For December, Sakuraco, a box of gourmet and artisanal snacks from Japan, has starred away from the obvious Christmas theme and instead is focussing on Hokkaido, in the north of the country and known for becoming a snowy winter wonderland!
From the beautifully designed box to the fascinating menu booklet, presentation is absolutely top-notch.
The menu booklet tells you all about the items inside. Many of them are produced by small makers, regional specialties, and have long history and traditions. There is also an allergy menu, which is extremely useful. You can also read about seasonal customs, the makers, and about the culture of the region. There are fantastic pictures, and every month I love reading through them all and wanting to visit all the different places! Hokkaido is definitely the place to go for a white Christmas.
Camembert Cheese Arare are an amazing fusion of East and West. The arare are baked Japanese rice crackers with an umami flavour, and these are filled with a Camembert cream, which is also made in Japan. A great twist on the traditional cheese and crackers! Okinawan Salt Daifuku are both sweet and savoury, with a hint of salt in the soft mochi outside and filled with sweet bean paste.
There are many European things that Japan has adopted, including cakes and pastries, and the BaumKuchen is a lovely example. This originally German cake is make up of many tiny layers, and with the shape resembles tree rings, and these little pieces are incredibly soft and tasty.
As well as snow, Hokkaido is famous for its milk. The Milk and Chocolate Cookie uses this milk in the creamy white chocolate filling of this crisp and light sandwich cookie. Don’t be alarmed by word ‘sand’ on the packaging, it’s not sandy at all!
More milk in the Milk Mochi. These flatter soft rice cakes have a decadent sticky texture, and are wrapped in edible oblate to keep you fingers clean! The Muscat Fruit Jelly is a cute little mouthful, a very superior gummy intensely flavoured with sweet muscat grape juice.
Here is a great Japanese version of tea and biscuits, with Matcha Genmaicha Tea, and incredibly combination of top-grade sencha, matcha, and Hokkaido brown rice. It has a wonderful flavour, with the earthy rice and the teas making for a delightfully special cup of tea. Little Hokkaido Butter Cookies are the perfect companion.
Hakodate Squid Senbei is a crunchy rice cracker that is both flavoured with and shaped like a squid! It’s a wonderful reminder of the seafood specialties of Hokkaido. Yuzu Kaki no Tane are a popular savoury snack, made from peanuts and little rice crackers, and go especially with beer. These have been elevated by the addition of yuzu-infusted savoury spices, for an extra savoury taste.
Hokkaido Adzuki Cake is a speciality of the region, and consists of a beautifully delicate wafer that encases a rich red bean paste made from local adzuki beans. As well as being rich and delicious, it looks very pretty, with the shape of a flower on the top.
Some wonderful little tastes here. Fried Corn Snacks are little fried corn kernels sprinkled with snow salt, and the sweetness they retains is a lovely contrast to the salt. Wasabi Pistachios have a lovely heat, and the flavour of the pistachio goes beautifully with the crunchy hot coating.
Finally, a decadent White Chocolate Fruit – Strawberry. This remarkable confection is a freeze-dried strawberry that is then soaked in white chocolate. It’s small, but has to be tasted to be believed, the strawberry flavour is so intense and pairs perfectly with the sweet white chocolate.
This month’s homeware item is this beautiful Indigo Yuen Dish. It’s handmade, and the design is reminiscent of kintsugi, where broken pottery is mended with gold. I really exquisite little dish, perfect for snacks or display.
The two little candies on the dish aren’t actually in the menu booklet, but I’m guessing that they are connected with the Japanese legend of the rabbit in the moon. Whatever they are, they are incredibly pretty and taste very good!