How’s 2017 going so far? We’ve been spending our time wandering around, in the sunshine – it’s relentlessly sunny here in Tokyo, in a good way, except for the last two days of rain. The weather forecast is ridiculously accurate: if they predict rain at 2 pm, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll need an umbrella at 2. If you’re ever in Tokyo, and it’s sunny but people are carrying umbrellas and all the combinis (convenience stores) roll out their racks of umbrellas, know that everyone else is in the know even if it looks like clear and sunny skies.
Rain for the past two days meant that we spent some time indoors, checking out the traditional new years’ sales. Essentially everything is discounted, so it’s a great time to buy, if you’re looking. We found Mike a cute noragi jacket – a sort of padded kimono type jacket for only $30 and I’ve been jealous of it ever since because it’s so cold in our place.
Whenever it’s cold, I tend to get really hungry, and to be honest, I’ve been getting a little bit squishy here. It’s hard not to because there’s so much good food! I’m totally susceptible to marketing and there are tonnes of large photos of food here – it seems like I’m constantly in a state of hunger. Take for example, our little neighborhood. We have cute artisanal places that don’t have photos, but we also have coffee chains that have giant banners.
Whenever we head out, we pass by a Doutor (kind of like Starbucks but with more food). For the past month, they’ve had a promotion with a giant photo of a tuna melt with the perfectest melty cheddar cheese. Every day I see that cheesy tuna melt and everyday I want to eat it. I haven’t caved in yet though because who the heck goes to Japan to eat tuna melts!? (Full disclosure here, Mike and I have been to Shake Shack three times while in Tokyo, so maybe we are the people who go to Japan to eat tuna melts?!)
Anyway, the cheese looks melty and amazing and got Mike and I started on a discussion on how I think cheese is a big thing here and Mike thinks it isn’t. I feel like I see cheesy things all the time: cheese baum (cheesecake baked into a baumkuchen), cheesy ramen, cheesy curry, cheesy pancakes, cheesy everything! It’s funny though, because when you go to the grocery store, you’d expect to find a huge cheese selection, but you don’t. They have some imported New Zealand cheeses, but most of the cheese is shredded what looks to be mozzarella as well as their version of American cheese. They do have cheese from Hokkaido, which is very exciting, but at regular grocery stores all the cheese from Hokkaido seems to be cream cheese. Which explains the obsession with cheesecake, at least.
I think we’re going to have to go on a deeper Japanese cheese dive, because cheese. Mike found this cute cheese stand, so maybe we’ll hit it up. In the meantime, to abate the need for cheese, I present you with EBM! We made this bad boy back home, where there is cheese a plenty. It’s basically an extra cheesy mac and cheese, with bacon bits thrown in and soft baked eggs on top for good measure. It creeps up on you like a good EDM track. There’s the deep beat of the mac, the bass of the bacon, and the drop: the eggs on top. Breakfast and mac and cheese lovers unite!
cheese and more cheese,
Breakfast Mac and Cheese with Baked Eggs Recipe
- 4-6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
- 2 cups dry macaroni or small pasta of choice (I used scoobi doo/cavatappi)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups grated cheese of choice (I used a mix of mozza and cheddar)
- extra cheese for baking, if desired
- 4 large eggs
inspired by Indulgent Eats
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Fry the bacon until crispy, set aside.
Boil your pasta until al dente, according the package. When it’s done, drain and set aside until your sauce is finished.
In the same pot or a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for about three minutes, until completely smooth and incorporated. Pour in 1 cup of the milk in a thin stream while whisking. It might start out lumpy, but keep whisking and it will smooth out into a thick paste. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Keep on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the salt and pepper, and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add the drained pasta and bacon and and gently mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Place the mac and cheese in an oven-proof skillet.
Make four small wells in the mac. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and pour the whites into the wells. This’ll ensure that the white are cooked while the yolks stay runny. Sprinkle cheese around the wells, if using. Bake until the whites are almost set, about 10 minutes. Top the whites with the yolks and bake until the yolks are just starting to set, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!