This weekend in Tokyo, living a Travelife, I was compelled upon to extend my stay for a few more days in order to host some visiting VIPs for a series of dinners.
So yesterday, which was a very fine but freezing day, I spent a good part of the afternoon whipping up a five-course French dinner.
And tonight, it's a Japanese kaiseki dinner at one of Tokyo's top restaurants.
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THE JOYS OF COOKING ON WEEKENDS
Wherever I am in the world, I only ever am able to cook properly on a weekend, when I have some time to spare.
On weekdays, I can't really cook, much as I want to, as I just have too many things on my mind to focus on cooking.
LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION
As this dinner was quite last-minute, I had no idea what I would make until I got to the supermarket.
The top supermarkets in Tokyo, by the way, are a joy to shop in because they have such excellent produce and they have ingredients and food fresh from all over the world.
It's literally like having the world in your shopping cart -- and that's because there's enough of a consumer market in this First World country to sustain such business on a large and regular scale.
So I literally walked the aisles looking for inspiration.
GIANT SCALLOPS FROM HOKKAIDO
One of my great finds yesterday were giant scallops, still in their shells, from Hokkaido.
They were fresh and in an aquarium-like container, and still breathing. I bought a kilo of these, and the nice man at the seafood department kindly cleaned and prepared these for me, so that they were all ready for grilling.
ECHIRE BUTTER AND CAMARGUE SALT
Then I bought a pot of Echire butter from France, so that I could dab a little Echire butter on the scallops, and place a pinch of Camargue salt, before grilling.
Such a simple dish, but it won raves all around the table last night.
FROM DEUX MAGOT
I bought fresh baguette from Deux Magot, which has a proper bakery outpost in Tokyo, and everyone used the bread to mop up the sauce afterwards.
The rest of the menu consisted of ceasar's salad with a freshly-made dressing which I learned from a great chef in Paris, delicious foie gras from Perigord, and a cassoulet of duck.
I decided on the cassoulet of duck since it's winter.
HOME-MADE VANILLA CREPE CAKE
WITH VANILLA FROM MADAGASCAR
For dessert, I made a vanilla crepe cake which turned out light as air.
Even I was entranced. I used vanilla from Madagascar and drizzled on it some organic flower honey I'd bought last January in South Africa.
Served with freshly-brewed organic rooibos tea, from South Africa's Cederburg Mountains, it made a most wonderful combination, and ending, to just another lovely evening in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.