Seafood & Sake Pairing at Kingyo Izakaya on Monday, July 29th

glass o-chokko by tangerinee
glass o-chokko, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

I wanted to pass along a quick email to inform you of a great event coming up early next week.

Unfortunately, I can’t make it, but I’m hoping some of you can.
Kingyo is featuring some new cool sakes with some seafood pairing fun!
Join, Mariko Tajiri, Sake Specialist for That’s Life Gourmet, purveyors of fine wine and sake, at Kingyo for an educational and tasty evening.

Here’s a list of what’s in store:
Edamame
Hakkaisan Sake (Niigata Prefecture) / 3 kinds of Carpaccio
Kuheji Sake (Aichi Prefecture) / Deep fried squid
Snow crab sushi
Beisuika Sake (Gunma Prefecture)/ Negitoro sushi
Gelato

Price is $50 (not including tax and gratuities)
There will be lots of sake to taste!

Location:
Kingyo Izakaya
871 Denman Street, Vancouver
Call to reserve a spot: 604.608.1677
There’s a maximum of 8 for this event, so call ASAP for a seat.

Kanpai!
elise

sushi & sake class at sait

I’m looking forward to 2013, there’s lots of great events planned in the new year and I’m ready to see them to their fruition!

Upcoming in February, I will be joining forces with Hayato Okamitsu, award-winning chef and culinary instructor at SAIT, to conduct a sushi & sake class. Okamitsu-san will be creating various Japanese dishes which will include sushi and I will provide the 101 on sake! It should be a fun evening!

Here’s a link to class schedule and details:

http://culinarycampus.ca/classes-from-the-bar.php

Also please check out this Sunday’s Province newspaper in the Travel section.
I have a piece on my travels to Akita’s sake breweries. It’s also up on the web now along with photos. Please take a look:

http://www.theprovince.com/Akita/7721953/story.html

Thank you for checking out VancouverSake! I wish you a wonderful time during the holiday festivities! Best wishes to you in the coming year!

Kanpai!
elise

Fukumitsuya Sake

Another great evening with sake was had recently at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, featuring Fukumitsuya Brewery from Ishikawa.

Junichi Yageta of Fukumitsuya was in attendance, providing us with important sake insights and some never-been-had sake delights direct from Japan–always a treat. Fukumitsuya is a “junmai-gura” – meaning they only make junmai sake. Many breweries will have sake that are aruten, short for arukoru tenka.

This means a tiny bit of brewers alcohol or distilled alcohol has been added to the sake. Brewers will do this to attain a certain desired flavor profile. Aruten sake is generally lighter, smoother tasting. Junmai, or pure rice sake, will have a fuller flavor and oftentimes, you can taste the rice or riceyness (nouveau sake vocabulary) in the sake. It’s all about preference, and either is fine in my books, but there are some who are very particular and will only drink junmai sake. There are groups (importers) who promote junmai-only breweries, and one of them even has an office in Vancouver. Obviously there are breweries who heed the philosophy that enhancing a sake with alcohol no matter how little, is not pure sake–Fukumitsuya being one of them.

Junmai-ness aside, I’ve always loved this brewery’s design sense. They produce quite a few different lines–Kagatobi, Kuroobi, Fukumasamune, Kazeyo Mizuyo Hitoyo to name but a few. Each has their own distinct design aura about them and there is obviously great thought into not only the taste of the individual lines, but in their appearance also.

Yageta-san explained to me they have three designers who work on the sake marketing materials, along with bottle and label aesthetics. He claims no other brewery has three dedicated art directors, and judging from the care of the labels, the website and promo materials I’ve seen, I wholeheartedly believe him.

Classy inside and out, I’m a big fan of this brewery. Check out the great pairings of sake with food created by Shuraku’s awesome chefs, here.

