Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Surprise: Heirloom Tomatoes and Yamahai

August is the height of tomato season so we've been indulging ourselves at every opportunity. Due to several factors including a wet June and July, there has been much discussion and angst about a blight affecting much of the tomato crop in the Northeast this year. The result has been a surge in price, particularly with heirloom tomatoes. Current prices at the Union Square Greenmarket range from $6 to $8 per pound. Because we look forward to this late summer treat so much and want to support the farmers in their hour of need, we continue to buy them but are more careful about weighing them before we buy.

However, even the high price has not discouraged us from purchasing our beloved summer favorite heirloom tomatoes.
This year, we experimented with pairing our tomatoes with different types of sake. Since tomatoes have an abundance of umami, we thought that there would be a natural affinity for an umami-laden Yamahai junmai sake. For our choice of Yamahai, we decided on Kuro Obi Do Do Yamahai Junmai from Fukumitsuya brewery in Ishikawa prefecture. Usually, we like to warm this sake to further awaken its earthy, rich, creamy character. But this particular food pairing, coupled with the August heat and humidity suggested that giving this brew a slight chill in the fridge was the way to go.

We were delighted but not surprised to discover that the Kuro Obi Do Do and tomatoes were a sensuous, palate-pleasing match. The pairing of the sweetness and slight acidity of tomatoes and the earthy flavor of Yamahai danced a seamless tango in our mouths. The mozzarella we had added to the salad also played perfectly off the lactic elements that are the hallmark of Yamahai sake.

So don't wait for the fall or winter to drink Yamahai (or its cousin Kimoto) sake, its umami makes it a wonderful complement to some of summer's best produce, locally grown tomatoes!

(For a complete selection of Yamahai and Kimoto sake please visit SAKAYA.)