Kobe Sweets Festa 2009Apr 23rd, 2009 | By Ken Y-N | Category: Events
Ken from What Japan Thinks joins us today as a special correspondent to report on his doughnut eating and cake tasting adventures at Kobe Sweets Festa 2009. This is one event that I’m sorry I missed but there will be cake for everyone from May 1-6 in Kobe! Tell us all about it Ken…
At Daimaru Motomachi in Kobe from the 1st to the 6th of May 2009 there will be a Sweets Festa held, with the theme for this year being doughnuts; not your common or garden mass-produced 100 yen efforts, but handmade by patisseries and baked rather than deep-fried. This year will be the Kobe Sweets Festa’s 22nd year, so to help publicize it one of the sponsors, the Kobe Shimbun newspaper, organized for the fourth year in succession a blogger tasting session and meet-up though its Kobe Sweets blog at Genius Cafe in Kobe, so I applied to participate and received and gratefully accepted an invitation on the promise of helping to promote the event to the English-speaking world. (Note: Many of the links in this article are to Japanese language websites)
In attendance were about 20 bloggers from all over the Kansai area, all female except for the King of Noodles, who, in an act of male solidarity, I sat beside. There were also special guest television and radio announcers from NHK Kobe, Kansai Radio, and the local Sun Televison channel, and some celebrity food blogger whose name I didn’t quite catch whose current area of interest is cakes that go with wine, and also three television station camera crews, one radio reporter, one journalist, and the Kobe Sweets blog’s columnist.
After the inevitable welcoming speeches, the cakes finally appeared but sampling was delayed by a mad scrum disguised as a cake photography session, followed by a second mad scrum for the actual cakes.
I started off at the doughnut end of the table, and after swapping slices with the aforementioned King and Hankyu Railway’s virtual stationmaster I sampled all five kinds. Of particular note were the honey and apple doughnut from Fruit Tree Workshop Eucalyptus, glazed, but with a light glaze that didn’t overpower the taste, an excellent rich chocolate-covered baked doughnut from Cake House Tsumagari and a subtle mocha-flavoured ring from Reve de Chef.
Proceedings were then interrupted by a talk from Chef Tanaka from Patrie, the cake shop located within Hotel Piena (worth a stay if you’ve visiting Kobe), who described how he came up with his Milkish Jam, then how he was forced rather reluctantly by the market to jump on the fresh caramel bandwagon running though Japan, using his Milkish Jam as a base for that.
We got handed out a sample of his various caramel dishes – the small blobs in the photograph were straightforward caramel, plain and green tea, which was much nicer than it sounds. Next, was a toasted sandwich of the Milkish Jam, banana and cinnamon, which would have been nicer piping-hot and freshly-made. Finally was a new sweet he is developing, caramel tart. Into a small tartlet case he poured some caramel – one was mixed with chocolate, one topped with salt (that’s another big fad right now, salted sweets), and one with a couple of passion fruit seeds. The chocolate one actually reminded me of my Mum’s home baking of a three-layer sweet; a crisp base, caramel mid-section and a thin topping of chocolate, although the exact name of the sweet has temporarily escaped me!
With the doughnuts and caramel over, it was time to get stuck into the cakes! Foolishly, as I realized later, I started on a three types of cocoa (from France, Belgium and Venezuela) rich chocolate one from Hiro Inagawa Cake Factory that on its own would have been difficult to get down, but on top of a dozen doughnuts and caramels… An amazing taste, but the thick high-caffeine content was not going down so well!
Switching to the lighter slice from Fontainebleau, a delightful layered mix of blueberry pastry at the bottom, followed by custard, an exceptionally light and fluffy coconut-flavored foam, then a slab of white chocolate to top it off. The coconut didn’t work too well for me, but my stomach appreciated the lightness, as of course did my taste buds. I then finished on a rich vanilla custard pudding, and the coup-de-grace was delivered by another rich chocolate cream-filled chocolate shelled cake, of which I have very little memory! The remaining two untried samples, one mango and the other grapefruit-based (now I think about it, the two I wanted to eat the most), will have to wait until the official opening.
So, if you are in Kansai over Golden Week, be sure to visit Kobe and drop into Daimaru (English language website with access information) for the Kobe Sweets Festa 2009! There will be an exhibition of decorated cakes, free master classes every day from various chefs, over 30 kinds of doughnuts, 18 different cake shops, and one cafe selling over 100 types of cake! Choose two and a drink for just 1,000 yen.