Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2011/06/29)

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
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Early Summer Seasonal Release: Cool Breeze Pils

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

As I sit sweltering in front of my computer wondering where the rainy season went, I begin longing for a refreshingly brisk and quenching libation. Fortunately, the Baird Beer cellar is stocked with just such a brew: Cool Breeze Pils. Baird Cool Breeze Pils 2011 is available for shipment from our brewery cellar beginning today, June 29.

New Baird Beer Seasonal Releases:
*Cool Breeze Pils 2011 (ABV 5.2%):

Brewed annually, Cool Breeze Pils is Bohemian in style, cleanly malty in body, coquettishly floral in aroma, and crisply dry in its snappy bitter finish. Cool Breeze Pils registers on the imbiber like a fresh ocean breeze does on the perspiring body of a mid-afternoon sunbather. Cool Breeze Pils is unfiltered and re-fermented and naturally carbonated in package where it has undergone an extended maturation. The result, we believe, pays handsome tribute to the glorious history of this storied lager beer style.

Cool Breeze Pils 2011 will be pouring from our Taproom taps beginning Thursday, June 30. It will be available on draught and in bottles (633 ml) at many other fine Baird Beer retailing establishments as well.

Cheers,

Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan
HOMEPAGE

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’11/36): Heat Wave Bento!

We are going through a blasting heat wave seeing us almost reach 40 degrees, which means probably higher inside town!
The Missus had to devise a bento that could be kept safe in spite of the adverse conditions!

That is why she mixed shredded sweet umeboshi/pickled Japanese plums with the rice after having steamed. Not only great for taste, design and color, but it will also keep the rice safe for a long time.
She added some black sesame seeds for decoration and supplementary seasoning.

The same conditions applied for the side dish/box: design, color, nutrition and safety!

Pickled celery with hijiki/sweet seaweed and tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette! The latter is for the dessert part!

Great colors there:
Lettuce.
Sauteed salmon seasoned with a mixture of mayonnaise and wasabi tsuke/wasabi stems and leaves pickled in sake white lees.
Sauteed yellow zucchini, okra and plum tomatoes.

Low in calories, very tasty and so colorful!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Health Food Cafe: Cafe Belle Equipe Vegetable in Shizuoka City!

Service: Very friendly if a bit shy
Facilities: Very clean. Beautiful toilets
Prices: Reasonable. Very good value
Strong points: Healthy food. Great set lunches. Beautiful array of cakes.

The idea of a beauty salon company opening a cafe/restaurant serving health food is a very sound idea to me. After all, it is only one step going further in taking care of the looks of one’s body!
Two years ago, Belle Equipe Co. decided to open Cafe Belle Equipe Vegetable in Tenmacho, one of the newly fashionable districts of this large city, and it was about time I paid it a visit for lunch after having cycled past it so often!

After I climbed an outside stairs and penetrated through an elaborate entrance both filled with an almost retro bric-a-brac I discovered that the place was far larger than expected.

It is basically divided into two rooms at a different level. One can choose from small tables for privacy, an enormous table seating at least twelve or the second room for even better privacy.

Individual space in Japan is at a premium and I always appreciate some form of comfortable aloofness.
Interestingly enough, customers come from all ages, a good sign of the quality.

No, they won’t propose you to eat in heaven!
The place is a bit of nicely organized jumble and is worth a second and third look as they also sell all kinds of biscuits, cakes and even objets!
As for eating and drinking, they serve lunch, dinner, drinks and cakes in the afternoon and alcohol at all times!

There was just too much to choose from for my first visit, what with more than 4 regular set lunches and two specialties of the day and an array of single dishes.
I hadn’t eaten a true hamburger for a long time, so I opted for the Hamburger Set Lunch which looked so healthy on the menu!

I must confess I was surprised at the size and generosity of the hamburger plate!

Now the hamburger had two great qualities:
-The meat being a combination of chicken and read meat, it was very light in spite of its size and was heads, shoulders and whatever above the fare of some notorious hamburger diners! And certainly far healthier!
-The sauce had been made out of real tomatoes, not something out of a cheap can!

And it was accompanied by a mountain of vegetables! Talk about good balance!

It was not all as it was served with another salad, vegetable miso soup and rice!

Kabocha and almond salad!

Rice can be ordered plain, whole or both. I opted for the latter!

