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Saké TOP 5: Neutral Sake

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In describing the balance of Sake flavors you probably already know there are sweet Sake, like Nigori ("Cloudy") and dry Sake, such as Onigoroshi ("Demon Slayers"). In between, on a scale called the "Sake Meter Value", are semi-sweet and semi-dry Sake. More about that here.
In between that, you will find neutral Sake.

Neutral Sake taste neither sweet nor dry, but this does not mean they have no flavor. Far from it; Neutral Sake possess both characteristics - acids and unfermented sugars (as well as esters and phenolic flavors), in a balancing act that walks a tightrope right down the center of your tongue, engaging more of your palate than a sweet or dry Sake might.

As popular as a sweet Nigori like Hakutsuru's Sayuri, or a refined, dry Onigoroshi like Wakatake Onikoroshi are, it's no wonder that the most popular Sake in America is a Neutral sake, Kikusui's Junmai Ginjo. By the way: If you wanted to offer three Sake for a group that has never…

Saké TOP 5: Dry Sake

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You tried a few Sake and figured out this much: You like 'em dry.
Great! I wrote about what makes Sake dry or sweet here.
In the U.S., the Sake Market has finally started to take hold, in part because they stopped referring to Sake in binary terms like "Sweet or Dry". But now many Sake menus will avoid the words entirely, opting for alternative descriptors such as "earthy", "minerally", or "bold". These can be helpful in deciding, but in Japan "Dry or Sweet" is usually the first and sometimes only criteria used when selecting Sake, so let's agree to acknowledge that Sake's depth and breadth has many dimensions - including semi-dry, semi-sweet, and neutral, andit'sokay to use "Dry or Sweet".
Much of the cheap, mass-produced Sake of poor-quality also survive in the dry-realm. One example (that's right, I name names!) is the classic Ozeki One Cup. Keep in mind, they do still have their time and place - I dri…

Composting and Gardening

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As I sat in the CSU/EXPO Mini-Urban Farm one Saturday, attending a free seminar on "raised bed planting", my mind kept picturing this part of my backyard. The event was hosted by a program called "Garden Gateway" and promised information and free building materials to create my own raised bed for planting a garden.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later to The Paul Robeson Community Wellness Center, where I attended their Earth Day event. I thought I would also pick up the materials, but they still hadn't ordered them yet. They did, however, offer another free seminar. This time the topic was composting, and once again they generously provided free materials. I received a supply of a fruity powder called bokashi. An inoculated bran powder used to help in the fermenting of compost.

I had a big 5-gallon bucket to fill, and no space inside my apartment, so I used an old canister for nuts to collect scraps, peels, coffee grinds, and eggshells and the like. When that…

The Secrets of Sake: Part 6, ROKA (濾過)

Part 6


ROKA(Part 1 is HERE)


Who are the Sakamai? Nothing quite like them exist. Once, they were residents of a quaint village, Tanbo. A community of like-minded homebodies, they craved routine and order and found joy in the peaceful monotony life offered. Until one late Autumn day, a higher power snatched them up, and for months subjected them to a cataclysmic series of forced metamorphoses. They were starved, infected, and drowned until they finally separated from their physical forms completely, becoming a combined consciousness, floating in dark tank of chemical reactions...
Nature, gravity, and whatever more mysterious forces were at play, began dragging the skeletal white remains of their former bodies into a murky sediment at the bottom of the tank. Just above that, the Sakamai could sense a similar, silty layer of Kin bodies. With their gnat-like lifespans, the Kin would rapidly multiple, grow old, and die, sinking carelessly to the bottom like grains of sand in an hourglass. Anot…

The Secrets of Sake: Part 5 Hakkou

Part 5
HAKKOU
(Part 1 is HERE)
"The Creators" were a god-like alpha race to the tiny, simple folk called Sakamai. The Sakamai lived blissfully unaware that these behemoths designed and cultivated all they had ever enjoyed until it was brutally taken away. After weeks of increasingly confusing transformations were forced upon them, the Sakamai found themselves reunited, divided, and reunited once more, as an even-stranger state, akin to an afterlife was induced. Their consciousness remained intact - unified in fact. Their new, formless hive mind floated in an ever cloudier sea of the hollowed-out deteriorating remains of their former, physical bodies. Eviscerated by the peculiar, psychic, gnome-like beings called Koji. 
"No matter." They thought serenely, "Now our minds are united as one, and sustained without the need for our corporeal shells". The Sakamai were evolving beyond their former, timid ways. Having transcended their physical form and still retainin…

The Secrets of Sake: Part 4, SANDAN-JIKOMI

Part 4 SANDAN-JIKOMI
(Part 1 is HERE) Their village demolished, Sakamai - the people of Tanbo - were tortured and twisted in strange ways, physically combined with tiny hive-minded creatures called Koji. As the two became one, these new "Koji-Mai" learned from the Koji's memories that their towering and unstoppable alien captors were "The Creators" - an alpha race who designed and cultivated all they had ever experienced, just for this. But these answers only begat more questions:
What would happen next? To what end was any of this happening at all? When would it be over? Would the Koji-Mai ever see the Sakamai they were taken from in their last steel prison? Even if they did, would their families even recognize them after yet another transformation?  As usual, the Koji provided soothing thoughts of complacency:  "All is a cycle The Creators have planned for. We are not the first or even the thousandth, and we will not be the last. What comes is new to us, b…

The Secrets of Sake: Part 3, SHUBO

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Part 3
SHUBO

(Part 1 isHERE)
An alien race had descended upon the sleepy land of Tanbo. Abducting every last villager, uprooting their verdant homeland in the process and tearing it to shreds. The people, known as Sakamai, were subjected to all manner of torture by their insouciant captors. Starved in the cold, and then worked over mercilessly. In a sudden 180, they were reunited with their brethren and plumped up, only to be separated once more. Finally, they found themselves subjected to some bizarre biological experimentation at the enormous hands of the towering aliens. Latched onto by hundreds and hundreds of previously harmless house pests they recognized from Tanbo, slowly the Sakamai began to link telepathically with these simple creatures, who they came to learn had their own thoughts, and a name:
"We are Koji. Soon we will become one..."
True to their word, the Koji were not shy as they latched directly onto each and every Sakamai, adhering like leaches, they pulsated …