Shizuoka Shochu Tasting: Takashima Brewery: “En” Sherry Barrel Matured Rice Shochu

Takashima Brewery in Numazu City has been justifiably considered for the past few years as one of the most daring Sake Breweries in Japan.
Not only content with producing nationally recognized sakes, they also make use of the sakekasu/white lees of their premium sakes into some extraordinary rice shochu!

Having distilled the sakekasu into shochu spirits they store the latter in sherry barrels inported from Spain to mature for at least two years.
The result is a unique nectar the color of wood.
Actually, the first time they submitted it for registration with the Japan Bureau of Taxes and Excise, it was refused for the somewhat pernicious reason it was too dark and resembled too much to whisky!

Takashima Brewery: “En” Sherry Barrel Matured Rice Shochu

Rice
Alcohol: 25~26%

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Wooden, light brown orange
Aroma: Strong. Alcohol. Plums, oranges.
Body: Fluid
Taste: Fruity and complex.
Plums, nuts.
Disappears quickly warming up the back of the palate for a long time.
Both elegant and puissant.
Fruits keep reappearing with every sip.
Very reminiscent of whisky and anturally dry sherry.

Overall: Extremely elegant and rare shochu!
Probably a unique taste in the whole of Japan.
Drinks easily.
So complex that it requests many a sip to properly discern it.
Should be drunk poured over a lot of ice.
Mixing it with water, or anything else for that matter, would be tantamount to infanticide!

Takashima Brewery
410-0312 Shizuoka prefecture, Numazu Shi, Hara, 354-1 ( a few minutes walk from Hara JR Station)
Tel: 055-966-0018
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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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

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Shizuoka Sake Tasting: Sugii Brewery-Suginishiki Yamahai Junmai Homare Fuji Genshu

The name of this brew just made by Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City seems indeed a long story!
Yamahai is the old traditional natural way of making sake shunned by many breweries but not so much here where this brand of sake is increasingly becoming popular!

It has two great nerits: it is made with Homare Fuji sake rice grown in Shizuoka Prefecture and it is a junmai (no alcohol added) genshu (no water added). Practically untouched!

Rice : Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to 70%
Alcohol: 18~19 degrees
Dryness: -1.0 (sweet by Shizuoka standards)
Acidity: 2.2
Yeast: Association No 7
Pasteurised only once
Brewed in 2010
Bottled in July 2011

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Faint golden hue
Aroma: Fruity: banana,, custard, pears.
Body: fluid
Taste: Dryish attack with a lot of pears and junmai petillant.
Complex. Fruity: Pears, oranges, custard.
Pears lingering in the back of the mouth for a while.
Very pleasant and easy to drink.
High alcohol contents affect taste very little.
Turns quickly dry after a sweetish start in spite of its -1.0 status (sweet).
Oranges, pears, black cherries and even almonds keep coming back with further sips.
Changes little with food.

Overall: Very pleasant sake in spite of its Yamahai genshu status which just shows how great skills can help make such a supposedly strong sake easy to drink.
Complex and surprising.
Although obviously designed to accompany food it is best enjoyed on its own slightly chilled. It could reveal other facets if served lukewarm/nurukan.
Certainly one of the best sake made with Homare Fuji rice I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste!

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 Ekiben/Railway Station Bento: Natsu Chisen

Saturday is a busy day and I just don’t have the time to go to a restaurant or back home.
No problem at all as the Shizuoka City JR Station is quite near!
As I knew that the new seasonal Summer Ekiben called Natsu Chisen/夏千扇/”The Thousand Fans of Summer” was on sale it was a good occasion to sample it!

Like the Spring edition, the box is longer than usual and beautiful and served with chopsticks and toothpick!

At 1,000 yen, it is not so cheap, but it is fresh and fast! And it is local food!

As usual the contents are clearly indicated by Tokaiken Co. Ltd.

A piece of hard transparent paper protects the contents.

Now, what do we have here?

Ume Chirime Han/梅ちりめん飯/steamed rice mixed with bits of umeboshi/pickled Japanese plum and fried shirasu/sardine whiting also called chirimenjyako!

Katsuo Ryuuta Age/鰹竜田揚/Deep-fried bonito which had been previously coated with cornstarch.
Salad of rice-vinegar-pickled cucumber, wakame seaweed and thin rice noodles.
Orange wedges.

Nikudango/肉団子/Meat ball in sweet and sour sauce.
Tamagoyaki/卵焼き/Japanese omelette (quite sweet!)
Salad of cooked beansprouts and senmai/せんまい/ a kind of wild mountain vegetable.

