Ratatouille on hotplate with egg

I love traveling on red eye flights. Because most people will go to sleep or at least try to do so; that means the cabin will be kind of quiet especially when the stewardess turn down the lights. The other reason is to watch the sunrise--watching the distant orange egg yolk glow until the the sky is bright shooting sparkles off the endless blue sea underneath. I always find it breathtaking. Our flight landed early in the morning at Narita Airport. An hour later, we were up in the sky again to Hokkaido. By then, I was extremely sleepy. I was on a not-my-usual airliner and the petite seats seems to only cater for their petite people. This time I really regret claiming the first sentence I've just wrote.
!2 hours later from where we started and after another long bus ride to get to where we suppose to be. We finally stop for a proper first meal. Although lunch was a quick bento-type-business lunch rather than a somehow expected feast, we were all happy to dig into a tray with neat compartments of sashimi and temperas. Everything was pretty and delightful. Even the unidentifiable pickles (It was beetroot red and some almost neon yellow stuff top with little fried sticky fish and micro greens) were great too. Of course, we were offered beers to wash them down being on their home ground at the beautiful Autumn garden of Asahi Brewery Park.
Look at the beer tap. The white part is all ice!
By then, after all food and alcohol began to kick in, the only logical thing to do was hot shower and bed. At the tour, it seems quite a task to stay focus. My brains kept drifting away but the boys (the other people I've traveled with) paid great attention to our Japanese Asahi tour guide. She was cute with a voice so sweet and demure that will makes ice-cream melt in winter. She guided us through the brewery, along the corridors that oversee the vast production line, always walking backwards so that she face us as she talks all the time (I never thought that walking backwards for so long is possible, it's fasinating). I never caught her once without smiling (I can never smile for a straight hour without my face feeling cramp). I swear to be more like them when I get home. I am sure my boyfriend will be a very happy man. 
The best part comes after the tour where we were ushered into the tasting room. Seriously, I am not the type of girl who would go to a bar and order a bucket. I have a tendency to let my glass sit for too long until they are warm until they are not very attractive to drink. But the beers I tasted at the Asahi brewery itself was super crisp, super clear and super dry. Maybe this got to do with drinking from the source, as they say, without them being shipped round the world. With their high-end production technology I don't believe this is the case. Maybe it was the super cool frozen beer tap. The beer taste really good; The beer foam (or crown) which I always find in the way, was malty, thick and smooth as satin. I finished my glass and quickly asked for another round. 
On our first dinner we were presented a veggie restaurant. Imagine this, after traveling for X hours, in the cramp plane seat, transiting in airport, touring a huge brewery; sleepless, tired and hungry. I can collective say that nobody is in the mood of zen food. I wasn't quite pleased. Everyone grumbled a bit but we all went along. After all that disgruntles, to our most unexpected surprise, the veggie dishes were in fact very good. The dishes were simple. We even have a platter of boiled potatoes and some raw green stuff; and they tasted nothing like we ever taste before. You might argue, a potato is a potato. But here, I taste freshness, I can almost taste the water, the fertile soil and the good vibe in that little morsel; like they have grown as a 'happy' veg with music playing throughout the farm and farmers tells them stories, something like what they do to the wagyu beef, as if they were just dug out from the soil a moment ago. I was blown away. It made asking for any form of meat a crime, a disrespect.
Now, my heart longs for the taste of fresh organic veg again. The cold breeze against my face, the rustles of autumn leaves and wearing warm leather boots.

Part 1 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Tokyo Fried Chicken + Miso Coleslaw 
Part 3 of the Nikka Whisky, Asahi Japan tour: Fig and whisky upside down cake
Serves 4 person as main meal.

Cooking Notes: I like my veggies chunkier, If you wish, you can chop them into ½ inch cubes. Please use organic veggies if possible or any happy looking veg.

1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in chucks 
1 yellow capsicum, cut in chucks
3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut chunks
1 medium yellow squash, cut chunks
1 medium green squash, cut chunks
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs tomato puree
Pinch of dried chili flakes
Few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbs torn fresh basil leaves
4 eggs, organic please
Salt and pepper to taste
Really quality bread to mop up all the goodness

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the eggplant into the pan, and cook over medium heat until the sides are golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.

In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook until slightly brown and soften. Add a teaspoon of sugar to give it a nice caramel taste. Then, add the garlic, thyme, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste. You can add the remaining veggies at this point, one by one, stirring for a minute in-between each addition.Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. 

The ratatouille is now ready to serve. You can serve it as it is, stirring in chopped basil and sprinkle fresh thyme leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. This can be serve warm over pasta or lentils (any grains).

For individual hotplate version, when ready to serve, heat hotplate till is smoking hot. Add some olive oil and ¼ of the prepared ratatouille. Spread it evenly and let them sizzle for a bit, then push the veggie to the side to create an opening in the middle. Crack an egg in the middle. Transfer hotplate to the wooden base and sprinkle with chopped basil and thyme leaves. Repeat with the other servings. Serve immediately with some good bread.

Last notes:
I can't read Japanese but this is an international site to find out how to get to Veggyの家.

If you are in Singapore and wish to get these hotplates. Go to Robinsons Heeren basement. 
They got all the hotplates in difference size at really affordable price. 

For international visitors, check out these beautiful hot plates: 
Lodge LMSOV Oval Mini Server, Black, 9-Ounce or LodgePre-Seasoned Fajita Set

Till next post, ss.

Disclosure: This experience was sponsored by Nikka Whisky, Asahi and Maybev Singapore. Though for a different purpose but as always, all opinions written are purely my own. I am incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow Foodmanna to continue sharing delicious stories with you.

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