Last night I went to a Sushi and Sake night at the Newcastle Art Gallery. I've sipped on sake before, but couldn't say I was a fan. Do you know why? It's because I've never been introduced to the right kind of sake. Saying "Oh, I'm not really a fan of sake" when you've only tried one type is a bit of a sin. Because did you know that the range of sake is practically as diverse as wine? You do now.
Thirty lucky people turned up tonight to learn something new. Something fabulous. See that gorgeous woman at the left of the pic? That's Suzie from Subo. She spoke to us about the history of sake, and it was fascinating. It's created in a manner similar to sourdough, where the 'mother' is nutured and grown before become sake in a rather fabulous process. There are so many different aspect to the creation: how much the rice is polished beforehand, the filtration, the pasteurisation. Oh my. I was spellbound listening to Suzie speak. It's a passion for her, and there's nothing better than learning something new from someone who's also loving learning about it.
The first sake had the delicate aroma of lychee - and oh, the taste. So fresh, so delicious. We had sheets to keep score where we noted numerous characteristics of the sake (see above for my marks for my fave). The second was also a taste revelation and completely and utterly different from the first. Plus it was then accompanied by the most amazing dish. Now, it was pretty dark, so my pic doesn't do it justice, but, well, hello lover...
This is a foie gras parfait with a cerviche of crystal bay prawns garnished with samphire plucked from around Newcastle's Bogey Hole. Damn, Beau Vincent knows how to do flavours and textures. Honestly, the only thing that held me back from licking that plate clean was a sense of propriety - however, I can't say that I didn't use my finger to make sure every last crisp rye crumb went into my mouth.
The Director of the Art Gallery, Ron Ramsay, spoke about the Japanese ceramics on display, which was absolutely fascinating. He's just fabulous - with a passion that spreads beyond the collection he curates at the gallery. Newcastle has the most astonishing collection of art, and we only see the teensiest bit of it at a time. We desperately need to add to the space for display and for storage. We've been gifted so many extraordinary works over the years by art lovers - they deserve to be paraded. I hope that the much-needed funds can be allocated so work on the expansion starts asap.
Nights such as these are a cultural awakening. My tastebuds are now open to what's on offer further than champagne and wine. In fact, my friends and I discussed how well sake would accompany duck confit...
Trying something new with open arms is always a success. PS: I need to get back to Subo stat, and work my way through that menu.
French word of the day: japonais (jap on ays): japanese