Signs of Spring

What weird weather we’ve been having in New York City.  It’s in the high 70’s one week then it drops to the 40’s the following week.  It’s impossible to figure out what to wear every day.  Do you wear a wool coat? a down coat? or no coat at all?  Very confusing.   The trees and flowers seem confused as well because everything is in full bloom all over the city – I love it.  It might mean it’s Allegra season again, but the beautiful flowers are well worth it.  Around this time, I start Sakura  (Cherry Blossom) stalking.  Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has an impressive Sakura garden and they have a handy-dandy Cherry Blossom Status Map which shows the status of each of the cherry trees in their esplanade.  In Spring, of my favorite stores, Minamoto Kitchoan, starts carrying Sakura inspired treats.  Sakura mochi is one of my favorites.  People seem to think the sweet/salty mix of flavors in sweets is a new development, but Sakura mochi shows that it’s been around forever.  The salty preserved cherry leaves provide a salty flavor along with an interesting texture.  The mochi itself is subtly sweet with a red bean paste filling wrapped in sticky rice.  This version is also topped with a cherry blossom which is a beautiful touch.  I matched this with a cherry-inspired daifuku and matcha tea.   If you ever drank matcha tea (as they drink it in Japanese tea ceremonies), you’d find it’s much too bitter.  The reason?  You eat the sweets first and then drink the tea.  The sweetness lingers in your mouth and when you drink the tea, you’ll find that they come together to pleasantly sweeten the tea.

Sakura Wagashi