Saturday, January 05, 2013

Wagashi at Tokara, Seattle. Dec 16, 2012

Hatsu Yume "First Dream." 
On December 16th, I was fortunate to again serve tea at Tokaragashi in Seattle. Chef Tokara is one of the few professional wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) makers in the U.S. and is luckily located just a few miles from my showroom in Seattle. Our Charaku Premium Organic Matcha was served alongside several of her beautiful, seasonal confections.

I wanted to share some images of her spectacular work here. Wagashi are not only delicious and beautiful to look at; they also elicit an emotional response due to their seasonal nature. Sometimes the reference is visual, with elements in winter like snow, or the last autumn leaf. Or, the reference is poetic with names that take the mind to the implied time of year, much like a haiku poem and just as brief in physical time, but everlasting in its spiritual imprint.  I hope these images take you a place to enjoy the current winter season, wherever you are. Visit Tokaragashi for more info and year-round images of her wagashi creations.

Hatsu Yume (First Dream) features whole white beans surrounding a sweetened smooth white bean paste, held together by a lightly plum flavored gelatin. The first dream of the new year is considered an auspicious sign; especially if the dream is about an eggplant, a hawk, or Mount Fuji.
Here, this wagashi is served with Matcha in White Oni Hagi Chawan on Kamakura-bori lacquer tray. Sweet plate by Mika Sullivan.

Kan Tsubaki (Winter Camellia) contains a red bean paste center enveloped in mochi and covered with delicate wafer crumbs resembling snow. The Chawan is Black Raku by George Gledhill of Payette, Idaho. WaSabiDou has been representing George's work for several years among tea ware collectors across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Kogarashi (The Last Leaf) has a red bean paste filling, wrapped with a leaf-shaped rice flour confection. In te background is a hand-painted Gyokkuro tea set. Notice the diminutive size and also the tea pot with no handle. Gyokuro is served at infused at temperatures low enough to handle the pot directly with the fingers, as low as 60 C (140 F.) Gyokuro is therefore enjoyed best in small portions to keep it at the optimum temperature.
Another sweet plate by Mike Sullivan.

Shibayama (Brush Wood Mountain) is a red bean paste filling enrobed in a soba (buckwheat) flour steamed bun. Washington State is a leader producer of buckwheat and this particular buckwheat is stone ground by hand by the proprietor of a soon to open in Seattle will be a soba noodle shop! Watch for this new venture, Kamonegi Soba. The branded markings represent the small sticks, or brushwood, used to start a fire, creating another mental image of the coldness of winter and the comforting warmth of the hearth. Charaku Sencha is served in a lovely blue & white tea set.

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