Spring Akita Sake Celebration

akitacrowd.jpgSake from Akita has some rabid fans. And I understand why – I’m becoming one of them myself. I really woke up to this fact after attending the recent Akita Sake Club tasting event held at the Japanese American Association of New York.

This event was a nice mix of the familiar and the new. I enjoyed seeing many friends I know well but I also met some new friends (with the help of “sake magic”). The same held true for the sake I tasted. There were some familiar names and tastes, and some fun new brews to sample.

akitabare_shunsetsu.jpgLets start with some of the Akita sakes I know and love. What better place to start than that? One Akita Sake that I’ve been drinking since the very first days I get into premium nihonshu has been Akitabare Shunsetsu Honjozo Nama. This is an alcohol-added nama that is available year round. It’s got a refreshing sharp finish that stands up to that hearty Akita food. If you look at what’s imported into the U.S., Honjozos are not as plentiful as Junmai sakes, so I think it’s worth the effort to get to know this one.

taiheizan_tenko.jpgI also was happy to see a well known and yummy Daiginjo that I’ve had at these Akita events in the past. I’m talking about Kimura Brewery’s Fukukomachi Daiginjo. This delicious brew offered, in my opinion, everything that is good about Nihonshu. It was very smooth drinking. The low SMV and low acidity placed it more on more of a neutral horizon, but neutral can be just as delicious as any sake out there. Being a Daiginjo vs a Junmai Daiginjo give this sake a “little something extra”. It was clean, yummy and simply Perfection!

Now, as for some of my new sake acquaintances, I’m going to first mention the stellar Taiheizan Tenko Junmai Daiginjo. This sake came across to me as fantastically light, yet aromatic and is really one smoooooth operator. yes, very smooth. This is a top notch Junmai Daiginjo from Akita’s Kodama Jozo Brewery.

The next sake I was very happy to get to know better was the outstanding Yuki No Bosha Daiginjo. My notes kumi1.jpgon this sake say “this is definitely a daiginjo!” Makes me think that if you looked up daiginjo in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of this brew. These alcohol-added Daiginjo’s tend to be a bit more fragrant than their junmai daiginjo brothers, but the delicious light fruit and smooth texture are all in the brewer’s art. A real masterpiece!

In addition to my new and old sake friends, There was fantastic music, food and conversation at this Akita event. Now, I’ve never been to Akita Prefecture myself, but something tells me I have a lot of friends there I haven’t met yet. Kanpai!

San Diego: Sake Festival

sake_beer_fest.gifWhat: 2008 Beer & Sake Festival
The festival over 30 artisan sakes, more than a dozen premium beers, and Japanese-inspired appetizers from San Diego’s top restaurants that demonstrate the wide range of flavors from Japan.

Where: W San Diego (421 West B Street, San Diego, CA 92101)

Who: Presented by Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana (JSSDT)
a non-profit, membership organization of individuals and corporations with a focus on tri-national relations. The JSSDT offers unique opportunities to become involved in the business, educational and cultural relationships between Japan, the United States, and Mexico. The Beer & Sake Festival is one of the many ways in which JSSDT fulfills its mission:
…to promote goodwill and advance business, civic, educational, and cultural interchange and understanding between the people of Japan, San Diego, and Tijuana.

Why: The 2008 Beer & Sake Festival’s proceeds to fund Japan Society’s educational efforts to give greater access to Japan for the San Diego and Tijuana region. From festivals to corporate programs, from cultural seminars to library presentations, the Beer & Sake Festival proceeds go a long way in educating the public about what Japanese culture has to offer to everyone.

Tickets are $50 and are for a good cause!
Members of the JSSDT receive a discount. To reserve tickets, go to www.japan-society.org

Beer & Sake Festival | Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana
4883 Ronson Court, Suite K, San Diego, CA 92111
tel: 858.467.1727 | fax: 858.467.1729 | www.japan-society.org

NYC: Sake Pairing Dinner – East Meets West

tim_photo.jpgJoin the famed Saké Samurai Tim Sullivan for the first of Astor Center’s exclusive dinner series. This inaugural event focuses on shattering the misconception that saké can only be paired with Japanese fare. With Tim as your guide, you’ll dine on a six-course tasting menu prepared by Chef Alex Sorenson, each dish complemented by a pair of distinctive premium sakés.

Limited to sixteen and set in the Astor Center Kitchen (so you can watch the chef at work), this event offers a fun, informal, and Рmost importantly Рutterly delicious introduction to the art of sak̩ and food pairing. SIGN UP HERE!

Menu details coming soon. Please note that the set menu may include meat, seafood, and nut ingredients. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the menu, please call us at 212-674-7501 prior to purchasing tickets.

Sakagura Ohanami Tasting

sakagura.jpgSakagura’s Spring fling, their annual “ohanami” tasting event, was one of those events that reminded me how I fell in love with sake in the first place. in a nutshell there were 1) fantastic, lovely people. 2) fantastic, lovely food and, last but not least, 3) outrageously fantastic and lovely sake.

First, the peeps – The staff at Sakagura is always so gracious! If you want a taste of the type of impeccable service you would get in Japan, this is the place. The attendees were also in good spirits and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I was! Sakagura itself was wonderfully decorated with springtime cherry blossoms.

momose_san.jpgNow, a word about the food. The folks at Sakagura really outdid themselves in my book. The event was served buffet style, which I had not seen at Sakagura before, but I really enjoyed it. Foremost in my memory were these crab puffs and an epic spread of sashimi. Just really above and beyond! oh, and, of course – in the words of Ms. Rachel Ray – totally yum-o!

