What I discovered today: Kelly’s house is full of really good Japanese snacks.
I was dropped off at her home today after a brief conversation of:
“what do you want to do?”
“i dunno, what do YOU want to do?”
“i dunno either.”
I’m afraid our lives are not terribly exciting at the moment. We lounged around her kitchen, complaining about the heat, complain about our lives, trying to figure out why I’ve never had a boyfriend while my sister, my cousin and it seems the whole world has had one or two or three and trying to guess how many cavities I’ve accumulated this summer. Between pondering out loud the whys, whos and why why why of our lives we covered a pretty decent territory of FOOD FOUND ON KELLY’S KITCHEN TABLE.
She just returned from Hilo last night bearing boxes of the most wondrous mochi from the Two Ladies Kitchen. And such beautiful and color creatures they were! This box was for Steph but I had the blue one on the left there. You would have wanted one too. :) There was a dozen of assorted mochi and manju, ranging from azuki bean, lilikoi, baked blueberry, peach and sweet potato. They’re just about the happiest looking creations in the world.
Here’s a closer look at the “blue one.”
I was expecting a blueberry filling giving the color of the mochi, but was surprised to find not only azuki bean paste but the paste along with…bits of rice krispies rolled in white chocolate! Talk about modern mochi! Oh it was so good, soft, chewy and not too sweet. The white chocolate and occasional bits of ‘crunch’ gave a nice change from the always welcome but occasionally boring azuki bean paste. Who would have ever thought to put the two together? Hah. Magic, I tell you.
But the real specialty of Two Ladies Kitchen is their strawberry mochi. They don’t look like much from the outside aside from their enormous size, but I’ve heard enough about the quality and taste to know that they are indeed fantastic. James from Big Island Grinds has a nice split shot of the mochi. I think his strawberry was surrounded by a white an, though the one Kelly brought back was the red tsubushian. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Moving our way across her kitchen table we came across a mysterious purple box. Kelly’s dad recently returned from Okinawa & Japan so we concluded that this came from one of the two places. I opened the box (I apologize for being such a nosy guest, Kelly!) and came upon this:
Oh glory be! Now what is this? We initially assumed it was mochi given what we had just eaten and the presentation and design of the treats. Not hungry, but very curious, we opened a pack and slid out the purple flow. Oh! It did not feel like mochi at all, but a soft, moist sponge cake.
The first bit revealed a soft, mildly flavored cake/mochi. The second bit led to a smooth filling of sweetened whipped plum paste. So odd. So good. I couldn’t quite place the flavor at first, sweet, but with a little tang. It was familiar but I haven’t had plum in a sweet confection for such a long time that I’ve nearly forgotten how wonderful it can taste.
While eating, Kelly was resting her hand on the wrapper when suddenly she pulled it away, “Ooow! It’s hot!”
“Hot? What, you’re crazy”
“no, YOU’RE crazy”
“no, YOU!” and I took from here, and indeed I am crazy. It was hot! We did a little inspection and pulled off a tiny little patch from the inside skin of the wrapper. It said, “Oxygen Heater” or something like that. What it did for the confection, I do not know, but the Japanese really do think of everything don’t they?
Underneath the purple box was a more sophisticated, subdued gray box. Ooooh, curiousity strikes again! We lifted the lid of Figlio & Figlia to find an assortment of cake sticks! Cake sticks! How much fun is this? You can have just one or a bit of alllll the cakes. Or a bite of his and two of hers. It’s just the best world ever.
Since I just had burgers and fries from W&M less than an hour ago and plenty of sweets too boot, I split the shortbread jam with Kelly.
We had a rather difficult time picking between the chocolate sponge, butter cake, and almond puff pastry but I think we made the right choice. The shortbread was light and perhaps more flaky than buttery. The layer of jam was so subtle that you don’t really notice it’s presence until you taste just a hit of something sweet and fruity as the cookie dissolves. So that’s how I spent my Thursday, eating burgers and fries on the beach then clearing off Kelly’s kitchen counter by filling my stomach. An hour later we drove down to Jamba Juice. The Matcha smoothie for me and the Red Gummy Bear for Kelly. Red Gummy Bear? you ask. Yes Yes! It’s a Hawaii only creation, so you mainlanders should fly over here for a taste. I swear, it’s tastes exactly like The Red Gummy Bear. We even have White Gummy Bear and Strawberry Starburst!
For me, leafing through a recently-released compendium of teas with many first-flush single-origin varieties is akin to salivating over those luscious photos of vegetables in a seed-seller’s catalogue: Each entry promising something new, summoning a hopeful if guarded belief in Nature and the growing conditions of my garden. What will the … Continue reading