Today, the 17th of March is St. Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick was the foremost patron saint of Ireland and his death on this date is traditionally a festival day for the Irish community.
The famous symbol of Ireland is a Shamrock so lots of people wear something green on them. I have seen places where people even coloured the river green for this day (which I’m a little against the idea). However, do you really know what a shamrock looks like? I made two types of Japanese sweets for this St. Patrick’s Day that look quite similar but slightly different. So, tell me which one you think is a Shamrock.
We are in March now and going to have one of the Japanese customs tomorrow on the 3rd of March. It is Girl’s Day called ‘Hinamatsuri’ and we pray for the health and happiness of girls by decorating special Hina Dolls in our houses on the day. This day is also called ‘Momo no Sekku’ which means Peach Festival and we place peach flower in a room or eat peach fruit or peach flower shaped sweets. I have created some sweets in a shape of Hina dolls in the past but I made a simple dessert for the coming event this year.
Momo-Mochi Matcha Zenzai
I created ‘Momo’ (Peach) flower shape in a bowl and had it with Matcha tea in ‘Zenzai’ style. Zenzai is a sweet soup type dessert that we normally make with sweet Azuki (Red) bean paste during a cold season. I created this Matcha version to make it suitable for spring. It is very easy to make at home so I am going to share how to prepare this dessert.
So officially or perhaps unofficially ‘yet’ it is spring here in London. By following my previous post with ‘Ealy Spring Field’ I am going to introduce another early spring flower that you can find right now.
They are Daffodils. Both Daffodil and Crocus are bulbous plants so they use energy stocked up in their bulbs to spread out the leaves from the ground even in the toughest season and try to be ready for opening flowers just on time when the sun warms up the air. I have to say their timing this year was perfect.
I created yellow Daffodils last year so this year’s ones are pure White flowers.
‘Spring has come!’ This is the phrase my late father, who was eager to learn English but could not complete his desire, liked to say whenever the weather was becoming warm. Even before the end of February now the weather is so mild in London, unlike the usual dark grey English weather this time of year it is very sunny with beautiful blue sky. So I go out for a walk and find some bulbous plants flowering.
The scene with yellow and purple dots in the field made me smile. They are the flower buds of Crocus just about to open.
So this is my interpretation of the cheerful early spring field as a Japanese sweet.
Before the year 2018 finished I received an order of my sweets from a Tea shop My Cup of Tea (Piccadilly Circus, London). I was asked to make two types of sweets for their Tea & Sweet Tasting event. I have already introduced one of the sweets that I had created for them. That is Gingko, here on my blog. It was a ‘Mochi’ type sweet with the soft and sweet Mochi outer layer wrapping up sweet white bean paste filling inside created into a shape of Ginkgo leaf in yellow autumn colour.
So I wanted make another sweet with a different type of material. I also wanted it to have a little more colourful design and then I chose a sweet in a pretty flower shape of Cosmos.
This is one of the designs I selected as ‘Nerikiri’ sweets. Nerikiri is one of the most traditional Japanese sweets that is used to serving at a tea ceremony. Because it was still Autumn time I created it into a Cosmos flower. It is actually quite a nostalgic flower for me from my childhood. It comes in a shade of white to striking dark pink colour on very soft and delicate looking leaves. Continue reading
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.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. Today, one day after Christmas, is called Boxing Day and the Winter Holiday continues in the UK. This year I created two Japanese sweets for Christmas. One of them is Poinsettia in my previous post and the other one is Christmas Wreath.
I had been having some idea of making this design for the last two years but this is the first one I tried to make into a shape. This is my Christmas Wreath.
Have a Wonderful & Peaceful Christmas!!
It is the final month of the year and only one week’s left before a brand new year starts. It means the biggest event for most of the families in the UK is coming soon. It is of course Christmas! There are many things that relate to Christmas and one of them which is quite significant is a plant called Poinsettia. Poinsettia is originally for a warmer place but maybe because of its bold colour combination of vivid red and deep green it makes the most Christmassy looking decoration in your house.
This is one of my ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets for December.
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.