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Dear Nigori Créme de Sake

An open letter to Nigori Créme de Sake at Fujiya

NIGORI CREME DE SAKE: Milky awesome. Photo credit: Ron Swarner

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Dear Nigori Crème de Sake,

Here's my fear.

Wait. This might be hard for you to comprehend, being you're rice wine. Try anyway.

It's human nature to try to improve upon past accomplishments. We strive to improve our work skills, our parallel parking, our driving so that we don't single-handedly snarl traffic at the Tacoma Dome (1997), how long we can drink at the bar before having to go to the bathroom, and our ability to put the brakes on eating sashimi paired with tiny thimbles of sake. This last endeavor, Nigori Crème de Sake, represents the greatest challenge for me. Although I'm the last guy who could courageously kick sand in your glass I can eat a hell of a lot of food.  If I'm at a steakhouse, chances are good that I'll stroll out wearing a new "I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing!" T-shirt. When a recipe says "four servings," I know it really means three, since I'll surely eat double. And if I darken the door of a restaurant foolish enough to offer an all-you-can-eat deal, management will likely reconsider the wisdom of their promotion - though I've never been kicked out of a place, like Homer Simpson was from the Frying Dutchman after he tried to stay past closing time. Stupid Homer.

The more I think about it, the more I realize this has been a problem since I was a kid.  Back when the Lakewood Mall was the Villa Plaza, my junior high buds and I would invade the Pizza Haven for Wednesday's all-you-can-eat pizza.  We would polish off 25 slices each, piling up the crusts in the middle of the table, and asking the server for "more bacon ... crumb" pizza. Idiot kids.

But nothing, and I repeat, nothing, makes me indulge - or overindulge, depending on your milky white perspective - more than sashimi and sake. You saw me last Friday at Fujiya, Nigori. It was if Led Zeppelin reunited. As if Kitty from Boss ran my campaign, side-by-side, to keep local wine bars open on Sundays. I had a perma-fish-eating-grin open just wide enough to shove in a beautiful slice of Hamachi backed with your creamy flavors of Asian pear and green nuts every 20 seconds. No ... 15.

And just as he has done since the '80s, owner Masahiro Endo would check on me, adding more to my plate, with a smile, then disappear. Pusherman.

Side note: I married a former hostess at Fujiya. Seriously.

The thing is Nigori Crème de Sake, you unfiltered boozy rice son-of-a-gun with hot floral tones, I don't get you. I'm not a beer drinker, yet you're more beer than wine. You're born with the creation of koji, the "starter" that breaks the starches in rice down into sugars. Technically a mold, koji is closely related to penicillin and behaves much like the yeast in sourdough bread. Unlike wines, you're often best when you're fresh. A few days will produce smooth, light sake while two weeks will result in a crisper product with higher alcohol content. I don't know. The quality and taste spectrum among sakes can be as striking as the difference between a bottle of Wild Irish Rose off the bottom of an ARCO station shelf versus a three-figure bottle of Willamette Valley's finest pinot. I do hold you in high esteem, Nigori. Really.

Truthfully, my fear lies not filling my entire food pyramid with one sashimi and sake session, or cleaning out my bank account to support this habit, but rather government intervening due to concerns about ocean-raping and fallout from Fukushima. OK, I guess I fear the right to choose to glow or not. Or maybe I fear the fact that I'm writing this at 2 a.m. while Mothra is destroying Toyko.

I do not know the answer, Nigori Crème de Sake. Or rather, I sort of do, but sometimes the answer seems so much larger and more hopeless than just limiting my raw fish and rice wine/beer/whatever intake.

Clearly, I have a problem. But no, I don't want any help, thank you. Another order of sea urchin would hit the spot, though.


Ron Swarner


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