Takashi Tsumagari not only runs Cake House Tsumagari in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, but also acts as an "ingredient hunter" for his confectionery, seeking the finest ingredients.
The 67-year-old pastry chef uses milk from free-range cows kept in a coastal area of the Tohoku region, spring water from Mie Prefecture and almonds from Sicily.
Cherry tomatoes and powdered cheese in miso soup may take some by surprise, and all the more so if the process begins by cooking "shimeji" mushrooms in water instead of making soup stock with dried kelp.
"These ingredients happen to release the umami (savory) elements," says Sally Hiramatsu, the 28-year-old "science-based cooking expert," who has a talent for conveying the mechanisms of how tastiness comes about through cooking from a scientific perspective.
Ko no Kuni Nama Cheese Cake is six pieces of no-bake cheesecake made using sake lees. The Ultimate Souvenirs for the Whole World sponsored by the Japan Tourism Agency selected this as a top-quality item from among 747 different products.
Sake lees are used from six veteran breweries in Shiga prefecture with over 100 years in the business, and the brewers' original production methods result in six different flavors of cheesecake with their own aromas.