I had black tea to “finish” the meal. Certainly more elegant than usual!

The sugar is individually wrapped!

Now, I must admit my health took a bit of a bashing when I just couldn’t resist choosing one of the more than 12 cakes on display!
I know that one single reason for coming back will be the investigation of those cakes!

Flan aux prunes/hard custard and prunes
Definitely not a Japanese concept!
Bother, I will have to wait until next week for my next visit unless I can manage some free time for another cake!

CAFE BELLE EQUIPE VEGETABLE
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tenmacho,, 10-1, Villa Tenmacho, 2F
Tel.: 054-251-0200
Business hours: l0:00~22:00 (11:00~22:00 on Saturdays & Sundays, 11:00~21:00 on National Holidays)
Parties (small to large) welcome! Special party menus.
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Shochu Tasting: Fuji-Takasago Brewery: Fuji No Tsuyu

As foreigners, especially not living in this country, seem to be interested in Shochu like my new friend Sissi in Switzerland I thought it was about time to introduce (actually re-introduce) the shochu made in Shizuoka Prefecture!

Although 10 out 28 sake breweries in Shizuoka Prefecture also distill an aggregate of over 40 shochu, they are not well known (actually rare) in Japan as quantities are comparatively small and also because they are simply extravagant!
They are all true shochu/honkakushochu/本格焼酎 but they do not always follow the pattern of the shochu made in Kyushu island for example.
All rice shochu here is either made from the polished rice leftovers or the white lees/sakekasu/酒粕 left after the sake has been pressed.

This shochu was distilled from the white lees left after the sake was pressed and with water from Mount Fuji, hence the name “Fuji no Tsuyu/富士の露 or The Dew of Mount Fuji”!
The label was re-designed last year!

Rice shochu
Base: sake white lees
Water: Mount Fuji water
Alcohol: 25 degrees
Bottled in December 2010

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Transparent
Aroma: Fruity and dry. Alcohol. Custard, vanilla.
Body: fluid

Taste: Dry strong but pleasant attack.
Fruity. Almonds, Custard.
Very pleasant even on its own.
Lingers for a while with notes of Macadamia nuts.
Complements food well.

Overall: As far as rice shochu comes it is just too extravagant. I really enjoyed it on its own or with plenty of ice.
Beautiful with chilled Perrier, too.
No real need to mix it with anything else! It shows too many facets to interfere with!
The kind of shochu ladies would relate to!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Sake Tasting: Yamanaka Brewery-Aoitenka Tokubetsu Junmai Homare Fuji

Homare Fuji, the local Shizuoka Sake Rice has not only become a feature in most breweries in our Prefecture, but the latter have been working hard using it in the creation of premium sake such as did Yamanaka Brewery in Kakegawa City!

These brews are really recognizable with their little label.
This tokubetsu junmai made with rice milled down to an extravagant 55% would achieve junmai ginjyou status anywhere else!

Rice: Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to 55%
Dryness: +1.5
Acidity: 1.7
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Bottled in June 2011

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Faint golden hue
Aroma: Fruity. Banana, vanilla. Alcohol
Body: Fluid
Taste: Liquorish attack pleasurably warming the back of the palate with junmai petillant.
Complex and fruity. Starts liquorish and almost sweet to depart on a warm dry note.
Oranges and almonds. Very pleasant to drink.
Were it not for its late dry note it could become a dessert sake/wine.
Changes little with food and actually nicely complements it.

Overall: A pleasant sake to drink.
More elegant than expected, which shows all the improvement achieved by brewers with this particular strain of sake rice.
Although designed to accompany food, makes for a very pleasurable beverage on its own!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

2nd Central-East Shizuoka Sake Breweries Festival in Kakegawa City

More and more sake breweries in Shizuoka Prefecture have been organizing medium-scale regional sake Festivals.
One of the newest ones is the “Dai Nikai Kuramoto to Nihon Shu wo Tanoshimu Kai/Chuutouen Sake Monogatari/中東遠酒物語・第2回蔵本と日本酒を楽しむ会/the 2nd Festival for Sake Breweries and Sake of Central East Shizuoka”.

Mr. Morimoto (Morimoto Brewery/Kikugawa City) and Mr. Doi (Doi Brewery/Kakegawa City) on both sides of a grower of Homare Fuji Sake Rice.