The highlight of the night was the house made tofu with x.o. sauce. The tofu was pillowy delicate, like chawan mushi. The x.o. sauce gave it that needed umph–a nice contrast of texture and flavour. Paired with the Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo, the softness of the tofu went in tandem with the elegance of the sake. This junmai daiginjo has a mild sweetness, lending a subtle counterpoint to the tofu’s x.o. sauce.

Shuraku’s presentation of dishes was phenomenal. We were also treated to a too brief sake 101 with Shuraku’s owner, Iori Kataoka, who provided guests with a great overview of sake from photos of her sake trips to Japan.

Lots of great sake events of late. I am well sated, but eager for the next sake excursion.

Kanpai!
elise

sake education council’s canadian advanced sake specialists

What a great night at Ki Restaurant, where the Canadian contingent of the Sake Education Council (SEC) met up in the same room for the first time ever. There is actually one more person on the list who was not present, although he doesn’t live in Canada full-time, but Paul Tanguay, I did not forget you are a true red/white maple-leafed Canadian!

The sakes, paired with Ki’s amazing food, were outstanding. Great educational component too, with Patrick Ellis, president of Blue Note Wine & Spirits, importer of great sake, and Koji Kawakami, 19th generation president of Yoshi no Gawa Brewery, making a jovial, entertaining sake duo.

Check out my photos of each course with pairing here.

Kanpai!
elise

Fukumitsuya Sake Dinner At Shuraku – Oct. 17th

wind water man by tangerinee
wind water man, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

The multitude of sake events going on this October is unprecedented in my entire sake-loving life here in Vancouver! Not that I’m complaining.

To me, this means a turning point in sake awareness in the city, perhaps the country. Japanese food has come to the forefront internationally and globally, chefs are utilizing Japanese techniques, foods and incorporating them into their local cuisines.

It’s exciting times indeed and certainly sake should have its time to shine, at the zenith of Japanese cuisine worldwide.

Sake has been popular in the U.S. for some time, and we are finally ‘getting it’ here in Canada. I’m ecstatic to see the change and willingness of people to give sake a try—to find out they love it!

The upcoming dinner at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro should be another stellar evening. Fukumitsuya Brewery, makers of Fukumitsuya and Kagatobi lines, will be in Vancouver for the first time. Shuraku will be hosting a dinner with the sake maker, pairing five of Fukumitsuya’s sake with exceptional izakaya fare.

The price is a reasonable, $75, which includes tip and taxes. So be sure to check out what is sure to be a highly enjoyable event.

I have always loved Fukumitsuya’s sake. Above is a photo of their Fukumitsuya junmai called ‘Kazeyo Mizuyo Hotoyo’ or ‘Wind Water Man’. It is a great beginner’s sake: light, refreshing, lower in alcohol and acidity, quite smooth for a junmai.

Located in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, which is NW of Tokyo, bordering the Sea of Japan. I have always been impressed by not only their lines of sake, but with their marketing savvy as well. There is a distinct emphasis on design that is evident in Fukumitsuya’s bottles and labelling. In Tokyo, the brewery has two mini-shops and a tasting bar that look like high-end fashion boutiques–homages to their dedication for producing elegant sake, inside and out.

Click here for details on the event.
Hope to see you there!
Kanpai!
e

Sake 101 at SAIT in Calgary – Nov. 2 – 6pm to 9pm

sake grads by tangerinee
sake grads, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

For Calgary Food & Drink Lovers:

Come join me on November 2 at SAIT’s new downtown culinary campus for Sake 101.

Learn about the history of Japanese sake, how we determine a grade of a sake, how it is produced. Sample an array of grades and styles of sake, and how these can be paired with food.

My passion for sake is equaled only by my love for Japan. The first sake pilgrimage I made in 2006 began an almost yearly visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, to continuing my studies of the so-called, Drink of the Gods, and marvel at the anachronistic spectacle that is Japan.

Back then, ten students and our sake sensei, John Gauntner, began an intensive week of sake knowledge training in Kamakura, with jaunts to breweries in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. Nowadays, John’s courses commands far larger spaces and is conducted at the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association headquarters in Tokyo, as well as holding satellite courses in the U.S. Our ‘graduation’ photo is above.

