The barbie at the embassy in Washington was a blast! The Ambassador was pleased that we managed to showcase new Aussie cuisine with the traditional but it was such a hectic week! Man, I’m ready to chill!
I hear the whirring of the heli fade into the distance. And then quiet… A deathly silence! Except the mountain sounds like it’s booming with loud thumps! Ahh, it’s only my pumping heart in my ears! My nostrils hurt as I suck in the cold air. I look around — it’s panoramic. I see Mt Yotei and Hirafu in the near distance. I look down the north slope — that’s where we’re plunging today. Open powder lines, some cliff drops, birch trees to glide between — looks like it’s gonna be a mind-blowing ride! Mind-blowing!
The Niseko/Kutchan area is famed for producing the best potatoes in Japan.
It’s Sunday, we decide to do a short circuit on our cycles round the back roads to Annupuri. Cycling’s become a hot sport here. The air’s crisp, clean and fresh, really conducive to bikers. The scenery is amazing with the wildflowers all abloom. It’s a riot of colours. We stop at Milk Kobo for a cuppa of long blacks and the best cream puffs ever. The roads wind through potato fields, up forests of pine and on a lazy Sunday like today, it’s quiet with hardly any traffic. Perfect cycling conditions!
Jon’s suggesting that we take part next year in Tour de Hokkaido, which is gaining fame. He wants to come back to The Maples next season. He likes the summers here in Niseko, says we should take advantage while it’s still one of the best kept secrets for cycling. Winters are too busy for him — my friend’s become a bit of a hermit. Methinks it’s because of Yuki, who works the front desk at The Maples.
In addition to being an important stage for Tour de Hokkaido, Niseko also hosts several local cycing races and events like the Niseko Classic.
Having fallen in love with café culture during his pro snowboarding days, it was only natural for Ihara-san to open Mountain Kiosk Coffee Stand when the opportunity arose. His barista apprenticeship began in a café in Kutchan, which led to a stint understudying a champion barista friend. The rest, as they say, was history.
プロのスノーボーダー時代にカフェ文化に魅了された井原さんが「Mountain Kiosk Coffee Stand」をオープンしたのは、自然な成り行きだった。バリスタ修行は倶知安（くっちゃん）のカフェで始まり、それが友人であるバリスタチャンピオンの見習いへとつながった。それが始まりだった。
The beans used at Mountain Kiosk are chosen and roasted through a special collaboration between Ihara-san and Takano-san of Takano Coffee; both consummate individuals sharing a single vision to serve consistently great coffee. Takano-san and his wife had arrived in Niseko to escape the monotony of Tokyo living. Free to do what they want, the couple have taken coffee roasting standards to exemplary levels.
I might think of starting a casual grub place, been talking to some people interested to invest. Niseko’s perfect — so much fresh produce, a chef can really whip up some good Aussie fare here. Good seafood from Hokkaido, potatoes, corn, veg, fruits, dairy! Chef’s paradise. And the place is up and coming for the dining scene, growing in popularity — makes sense to think seriously about it. Perhaps next year!