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He was dressed beautifully and was holding a small, round object that looked like a guitar under his arm. Shinobu did not know what that man's job was. 「When I heard that I would be treated by the famous gourmet Baron, I dropped everything to come all the way here from the capital, but to think that the feast would be at a pub. I did not realise that I had offended the Baron's feelings to the extent that he would write up an invitation to plot such an elaborate revenge? 」 「That's not it. That's not it at all, Crowvinkel.」 As soon as the name Crowvinkel was uttered, Guild Master Godhardt and Arnoux, who both happened to be present, turned around.
One would think that the two were acquainted with each other, but Shinobu concluded that it wasn't the case, as a Water Transportation Guild Master and a prodigal son shouldn’t have many mutual acquaintances. 「The food here is wonderful, Crowvinkel. I believe you remember the uproar during Miss Hildegarde's wedding ceremony that day.」 「Was it the "Ankake Yudofu" incident? From what I can remember, I more or less concluded that it was just an imaginary dish thought up by the young lass, since there wasn't a dish like that in the Eastern Kingdom. Did something new happen around Baron Branton's surroundings after that?」 「Crowvinkel, it's this store. This was the store that served the 'ankake yudofu'. I also like this place.」 Branton praised Izakaya Nobu with exaggerated hand gestures.
However, Godhardt and Arnoux didn't seem interested in it. They repeatedly glanced towards the other man, as if he was a celebrity and they were making sure that he really was Crowvinkel. 「What! That shop really existed? Even though so many of the Empire's nobles searched for it and failed…it is commendable that Baron Branton actually managed to find it. I deeply regret my terrible impoliteness for my misunderstanding just now.」 「No, it's alright. More importantly, it would feel bad to come to a bar and not eat or drink anything. Let's order right away.」 「Yeah, Yeah, Let's do just that.」 Branton gracefully raised his hand and called out to Shinobu, who had already finished placing down the hand towel and serving the appetizer. 「Can I get two 'Toriaezu Nama'?」 「Sure, two orders of 'Nama' coming.」 She felt elated that he had done his research on the store before coming.
The last time he came, he had paid one gold coin for just a pork cutlet sandwich, so she thought that he might be a surprisingly playful noble. 「Well then, I'll have whatever you recommend. If possible, something hot.」 「Sure. Something hot, huh.」 「Though it isn't necessary to say in advance, please make it delicious. After all, it will enter the mouth of this minstrel, Crowvinkel here.」 「Oh.」 When Shinobu heard the word "minstrel", something flashed through her mind. Also, Arnoux had said that he would aim to become just like Crowvinkel.
That was probably why those two had been looking over here with sparkling puppy eyes Shinobu turned around to tell this to Nobuyuki, but it seemed that he had already noticed.
He didn't say anything and tried to contain his smile while working hard to prepare the dishes for the two gourmets. 「Sorry for the wait.」 「Hoh, this is…」 Nobuyuki chose to serve oyster gratin for their orders. In addition to the flesh of the oyster, the oyster gratin preserved the flavour of the oyster by pouring the white sauce onto the oyster shell itself. Oyster gratin Not only did it look fancy, it also tasted good. He had a feeling that if it was left to Shinobu's tastes, the seasoning would end up close to the what people in the Old Capital were used to, but in the end, it was only a matter of preference.
How would the two gourmets judge this? 「Using the shell of the gun shellfish to serve gratin, this is quite fascinating. There was a chef who had a similar train of thought at an inn in the Eastern Kingdom, but it was just hollowing out a watermelon and serving fruit with molasses in it. That was interesting, but this is quite splendid. 」 「The taste is also quite good, Crowvinkel. The temperature of the gun shellfish is just right.」 Branton, who had eaten two mouthfuls of the gratin, was starting on his next oyster. On the other hand, Crowvinkel was deep in thought about something as he let his first oyster sit in his mouth. 「Ex-excuse me, was it not to your liking?」 Even though Shinobu asked unintentionally, Crowvinkel didn't reply. This kind of customer was unusual.
This behaviour reminded her of an undercover examiner who had come to Ryotei Yukitsuna. 「I see.」 Unlike the previously talkative Crowvinkel, he only made a single remark before putting his beer mug to his mouth.
She couldn't tell if he was satisfied or not from his expression. 「How was it, Crowvinkel? Wasn't it wonderful?」 「That is so, Baron.」 「What's wrong? Did you not like the gratin?」 「No, that isn't the case.」 Crowvinkel cleared his throat slightly and stared at Nobuyuki. The minstrel and chef locked eyes, appraising each other.
It was Crowvinkel, who began to talk first. 「This is very delicious, but this isn't the normal flavour. Am I wrong?」 「It is as you said… 」 Nobuyuki bowed respectfully.
In this situation, Nobuyuki didn't want to lie. The head chef from Yukitsuna, Tonoharu, had properly taught him that. 「I have strong faith in Baron Branton's tongue. If it is the shop that he recommends, I want to enjoy all the cooking secrets of this shop.」 When he said that, Shinobu was troubled. However, if she opened her mouth here, things would get complicated, so she kept quiet. 「I have a request for the store owner. Please let me eat the dish that you have the most confidence in, right now.」 「I understand.」 「If the taste satisfies me, I suppose I would be willing to grant a request of yours.」