In 2008, John held his inaugural second level course in sake which I attended, along with several of my Level I alumni. There were about 25 of us, and 18 passed the written and blind tasting exams.

Being the first Canadian female to pass the exam was a privilege that I am proud and thrilled to have achieved. I try my best to continue sharing my love for sake with my fellow North Americans.

I have taught classes in Canada and the U.S., having also brewed sake commercially for moto-i, the first sake brewery restaurant outside of Japan.

Making sake is incredibly difficult work, but also deeply satisfying. Knowing that the brews were destined to be served to curious imbibers who were mostly new to the drink, made us want to do it right–as close to what we witnessed, felt, and drank in Japan.

Sharing our deep appreciation for sake and Japan was of the utmost importance and the impetus for starting moto-i. The brewing experience continues to inspire me and has made me a better sake educator.

Please come and discover why premium sake is so awesome! It’s sure to be a fun evening, I promise.

Here’s the link to the class details:
http://culinarycampus.ca/cd-sake-and-sushi.php

There will be over 7 sake to sample, lots of cool factoids and a deeper appreciation for Japan and sake will indeed be the guaranteed result of this fun and educational evening.

Feel free to contact me for more info.
Kanpai!

Pressing Matters: Kozaemon Sake & Kasu Dinner

pressing matters by tangerinee
pressing matters, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr. Explanation of the photo is below.

Hello Sake Fans,

A note on something coming up very soon, in fact it’s this Thursday.

Minami Restaurant in Yaletown is having another sake dinner featuring Nakashima Shuzo, makers of Kozaemon brand sake. Nakashima Shuzo is based in Mizunami, (Gifu Prefecture) in the Chubu region of Japan.Established over 300 years ago, this small family-run sake brewery has a deeply reverential reputation amongst sake lovers.

Here’s your chance to try what’s available in BC, paired with Minami’s exceptional food. The twist is Nakashima Shuzo will be providing Minami with their sake kasu which will be incorporated into each dish.

What is sake kasu? It is the lees that remain after a sake has been pressed–the solids that did not break down during fermentation. Kasu contains an abundance of amino acids, proteins, minerals, and B vitamins. It is even reputed to help lower cholesterol. The fermented aspect of the rice solids is highly effective for using as a fish/meat marinade as it softens protein extremely well. In Japan, kasu is mainly used as a fish marinade, in soups (kasu jiru) and as a pickling agent for vegetables, but the permutations are endless and kasu is getting more recognition for its versatility in the culinary world. And I have to add, some women even use kasu in their beauty regimen as a masque to soften and whiten the skin.

Doesn’t this make you curious to find out what Minami’s chefs will do with Kozaemon’s kasu? I sure am! And paired with Kozaemon sake too? It’s going to be a treat.

Kozaemon Nakashima, 14th Generation President of Nakashima Shuzo, will be in attendance.

Price is $145 (tax and tip included). Reception at 6:45pm and dinner starts at 7:00pm. You must call Minami directly to reserve a spot or go to this link if you would like to register online:

http://kozaemonxkasusakedinner.eventbrite.ca/

Hope to see you there!

——————————

My photo above illustrates how sake mash is separated using an assakuki, a mechanical press with hydraulic bladders that expand and push the moromi (mash) into the stainless steel plates. The solids form on the sides of the plates which are then easily removed from the assakuki (or more famously referred to as the Yabuba, which is a well-known brand of mechanical sake press). You can see the kasu is being extracted from the assakuki by the kurabito (brewery worker) and some of the not-so-perfect remains in the nearby container. This was taken at one of the very first breweries I had ever visited: Tama no Hikari Sake Brewery, located in Fushimi, Kyoto. Fushimi is a historically renowned district for sake making due to its pristine, soft water. Today, it is still the second largest producer of sake in the country.