Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Sake vs Italian Food Challenge
In collaboration with Gilt City, the dinner was held at Prezza, and Chef Anthony Caturano created a special four-course menu for the evening, and I paired a different sake with each of those courses.
First Course: Rabbit Parmigiano, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil paired with Chikurin Fukamari Junmai
Second Course: Mixed Mushroom Risotto and Fontina Cheese paired with Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai
Third Course: Wood Grilled Pork Chop, Tuscan Bean Salad, and Romesco paired with Mukune Junmai Ginjo
Fourth: Fig Turnover, Balsamic Glaze, and Pistachio Ice Cream paired with Hou Houshu Sparkling Sake
First, the food was excellent, and well received by the guests. Some had been to Prezza before, and were already fans, while others had never been and were impressed. They were especially amazed at the large size of the pork chops we received. The chef did not skimp in the least on portions and each dish was plentiful in flavor too.
Second, the most popular sake of the evening was probably the Hou Houshu Sparkling Sake, which many said seemed the least sake-like to them. It was sweet and bubbly, and a real crowd pleaser. It is the type of sake that almost anyone would enjoy, and it was simply a fun drink.
Third, the most popular pairing was probably the Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai with the Mushroom Risotto. the earthier and rich umami flavors of the Kurosawa complemented the savory mushrooms as well as the grated parmesan atop the risotto. I think the Kurosawa is a versatile sake, perfect for everything from BBQ to fried chicken. Plus, it is relatively inexpensive, often available for under $20.
The pairings led people to think in a different paradigm, to break out of the box of their preconceptions on food pairings. Plus, they learned about sake, as I spoke during the meal, providing them a crash course in Sake 101. I believe the dinner was a success, and I look forward to repeating this challenge in the future, as well as hosting other sake dinners with a variety of cuisines. Sake and pizza? Sake and BBQ? We shall see what the future holds.