Saturday, November 15, 2008

11/2/08: Day 3 in Japan Part II - Ama No To Party

After the Tenju experience, my itinerary took me to Akita City where tasting event for Ama No To sakés were being held. Click here to see the Ama No To brewer's blog (Select 11/02 on the calendar on the left hand side).
寿見学後は「天の戸応援会」へ参加る為、秋田市へ直行。この会に関しては天の戸のブログをご参考。(左側のカレンダーで11月2日をクリックして下さい。)

Planning for and during this trip, I have often felt very lucky in terms of timing. Tonight was one such occasion, and I was lucky to be with 22 participants for what turned out to be a fantastic event.
旅の計画を立てている時と旅の途中、つくづくタイミングに恵まれていると思った。今晩に参加出来る事もそうであり、22人の友達と楽しい時間を過ごせた。

SAKÉS

There were 9 sakés total.
今晩は9種類のお酒が登場。

Hakuun Yuu Yuu Junmai Daiginjo
「白雲悠々」 純米大吟醸
(+2, Miyamanishiki, 38%, AK-1)

Kamé No O (Fukuro-Tsuri) Muroka
亀の尾 袋つり 無濾過
(+1, Kamé No O, 55%, AK-1 & Hana Komachi)

Hiyaoroshi Junmai Ginjo
ひやおろし 純米吟醸
(+4, Miyamanishiki, 50%, AK-1)

Junkara Nama Junmai
醇辛生酒 純米酒
(+9, Gin No Sei & Miyamanishiki, 58%, Akita Imano No 29)

Gofuu Juu U Muroka Genshu
五風十雨 無濾過原酒
(+4, Miyamanishiki, 50%, Akita Imano No 12)

Umashiné 80 Muroka Junmai
美稲八〇 無濾過純米
(+4, Akita Komachi, 80%, AK-1)

Ama No To Black Junmai Ginjo
天の戸・黒 無純吟醸(黒麹仕込み)
(N/A, Hoshi Akari, 50%, N/A)

Competition Daiginjo Saké (handwritten label)
こんぺティション用の大吟醸酒 (手書きのラベル)

Taiheizan Tenko Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo
太平山 天功 きもと 純米大吟醸
(+2, Yamadanishiki, 40%, Assoc #9)

With these sakés, we were able to taste wide spectrum of what the local ingredients can become. They range from soft and deep, fresh and dry, to intense and fruity. Perhaps the most interesting one was the "Black," made with black koji commonly used for making Okinawan Awamori. The approach was very soft, yet there was a firm, focused flavor on the palate.
以上の集まりは現地の酒の幅の広さを味わえた。柔らかくても味が深いもの、新鮮で辛いもの、味が濃いフルーティーなスタイルなど色々。今晩一番特徴があった酒は天の戸「黒」。この酒は泡盛に使われている黒麹で仕込み、口当たりはまろやかで筋が確りして深みがある独特な造りである。

MENU

We were treated to great set of dishes at Kantorii. Here are some of the highlights:

Hand Rolls
巻き寿司

Abalone and Tuna Sashimi
あわびと本マグロの刺身

Sauteed Chicken


"Wagyu" Beef Steak
和牛ステーキ

"Namako Nabé," a stew featuring duck meat and dumplings made from Akita Komachi rice.
鴨肉と秋田こまちの団子豊富な「なまこ鍋」

FESTIVITIES

The festivities began with the opening remarks and toast. After we finished with the meal, Brewmaster Mr. Moriya introduced a song used during saké brewing. The songs were used to keep pace for mixing.
会は挨拶と乾杯で始まり、飯が終わった時点で森谷杜氏が酒造りに歌われた曲を皆に紹介する。

Everybody had a great time, and laughter filled the room. Around this time, I cannot forget Moriya-san saying, "this is the reason why I make saké."
この演奏は相当盛り上がり、皆も大爆笑。この時、森谷氏が「こうして楽しむ為に私は酒を造っている」の一言が忘れられない。

As we toasted many times, I could not help but feel thankful of the kind treatment I received from everyone. All the participants were genuinely warm individuals, and I cannot imagine having a better time.
乾杯も何回も続く一晩。遠くから来た私はとても親切にして頂き、本当に感動しました。「秋田は外は寒いけど人が温かい」しか言い様が無い人の集まりでした。

Lastly, we had closing words and toast. To all attendees, I would like to extend my warmest gratitude for such a great evening!
最後には〆の挨拶と乾杯。参加者の皆様、本当に楽しい会に同席させて頂き、誠にありがとうございます!

ROUND 2

We were supposed to be catching the train to go to Yokote, but on the way over to the station, we passed by the most interesting looking building. Mr. Kakizaki and Mr. Moriya was familiar with the place, and we decided to step in for a drink. The place was called Akita Nagaya Sakaba ("Akita Nagaya Bar"), and it was notable for the big Namahagé mask on the outside. On the inside...
横手方面の電車へ向かう帰り道に面白そうな建物があったので立ち寄ることにした。既に柿崎氏と森谷氏は親しい場所であった。この場は秋田長屋酒場で、特徴なのは巨大な「なまはげ」の仮面。店内はなんと...

...the entrance is notable for shocking display of black and red shoe boxes.
...漆と赤色のインパクトがある下駄箱が玄関で客を迎える。

The group seating is treated to the traditional tatami layout. I felt transported to a different time.
店内は立派な座敷。まるで別時代に居る様だ。

Akita Nagaya specializes in local Akita dishes and saké. The standout was fatty and chewy baked "Hata Hata" fish.
秋田長屋は地元料理と地酒の専門店。七輪で焼かれた地元の魚、「はたはた」は脂が乗り特にうまかった。

We closed with Chawan-Mushi featuring Matsutaké mushrooms. Chawan-Mushi is a Japanese egg custard base on dashi broth, so it is not sweet.
〆は松茸の茶碗蒸し一杯。出汁と松茸の繊細な味の組み合わせが最高。

Out of the blue appeared a Nebuta mask, so we couldn't pass up the shot with Kakizaki-san and Moriya-san.
突然、ネブタの仮面が現れた。柿崎氏と森谷氏の記念のワンショット。


Tonight was indeed one of the most memorable night, and I enjoyed every second. In my first post, I noted that a Great Saké Experience= Rice + Water + Yeast + Friend(s). Tonight was the epitome of such experience.
忙しかったけど忘れられない最高な一日。振り返って見れば、このブログの初ポストに「良い日本酒の経験=米+水+麹+良い友達」と書いておる。今日こそ正しくこのブログで語りたい一日であった。

4 comments:

Timothy said...

Holy Crap, that looks like fun! Ama No To is always great. I missed Akita altogether on my Oct trip to Japan. next time! Next time! looking forward to more posts!

yucca said...

あ〜ここですね!
何だか本当に楽しそう〜
漆の下駄箱になまはげも同じ1日だったとは〜すごい充実な1日でしたね。写真のKCさんの顔もどんどん弛んでいくのが微笑ましい〜♪

KCinNYC said...

Tim,

You MUST go to Akita!!!

Aside from fantastic sakés (wait, they're all fantastic in Japan), the people were incredibly friendly.

You add great local cuisines and onsen hotsprings to the mix, and it's a no-brainer!!!

(I heard that the next Ama No To get-together will be sometime in February, hint hint. Be sure to pack your snow shoes!)

KCinNYC said...

Yukaさん、

はい、ここです。

ぜひ、銀座店にも行ってみてください!

旅はこれからもっと充実しますので、お楽しみ下さい。