Green Tea with Higashi

Posted on August 17, 2009 at 2:47 AM Comments comments (0)
I treated myself to an afternoon tea of Sencha with Higashi.  The Higashi sweets come from Ikkoan, the artisinal Japanese pastry shop in Myogadani, Tokyo.

Higashi is a sweet made of a fine sugar called Wasanbon.  I can't  compare Higashi to any other sweet because it is neither a hard candy nor a cookie. Higashi is made in a variety of molds which are chosen according to season and occasion.  Mr. Mizukami, the Owner chef, took us to his kitchen studio to show us how these sweets and bean cakes were made.  Some of the Higashi molds were very old.  When you put a Higashi in your mouth and gently bite into it, it crumbles and dissolves on your tongue like melting snow.  Higashi is served with tea to complement the flavor of the beverage but never to overwhelm it. That's a challenge for the pastry chef. 

Higashi molds at Ikkoan.  Some of the molds are very old.


Higashi - Molded Sugar Sweets

Posted on August 17, 2009 at 2:46 AM Comments comments (0)

 The beautiful box of Higashi from Ikkoan.

Higashi -molded sugar sweets

5-5-15 Koishikawa
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Tel. 5884-6591

Jacques Genin - Chocolatier, Paris

Posted on July 21, 2009 at 10:44 AM Comments comments (1)

My pastry chef sister Fuyuko e mailed me just before leaving Paris that I should check out Jacques Genin's new salon de the if I could get myself over to the Marais district.    salon is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a bit daunting at first but the lovely marshmallows and caramels in the display case will lure you in.   What's was most impressive were Genin's chocolates. Creamy and dense in flavors of caramel, vanilla, chinammon, mint, etc.  The chocolates are packaged in a silver metal box.  I am telling you, he treats these little chocolates as if they were jewels.  I learned that in the old days, chocolates used to be sold in metal boxes because they stayed freshers.  Genin is bringing back the good old ways. I bought the smaller box of nine chocolates.  It was 10 euros for 9 tiny pieces but well worth it.  I was instructed not to put the chocolate in my suitcase while travelling because the temperature of the plane's cargo section was too cold.  So the silver box travelled with me in my backpack and stayed close to me during the 12 hour flight back to Tokyo.  

While you are at the shop, do have a cup of tea, sit here and enjoy the tranquil space. I loved it.  The teas are all Chinese green tea blended with herbs and flowers.  It was very relaxing.  You get two pieces of chocolate with the tea.  Also, when you buy the chocolate, they will let you try a free sample.  I ate so many chocolates that day, I felt full and happy.  I skipped dinner.

Iced Mint and V tea with roses

Posted on June 11, 2009 at 5:17 AM Comments comments (0)

During the garden tour on Lopez Island, we visited Irene Skyriver beautiful propety. Irene greeted us with iced tea made with herbs from her garden. She used mint and verbena and added some pink roses for color.  The sun was doing a good job of steeping the tea.  The flavor was incredibly refreshing.  She also makes a raspberry wine from the raspberries she grows.  I liked the label - Our Lady of Misspent Youth. There is no added alcohol to this wine. It is basically made with fermented rasberry and sugar.  I want to learn how to make it.

Ginger Ale

Posted on April 19, 2009 at 2:52 AM Comments comments (0)

We had a heat wave in Los Angeles today.  By 9am, the temperature was up in the eighties and made the morning hike a challenge.  Ellen said she was feeling the Martini from the night before but we still managed to finish the loop. The house felt like an oven.  By noon, itwas sizzling in the 90s.

Spring's gone.  Where to?

There are bottles of Blenheim Ginger Ale ()-asouvenir from North Carolina, chilling in the fridge since yesterday. I've never heard of this brand before and I don't much care for sweet sodas but I had to try one for its novelty sake. Plus I wanted something icy cold.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The flavor of this ginger ale is spicy and magnificently refreshing like fresh ginger that's just been grated.  I use fresh ginger in my cooking all the time so I find it awesome to know that a soda can produce this flavor.  I served the ginger ale on ice, which helped dilute thesweetness.  It was a perfect hot weather drink. 

Bleinheim is an old family run bottling company that prides itself in making artisinal ginger ale. Their production is very small so you probably won't find it at the market unless you live in the South.  Best way to buy it isprobably on line. I am going to remember this one.