Japanese Sake & Cheese: Take me to the Curd
I’ve been a fan of the curd for decades, ever since my time spent up in northern, California I owe my good friend Vinney Sorrentino for sponsoring that trip and for imparting the knowledge of good cheese and wine to me. The first really good cheese he introduced to me, and the first exotic cheese I had ever tried, was called Morbier cheese, a product of France from the Île-de-France region.
The name Morbier means “small market-town” and is produced in the village of Morez in the Jura Mountains. The cheese is uncooked and pressed, and allowed to mature for two months. It is then brushed with salty water. The shape is round with sides that bulge slightly; it has a horizontal black furrow through the middle. The production of this cheese is protected by a special label from the Franche-Comte; it belongs to the AOC family. Its taste is savory and fruity.
Back in the day, Opus One used to be the talk of the town. If you had a good creamy cheese that had a semi hard texture, coupled with the setting sun over the northern California horizon.
Almost a decade later and I’m here in Japan now, and I am sensing a revived interest in the curd. It’s what people are talking about now along with Japanese sake. Can sake pair well with cheese? Some think so, I think so, Mr. Masa Shiroki, owner of Artisan Sakemaker, may thinks so, and a small but growing cadre of sake aficionados and cocktail mixologist. People want to be more daring now and are willing to try something unconventional at least once, so why not sake and cheese…? Would I still be regarded as a purist, you think?
"My dream is the day when I go into someone's house whom I don't know and he opens up his fridge and there's a bottle of sake and he offers it to me with his favourite non-Japanese food. That will be the day."
Quote from Mr. Masa Shiroki
So, here's to the sake lover inside of all of us. I recommend a Dassai50, or just about any Junmai or Junmai Daiginjo. Something chilled preferable .