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sake 'n cheese

sake 'n cheese

Learn about the unique experience of pairing Japanese sake with artisanal cheese from Joto Sake's president at Murray's Cheese. Discover the thoughtful approach of sake makers in Japan and the delicious combinations of sake with rich, savory foods like cheese, drawing from the region's culinary traditions.

My friend Henry Sidel, the president of the boutique sake importer Joto Sake, invited me to his class this past week at Murray's Cheese, New York's best cheese shop. The theme was pairing sake with cheese. An irresistibly funky hunk of artisanal fromage with a wine glass of smooth, rich artisanal nihonshu? Not as far-fetched as it seems: Henry explained that sake makers in Japan tailor their beverages to go with the foods of their region. And we're not talking sushi. In the Hyogo region, for example, a lean, refreshing sake called Kasumi Tsuru is brewed with "briny crab and steak juices" in mind -- this area is famous for its prized crabs and beef. Sake pairs perfectly with these rich, savory foods. So why not cheese? (Sushi, by the way, goes better with a crisp Japanese beer.) Henry also pointed out that both cheese and sake are created through mold and fermentation -- and this yeasty kinship blooms (hehe) when you taste them side-by-side.

Murray's Nora Singley, the head of their Cheese University, introduced one amazing cheese after the other. My favorites were a nutty, complex goat-gouda called Midnight Moon, the earthy French Tomme Crayeuse and Queso de la Serena, a wonderful piquant cheese from Extremadura. The wonderful sakes Henry picked were all from small, family-run traditional breweries with lyrical names like "The Seven Spearman" and "Cabin in the Snow."

So what do you think about pairing sake with cheese? Yeah, you, my fine reader. Does it work? An inquiring mind (mine) wants to know...