San Francisco Chronicle food writer, cookbook author and gourmet tea importer Eric Gower will be at Toque Blanche from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, demonstrating how to prepare Breakaway Matcha green tea. He will also sign copies of his well-known cookbook, “The Breakaway Cook.”
“We are proud to sponsor this matcha tea demo and tasting with Eric Gower. We have been a fan of his for many years and are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce Eric and his matcha tea to our customers,” said Toque Blanche store owner Charles Nelson.
Matcha tea is a specialty green tea from Japan that is sold in powder form and retails at upwards of $70 per ounce. Breakaway Matcha is meant to be a transcendent experience, which is appropriate since the famous ceremony for preparing it was started in Zen monasteries.
This tea is like the experience of a heady espresso, but without the jittery side effects. In addition to its sweet, smooth taste, matcha advocates claim a myriad of health benefits and site its high antioxidant concentrations (three times higher than commercial green teas).
The production of matcha is distinct from other teas. High quality matcha is picked by hand just once a year in May. The tea leaves are then steamed and the stems and veins removed. After the tea is dried the leaves are ground slowly by stone wheels. It takes an hour to grind just 30 grams of high quality matcha.
Gower began importing Matcha from Japan because he couldn't find the quality of matcha here in the U.S. that he enjoyed while living in Japan. Gower lived in Japan for 15 years and while there became fascinated with Japanese food — in restaurants, in markets, and, especially, at home, where he began to cook with Japanese ingredients in nontraditional ways. This both surprised and delighted many Japanese, including two editors who asked him to write cookbooks explaining his “breakaway” methods and theory.
Altogether Gower is the author of three cookbooks: "The Breakaway Cook," "The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen," and "Eric’s Kitchen."
Most of the food, he says, is created to go well with wine. He explains his approach, saying “I like big flavors that showcase the freshness of locally grown ingredients.” But he also prefers “a minimalist presentation, ideally on handmade Japanese pottery that is a pleasure to hold, use, and wash.”
Gower lives and works in Marin County, California. His website is www.breakawaymatcha.com.
Toque Blanche is located at 604 Main St. in Half Moon Bay.
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