Yuba Hirouusu/湯葉ひろうす/Tofu ball containing vegetables.
Boiled stringbean and carrot, konnyaku/elephant’s foot tuber jelly, and simmered tougan/冬瓜/Winter melon in the shape of a leaf!

Lettuce around broiled aji/鯵/Horse mackerel and soy sauce mini bottle.
nasu/茄子/eggplant (aubergine), in this case mini-eggplant grilled, peeled and served with grated ginger!
The little green cube is matcha jelly!

Very satisfying and delicious. A real summer ekiben in spite of the name “Winter melon”!

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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

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’11/42): Tea Soba & Cherry Shrimps Quiche Bento!

I wonder whether I could say this Bento bore the influences of East and West!
Tea and soba/buckwheat noodles are definitely Eastern although they eat a lot of buckwheat in Western France…
Quiche is definitely Western but the Cherry Shrimps can be found only in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan!

The soba/buckwheat noodles are made in Hamamatsu City with Shizuoka Tea, hence their beautiful color!
The Missus having boiled, drained and cooled them, mixed them with salad beans and hime soba/姫蕎麦/buckwheat sprouts and tea dressing from Shizuoka before topping them with freshly grated wasabi from Utogi, Shizuoka City! Very local ingredients, indeed!

The side dish comprised the aforesaid Cherry Shrimps/sakuraebi/桜海老/ from Yui, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City, inside the quiche!

The quiche had been made the night before as a friend had come for dinner then!

The quiche had been made in the modern way, that is, light and healthy with a very thin crust consisting of filo crust.

The quiche had been laid over a bed of cress and complemented with more cress, red radishes and grape tomatoes all from Shizuoka.
As for dessert a couple of Japanese cherries!

Plenty of colors, healthy. delicious and so local!

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Chicken Meatballs Spaghettini with Marutaka Farm Puree

Cooking, especially at home, shouldn’t be difficult.
The point is to find and use good ingredients

Marutaka Farm/まるたか農園 in Miyakoda, Hamamatsu City makes a truly extravagant tomato puree made with tomatoes originally grown solely to be eaten fresh. Not wishing to throw away good produce during the peak harvest season they started making this sauce with the pulp of the tomatoes with the sole addition of salt!

You can adapt it to any Italian recipes but must keep in mind it is not as concentrated as European tomato purees but more like sauces.
Each jar contains 270 g, enough to devise a recipe for two.

Chicken Meatballs Spaghettini with Marutake Farm Puree

Meat balls:
Minced chicken
Grated garlic
Grated Ginger
Japanese sake or white wine (just enough for taste)
Salt
Pepper
Mayonnaise (to liaise instead of eggs)

Above proportions are up to your taste, so experiment!
Mix the whole and make small balls.

Fry some thinly sliced onions in olive oil first in a large and fairly deep frypan onver medium high fire until they have become transparent.
Add meat balls and fry until they have change color to a light brown. Lower fire to medium low.

Start preparing the spaghettini.

Add a whole jar of Marutaka Tomato Puree and cook for a while. Add 1 large tablespoon of Port wine, 1 large tablespoon of basil sauce, pepper and a little curry mix powder. Add chili pepper powder if you like your pasta hot.

Add plenty of grape tomatoes and cook on a medium fire for a while or until spaghettini are ready.
Drain the pasta and transfer it into the sauce pan. Mix well. Add edamame and sliced black olives and mix again.

Serve hot!

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

Today’s Lunch Box/Bento (’11/41): Cherry Shrimps & Chicken Patties Bento!

Sakura ebi/桜海老/Cherry Shrimps are the most famous seafood of Shizuoka Prefecture, a region already blessed with the richest bay in Japan, namely Suruga Bay/駿河湾.
Although we are not in season they are available frozen, good enough for a bento!
In season they become a real treat, cheap here but at steep prices elsewhere if fresh!

The Missus first steamed rice with finely cut ginger root and the cherry shrimps, and once cooked, mixed the whole lot with boiled edamame (green soy beans).

It certainly makes for great design, colors and balance.
It also gives an extra satisfactory “bite” to the rice!

The side box consisted of ingredients both from the land and the sea!

Those tubes are called “chikuwa/竹輪 in Japanese. They are made of fish paste first steamed then grilled around a stick.
They can be bought in any supermarket in Japan. If you cut them and push cheese or cucumber sticks inside them like the Missus did they for great design (and snacks, too!).

Chicken patties are called “tsukune/つくね in Japanese. They consist of minced chicken and spices (the Missus wouldn’t tell me!).
The Missus wrapped them in shiso leaves before pan-frying them for extra taste.
She added fresh shiso leaves, mini tomatoes and “himesoba/姫蕎麦/buckwheat sprouts for vitamins and fibers.
The dessert was blackberries from our balcony!

