Sunday, April 28, 2013

SAKE AND THE CITY - Japanese Rice Wine Tasting Celebration

reporter: Miguel Dominguez

On February 12 at the Astor Center, In order to increase awareness of Japanese Sake in the US, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS) hosted "Sake and the City," a sake tasting event featuring select sake producers from Japan. This event offered American trade and press an opportunity to discover various sake producers and develop their knowledge of the Japanese beverage.

"Sake and the City" highlighted 16 select, artisan Sake producers in a ‘walk-around’ tasting format with a trade/press audience in the afternoon and a ticketed consumer event in the evening. Attendees had the opportunity to taste a variety of Sakes from each producer and talk to the distillers. During the afternoon tasting, trade and media were invited to two seminars. The first, hosted by Timothy Sullivan, featured an in-depth look at Sake, best ways to drink the beverage, differences between Sake, Sake history, production and versatility as a neat beverage and cocktail component. 

Timothy Sullivan

Timothy Sullivan is proud to be a "Sake Samurai." He was awarded the title in 2007 by the Japan Sake Brewer's Association in recognition of his efforts to promote Sake outside of Japan. Now a Sake teacher, consultant and writer, Sullivan began his career in the Sake world by founding the first US blog devoted exclusively to all things Sake: What began as a labor of love is now a major online resource for Sake information and education in the United States including City Guides for sourcing great Sake across the United States, a growing database of individual Sake profiles with reviews and online Sake educational videos. Timothy is excited to share is his love of Sake with anyone who is thirsting for knowledge about Japan's national drink. 

Trade and press guests also had the opportunity to try specialty cocktails by Shingo Gokan, award-winning mixologist from New York’s Angel’s Share and SakaMai during the walk around tasting.

Mixologist Shingo Gokan

New York based, award winning mixologist Shingo Gokan has worked all over the world, bringing Japanese flair into his craft cocktail programs. In 2012, Shingo was named the winner of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition after competing globally with more than 10,000 bartenders from 26 countries. Currently Shingo divides his time between opening the anticipated SakaMai bar and Angel’s Share. At Angel’s Share, Gokan has led the helm of remarkable critical acclaim in one of the most demanding bars in the world known for efficiency, quality, service and execution of mixed drinks. As head bartender and manager at Angel’s Share, Shingo created the entire cocktail menu, developed their tasting menu and launched various cocktail training initiatives. Shingo’s past experience includes creating the cocktail menu at Morimoto Tribeca Canvas, and work at Restaurant Lan, Sherry Museum in Japan, Bar Potluck in Japan and Bar Issa in Japan.

Particularly informative was the seminar of Sake with Specialty Food Pairings, focusing on the cuisine of David Bouley’s Brushstroke as prepared by Executive Chef Isao Yamada. 

Born in Shimonoseki city in Yamaguchi prefecture, Chef Isao Yamada at age 19 encountered the book “The Flowering Spirit of Kitcho Cuisine,” by the late Tei-ichi Yuki, a founder of Kitcho restaurant in Kyoto. He was so impressed by the aesthetics of Cha-Kaiseki (Kaiseki cuisine in tea ceremonies) described in the book, that he decided to quit university in order to enter the culinary world. During the next year, he studied at the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Osaka.

In 2000 at the age of 26, Yamada opened his own Japanese restaurant, Hana-Ei, in his hometown in Fukuoka, where he had the opportunity to integrate the local Kyushu ingredients with Kyoto cuisine. The restaurant was awarded three stars by a top gourmet magazine in Fukuoka in 2005.

Yamada was introduced to Chef David Bouley in early 2005, who invited him to join his Japanese restaurant project. The prospect was exciting enough that Yamada closed Hana-ei and moved to New York in 2006.

Yamada was named a New York Rising Star Chef by in 2009.

List of Sake producers featured at "Sake and the City"

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