The event was held at the Kakegawa Grand Hotel on Saturday evening June 25th.
No less than 150 guests, including some well-known figures attended the Festival.

Money donations were collected to help the victims of the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in North East Japan!

Five breweries took part:
Doi Brewery in Kakegawa City.
Senjyu Brewery in Iwata City.
Kokko Brewery in Fukuroi City.
Yamanaka Brewery (Aoitenka) in Kakegawa City.
Morimoto Brewery (Sayogoromo) in Kikugawa City.

Junmai Dai Ginjyou table!

Each table of 9 guests had two bottles of sake ready while loads of bottles standing in wait on three more tables for all to sample!

Dai Ginjyou table!

All in all, no less than 27 brews were introduced to the participants!

The Junmai and Ginjyou table!

This particular table also featured a great koushu/old sake from Senjyu Brewery I tasted again and again later as well as an excellent umeshu!

All the breweries had brought water from their own wells!

These vegetables offered in Bagna Cauda style were all from Kakegawa City!

Such events are vital to make people know more about their own sake, and to make them remember the occasion until next year plenty of excellent buffet food had been prepared to accompany all those great brews!

A very generous buffet including some rare Yorkshire pork from pigs raised in Mikkabi!

And appetizers had been set in front of every guest to titillate his/her appetite in expectation!

I had actually conducted my own investigation before the festivities started!

Representative of Yamanaka Brewery!

This event proved an invaluable opportunity to share long chats with The sake brewers and colleagues from (serious) media!
I already have quite a few interviews and reports lined up!

The celebrities!
Denbei Kawamura, the Godfather of Shizuoka Sake, the man who created the Shizuoka Yeast!
Mr. Yabuta of the President of the Tago Katsuobushi Association!

To be continued (in further reports on participants and naturally at next year’s event!)…

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Soba & Tempura at Setsugekka!

Service: very friendly and attentive
Equipment: Very clean. Splendid washroom.
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Top-class soba, sake and tempura! Great traditional Japanese atmosphere.

For the last 10 years Setsugekka/雪月花 has achieved fame in Shimada City and in the whole Prefecture not only for their soba/buckwheat noodles but also for their magnificent seasonal tempura and sake from Shizuoka Prefecture, especially those of the neighboring sake Brewery Oomuraya!

Setsugekka is conveniently located less than 10 minutes walk from Shimada JR Station.
It looks very simple from outside but the interior is very cozy and traditional.

it is all warm and comfortable wood inside!

But I have a marked preference for the little room just beside the entrance overlooking the outside street!

Deep-fried soba crackers with the first drink!

There are many menus and carte to choose from.
The best way to order is probably to choose one of the set menus and add to it later!
The above appetizers came up with a set menu:
Soba yaki consisting of soba flour mixed with miso and grilled (just love it!), marinated mushrooms and cream cheese with soy sauce jam!

And we were immediately into tempura mode.
We had ordered two different menus for a photo festival!
Above is “kogochi fish” and “nanba shrimp”!

“Kuruma ebi/large prawn”! The whole was edible!
A real piece of art!

All local vegetables: yellow pimento, sweet potato, plum tomato and ice plant!

A great way to present local sake!

A delicacy you will find only in Shizuoka Prefecture: “Sakura ebi kakiage/cherry shrimps tempura”!
With local “leaf ginger and “shishito/chili pepper”.

Local vegetables again: leaf ginger, sweet corn and ice plant!

Now, this is a very unusual tempura: “sakekasu/sake white lees tempura”! The white lees came from the neighbors, Oomuraya Brewery!

Setsugekka can easily organize a full meal for all tastes!
Cuttle fish sashimi!

The full duck set with its gizzards, liver and breast!

And we were at last into soba mode, all basically in “seiro fashion/served cold”, all “jyuwari/100% buckwheat flour”!

Soba of a different color!

Perfect texture!

And for dessert: buckwheat and green tea sorbet! A real delicacy again!

As this month of June saw their 10th Anniversary we were offered some buckwheat seeds to plant!

I hope you understand there will be more reports coming! LOL

SETSUGEKKA/雪付き花
Shimada City, Hontori, 2-3-4
Tel.: 0547-35-5241
Business hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:00~22:00
Closed every Monday and 3rd Tuesday
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

With a Glass,
POPCORNHOMESTEAD in Tokyo by Joan Lambert Bailey,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery