We have just stood at the beginning of the year 2019. Everything starts from a beginning and the things have an end.
I have been making ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets in London for several years now and particularly in the last three years my sweets were served to paying customers. It was at the ‘Matcha’ Bar of a Kimono shop, Wasoukan, that was located in Notting Hill. It all started three years ago when I entered a ‘Sake’ Cooking competition and won second prize. At the same time Wasoukan was looking for someone who would provide Japanese sweets for them and the manager of the shop at that time heard about me and my Wagashi making skill from the organizer of the cooking competition. They contacted me soon and the following month and since then I had been supplying two types of seasonal Japanese sweets to Wasoukan every month.
and The Ending
Now nearly three years have past since then. Although Wasoukan has been doing well and especially gained many loving customers, they decided to close their London branch and the last December was their last month. It was very sad news for me, not because from my business point of view but it was because I really liked the shop and all the staff who were working there. They seemed to get on very well together. During this three year period of my serving sweets to them I have met many of their customers and I can tell that they all loved the shop. Everybody was so sadden by this closing news and wonder where they would get good Matcha tea from in London after the shop is gone.
So one evening before the shop was closed some of the present and ex-staff of the shop as well as their great customers gathered to hold a surprise farewell party for the manager who was going back to Japan.
I found a little swirl in this lovely Japanese Kimono shop.
The colour and pattern are very Japanese.
Have a lovely weekend! 😊
I say here once again ‘Happy New Year!’. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. In Japan New Year is such a big deal so the first three days of January are national holidays. Traditionally we celebrate those days in very Japanese style visually, musically and spiritually. So naturally I would like to make a very Japanese looking sweet for this New Year month.
‘Sensu’ Folding Fan
I wondered what was very Japanese in design. I thought something that relates to Japanese clothing ‘Kimono’ must be surely very Japanese. The pattern and the texture of the silk print and embroidery work are unmistakably Japanese. So I had been thinking what was suitable as the design for my sweet making and decided to create a sweet in a shape of one of the important props when you wear Kimono. It is a folding fan called ‘Sensu’ that is made of Japanese paper ‘Washi’.
It was the time I had to develop sweets for Wasoukan Café (Notting Hill, London) for July. It is a ‘Kimono’ shop with a café counter that the staff serves ‘Matcha’ Green Tea in a Tea Ceremony style and also two types of monthly Japanese sweets. Yes, their sweets are made by me and I have been developing two new Japanese sweets every month for them. The staff told me that they were amazed at the popularity of ‘Mochi’. So I had to decide what kind of Mochi sweet I should deliver to them for this month… I wanted a colour and the flavour which go well with the Mochi texture and considered several possibilities and then an idea came to my mind.
It is a Mochi type of sweet with Purple Sweet Potato Paste. Western people are rather sceptical about the idea of using Sweet Potato as a sweet but in Japan we love to use several root vegetables as sweet and Sweet Potato is one of the most popular ones. It has the natural sweetness and more importantly the flavour goes so well as the Japanese sweet. I saw some BBC program which introduced the reason that many people live a very long healthily life in one area of Japan was due to Purple Sweet Potato. They did not show any scientific evidence to this theory so I am not sure if it is true or not but one thing I can say is we like Purple Sweet Potatoes.
Purple Sweet Potato Mochi
So, here is my Sweet Potato Mochi. It is not just a normal Sweet Potato Mochi but it is a “Purple Sweet Potato Mochi” for this month. 😀
It is the Girl’s Day ‘Hina-Matsuri’ today the 3rd of March. For a few weeks until this day in Japan we place a set of dolls called ‘Hina-Ningyo’ in a room and celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of girls.
from Wikipedia (Hinamatsuri)
There are many different scales in Hina-Ningyo and some gorgeous one is composed of several shelves with a red cloth on top and each shelf is decorated with either some figures or ornaments. The most important part of this is the very top shelf where a male and a female figures are placed. They are the Emperor and the Empress.
There are several sweets that are traditionally only for this occasion. One of them is a diamond shaped sweet in tri-colours of pink, white and green called ‘Hishi-mochi’. Last year I created Hishi-moch with a type of Japanese sweet called ‘Ukishima’ but this year I made the Hina-dolls too.
Hina-Ningyo/Hina-Dolls the Sweet
This is an announcement, particularly to the people who live in London.
From this April you can enjoy Sakura Junction’s sweet served with tasty Japanese tea in a beautifully Japanese surrounding. This special venue is a Japanese Kimono shop Wasoukan which is located in the Notting Hill area just off Portobello Road. It is a continuation of the Portobello Market that is very popular to many tourists especially on Saturday.
The entrance of Wasoukan
Beautiful Kimono display