As the groom, I didn’t get overly involved with the wedding details. But I did insist on one thing: We were going to serve pie, because most civilized people prefer pie over cake. Even if they didn’t, I prefer pie over cake, and I actually had a say in this matter.
I only mention this because I enjoyed the Salt-and-Sake event last week at 3 on Fourth in Santa Monica even more than I expected. Why? Chef Daniel Snukal served up a bonus dessert: His mom’s blueberry pie. As a pie buff, I gave it a big thumbs-up. The key? Not too sweet. Snukal confirmed my conclusion. “No sugar in the crust,” he said.
But I digress. The night was a primer on sake conducted by Gekkeikan, and I needed the education. My sake knowledge was at the kindergarten level. They opened by pairing Zipang sake with some albacore. I’m not sure about the linguistics, but the Zipang definitely had some zip. It sparkled like champagne. I’d try it again.
The next sake, Haiku, was served with fluke. The Haiku reminded me of vodka. I’m not a huge vodka fan, so I found this variety to be the least appealing. I didn’t dislike it, but the Haiku just wasn’t calling my name.
I liked the third sake, Horin, much more. It didn’t hurt that they matched it up with a tasty cut of kampachi. Anyway, I guess my sake sensibility was improving on the fly because Gekkeikan’s on-site expert Satoru Ito said this was the company’s signature brew. It had a hint of licorice, but the flavor was subtle, nothing like the bowling-ball force of ouzo. Ito said Horin is never chilled and never mixed. Sure. I never would have thought to do either.
The final sake selection, Nigori, was unfiltered. Almost as thick as a milkshake, the Nigori was like a creamy ale laced with rice pudding. That description might not sound all that appealing, but the Nigori pulls it off. The heft of the Nigori was needed to keep pace with its food partner, waygu beef cooked on a salt rock. It was rich and tender, something you could really sink your teeth into. The Nigori was the liquid equivalent.
This bit of night school was worth my time. I think it moved me up from kindergarten to second grade.