Friday, September 29, 2006

The search for nigori

Since Jason introduced me to the mighty Satsko, I have been indulging in the pleasures of drinking Sake. What better way to immerse myself in the stuff than to attend Joy of Sake , the largest sake event held outside Japan. We were promised around 300 sakes in peak condition, and a splendid array of appetizers prepared by outstanding restaurants. And that's exactly what we got. The Puck Building, where it was held, is a great venue for such an event - big, bright, lots of air. There were 40-feet tables groaning under the weight of fine daiginjo, ginjo and junmai sakes. We didn't waste any time in getting down to business, we registered, grabbed our glasses and rushed to the nearest sake vendor. Jason was pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of young ladies, who added extra sparkle to an already promising event.

The first table contained daiginjos, which I understand are the finest sakes around. The we switched to ginjo. The differences in 'quality' and appearance are down to the way the rice grains are prepared, some are polished until half the grain has dissapeared. The main reason is the get the husk off, which impairs the finished product. Anyway the ginjos were good too. I wish I could recall the names of my favourites, but I can't. We also sampled junmais, honjozos and others. There was one nigori (unfltered) sake which people were VERY interested in...I must say I do like the nigoris, they just seem to be more 'rounded' than filtered. Everybody who we spoke to asked where this particular specimen was as they had missed it too. It seemed to have this pull on people...

To punctuate our drinking, we hunted around a few of the tables laden with food from Japanese restaurants for some tasty morsels, bumping into Akiko Katayama, one of the judges from Iron Chef, as we did so. She wished us a pleasant evening. We found delicious spoonfuls of octopus salad from wd-50's Wylie Dufresne, who also looked like he was enjoying the evening, pork shoulder skewers, oysters from Bond Street Sushi, fried rice balls from oms/B. It was all fresh and delicious, and really helped stabilise the belly for the sake onslaught that was about to begin. I can't remember eveything, apart from sampling around 80-90 different sakes, and meeting some interesting people. It's a great drink, and if it was the intention of the Sake Association to boost the profile of Japan's favourite quaff, they did a bloody good job. I really have a taste for it now, and I'll be winkling out the best sakes when I go to that great liquor store on Madison and 37th, instead of reaching for the largest bottle as usual.

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