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Brother coming home from 3 weeks in Japan...What should we make?

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My brother is returning from a 3-week sabatical in Japan. He is terribly sick of anything resembling sushi, tempura, yakitori...etc. He has requested Italian for his welcome home dinner. I was thinking starting with either a caprese salad or his favorite tomato soup, either some sort of pasta or risotto with a variety or mushrooms, maybe a hint of truffle oil, or perhaps some shrimp, with a side of either broccoli rabe or braised fennel. Maybe tiramisu for dessert?
Anybody have fabulous recipes for any of these tentative ideas, or any better ideas? Thanks

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  1. when my buddy came home from Japan, he would have sold his soul for a slice of "real" pizza

    1. Considering that a decent steak costs about $10,000 in Japan, perhaps something that combines that with Italian, like:

      Steak Fiorentina

      1 T-bone steak, at least 3 inches thick (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
      1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
      2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
      2 tablespoons kosher salt
      1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
      6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
      4 pounds spinach, washed, spun dry, stems removed
      1 lemon, juiced
      Salt and pepper

      Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
      Pat the steak dry. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, sage, thyme, black pepper, and kosher salt until well blended. Coat the entire steak with the spice mix and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place on the grill and cook until well-charred, about 12 minutes on the first side and about 9 minutes on the second side. Let stand 5 minutes.
      Meanwhile, in a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil until smoking. Add the garlic and cook until light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach and stir quickly, cooking just until wilted. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and salt and pepper, and set aside.
      Carve the fillet and strip steaks off the bone and slice. Divide the spinach and steak among 4 plates, giving each some of the fillet, and drizzle each serving with a few tablespoons of the remaining olive oil.

      1. If you can get or bake a good crusty bread (ciabatta would be my vote), I bet that would be much appreciated. My friend has been living in Japan for 3 years now and I remember him talking about how much he missed good bread.

        1. After two years of living in Japan, I came back to L.A. and met all my family at El Torito for Sunday brunch. Far away from anything Asian.... (And, I don't even like mexican food).
          I didn't even want to smell rice, noodles, seafood or green tea. I did miss cheese, good salads, American veges and fresh fruits. When I was there 1991-1993, 2 large tomatoes were 450 yen. That's about 4.50$! And, fresh fruits...an 8oz. cup of cherries in the summer was 750 yen = about 7.50$. Forget about melons, mango, papaya, strawberries and the like. They were way too expensive. Take advantage of the summer and offer what's in season. :) KQ

          1. when I came home from Japan, I was mostly missing cheese and chocolate. Mostly cheese. Cheddar and blue cheese mostly. Dairy in general.