Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pasta with pesto and spicy hummus in Tokyo



So in Tokyo this week, living a Travelife, I've so far been more into cooking than into eating out.

I'm here for a short visit, basically to cheer lots of friends who have entered the Tokyo Marathon this weekend. No running for me, though, unless we're talking about running after an airplane...

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GREAT INGREDIENTS ABROAD

Ironically, I cook more when I'm abroad as I usually have more time and more of an inclination to do so. The produce you find abroad is just so good and abundant.

I was at one of the main expat supermarkets here in Tokyo the other day, for instance, and I was truly shocked to literally find everything I could want in terms of food ingredients from around the world. 

I really shouldn't be shocked about this, as I've lived in Tokyo for so long; but I guess it's because I haven't been here in a very long time.

SWEET, DELICIOUS INSPIRATIONS

Seeing everything I could possibly want in the kitchen suddenly inspired me to cook instead of eating out. I haven't canceled any of those Michelin restaurants from my diary, but I've been cooking in between.

And I mean cooking from scratch.


Yesterday I made hummus and tabbouleh from raw ingredients simply because I was so craving for this and it was easier than trying to find a real Middle Eastern restaurant in Tokyo.

Besides, I saw all the ingredients I needed in the supermarket. As in whole chickpeas, fresh but frozen harissa and all. And my friends raved over the truly freshly-made hummus.


THE BEST PESTO I'VE MADE SO FAR

Today, I made a pesto sauce for a pasta of artisanale spaghettini from south of Italy.

I literally did a mortar and pestle act on fresh basil leaves picked off a plant, pine nuts, garlic, pecorino cheese and all.

Of course you can now dump all these ingredients in a food processor, if you wish; but personally I feel that the old-fashioned way still makes a difference in the consistency of the sauce and the way the flavors are pounded out of the ingredients.



It was the best pesto sauce I've made in a long time. Even I had three servings of my own pasta with pesto sauce.

Many people like to use fussili pasta with pesto, but I really like mine with spaghettini pasta that I drizzle the best olive oil I can find over first, before adding the pesto.

FROM NORMANDY WITH GUSTO

For a starter, I made my specialty of French moules with a white wine sauce, as I'd found a batch of moules from Normandy in the same supermarket.

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THIS IS WHAT WILL ROCK MY WORLD

The only thing I haven't found so far, even in Tokyo, is incredibly fresh burrata.

"Fresh burrata" is readily available in Tokyo, of course, but I haven't found yet the burrata dripping with freshness and creaminess that will make you want to cry.

That kind of burrata can't happen if any kind of air freight is involved.


The last time I had a burrata of this quality was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague last year in June. I credit the hotel's quality suppliers and the fact that it's a hop and a skip from Italy to Prague for the freshness.

It was so good I ordered two very large servings for myself and I didn't talk for about 30 minutes.



So if I find a burrata of that level in Tokyo, finally, you'll know it. I probably won't be able to blog for about two days.

Until then, you'll keep hearing from me about just another day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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