At the risk of calling the existence of this very blog into question, there are some moments of unparalleled food pleasures that cannot be adequately described in words. This past Sunday was such a day, one so filled with wonderful meals, happy spring sights, and lively conversation that I feel I can hardly do the memories justice in simple linguistic devices. The surest way to convey the same delight and happy atmosphere would be to recreate it in more decadent lunches, suppers, and afternoon teas, of course! At the very least, I invite every reader to stop and smell the roses, as they say, and take in the littler pleasures of spring and the new season.
Sunday morning dawned with more elegance than spring usually affords: birds chirping, sunlight filtering in through the curtains, cheerful cries from young children on their way to the still on-going cherry blossom festival. Even after a rather sleepless night (coffee after dinner–never again), I awoke bright-eyed and positively giddy with excitement for the afternoon lunch I had with the same wonderful two ladies of Ichi Hana flowershop where I bought the first of the season’s sakura. And since there’s nothing more lovely than showing gratitude through baked goods, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to whip up a batch of fresh cream scones to take with. Continue reading
Sunday afternoon: Earl Grey tea, rich with a splash of milk, a spoonful of sugar, and cream–my most luxurious cuppa yet!
Despite the honest resemblance, this deceptive cup is actually a creamy, tea-infused milk jelly. It might seem slightly off-putting, I know, to read “milk tea” and “jelly” in the same sentence, let alone envision them as cohorts in the company of dessert. But despite any reservations I may have had previously about adding gelatin to such a familiar thing as brewed tea, it was only for lack of acquaintance with such a confection, because the little cup I had for an afternoon pick-me-up completely exceeded my expectations and tickled my senses in a most pleasant, beguiling way. It certainly looked and smelled like a cup of sweet milk tea, yet when I dipped my spoon in, the surface broke with surprising resistance, like scooping sorbet. It was like having the most intensely flavorful tea pudding–I could taste the sweet bergamot, actually bite into the richness of the milk and cream.
I first came across such a dessert in the repetoire of Japanese sweets, where jellies are often served with fresh fruit, sweet rice dumplings, or even scoops of ice cream. On its own, I don’t know that gelatin will ever have a fighting chance as a stand-alone treat for me, but in its incarnation as milk jelly, it allowed me the unique pleasure of enjoying a fragrant tea with the added feeling of indulgence any cold-cream treat usually invokes (and with hardly any pangs of conscience!). Continue reading