April's pairing dinner was conducted last Wednesday with Tama No Hikari Brewery's sake as its theme. This Kyoto brewery sticks to making Junmai type of sake.
Amuse bouche: Kampachi carpaccio with broccolini ohitashi, mentaiko and yuzusko --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Ginjo Mizore sake.
Mizore means a mixture of snow and rain - "slush" would be what it wants to say here. The story is that there was an event held at a tea house in Kyoto, and as there were not enough cold sake, they put it in the freezer (which is normally a taboo), an action that made the sake much too cold, however it was good. So they decided to market it as such. The cold temperature gives the sake a little bitterness at the end, which is here echoed in the broccolini's bitterness.
Appetizer: Seared scallop with pine nut vinaigrette --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Ginjo (served cold).
This is the same sake as the first one, but served in a different temperature. It is overall smooth and dry, which balances out well with the sweetness of the scallop. The nutty flavor from the pine nut also echoes well with the umami in this sake of this temperature.
Assorted Sushi Rolls: Spicy tuna topped with sea urchin, grilled salmon topped with salmon roe, hamachi mango topped with wasabi tobiko, sweet potato tempura topped with broom seeds (tonburi) --- paired with Tama No Hikari Junmai Daiginjo.
This sake has a sturdy body with a good amount of floral notes and a slight sweetness of rice. The richness of the roes makes a good companion to its floral aroma and sweetness.
Entree: Squab - grilled breast, leg confit, liver & gizzard pate, on top of buckwheat rice, pumpkin and cabbage dressed with the jus from the squab --- paired with Tama No Hikari Yamahai Junmai Ginjo (served warm).
This is a big challenge, as we are not accustomed to eating squab in Japan.
The strength of the Yamahai, its smoky aroma and earthy flavor pairs very well with the mild but gamey taste of the squab. This sake was served warm, which causes it to lose some sharpness but instead gaining more aroma, its earthyness amplified, along with some spicy accent at the end, all of which enveloped beautifully the squab meat.
Dessert: Kinako (Soybean flour) macaron with carrot jam + green tea madeleine --- with Yamahai Junmai Ginjo (served cold).
Served cold, the same sake is now sharp, clean, crisp and very well balanced (Personally, I may prefer this sake served cold...).
The next pairing dinner is planned to be on May 11th - more details to come soon!