Sorry, kids. It had to be done.
After this morning's taste of buckwheat ice cream, I'd tasted all of Nagano's specialty foods, save for one. You know the one I'm talking about.
We finally checked in to our über-cozy room at Uotoshi Ryokan, and Uotoshi-san himself gave us a few dining recommendations. What he failed to tell us is that just about everything is closed on Wednesday evenings in Yudanaka.
So just as we were downtroddenly walking through the increasingly heavy snow, resigned to picking up something at Lawson Station (a ubiquitous, 7-11-like entity), some guy was turning on his light and putting out his sign that his restaurant was open for business.
It was an awesome Izakaya-type place, with a gazillion different sake bottles on display, bar seating, and the added bonus of semi-private tatami rooms where you gather around a short table on the floor, drink up, watch TV, and order small plates 'til you burst.
My mom pointed out that they have that Nagano specialty dish. The one that whinnies and snorts and makes or breaks people at the race track. The one that you ride, that is your companion, that has this amazing sixth sense... until you turn it into glue. Or dinner, as the case is here...
Sadly, it really is delicious. It's about the tenderest super-lean meat I've had in ages. Low in fat, high in flavor, zero gaminess. In fact, I'd probably eat it again, beyond the whole eating-as-an-adventure thing. Maybe next time I'm in France I'll have horse tartare. In the meantime, I'll never go to the race track and be the same again.