Sake's Popularity Is Brewing

Sake and Beer Festival attracts young foodies for Japan Society fundraiser

If a five dollar bottle of sake over a plate of sushi is your only exposure to the popular Japanese rice wine drink, then you have a super wow experience ahead of  you at the 2009 Sake and Beer Festival.  Did you know there are sake sommeliers and that there are probably as many varieties of sake as there are wines?

The June 25 event is the seventh annual fundraiser for the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana.  What started out as a networking mixer with only 100 people has grown to 500 at last year's Festival, says Aya Ibarra, program director. "There's a lot of wine tasting in Southern California and micro-brewery cultural events, so this is something in between that."  

People have seen sake on the menu, adds Ibarra, but "if you're like me I don't know what I'm ordering (when it comes to sake)." She says people are more confident when it comes to ordering a "cab or a chardonnay", so San Diegans "who are curious and want to know more (about sake) can do so without having to purchase an expensive bottle. " Some sake bottles will run up to $150 or more. Who knew?

 And sake sommeliers will teach you how to pair certain ones with food.  And speaking of food a lot of  top chefs will be there too including  Brian Malarkey, Executive Chef at The Oceannaire Seafood Room, Sam the Cooking Guy, of Just Cook This! with Sam the Cooking Guy," Jerry Warner, Executive Sushi Chef at Cafe Japengo. And there's the SushiMasters competition.

But if sake isn't what you savor there's the 'beer' part of the 2009 Sake and Beer Festival. "A lot of beers are influenced by Japanese cuisine too" says Ibarra. And there will be the best of the imports offered up as well.

All proceeds benefit The Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana (JSSDT). The focus of the organization is to promote good relations and advance business, civic, educational and cultural interchanged and understanding between  U.S., Mexico and Japan. Among its programs to help students is  "Japan In a Suitcase" which brings Japanese experiences to the classrooms and libraries, says Ibarra to help supplement education during this time of budget cuts."

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