Across the world, it is almost always true that the locally made beverage is a natural match with the local cuisine. Burgundy, for example, is the perfect companion to Burgundy’s foods, and this is so for the wines and foods of nearly every wine-producing region. It is also true for sake and Japanese cuisine: a meeting and melding of flavors and tastes.
But sake with Western cuisines? We drink sake hot, cold, in mixed drinks and in Japanese restaurants — not with a typical American meal. Yet as more sophisticated premium sakes arrive in the United States, it has become an intriguing question: Not simply, will sake go with this Western dish, but, as with wine, which sake will go with this dish?
Enter a group of Japanese farmers of Hokkaido Muumin Village and the sake brewery Takasago Shuzo, both on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The farmers grew a rice called ginpuu, and from it the brewery made a traditional sake. They then invited an American chef, Christopher Lee, to come to Hokkaido to advise on how to adjust the sake to make it compatible with American foods. Among the changes Lee suggested: “Bring down the alcohol and give it familiar flavors, such as citrus.”
They named the new sake Iki, which in Japanese means a cool, chic, stylish lifestyle. And the taste? A fragrant, floral aroma; a whiff of citrus fruit; soft on the palate; relatively light in body; its 15.5 percent alcohol well integrated; a sake that does not fight the food. Indeed, it welcomed Chef Lee’s dishes.
Among those dishes were marinated salmon, scallop with black truffle, and braised beef with jalapeño and sesame aioli. The braised beef dish was a surprisingly good match with Iki. My favorite, though, was Iki with crispy pork belly, wasabi peas and sweet potato cakes. Who would have thought?
This is Iki’s introductory year. In each following year, a different American chef will be invited to adapt Iki to American cuisine and the American palate.
As the song from Fiddler on the Roof goes, “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find …”. The farmers and brewers of Hokkaido, with Christopher Lee’s help, have found us a match in cool, chic Iki.
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The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
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President Biden signed H.R. 2278, bipartisan legislation to designate a September 11th National Memorial Trail. The trail route will link the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York; the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia; and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
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GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Austin, Texas, with us.