Monday, December 16, 2013

Charaku Fine Japanese Tea at Tokara Japanese Confectionery - Dec. 15, 2013

   Once again I had the privilege to serve tea at Tokara Japanese Confectionery in Seattle, one of just a few professional wagashi-ya in America.  Once each month, on the third Sunday, Chef Tokara opens her shop to guests to enjoy a traditional Japanese sweet of the kyogashi variety and a bowl of freshly whisked Matcha. She also prepares a monthly selection of sweets for customers to order and pick up. The monthly set includes three seasonal wagashi.  This month's selections included: Suomi Mochi (pictured at top), a snowball-esque pillow of delicious sweet white bean paste enveloped in a blanket of soft mochi. Rice flakes decorate the outside, along
with a holiday-themed holly leaf made of bean candy.

-2nd image: Tea Bowls at the ready. - 3rd image: Charaku Teas for sale.

-Images below show sweets served with Charaku Teas.

-The next sweet was "Hatsu Yuki" (First Snow,) made from Black Sugar and Azuki Bean Paste, and topped with rice wafer flakes to      create an image of the first snowflakes on the ground. Hagi Ware Tea Bowl with Craling Glaze.

-The third sweet was a "Soba Manju." Soba is Buckwheat, and the Red Bean paste is covered in a flaky crust of buckwheat cake. Black Raku Tea Bowl by George Gledhill.

For those guests wishing to partake of a sweet with a bowl of matcha, the featured sweet this day was a Castella Cake, the sweet introduced by Portugal in the 17th Century. It was revolutionary at the time to use eggs and flour in sweets, and this treat has since become a Japanese standard. Shino Tea Bowl by John Miller, Sweet Plate by Mika Sullivan.
 On this day, Chef Tokara also created a line of "Casual Sweets" for a fund-raising even at the Taoist Studies Institute down the street. These sweets were more of the "manju" type of sweet.

Here is a "Dorayaki," chunky red bean paste sandwiched between two mirin-sweetened pancakes. Mashiko-yaki Kyusu (Tea Pot,) Sweet Plate by Mika Sulivan.

"Kuri Manju" (Chestnut Bun) with chestnuts & white beans in a chestnut-shaped bun.  Tea Pot and Sweet Plate by Mika Sullivan, Kyo-yaki Guinomi (Sake Cup.)
 "Bolo de Chika" is a creative fusion of a Shortbread Cookie filled with Azuki Bean Paste mixed with Cream Cheese.  Yummm.
White Shino Yunomi (Tea Cup.)

 This last sweet is Chef Tokara's Miso Mochi Bar, a sweet rice flour bar flavored with savory miso and topped with pine nuts, sesame and poppy seeds. Porcelain Mug by Hanako Nakazato. Sweet Plate by George Gledhill.

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