Wagashi on Valentine's Day | Minamoto Kitchoan

Posted on February 13, 2015 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

This year I will be spending Valentine's Day alone on the West Coast. I recently moved all CdS operations to Southern California. I left husband and dog behind to take care of things at home back in NYC. Essentially I'll be commuting back and forth from coast to coast. 

Still, the first week was tough. This week was a lot better, but still I miss my friends and family back East. And even though I never really went overboard during Valentine's Day I can't help but feel a little sad that I won't be surrounded by loved ones this weekend.

However, I did manage to meet up with a few friends just this week and they made me feel so welcome! I feel myself cheering up already. Krizia was kind enough to gift me a box of confectionery from one of my favorite places--Minamoto Kitchoan. The NYC location was only 2 blocks from the old CdS office! It seems to have followed me here to California because they recently opened a location in Fashion Island which is in walking distance of my house. Onto the gift...

I am absolutely obsessed with packaging so it's no surprise that I spent eight minutes carefully peeling the stickers off the wrapping paper before getting to the goodies inside.

This was such an unexpected and lovely housewarming gift. I made sure to pop some in the freezer to enjoy at a later time. These desserts are perfect for pairing with green teas. 

Once inside, individually wrapped sweets are lined up perfectly inside the box. 

Take the cuteness factor two notches up and unwrap this...

Usagi Bean Cake with yuzu. Usagi means rabbit in Japanese. I love anything with rabbits because I was born in the year of the rabbit as was my mother. This bean cake is light, fluffy, delicate and not too sweet, like most Japanese sweets. These wagashi are traditionally served with Japanese green teas. Another one of my favorite places to purchase wagashi would have to be Toraya. I've grown up with that brand since I was a little girl. Toraya used to have a location in NYC off Madison Avenue, but it has since closed. I always make sure to stop by their shop in Japan whenever I am there. 

I paired the Usagi Bean Cake with my latest blend of Jasmine and Genmaicha (a green tea with popped corn and toasted rice) . The new tea will be available soon, not to worry. It was a perfect match!

If you're in the Southern California area, Minamoto Kitchoan will be offering a complimentary tea and dessert pairing at their shop in Fashion Island on Saturday, February 14th between the hours of 2pm and 4pm. What better way to enjoy the long weekend! 

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out there! 



Posted in Fashion Island, Genmaicha, Minamoto Kitchoan, Newport Beach, Southern California, Sweets, Tea, Tea Pairing, Usagi Bean Cake, Valentine's Day, wagashi

Pairing Tea with Cheese & Chocolate | Robert Wemischner

Posted on June 26, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

Recently I've been very interested in learning more about  pairing teas with food, both sweet and savory. I believe it is important to realize how valuable the use of tea is as a pairing beverage when tasting chocolate and cheeses in particular. It is a refreshing alternative to wine, beer and other spirits especially when certain people are abstaining from alcoholic beverages.
I took a class at the World Tea Expo that focused on just this. We were first given a selection of teas and cheeses to pair with. 
Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog (one of my all time faves), Bellwether Farms Carmody and Pt. Reyes Original Blue... 
and some bread for cleansing the palate between tastings. We worked with three teas: (from left to right) Harvest Spring Sencha, Ti Quan Yin and Sessa Assam.
The tasting involved tasting a cheese/chocolate and then slurping all three teas and working down the line. Taking notes the whole time. It was surprising to see how the teas enhanced the flavors of the cheese. Some worked really well and some were just awful which makes you think about the impact a beverage like tea can have on a meal like Afternoon Tea (or even a tasting menu at a restaurant). 

Guittard Chocolate Company: (clockwise) Soie Blanche White Chocolate, Soleil d’Or Milk Chocolate and Etoile du Nord Dark Chocolate. When tasting chocolate, it's good practice to inspect the chocolate first. Is it glossy? Does it have snap? Or is it gray or whitened in spots? Once you're done with the visual inspection, smell it and then taste it. Take notes on your experience. 

When tea is brewed and served properly to bring out its best and fullest character, it has the potential to really enhance a sweet and/or savory dish. It is a wonderful accompaniment to a multi-course meal. The class was taught by Robert Wemischner who is an author, pastry chef and culinary educator whose long-standing interest in the flavor potential of ingredients has culminated in his latest culinary book, The Dessert ArchitectI loved this class because I got to 1) eat cheese 2) drink tea and 3) eat chocolate. YUM YUM YUM.
I can't wait to keep exploring all the great cheeses out there and see how they pair with teas. I carry around this tea journal made by Moleskin when I travel around. I have a few from their Passions series. Keep track of everything. Trust me, you'll thank me later. 

Posted in California, Chocolate and Tea, Long Beach, Robert Wemischner, Tea and Cheese, Tea Education, Tea Pairing, World Tea Expo 2014


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