One Door Closes and Another One Opens

We have just stood at the beginning of the year 2019. Everything starts from a beginning and the things have an end.

The Beginning

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.

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Christmas Market ’18 Ended Successfully!

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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.

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Wagashi Sweets for Christmas Market

Poster 2018This Sunday Sakura Junction will be having a stall in a small Christmas Market in North London. The special thing about this Jolly Hobbies Market is that many stall holders are Japanese or the stuff sold there will be something related to Japanese culture. Hence, it’s Japanese Christmas Market! The number of visitors is definitely increasing every year. This year’s event was notified on Time Out recently so I believe we are going to have very many people.

I have been a part of this event for 7 years now. The products I have dealt with have changed slightly but I always stick to one thing ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets. This year I am preparing two types of food. One of them is of course my speciality Wagashi and the other type is ‘Gyoza’ Dumpling cooked on site. As I mentioned on my previous post this year’s Gyoza comes in two flavours. One is for vegetarians and the other one is Turkey meat with Christmas seasoning. I tried tasting at home and it worked very well! So I hope everybody likes it on the day.

I have only two more days to prepare but actually I haven’t decided all the Japanese sweet products selection yet. I have been providing two seasonal sweets for a Kimono shop’s Matcha Bar every month for the last three years so I would like to pick some of the sweets that had received great feedback from their paying customers. A few sweets definitely on my list are Sweet Rose, Apples, Mochi Mont Blanc and Matcha Swirl Mochi so far. Purple Sweet Potato Mochi might be chosen too. I am also going to take one brand new very seasonal sweet I just created with very Christmassy decoration.

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Wagashi Workshop in London (Oct/18)

This post became a much delayed report but last month I had an opportunity to hold another ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweet Making Workshop in London. This time it was at the very posh lovely Tea speciality shop My Cup of Tea which is located near Piccadilly Circus. Maybe because it was a weekday and also in the early evening we had two male enthusiasts amongst female participants. It is great to see many people from both gender getting to know about Japanese sweets culture and being interested in even making them.

 

Wagashi Making Workshop in London October 2018

The theme of the sweets we made in the Workshop was Flowers. I planned to make three sweets that are visually pretty but not too complicated to produce for beginners. After a short introduction the workshop commenced.

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Wagashi Making Workshop in London – Halloween Theme

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

Workshop

on: the 18th of October (Thursday), 19:00 – 20:30

at : My Cup of Tea (5 Denman Place, London W1D 7AH)

https://www.mycupoftea.co.uk/

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Blue Hibiscus

hibiscus-oiseau-bleu2During later summer there is one shrub that gets lovely bluey flowers in my garden. It is the Blue Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’). As I am not good at pruning the shrub lost its shape a little but after many years of neglect it still gives us beautiful flowers every summer.

There is another thing in nature that gives me huge pleasure during this season. That is the sight of the abundant crop of Blackberries in the fields. I went to pick some and by seeing its beautiful shiny crop I thought that I should use them for my sweets. The Blue Hibiscus flowers and deep reddish black colour of blackberries combined in my mind to be my next sweet design idea…

Blue Hibiscus

So that is how this creation was born. It is my Blue Hibiscus as the Japanese sweet for August.

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Mochi Rose

In February I created a Japanese Sweet in a Rose shape for Valentine’s Day. It was a type of sweet called ‘Nerikiri’. This month I made another rose shaped sweet and this time it is Mochi Rose. ‘Mochi’ is a sticky and gooey rice cake that is getting so popular in London but actually it is not the easiest material to make into some shape. This Mochi Rose is my second attempt in a flower shape by following the Clematis I created in May. I like trying to create something new.

Mochi Rose

Unlike the pink Rose in February for Valentine’s Day, the colour of the flowers I had in my mind for summer is orange and yellow.

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