Sake Tasting at Clay Habitat

Last year I went along to a pinch pot workshop at the Japan Centre led by Noriko Nagaoka, whose ceramics I absolutely love. Earlier this year Noriko joined 11 other artists to launch Clay Habitat, a ceramics gallery and shop on Lower Marsh near Waterloo station. I attended their launch event back in February and was bowled over by the skill and creativity of the 12 artists. I signed myself right up to their mailing list and was naturally excited when I saw they were going to be doing a sake tasting event. Ceramics and sake?! I immediately bagged myself a ticket and encouraged a few friends to do the same.

When we arrived we were welcomed at the door and encouraged to choose a handmade sake cup to use for the evening and ultimately take home. Each of the ceramicists at Clay Habitat had made a range of cups for the event and you could clearly see the different styles of the artists. I chose a gorgeous “Mori” cup by Noriko, who takes her inspiration from nature, especially that of Japan where she grew up. Mori means “forest” in Japanese and you can see the trees represented in the pattern of the green glaze. You can’t tell from the photos, but the way it has been glazed gives the surface a really interesting texture as well.

Our sake expert for the evening was Asami from World Sake UK who was incredibly knowledgeable and gave a really useful introduction. She explained how sake is made, what the differences are between the different types, the importance and influence of temperature on the flavour of sake, and importantly what to look out for when tasting and buying sake.

Once Asami had finished her introduction, we were free to try each sake in our own time and enjoy chatting to the other guests as well. Each sake was also paired with a canapé made by resident ceramicist and cook, Ghaz.

The first sake we tried was Dewazakura “Oka”, a ginjo sake from the Yamagata prefecture with a clean, fruity/floral flavour. It was paired with a canapé of a beautifully creamy, sweet smoked salmon mousse crostini sprinkled with black sesame seeds.

Next we tried a classic, smooth junmai sake, Masumi “Okuden Kantsukuri”, from Nagano served alongside delicate chicken skewers marinaded in a mirin/soy/chilli sauce.

We finished with my favourite of the evening, a speciality unfiltered sake, Kamoizumi “Nigori Ginjo” or “Summer Snow” from the famous sake brewery mecca of Saijo, Hiroshima prefecture. Mark and I visited this quaint, historic town during our trip to Japan in 2017 and had an unforgettable experience meeting local brewers and tasting some really lovely sake. I loved the comforting and indulgent creaminess of this wine that was cleverly paired with pineapple and mango pieces.

The next sake tasting event is scheduled for June and I’m really looking forward to it. This time they will focus on the seasonal, fresh, unpasteurised sake and I expect it will be another fantastic evening. Tickets will be shared on the Clay Habitat Facebook page when they go on sale so I’ll be keeping an eye on that.

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