureed chestnut is piped on in thin ribbons.
I cannot read Japanese but when I did some research on Cafe de Ginza Miyuki-kan, I learned that they use only premium Japanese chestnuts from Kuma, in Kumamoto Prefecture.  Apparently, these chestnuts have a mild aroma and sweetness that works best for the Mont Blanc pastry.
The shop uses about 15 tons of chestnut a year -- serving up an average of 200,000 of these exquisite little pastries.

I unwrapped the thin wax paper surrounding my Mont Blanc to get a better shot of this three tiered dessert -- meringue, cream and chestnut puree.  The chestnut puree is a rich caramel colour -- it's such a delectably dainty  bit of dessert.

After my first forkful -- I became an instant Mont Blanc convert.  
I was a little worried that it would be too sweet -- given the meringue, the cream and the chestnut puree but this was just delightful.   The chestnuts used in the puree must have been laced with just the slightest hint of sugar to allow the natural sweetness of the nut to shine through.
I could actually have eaten another one with relative ease --- who am I kidding, I could have eaten two more with out batting an eye!

But no, such genteel and refined surroundings did not warrant a gluttonous binge.
I scraped the very last bit of my Mont Blanc from the plate and reluctantly stood up to pay my bill.  As I passed by the chiller containing Cafe de Ginza Miyuki-kan's other sweet offerings, I knew that before I headed back home, I would make another stop for their Mont Blanc.
Rather than conquering Mont Blanc, it had conquered me!

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