Nov 21, 2011

Outdoor warmed sake

Last week, I thought it would be nice to go to Okutama Lake and see autumn leaves. So, my friend and I went to the lake.

If you go westward along the road on the north lakeside, across the Minedani-bashi Bridge, and through the tunnel, you will find a float bridge on Okutama Lake. The float bridge connects the north and south sides of the lake. We got off the bus at a bus stop on the lake and got to the north end of the float bridge. It was already past noon.

Formerly, they used oil drums as floats of this bridge, which was, therefore, called "Drum Bridge." Now, they are using float made of some plastic material. Because they discontinued using drums or for another reason, this bridge is not called "Drum Bridge" any longer. Instead, it is called just "Mugiyama Float Bridge" (Mugiyama seems to be a name of a place). To me, "Drum Bridge" sounds nicer, but actually no drums are used for the bridge. So, maybe there is no longer a reason to include "drum" in the name of this bridge.

We walked on this interesting shaky bridge to the opposite side. Then, we walked for about an hour along the trail on the south shore, to reach "Yama no Furusato Mura," which is facilities, where visitors can have lunch at the restaurant, learn about nature of the Okutama area, enjoy camping, and do other activities.

As to autumn leaves, it was still early for seeing the most beautiful colors. Maybe, this weekend will be fine? Anyway, while hearing chirping wild birds, and walking on rustling fallen leaves is quite relaxing and refreshing.

At the restaurant of "Yama no Furusato Mura," we had a late lunch. The fried Okutama Yamame Trout was nice.

After the lunch, I used my portable gas stove to boil some water outside the restaurant. I placed a small bottle of sake in the warmed water to make warmed sake.

The table and benches were in the warm afternoon sunshine, and staying there was cozy. However, when it was close to three o'clock, the sun moved to behind the western mountains. Then, suddenly, it became cold. We realized we were in mountains, and it was good that I had prepared my equipment for warmed sake.

Nov 19, 2011

Ichibay lately big into kandouko (sake warmer)

The portable kandouko is a cute and tasteful sake warmer. Since I got a small one in an auction on the Internet, I have often used this device to enjoy warmed sake. It is not such a large device for sufficient and steady supply of warmed sake for five or more drinkers, but it is a cool device for two or three drinkers. Low priced sake such as regular sake, junmai sake, and honjozo sake is good enough with this device.

You pour some water in a kandouko, and place burning charcoal in the brazier in this device. The heat of the charcoal warms up the water. So, you put a flask or another vessel containing sake in the warmed water and wait. Soon, the sake becomes warm.
(For details about the kandouko, see this post: "Finally got a kandouko (sake warmer)!"

The kandouko is not merely a sake warming device, but it also serves as a tiny hibachi. You can set a grill on the brazier and cook some food while warming and sipping your sake. You can grill dried fish, shiitake mushrooms, and other foods. This way of drinking may look somewhat poorish, but it is folksy, and I feel like I can flatter myself that I am a bearer of sake culture.

Lately, I am practicing a new way of using my kandouko; I warm canned food on the brazier

If you are interested in warm sake, how about getting a kandouko?

Nov 11, 2011

Shoot a target and get canned food!

(Sequel to the previous post)

After drinking at Sawanoi-en until early afternoon, we moved to the BBQ facilities Rengado Akatombo.

Rengado Akatombo has a large roofed BBQ site. On this day, it was rainy and food stalls were set up under the roof. A performance stage was also placed under the roof (the stage is set up outside in usual years, but it was a rainy day). On the stage, music, funny dances, Japanese traditional performing arts, and other performances were presented.

However, not being interested in such performances very much this time, we were busy drinking and chatting.

Almost all the seats were occupied at the large roofed BBQ site. However, there was another building across the yard beside the roofed BBQ site. In this cabin-like building, there were a few tables with seats, some of which were still vacant. In this place, visitors could enjoy a shooting game. A player of this game was to mount on a machine horse back like one known as the brand name of Rodeo Boy. This machine, moving up and down, right and left, and back and forth, makes it difficult for a shooter to aim at a target. You can shoot three times for 300 yen. If you hit a target, you will be given a can of food.

By the way, I saw an acquaintance when we left Sawanoi-en, and she recommended wasabi croquette sold at Rengado Akatombo. So, I bought it and ate it.

This croquette was like a usual potato croquette but it included wasabi stems and leaves. In addition, the woman at the shop spread a lot of green wasabi paste on it before giving it to me. The croquette was spicy and tasty.

At the table, while eating the wasabi croquette and drinking Ichiban-gumi Nigori, which was a special version of Ichiban-gumi and sold only at this place, the president of the brewery appeared. Since I often go Sawanoi-en and attend various sake-drinking events held by the brewery, I have acquaintance with him. So, he kindly brought us some delicious gyozas. By the way, these gyozas were sold by a restaurant, which is usually operating near Okutama Terminal Station on JR Ome line. Once, I went to this restaurant, but all the seats were occupied at that time and I couldn't eat any. So, I was happy that I could eat these gyozas this time.

Also, women sitting in the place just beside me kindly gave us a food can, canned mackerel boiled with miso soybean paste. They said they tried a shooting game, successfully hit a target, and won this can. Thanks!

We ate this canned food after boiling it directly with a spirit lamp. Hot boiled mackerel was nice with Sawanoi sake. Maybe, I want to try this style for myself later.

Nov 1, 2011

"Ichiban-gumi" and "Shiboritate"

I got to Sawanoi-en at around 10 o'clock. It was a bit rainy.

On October 22nd, Ozawa Syuzou, the brewer of Sawanoi sake, held an open-brewery event. Many people who love Sawanoi sake gathered at brewery for the brewery's sake including this year's new brew.

Since I saw many people getting off the train at Sawai Station and they were undoubtedly heading for the brewery, I expected the brewery would get crowded soon. I knew many of these people would first buy tickets for the sake tasting. They could enter a brewery's building, where every type of Sawanoi sake bottles was placed on tables so that they could taste the sake. However, I decided to skip the sake tasting this year. I passed by the ticket selling place, headed for the Sawanoi-en rest station, bought a small bottle of warmed sake and oden, and occupied a table, because I anticipated that my friends would join me later.

Warmed sake with oden was a good starter for this day's long lasting "drinking party."

It is a bit cold and warmed sake is especially nice in such conditions.

Soon, the rest station began crowded. People, apparently a family, came to my table and asked if they could share the table with me. When a drinking place is crowded, people must make mutual concessions and have a good time over sake. So, of course, I let them sit at my table with pleasure. Saying they were from Mitaka City, they were admiring a beautiful Tama River running by the pavilion of the rest station. Actually, the water was murky due to the rain and it was not very beautiful to me. I somewhat in a roundabout way said, "In fine weather, the river is clearer." Nevertheless, the young woman, seemingly a daughter of the middle-aged couple, seemed to be satisfied with the sight, saying, "The river is beautiful all the same."

I thought maybe they were great lovers of nature.

Later on, my friends, acquaintances, and those who came with them joined me. Now, we were five people and our table became crowded and lively. The place was a bit cramped for room but it was pleasant to drink with many people.

On this day, we chiefly drank Shiboritate and Ichiban-gumi. Both were non-pasteurized new sake. Many said that they liked Ichiban-gumi better than Shiboritate, but I preferred Shiboritate. However, as we continue drinking or as we got drunk, the difference between them became insignificant.

(To be continued)