One of the biggest surprises for me when I moved to Japan was how hot it got in summer. Before I moved I'd seen photos of monkeys taking a bath in the snow and patchworked mountains of autumn leaves but not a single shot of the humid, sweltering summer streets of Kyoto.
Summer in Japan was HOT but lots of good fun too. In Kyoto a lot of the department stores open up roof top 'all you can eat' buffets and the 7-11's sell beer and fireworks, and in the suburbs little trucks drive around selling kakigori. Kakigori is the Japanese version of a snow cone - ice is shaved really finely from a huge block and covered in syrup. Flavours include colourless sugar syrup, green tea, melon to sickly sweet strawberry and blue hawaii.
When I found out that this month's SHF was ice - the song going round my head wasn't Vanilla Ice but the"kaaaaakiiiii gooooriiiii" call from the a truck driving around with a huge block of ice balanced on what looks like a medieval torture device and a row of bottles filled with brightly coloured syrups.
To make what is essentially a snow cone a little more interesting I decided to make a syrup with a slightly more grown up flavour - Espresso with cinnamon, cloves and Cointreau.
Kakigori with spiced espresso syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup espresso coffee
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp Cointreau
Condensed milk (optional)
To make the syrup - put the all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil - lower the heat to a simmer. Let the mixture reduce to a syrupy consistency - about 10 mins. Pour into a bowl with the cinnamon stick and cloves and chill thoroughly.
I used an attachment on my hand blender to crush the ice - it wasn't as smooth as a snow cone - if you have a proper ice shaver you'll get a better result. Shave enough ice to make a firm snow ball the size of your serving dish. Pour a small amount of condensed milk over the ice if you like and then pour over enough espresso syrup to soak into the ice.