Day Thirteen: Tuesday November 13th, Kampai!

With all the intense- and necessary- focus on food of late, it was time for a drink. I asked two of my favourite sake ladies to drop in with some samples. Vivian Hatherell from Metropolitan Wines and Gillian Farnsworth from Select Wines are two of the most well-versed sake agents in the city of Toronto, as well as trusted industry friends. Having worked with sake most of my professional life, returning to sake was a lot like slipping on a pair of jeans from high school and delighted to find that it still fit. It’s the same-old, but a lot more of them out there.

Sake is a rice wine, but is brewed a lot like beer because of the addition of yeast and koji (an enzyme-producing mold).  Unlike wine, where the alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar that is naturally present in the grapes, sake and beer requires that sugar to come by way of converting the starch in the wheat and rice; in sake, that is the job of the koji.  Despite most people’s assumptions, sake has phenomenal range in flavour profile- from dank and earthy as topsoil, to as floral and fruity as Alsatian Gewurtztraminer- and I have had many Aha! moments drinking the stuff. I was looking for sake that would work well with our robust approach to the menu. Of the eight varieties of special des