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.
Oh, No! It’s already middle of December! The final month of a year. We have only two weeks before the brand new year starts. The time seems to pass more and more quickly every year. Is it the sign of aging? It has been quite a mild winter so far, but now the weather has become wet and cold which is the typical winter in England. Before it became this wintery weather I received an order of my sweets for a Tea & Sweet Tasting event held at a Tea shop My Cup of Tea. The tea shop ordered two types of ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets, so I decided to make one ‘Nerikiri’ and the other ‘Mochi’. I wanted them to be something pretty and also in autumn colour.
This is one of the sweets I made for this Tea & Sweet Tasting event order. Yellow Ginkgo ‘Icho’ and Red Japanese ‘Momiji’ Maple leaves are the most significant autumn colour so I thought serving sweets in Ginkgo design would be perfect in November. The sweets look quite similar to the sweets I made last year. Last year’s one was made with a different type of Japanese sweet pastry ‘Nerikiri’ which is easier to create shapes, but the sweets I made this time were made of ‘Mochi’.
Christmas Tree seller at the hall entrance
Our annual event of Japanese Christmas Market has just finished! Unlike the last year’s snowy day it was a great sunny day this year! As we expected the great turn out of people I’d say this year’s market was a great success.
We arrived a little earlier on the site even before the doors to the venue opened for the vendors and started preparing our table to be well ready for the arrival of customers … but then I realised that I forgot to bring some of my Japanese sweets products! I had to go home and brings them as quickly as I could since they were quite a big part of my products. Last year I had to go and fetch some stuff on the snowy road on foot. It was so horrible and I had tried to be sure that would not happen this year, however, it did happen again! I was so stupid. Anyway, so I went back home and when I was walking back hurriedly towards the venue I saw a man holding a container that looked like my sweets inside! I thought ‘Wow! Already?!’ It was just a few minutes after the market opened to public and my products were already sold without me. It was a great sign ahead for the day.
Sweet Roses for brightening up London’s grey Saturday!
These Japanese sweets will be at Japanese Christmas Market in North London this Sunday. See you there!!
Have a lovely weekend!🍎🍏🍎🍏🍎🍏
Autumn is here! It is the season that some particular delicacies appear in food markets. Such delicacies are mushrooms, persimmon, nuts and so much more. Amongst all these foods in this season the one that stands out especially for Japanese people is definitely Sweet Chestnut. We love Chestnuts very much. We use them for making all sorts of sweets and even for savoury dishes. The most loved sweet with chestnuts in Japan is undoubtedly Mont Blanc which of course is a western cake with a soft sponge as the base and topped up with a swirl of sweet delicious chestnuts cream. Every Autumn when I find sweet chestnuts at a front of green groceries I have been thinking that I would arrange this nations favourite cake into a Japanese sweet ‘Wagashi’ someday.
Mochi Mont Blanc
So this year I finally managed to make my own Japanese sweet version of Mont Blanc. Instead of sponge I used soft sweet ‘Mochi’, rice cake, as the base. For making the delicious Chestnut flavour to stand out, I selected simple plain flavoured one.
Today, the 5th of November, is Guy Fawkes Night and sometime also called Bonfire Night. It is the day that in 1605 Guy Fawkes and a group of people plotted to explode House of Parliament in England. However, they failed and got arrested and then were executed after brutally tortured. Later on people celebrated the attempt of Guy Fawkes and started making bonfires in a square and also putting up fireworks and fire crackers in the evening on Guy Fawkes Night.
So, I made Firework, Japanese sweet. I feel a little odd to post about Fireworks sweet in November. Because Fireworks season is normally summer in Japan and it seems like an out of season post. However, I made this Fireworks sweet for British people and this is one of my monthly sweets for November.
For the last three years my monthly ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweets for October were all in the Halloween theme. For this year it has to be the same. I tried to think very hard this time and then decided to make … Dracula! The idea came to my mind quickly but it took a long time to come up with the design which would be easy enough to create. I finally decided to go for one design after trying so many possible models, however, as I started making it for real, the shape of some parts and the way to create them changed several times.
Dracula, Japanese Sweet
So here it is! The Star of this Halloween!!
I am going to hold another Wagashi Making Experience Workshop in London. It will be in October so the sweets I am planning to show how to make are mainly in a Halloween theme as the photo below.
Wagashi Making Workshop in London
on: the 18th of October (Thursday), 19:00 – 20:30
at : My Cup of Tea (5 Denman Place, London W1D 7AH)
As Autumn gets gradually deepen I always feel like having strong Matcha Green Tea. It may be because it is quite a special season for many Japanese as it is the season of Autumn colour and that reminds us of a scenary in Kyoto, our old capital town that looks great in red and yellow fallen leaves.
Matcha is quite bitter tea so you have to have some sweet before sipping the tea. However, this Autumn I made sweet with Matcha powder instead of drinking Matcha Tea. I used plenty of Tea powdermixed in to a Mochi layer and I also dusted the outside of the sweet with lots of Matcha powder. My Mochi became so green and when you see the round shape covered with this beautiful green, it looks as if it is a stone covered with moss in a Japanese garden in Kyoto.
Cream Matcha Mochi
It is a sweet that has a soft Mochi layer wrapping up whipped fresh cream with Sweet Azuki Bean Paste inside. The outer Mochi layer itself is made with lots of Matcha powder but I finished it up with plenty of Matcha powder dusted around of the Mochi.