To watch Yoshihiro Imai cook behind the tiny counter of his restaurant Monk, located along the Philosophers Path between two of Kyoto’s most famous temples, is to witness him commune with nature. For each meal, using only his wood-burning oven, Imai carefully prepares a parade of vegetables he harvested or purchased the same morning in nearby Ohara village (known for its red shiso). At the apex of dinner arrives a single perfect pizza. Monk combines essays on the producers and concepts behind his dishes, beautifully photographed, plus a selection of his wood-fired recipes: bamboo shoot with caciocavallo and Japanese herbs; beets and figs roasted in a coffee salt crust; cherry leaf roast beef; and his dough and pizzas such as fiddlehead fern with koshiabura, sprouts of a wild tree related to ginseng.
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