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Beware the Velvet Hammer

Menu CoverI realized the other day, I love my new hobby as a sake appreciator, but you know what my hobby really is?…. DRINKING! Obviously, I was never a frat boy and don’t really have a past history of drinking games and waking up outside on the lawn wearing someone else’s pants. I’ve never done a bodyshot or consumed beer thru a funnel, so it’s safe to say I normally don’t get too wasted while enjoying my new hobby. um, but last night was the exception. It was the first Sake Pairing dinner I had every been to, so, in my defense, I wasn’t really sure how things were going to work and before I figured it out, it was just too late. I brought along my dear friend David who is a food adventurer in his own right, so I was at least in great company as I slid into my first evening of all-out sake abuse.

Upon arriving at Matsuri, we were ushered into a side room that looked like it might seat about 50 or 60 people. There were communal tables so we had to sit with people we didn’t know which was unusal, but I tried to make the best of it. There were four glasses set in front of us on this kind of sake placemat. The pairing dinner was 5 courses and 4 sakes… no sake with dessert which is a big oversight in my book. Anyway, we were served our first sake which was the Tedorigawa “Iki na Onna”[LADY LUCK] Daiginjo. they had all the folks from the actual brewery on hand wearing these orange kata robes and a few ladies in colorful kimono. Mr. Toshio Yoshida was a handsome older gentleman with an eye for the ladies who was the senior representative from the Tedorigawa brewery sponsoring the pairing dinner. You can see an overview of the brewing process at Tedorigawa here He said a few words in japanese about each sake we were tasting and about the region of japan where the sake was produced. His comments were translated by another gentleman who I think also worked for the brewery. The first glass was poured and I took a sip. tasted familiar, but i wasn’t sure. I was sure it tasted good. I paced myself because I wanted to make sure I didn’t drink my entire glass befor the first course came out. Mr. Yoshida explained this sake was requested by the lady sake brewers of Japan He said that Iki means kinda like a chic, classy lady. I quickly finished my glass and, honestly, I was feeling kinda bummed that we had such a small tasting. before I really completed my thought, one of the nice ladies in kimono came around with a bottle and filled my glass of Iki na Onna back up to the brim. oh! a refill! well,. then I enjoyed Iki na Onna with larger swigs. the first course was Kobe Beef Tataki, Seared Tuna and Roasted duck which tasted yummy but was literally the size of 3 postage stamps. My glass got refilled again! It was slowly starting to dawn on me that they were giving our unlimited refills… I knew I had 3 other sakes ahead of me, but I pressed on – and they kept refilling!

Sake DescriptionsThe next sake was Tedirugawa “Arabashiri”[RIPPLING STREAM] Ginjo (Nama) and it was paired with a small skewer of yakitori, a few crabmeat Shumai and a poached sardine. Mr. Yoshida called this sake strong and flavorful. At this point Mr Yoshida was walking around with an assistant and stopping at each table for a picture and some flirting with all the women. I’m assuming Mrs. Yoshida was not along for this trip. My theory of endless refills was proving to be correct as the Arabashiri was refilled as fast as the Iki na onna. Everyone at the table remarked at the strong contrast between the two.

A Tiny piece of black cod was the next course and it was paired with Tedorigawa “Yamahai Junmai” [SILVER MOUNTAIN]. This Junmai was strong and a little on the sweet side. Could be my imagination but this one seemed to pack more of a punch – I bet the ALC content is higher on this one. Food-wise, this was the most forgettable course. the cod was tiny. It wasn’t bad, to be sure, but the food was not keeping pace with my sake consumption. I quickly put these thoughts out of my mind and focused on the task at hand.

the final sake was Tedorigawa “Yamahai Daiginjo” [CHRYSANTHEMUM MEADOW] and was paired with Sushi. I’d like to tell you what this sake tasted like or even what Mr. Yoshida said about this one, but i’d crossed the line. The bottomless sake up caught up with me. I was pretty far gone at this point. in fact, I remember everyone at the tasting was in a pretty good mood at this point.

After a yummy desert of Yuzy Crem-brulee the Matsuri chef Ono came out for a bow and dinner was over once the checks were paid. I made my way home – I was way beyond the sake zone at this point- but feeling giddy and indulgent and really tipsy. The sake’s were delicious and the tiny portions of food were delicious. the evening was delicious

Map of Japan showing TedorigawaThe next morning… ah, yes. what was the price to pay for all this merriment? I woke up a little thirsty, but no hangover. I swear, No hangover! I had a little water and I was good to go. I had escaped a direct hit from the velvet hammer. I think it was due to the higher grade of sake I was drinking. Sake really is a wonder! Now, I know that I would have enjoyed the pairing dinner even more if I had slowed down and valued the real taste of each sake instead of marveling at the sheer quantity, but that is a lesson I will put into practice at my next sake pairing. for now, all I can say is I love my new hobby!