The idea of this blog is to share ideas for using hand-made pots to serve good food.

Eating with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I hope to show how the warmth and character of hand made ceramics can really enhance the pleasure of cooking, serving and eating food.

This blog will include pots from other potters as well as my own and recipes for the food which I enjoy, hoping that you will like it too.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Cherry blossoms in Japan

It was wonderful to be in Japan for the cherry blossoms, though we had to wait until the last week of our stay, as this spring has been rather cold and they are flowering late.  People make special trips to stroll under the trees.  In the parks, mats are laid out under the trees for people to have picnics and drink beer and sake whilst viewing the blossoms.  Our favourite restaurant made fifty lunch-boxes last Saturday for people to enjoy whilst flower viewing.  It is in all the newspapers and on TV so people know which region is in full bloom.

The gallery Shozando, where I was exhibiting in Fukuoka, had a special cherry-blossom display and customers would bring in sticky rice cakes like this one, wrapped in an edible cherry leaf, for us to enjoy.  When we ate in the neighbouring restaurant, Zero, there was a dish of white rice noodles garnished with a single cherry flower as part of a delicious evening banquet.

This awareness and celebration of the seasons is reflected in the food and the pots in which it is served. Seasonality really means something in Japan, where the foods of each season are anticipated and enjoyed as they come into season.

Another seasonal speciality which we enjoyed on several occasions was take-no-ko - bamboo shoots - and we even dug some up ourselves, which was a first for me.  They were delicious cooked with rice or simmered in a broth with shiitake and other vegetables. 

The countryside was splashed with the vibrant yellow of oil-seed rape flowers.  They are also eaten served, lightly steamed, whilst still in bud, as a seasonal speciality.

Here they were served with a piece of octopus and a deliciously tangy sauce made with white miso, yuzu (a citrus fruit, similar to lime, but with a distinctive flavour of its own) and mustard.  The combination of colours, textures and tastes in this dish was heavenly!

There were so many wonderful meals and pots.  I will be posting again soon as I want to share more of these inspiring experiences, while they are still fresh in my mind.

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