Fancy Valentine's Dinner and Fox Village

Valentine's Day ended up being a nice weekend getaway because it coincided with the long weekend for President's Day.  We decided to head down to Sendai with a side trip to Zao to see Fox Village.  Since we were already going to be in Sendai on Valentine's Day, I decided to make a reservation at one of the restaurants in the Westin.  One reason I picked this restaurant was the view.
Not a bad place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine!
The menu was a pre-set holiday menu but since I made the reservation in advance I was able to tailor the menu with the manager in advance to better meet our food preferences (I don't eat meat).

The first course was a nice piece of salmon with a cream dip and what we believe was mustard.
It was delicious!
Next was a seared fish dish served with anchovy ice cream.  I tried it, and while it was interesting, it was just too salty to eat all of it.  I believe the fish served here was Spanish mackerel.
Nice, fresh bread.
With some butter and olive oil.
The next dish was probably the best course of the evening.  This is a salt-crusted fish cooked inside the salt covering.  If you look closely you can make out the shape of the fish.  The waitress explained this was a Japanese cooking technique.  She used a knife and carved the fish out table side.
Then she sliced it and served it, showing us the beautiful layers stuffed inside.  She even added the veggies and sauce right there at the table.  There's spinach, saffron rice, and egg inside.
More bread, which we didn't need, but we tried it anyway.
Then came Ryan's steak.
And for me it was a piece of lobster. and a scallop.
Then came dessert.  It was a citrus fruit, chocolate mousse, ginger ice cream, and some cotton candy garnish.
Well, you would think that was it, which of course was our assumption.  We finished up our wine and as I started putting on my sweater the server came over and whispered to us that "the chocolate fondue will be coming out shortly".  The WHAT???  A second dessert?  Yes, Valentine's Day is so special that you get to have dessert twice.  

What a wonderful meal, great view, awesome service, and best off all, I got to enjoy this special night with my husband.
The next day Ryan and I headed to Zao to visit Fox Village.  Ryan first spotted this on an article he came across on StumbleUpon.  The pictures of the foxes were just too cute to resist, so we started planning this trip.  Of course we ended up here in February so it was covered in snow.  The good news was that it wasn't too cold and it wasn't snowing at the time.
No clue what this guy was doing here, but it was a little funny so I decided to take a picture.  
Here is the entrance.  Since you get to actually go into the area with the foxes there is some area that separates the outside world from the zoo area.
In the very front area after passing through the store there are some foxes attached with a collar to a leash on a porch.

Food is obviously more interesting than people.  Glad to know people weren't being considered as food!
After a quick look at the foxes right out front, Ryan and I entered the main area.  It is a fenced in area where both people and foxes roam free.  Very, very free!  And lots and lots of foxes!  I really liked that we had the chance to view the foxes out in the snow.

In case you were wondering, we did discover what the fox says.  Let's just say, it is not pretty!  Especially if you are the only female fox around and 15 or so males are surrounding you!

As you can see, I took a ton of pictures.  I wasn't scared of them and I didn't feel at risk for any issues.  I did have a few get close but mostly they saw me as in their way and just ran quickly passed me.

This area contained some houses too to provide shelter.  Some were sleeping inside these.

This was definitely one of the cutest things we saw while there.

Also very, very cute!

Here is a group waiting for some hot dogs.  Ryan and I went up into an enclosed and elevated structure so we could feed them the hot dog pieces we bought in the store.  It was nice that they provided a place to feed them that was able to keep people and fox separated, which was definitely safer.

Here is a snow mound with some sleeping foxes.

So cute!  Seriously, there was so much cute here that it wasn't funny!

After we left the enclosed fox area we headed over to see the bunnies.

Then we checked out some of the foxes in a separate caged area.  I assume there was a good reason why they were separate, but I didn't see anything in English that indicated why.

Next up came petting time.  They had one fox and visitors could get in line and take turns petting the fox, alongside a staff member.  Not going to lie, this was pretty cool!
And then we felt like we really needed to go back into the main fenced in area.

Next on the agenda was a trip up to see the Snow Monsters at Zao.  Well that was the plan until part of the way up the road (known as Echoline) we were caught in what I suspect was a massive blizzard and discovered that the road was actually closed.  As in, big metal gate and couldn't drive any higher. It was actually very scary since there was zero visibility and hairpin turns with the switchbacks on the mountain.  We were practically driving using the GPS as a guide but it was too much when other traffic was coming down at us.  Thankfully we made it back down safely and back to Sendai without any serious problems.  The issue was that at ground level it was clear and not snowing so we had no way to know that part way up the mountain was a massive storm.  To top it all off, there was a lot of wind and 5-6 foot snow walls, if not higher, so it was like riding through a snow canyon or wave.  I was worried that it could cave in.  But, we made it back!  In order to de-stress and warm up we decided to go our for Indian food.
Yum, yum, yum!  We actually had eaten here before and I managed to find the same place again accidentally, which worked out well.

I must say, that was a wonderful weekend getaway with an amazing meal and a very cute visit with furry little foxes.

QUESTIONS:  How did you celebrate Valentine's Day?  What was the last zoo you visited?  Have you ever been in a free range zoo facility where you could be out in the open with the animals?

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