March 15th, 2006

Fishy Circumstances

Email

I've had no email in or out since last night; fun with mail servers. If you need to reach me for some reason, use some other method - comment here or phone.

This will make arranging tonight's dinner appointment tonight fun...

Update: Ah, mail servers. Email is trickling in with langorous nonchalance. Two in total have arrived so far, over the course of the past half-an-hour. Dinner was arranged via phone, after tracking down dining companion's work number.

I am gleeful that my dining companion chose a café for us to meet which I have been to, not weeks past. Earlier last month, someone asked me if I knew of the pub Cittie of Yorke. Why yes, yes I did. These are the moments which settle me gradually into a new(ish) city.

Further Update: Email is normal again, after 24 hours of being unable to send. It sure is nice to be able to communicate again via the usual channels.
Feast

Minamoto Kitchoan

Just east of the Royal Academy, conveniently located next door to La Maison du Chocolat, is an elegant Japanese confectionary store. Minamoto Kitchoan is London's branch of an international chain of stores, the sort of select chain whose locations are all in select major cities around the world. It has all the formality of display and perfection of presentation you'd expect from an upscale Japanese store, but without quite the same degree of formality. Located in the heart of tourist London, at 44 Piccadilly, an international bevy of visitors, primarily European, drifted in and out while I was there.

Traditional Japanese desserts tend toward a greater subtlety than do those in the countries in which I grew up. Flavorings are delicate and appearance is a priority. Minamoto Kichoan obliges the visitor with an informative little card in English describing each of the 25-30 treats available. In a glass display case, inamongst tidily boxed gift sets of sweets, lie presentation plates, samples of each confectionary, plated for inspection.

The desserts themselves are sold individually and pre-wrapped, with most prices ranging from UKP 1-2. At that price, any given treat is affordable, but the price of a box set or large selection adds up quickly. Still, surrounded by both intriguing and much-missed treats, of course I gave in to a sampling.

  • Tsuya - a thick layer of red bean paste between two sweet pancakes. Mmm. Comfort food.
  • Oribenishiki - chestnut and sweet red bean paste wrapped in a "crepe", which was more like light breading. A bit on the dry side, but I quite liked the soft flavorsome chestnut interior.
  • Mame-daifuku - red bean paste in a soft rice cake, studded with black beans, which added a nice little punch to the texture and flavor.
  • Sakura-daifuku - seasonal specialty, red bean paste in a soft rice cake flavored with mixed cherry blossoms. A delicate little daifuku.
  • Sakuranbo - another seasonal specialty, sweet cherry jelly
  • Yuka - yuzu-flavored white bean paste bar (i.e. yokan)
  • Kikanmnju - a kumquat in syrup, embedded in bean paste, and "baked until fluffy"; this is the one I'm most curious about, of the ones I've not yet sampled.