|The main course yesterday at Sant Pau in Tokyo.|
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Yesterday in Tokyo, living a Travelife, I went around the old Nihonbashi area of Tokyo after lunch at Sant Pau, a Michelin two-star restaurant nearby and Japan's best for Spanish food.
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ONE TANTALIZING FOOD HALL
Nihonbashi is also home to the main store of Mitsukoshi Department Store, one of Japan's largest department store chains.
And the Nihonbashi store has one of the nicest food basements in Japan.
It isn't that large compared to some of the newer department store food basements (called depa-chika, in Japanese), but it has some very good tenants.
ALL MY FAVORITE SHOPS ARE HERE
So many prestigious food shops and sweets stores from Europe have branches in the Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi depa-chika, including my favorite Demel's from Vienna.
Angelina's from Paris, along with so many other famous Paris food brands, also has a counter here.
Of course, it's a given that almost all the best Japanese food brands are here as well.
RACHMANINOFF'S CONCERTO NO. 2
And while I shopped, two elegant women were actually playing a duet on the piano to entertain depa chika visitors -- and they just happened to be playing one of my favorite compositions of all time.
This is Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, which is a terribly emotional piece and so very Russian, actually. It's best for an orchestra with violins, but simply the piano is okay as well.
|Two pianists in a department store.|
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For me, it's one of the most emotional classical music compositions ever written.
And if you know the background and period behind this composition -- it was written at the peak of Czarist Russia and just before the very slow downturn and tragic end of the reign of the Imperial Family, which for me really started in 1905 -- then it becomes even more poignant.
When I hear this composition, which I really love, all I can think of is how Russia was on top of the world when this made its debut -- and then Russia was never the same again after that.
Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi also has a very big store of Eataly, the big food store in Turin, Italy, that is a necessary stopover for serious foodies visiting northern Italy.
Eataly in Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi is not that big, but it's well-stocked.
There is even a restaurant, a cafe and a gelateria serving food using ingredients from Italy.
EVERYTHING DELICIOUS IS HERE
With Eataly here in Tokyo, there really is no need to bring back foodstuffs from Italy itself, unless you are looking for very specialized kinds of food.
I took a quick look around Eataly in Tokyo, and it has a very good selection of everything from pasta to organic honey.
So we decided to have dinner here, ordering three kinds of pasta, just to see if Eataly's Italian food holds up to the real thing.
The pastas were pretty good, for a casual dinner.
WONDERFUL BUFFALO MOZZARELA
But the revelation was the buffalo mozzarela.
Just a few days ago, I wrote here how this is my one foodie heartache -- that it's so hard to find decent and decently fresh buffalo mozzarela in Asia, simply because of the time and distance in sending fresh buffalo mozzarela over to Asia from Europe.
You can get it at high-end food stores all over Asia, of course, but it's not the soft, oozing kind of cheese you get practically straight from the farm, when you're in Southern Europe, in particular.
SAMPLING THE GOODS
Eataly was selling some, and the guy at the shop recommended it. So of course I had to try it.
We bought a pack of buffalo mozzarela and then I had the waiters in the Eataly restaurant slice it and serve it to us as an appetizer with bread, olive oil, salt and pepper. That was all.
Oh wow. It was wonderful -- reminding me almost of that wonderful lunch at the Four Seasons Prague several lifetimes ago, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.