Very much a summer bento!

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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

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter (2011/07/27): Baird-Ishii-Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA Charity Collaboration Brew

Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin
bryan-sayuri.gif

Debut: Baird-Ishii-Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA Charity Collaboration Brew

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster that struck the Tohoku region of Japan in March destroyed and upturned tens of thousands of human lives, not to mention the economic and environmental havoc that it wreaked, and continues to wreak to this day. The catastrophe lays bare for all to see and feel the tenuous nature of life.

Tragedy, though, also can bring to the fore the best and most enduringly strong aspects of life: e.g. selfless sacrifice, generosity of spirit, camaraderie among strangers, etc. These inspirational and life-affirming human traits have, thankfully, been demonstrated in countless number in the aftermath of the Tohoku disaster.

It was in this life-affirming vein, I think, that Stone Brewing Company of San Diego, California invited Baird Brewing and Ishii Brewing (a Guam-based brewery owned and run by Japanese national, Toshi Ishii) to collaborate on a beer that would be brewed with two purposes in mind: (1) financial contribution to the Tohoku region disaster relief effort, and (2) encouragement of spiritual uplift and joy in an otherwise depressing time. Wonderful beer is a powerful thing; humans have know this for many millennia. As brewers, the one thing we certainly can do in times like this is try to harness and unleash the positive power of beer.

The great bulk of the 300 barrels or so of Baird-Ishii-Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA that was brewed has been sold (and continues to be) in the United States, with Stone Brewing generously donating 100% of its sales revenue to the International Red Cross, earmarked for Tohoku disaster relief. Fortunately, though, through the offices and hard work of Stone’s Japanese importer, Nagano Trading, we were able to procure a couple pallets of the collaboration beer for delivery to Japan. These pallets arrived at Yokohama port several days ago and have just now cleared customs. The first of these kegs will be tapped, in a Taproom-wide charity celebration, this Friday, July 29 at 5:00 pm sharp at all Taproom locations.

Taproom-wide Charity Celebration Debut: Baird-Ishii-Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA (Friday, July 29, 5:00 pm Kick-Off):
Ishii-san and I flew to San Diego in May to brew this collaborative IPA with Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele and his Stone Brewing team. Several rounds of collaborative emails in advance of our trip yielded the beer concept: a strong (9% ABV — matching the magnitude of the Tohoku earthquake) and hugely hoppy (over 100 kettle IBUs of Warrior and Pacifica varieties and two-stage dry-hopping with a combination of Aramis, Crystal, Pacifica and whole leaf Sorachi Ace) ale enjoying a simple but robust malt base (100 percent Maris Otter from England), made drier by additions of Belgian candi sugar, and brought into complete balance with dry-tea additions of whole leaf Shizuoka sencha. I have yet to drink the finished beer myself, but the reviews coming from the U.S. are tremendous.

Each of our Taproom pubs has an allotment of four kegs of Japanese Green Tea IPA, which will be poured until the final one kicks. They will be sold by the pint (1100 yen), half-pint (750 yen) and taster glass (400 yen). We will donate all of the sales proceeds to the Tohoku Project of the All Hands Volunteers charity organization (http://hands.org/projects/project-tohoku/). This wonderful organization is lean and focused, assembling teams of volunteers who are dispatched to the Tohoku region to engage in the vital work of clean-up and reconstruction. The Tohoku project director is Mr. Satoshi Kitahama who can be reached at the following address: satoshi@kitahama.com.

In addition to this Taproom allotment of kegs, Nagano Trading has a dozen or so more which it plans to allot in a blind raffle to interested craft beer retailers. The raffle allotment will be announced by Nagano Trading on August 3. Also, one pallet of bottles of the Japanese Green Tea IPA has been imported by Nagano Trading. Retailers and individual customers interested in obtaining kegs or bottles should contact Andrew (andrewbalmuth@naganotrading.com) or Akemi (akemiohira@naganotrading.com) of Nagano Trading directly.

In the spirit of this charity effort, Nagano Trading also has volunteered to donate a portion of its sales proceeds to Tohoku disaster relief. We would ask that all other retailers who obtain and sell this Japanese Green Tea IPA also donate some portion of the sales revenue to a charitable organization involved in Tohoku relief. We will be sure to post a list of all donations made once the last bottles and kegs have been sold.

We look forward to hosting you at one, or more, of our Taproom pubs this Friday for the charity debut of this truly one-of-a-kind collaboration beer. Please come thirsty and with a charitable spirit.

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