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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Touring Granville Island in British Columbia

A friend and collegue in healthcare standards turned me onto this place the last time I was in Vancouver.  I didn't have time to go then, but I did today.  Granville Island is small, and it's not really an Island.  It's a small peninsula just south of downtown Vancouver.  The place was created by filling in two sandbars in the early 1900's and was originally home to a number of factories.  In the mid to late 1970's, Granville Island was converted to an Artistic and Cultural center and is the home of a number of low-rent studios that now reside in the former factory buildings.  There are several theaters, rows of art studios representing all types of art, a public market that has just about any kind of fresh food you can imagine (I picked up some elk and bison pepperoni), and plenty else to look at and spend money on.  I spent probably more than I should have, but felt it was well worth it.

I headed over to Granville Island to go see the Artisan Sake Maker's studio in Railspur Studios and to experience their locally made Osake Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu.  I also tried several varieties of their Junmai sake, including the Junmai Nama Genshu, the Junmai Nama, and Junmai Nama Nigori.  I purchased a couple of bottles of the Sake to take home.  The premium Nigori has just a bit of carbonation, and so has a little more bit to it than your usual nigori sake.  It was a bit surprising but also very good.  Osake is now growing their own rice in Canada and expects to be making Sake with it next year.

Here's just a bit of Sake terminology for you:
Sake: Wine made from water, rice, yeast and koji
Koji: A mold used to turn rice starches into sugar that the yeast can then turn to alcohol.
Junmai:  Pure, the Sake is made only with traditional ingredients and there is no added alcohol.
Nama:  Micro-filtered rather than pasturized.
Nigori:  Unfiltered sake.  Includes particulates which are stirred up into the wine when serving.  Usually a little bit sweeter and full bodied because of the rice particulate.
Ginjo:  The rice is milled finer than for regular Sake, and contains only 60% of the grain (the outer part is milled away).
Daigingo:  Even more of the outer grain is milled away leaving 50% or less of the grain.
Genshu:  An undilluted strength of about 18-21% alcohol (note: Sake is usually more alcoholic that the equivalent volume of wine).

Just like there are wine and scotch regions, there are also "Sake" regions in Japan.  I'm not well enough versed in Sake to know the various regions -- but I'm learning.

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