Earlier this week, we held our 3rd Annual Sake Dinner with Camino. With two dinner under our belts, Camino's Allison and Russ, Kayoko, and I consider this dinner a tradition. The thing that stood out for me the most this year was the amount of familiar faces that attended the dinner.
Yoko Lewis, who designed Bee House tea pots, butter dishes and salt boxes that we carry at Umami Mart.
Michael Tsai flew in from Seattle to cook especially for the Sake Dinner (among other things).
More familiar faces!
Tamiko, me, and Allison.
It's like a big dinner party with all the people I'd like to invite to my house - except it wouldn't work at my house since there would definitely be no room for everyone there.
And with any good tradition, we mark the occasion with a ritual of breaking the sake cask! It never gets old.
(video by Keisuke Akabori)
That night, the cask was filled with the tropical but dry Taiheikai that has hints of pineapple and bananas, with a effervescent pop at the end.
We set up a table next to the cask for a Sake Gumi display. Chris, in a pensive moment.
There were two cocktails served that night, a Suntory Toki cocktail with Bordiga sweet and dry vermouths and a Kuro Kirishima shochu cocktail with Leopold's Brother's gin, Cocchi Americano and yuzu bitters.
Pile of savory beets.
And the meal begins...
With a little bit more time for planning this year, we scrutinized the sakes and went through rounds of tastings with Allison and Russ to settle on the finalists. We featured, three sakes - the Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai, Yamasake4 Junmai Ginjo and Tatsumigura Junmai Ginjo. The latter two were Sake Gumi picks this month!
For the menu, Russ started us out with salted herring roe and sorrel toast with smoky beet and radish salad and preserved lemon.
A plate of glistening grilled asparagus with black trumpet mushrooms and wild fennel followed.
The above dishes were paired with the acid-forward, juicy Yamasake4.
Russ proceeded to "wow" us with a show-stopping main dish – wood oven roasted local rockfish with farro, cardoons, grilled rutabaga, and herb salad.
Farro, cardoons, grilled rutabaga, and herb salad.
This course was paired with the earthy, butterscotch-like Tastumigura Junmai Ginjo.
(photo by Keisuke Akabori)
Toyo-Sasaki Glass generously donated glassware for each of our guests to take home. It's a bulb-shaped sake glass that has markings at 60ml (2oz), 90ml (3oz) and 120ml (4oz).
A standard sake pour is 90ml. How convenient!
We celebrated further with a blazing dessert for the birthday boy, Kuni (Kayoko's dad)!
Allison brought out the sparklers from Chinatown.
Happy birthday Kuni!
The crowd went WILD!
Sesame meringue with blood orange sorbet, citrus, and sake by Mary Kate McGoldrick.
Thanks to everyone at Camino for being the best collaborators anyone could ask for. And a big thank you to all of the new and returning faces who really make this event come to life. Kanpai into the future!
Photos by Yoko Kumano and Johnny Lopes, unless otherwise noted