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

Sake Pairing Dinner with Yamatogawa Shuzo

ImageHello Sake Friends!

Let’s start the summer right with a sake dinner at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, the city’s preeminent sake destination.

The focus will be from Northern Japan where Yamatogawa Sake Brewery produces their excellent, well-structured sakes, known for their brands: Rashiku and Yaemon.

Yamatogawa Shuzo is from Kitakata City in Fukushima. The town is famous for their high quality sake and exceptional ramen shops. Established in 1790 during the Edo Period, Yamatogawa Shuzo continues it’s dedication to using only the best organic rice to make their sakes.

Shuraku is offering what is sure to be a delectable 5-course dinner paired with Yamatogawa Shuzo’s awesome sakes to match. The event is priced well at $55 for all food, sake, taxes and gratuity included and will sell out quickly. Here’s a chance to check out a great brewery–with representatives from Yamatogawa in attendance who will share their vast knowledge of sake with you.

Please make sure you call Shuraku directly to book a seat for the dinner at 604.687.6622.

Wishing you all a happy summer and I hope to see you there!

Kanpai!

elise

Tengumai Now Available in Canada

Sought-after among sake geeks, Tengumai, the revered brand by Shata Shuzo from Ishikawa prefecture, is finally available in Canada.

Tengumai is famous because the majority of this line’s sake utilizes the Yamahai method of yeast starter (or moto/shubo, as it’s called in Japan).

The Yamahai method (discovered in 1909) is based on the original principles of creating a moto–yeasts and lactic acid are formed naturally in a starter batch. The modern day, Sokujo method, does away with the guesswork of rogue yeasts. Nowadays these are added along with a small amount of lactic acid to allow said yeasts to happily do their work without other microbes getting in the way.

The Tengumai line follows tradition, which produces a full bodied, nicely rounded sake with umami umph! Yamahai sake generally has an interesting depth, good acidity and pairs nicely with heavier foods such as meats and even cheese.

To commemorate the launch of Tengumai in Vancouver, there will be a dinner with 6 courses each paired with Tengumai sakes at Zest Restaurant on April 24th. Kazunari Shata, Director of Operations at Shata Shuzo, will be in attendance.

Exciting times here in Canada as we’re seeing more interesting sake come into our market.

Kanpai!

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!

norwegian sake

20120822-220329.jpg

i received a kind gift from the makers of nogne-o sake, the first european sake brewery located in grimstad, norway.

it is a yamahai shiboritate muroka nama genshu junmai. the brewery solely creates sake made with a yamahai yeast starter. this is one of the original, old school ways of creating a moto/shubo (yeast starter).

the rice is ginpu, imported from hokkaido.

after a long travel time with several delays, the sake held up incredibly well. the nama, or unpasteurized aspect of the sake was very present-a delightfully fresh and lively style of sake that’s done mostly during the springtime in japan.

yamahai sakes are typically more ‘gamey’, in that there’s an added layer of depth due to the process involved in making the moto. in my experience, north americans tend to like this style of sake. it pairs well with meats and can even benefit from serving at room temperature or slightly heated.

the nogne-o nama genshu (unpasteurized & cask strength-hitting at about 17% abv) had a nice kick due to the fact it’s genshu. typically most sake is blended with water to around 14%, but genshu means cask strength–undiluted, pure unadulterated full bodied sake.

a pleasant nose of fruit–bananas, ripe pears. the taste was reminiscent of fresh cut cantaloupe, a faint hint of brazil nuts and a sweet mellow tail that did not linger too long in the mouth. i was surprised how nicely balanced it was.

when left closer to room temperature, the sake tasted softer and opened up new layers of fruit and the nuttiness/acidity seemed to dissipate more.

very grateful to have had this sake hand-delivered by the brewer who made it. nogne-o is making great strides in their craft beers, but watch out for their sakes–they are one to watch in the burgeoning global sake brewing scene.