As for the sake, there were over 50 kinds of sake to choose from with many different brewers, importers and regions represented. Too many to mention individually, but here are some of the highlights:

Momose-san was pouring one of my all time favorites, Kudoki Jozu Junmai Ginjo from Yamagata. This sake distinguishes itself by being so darn drink-able. the glorious Yamagata water is really in evidence here and you can’t help but become a believer yourself by your first sip. “kudoki Jozu” means “good at flirting” and after a few glasses of this elixir, you’ll be the Don Juan/Belle of the Ball you always knew you were.

midori_san.jpg What could be more in the spirit of a springtime “ohanami” than some zingy unpasteurized Nama sake?! To this end, our friend Midori-san re-introduced me to one of my very favorite namas that I had in 2008: Eiko Fuji Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. This sake just exudes elegance. It’s got a complexity you don’t usually find in namas and just has that little something extra. As with Kudoki Jozu, this sake is also from Yamagata. What are they putting in the water up there?

Our friends at the NY Mutual Trading table were presenting a fantastic array of sake including one of my favorite indulgences, Sake in a can! namely, Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo Nama Genshu. The rich, rich taste of this fun confection is hard to beat. I just love sake in a can because it puts the old ‘one cup’ stereotype of cheap sake on it’s head. this sake is bursting with flavor and is quite a high octane brew. With a noticeable tilt to sweeter side,mutual_trading.jpg I find this perfectly enjoyable and it always makes me think – this would go perfect with picnic food! throw of few of these cans into your picnic basket and you are good to go. what could be more springtime than that?!

The only downside to this sakagura event was the need to exit when it sadly came time for the next seating. I really enjoyed this event and always look forward to attending such fun events at Sakagura. if you’re looking for a way to step into learning about premium sake don’t hesitate to reserve a space at the next sakagura special event. Oh, and be sure to say hello…. you know i’ll be there.

NYC: Yuki no Bosha Brewer at Sakaya!

sakaya.gifYuki no Bosha Brewer sake tasting at Sakaya! Sake being sampled is: (1) Yuki no Bosha Junmai Ginjo
(2) Yuki no Bosha Nigori, (3) Kacho Gesseki Junmai Daiginjo

324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)

NYC: Kagatobi Tasting at Sakaya

sakaya.gifSakaya Tasting: Selections of Kagatobi sake.  Mr. Yageta from Fukumitsuya, Kagatobi Brewer: (1) Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo (2) Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo (3) Kagatobi Cho Karakuchi Junmai Yamahai.
SAKAYA : 324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)

NYC: Deluxe Sake and Cheese Class

artisanal.gifDeluxe sake and cheese class

The world’s finest cheeses deserve the best beverage partners! In this class, Sake expert Rick Smith from New York City’s first premium sake shop, Sakaya, will team up with our own Dean of Curriculum, Max McCalman, to showcase the lovely synergies that superior Sakes and exquisite Cheeses share. The crafting of high-end Sakes and the making of Artisan cheeses have a lot in common. Come taste the many nuances of theses quality sakes enhanced by artfully paired cheeses and experience the gastronomic thrills of these two unlikely partners!

All classes at The Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, 500 W. 37th Street, New York, NY 10018.

To Learn more, Click Here

PRICE: $95.00

NYC: Sakaya Kamotsuru Brewer Tasting

sakaya.gifKamotsuru Brewer Tasting: Thu, May 15, 6:30pm – 8:00pm



Mr. Shobayashi & Mr. Tamura from Kamotsuru Brewer:

(1) Kamotsuru Gold Daiginjo, (2) Kamotsuru Junmai Ginjo, and (3) Kamotsuru Tokubetsu Junmai

324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)

NYC: Joy of Sake Umami Event

jos_aftertaste.jpgJoy of Sake Aftertaste:

Umami – The 5th taste

Thursday, May 29, 2008
The Village Quill Loftspace
106 Franklin Street, 2nd Floor 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. • $45/person
Registration from 5:30 p.m.
Program begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Some sakes are light and delicate, others robust and full-flavored. The first Aftertaste event of 2008 focuses on those that go best with Japanese comfort foods served at izakaya drinking spots throughout Japan.

The evening kicks off with a 10-minute talk on how the mysterious “5th taste” umami contributes to sake flavor. After that the sampling begins with a total of 36 junmai, ginjo and daiginjo sakes, including gold and silver award winners from the 2007 U.S. National Sake Appraisal. At 7:00 p.m. the appetizer buffet opens for more convivial sake tasting and socializing until 8:30.

Reservations may be made online through the following link: Aftertaste New York Online Ticket Purchase. All sales are final and attendance is limited to 50 persons.

The Joy of Sake
New York Ohana

NYC: Sakagura SAIYA Tasting Party

“SAIYA SHUZO Tasting Party”
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

We are very proud of announcing the arrival of late spring exclusive sake event.

This event will be led by Mr. Koutaro Saito from Saiya Brewing Company
(www.yukinobosha.jp) that is well known by “Yuki no Bosha” (Cabin in the snow).
Saiya Shuzo has been promoting and devoting the export of sake and the knowledge
from Akita to major American market these days.Mr. Saito and our sake sommelier,
Chizuko Niikawa-Helton (Akita is her hometown) will guide you through an evening
making you satisfy with the great sake in Akita.
Tasting event will feature six sake selections (includes “Kacho Gesseki” and “Yuri Masamune”)
as well as paring “Obento Box” which takes specialties of Akita from Sakagura’s executive chef,
Akinobu Suzuki.

Seat is limited. Prompt RSVPs are recommended for an evening and not to be missed!

Admission: $50 (excluding tax and gratuity)

Seating: 15 guests

Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

RSVP Hotline: 212-953-7253
*No email reservation, please!

Please note that a credit card number is NEEDED to process the RSVP.
* This event would be 24-hour cancellation policy

211 EAST 43rd Street B1F
New York, NY 10017