An Afternoon in Provence

I just discovered my favorite place: Cafe la Famille, a half-acre of France that lost its way and settled in the middle of a Japanese neighborhood.

It was a grey and drizzly day yesterday, so a friend and I decided to postpone our hiking plans and we settled instead for a late, leisurely lunch. I suggested trying Cafe la Famille, the French bistro in Yuki city that everyone in Ibaraki has recommended to me. Seriously, residents of towns 45 minutes away from Yuki have raved about Cafe la Famille, so I was expecting the food to be pretty good. What I was not expecting was this:

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It was as if we had stepped straight into a little French farmhouse in the countryside of Provence. And the café itself was absolutely charming:  rustic wood tables and chairs, servers in black-and-white striped shirts, a combination of Celtic and Parisian music playing in the background… Not to mention the food!

We ordered galettes — thin, buckwheat crêpes from the Brittany region of France — and bottles of cidre doux (sweet hard cider). Japan likes 3-course set meals, though, so we ended up starting with a pumpkin soup made from Cafe la Famille’s own garden-grown pumpkins. Our galettes followed, and they tasted exactly like the ones I used to eat in France. They paired perfectly with the cidre, which was of course imported from France for authenticity! Following the meal was dessert: a delicious little pumpkin scone (again, made using the cafe’s own pumpkins) topped with vanilla ice cream, and accompanied by iced chai teas.

All of this for 2,300 yen per person (about $21)!

We learned that the menu at Cafe la Famille is always changing because it is based upon the produce in season (as well as what they grow in their gardens) — the way it should be in restaurants.  My friend and I both loved our experience so much that we want to make lunches here a monthly occurrence, especially so we can sample all the different the seasonal menus. Plus, the entire staff was unbelievably kind to us — showing great patience, using easy Japanese, and asking us curious questions. As we left, they all warmly invited us to return, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back.

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Finding Cafe la Famille is like discovering a home away from home. Whenever I really need it, an afternoon in France is just a few steps away.

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