The wife & I have birthdays one day apart. I don't think our parents planned it that way since way back then there was no Internet, email, and not too many phones even in my wife's hometown up in Hokkaido (maybe not very many in my birth state of Indiana either, I imagine).
Saturday, my birthday, dawned bright and hot, which is pretty typical for August in Tokyo (we gotta get out of this town in August next year!). That meant a hot & sunny day on the golf course for me for a round out at Tama Hills, the US Air Force's course that is only about a 30 minute drive from home. 30 minutes to the course is a real treat in Japan also where many people, including yours truly, drive or have driven for 2 or 3 hours to get to a course. Add about 6 hours for a round on a typical Japanese course (includes the mandatory lunch stop & the shower / ofuro (Japanese style bath) aftwards, then another 2, 3, or maybe even 4 hours with the traffic drive home and you can see that a round of golf in Japan can easily take up one's entire day - and part of the evening.
After a round that saw me missing a few putts and shooting 5 more than my 88 score of the week before we headed for the great veranda that Tama Hills clubhouse boasts where i enjoyed the next hour having my birthday cigar with my good friend Jon who was over from Korea for a business trip. Jon lived here for a few years & we were pretty regular golfing buddies while he was here so it's always nice to have him back in town and challenging each other out on the course. Now, if I could only hit those 300 yard drives that he gets sometimes...!
Back home the wife & I pulled the cork on a very fine bottle of '97 Pichon Baron. 11 years in the bottle has done this wine fine justice and I had to stop myself from polishing off the whole bottle. Great stuff! My good friend Terry, who writes a mighty fine BLOG on dining in Tokyo (http://gaishoku.blogspot.com/) would really appreciate this wine - sorry Terry - alllll GONE!
Sunday is the wife's birthday and I cooked up some heart-healthy flapjacks (hey, we're not spring chickens anymore, gotta eat heart-healthy) for breakfast. I even ground up the oats in the foodmill to make 'em super healthy.
Afternoon saw us on our bicycles, something we do from time to time, heading for a ride around some unexplored streets of our west Tokoy neighborhood. There are lovely older Japanese style homes spotted around the area with beautifully maintained trees and gardens - nice to see as we ride by. After a bit of pedaling we decided a late lunch would be in order and since there is a ramen shop we've been wanting to try for a while we turned west and pedaled off in search of this fine noodle establishment known as Ivan Ramen. We got there about 1:30 and we were surprised to see a line of people stretching away from the front door. The owner, Ivan, told us that the line wasn't as long as it sometimes gets on a Sunday afternoon; maybe the rain was keeping a few people at home. Taking our places at the end of the line we waited for about 45 minutes till our turn to take a couple of the 10 seats came up. The wait was definitely worth it. Ivan makes all the noodles by hand and we opted for the shoyu (soy sauce) based ramen soup with "everything." Everything means we got a variety of ingredients including a very generous portion of 3 or 4 slices perfectly prepared chashu pork, a hanjyuku (soft boiled) egg, and a few other very tasty ingredients. Ivan brought us a dish of his home made, top-notch, lemon flavored ice cream for our birthday dessert. A couple of cans of frosty cold "beer of the day" (in this case an Australian beer) to wash down the ramen was another good choice.
If you're looking for a great bowl of ramen, in a friendly little place (10 seats) head on out to Rokka Koen Station on the Keio Line and walk about 2 minutes north to Ivan's place. You can get a map at www.ivanramen.com (website is in mainly Japanese, but enough English on the site to get you there).
Bellies full, taste buds happy, we climbed aboard our trusty bikes for a wet ride home - the rain had decided to do more than sprinkle by this time. Fortunately, it isn't a long ride, but we were definitely wet & ready for hot showers by the time we got home.
Now, all showered & dry I think I'll head for the bottle of Pichon and do justice to the rest of the bottle!
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