Taste the world

Toast to sake

A Night With The Frontier Tojo 21

Sake Masters at Waku Ghin

Sept 9

It's nice being a famous Japanese chef. Not only do you get access to the best produce the country has to offer, but with the right connections, you'll be on first-name basis with the top sake brewers. These would be rooted-in-tradition artisans whose small-scale production is so tiny, they could literally decide who they want to sell their precious stash to. And if they don't like your face, forget about ever putting your lips to a cup of that precious nectar.

Lucky for Singapore that these inscrutable sake-brewers like Tetsuya Wakuda's face. So much so that a group of them even approached the chef-owner of Waku Ghin to showcase their sake in Singapore - a request the affable founder of Tetsuya in Sydney had no problem saying yes to.

On Sept 9, Waku Ghin presents a one-off Night with the Frontier Tojo 21 Sake Masters, featuring 11 top breweries from Hyogo prefecture's famous rice-growing region of Tojo. Frontier Tojo 21 is an association of the best in the region, and they will all be presenting for the first time outside of Japan.

Among them include names like Isojiman, Kokuryu and Jyuyondai - all of which enjoy a cult following in Japan because of their small-scale production of sake made from Yamadanishiki rice, touted as the best grain for premium-grade brew.

"The sake that will be presented at this dinner is some of the most refined sake you can get from Japan," says chef Wakuda. "Their style is so popular, and they're made in such limited quantity that it's very difficult to get. It'll be a rare opportunity to enjoy sake such as the Isojiman 35 Vintage Junmai Daiginjo, Jyuyondai Junmai Daiginjo and Kokuryu Hachijyuhachigou Daiginjo."

He's hard-pressed to identify the qualities of a good sake, because "every sake has its unique taste and flavour. It is difficult to generalise, but people can expect the sake to be very refined and well-balanced". The sake will be paired with some eight to 10 courses at Waku Ghin, "specially created to highlight the nuances of the sake", he adds.

For Chef Wakuda, it's the simplicity yet complexity of sake that intrigues him. "Sake is made with simple ingredients of rice and water, but the intricate process is what makes it outstanding. A good sake has to be well-balanced, neutral and with subtle sweetness. It has to be very delicate and refined. I believe premium sake has proven itself to be worthy of appreciation on the same level as fine wine.

"I enjoy sake with food, and I love the pairing of oysters and sake. I also love drinking it on its own to enjoy the subtle sweetness and flavours in a well-balanced sake."

Ultimately, the dinner will be a rare opportunity for people "to experience fine sake, and many of the sake that will be presented at the event are not available in Singapore or are hard to get in Japan".



A Night With The Frontier Tojo 21 Sake Masters at Waku Ghin is on Sept 9 from 6.30pm. Priced at S$1,000 a head. Tel: 6688 8507 for reservations or enquiries

Not your average market

Epicurean Market

Sept 12 to Sept 14

It's back - and it promises to be bigger and better than before.

The Marina Bay Sands' Epicurean Market returns for its second year from Sept 12 to 14 at the Sands Expo Convention Centre.

The three-day event takes on an indoor picnic theme this year, and will feature plenty of interactive activities, master classes and retail and dining outlets fronted by the hotel's brood of global Michelin-starred chefs.

Besides signature dishes such as Tetsuya Wakuda's grilled Ohmi beef and botan ebi with uni and caviar, gourmet hot dogs and freshly shucked oysters from db Bistro Moderne's new raw oyster bar, with pulled pork sandwiches and shrimp from Cut by Wolfgang Puck, guests will get to sample dishes from upcoming restaurants by chefs David Thompson and David Myers.

Wash it all down with a premium selection of wines from over 20 suppliers at the Wine Walk, showcased through activities such as wine-and-cheese pairings, thematic wine-tasting and a blind tasting session conducted by KOT Selections.

Want to get your hands dirty too? There will be over 35 master classes, including one on hand-making orecchiette pasta by the chefs behind Osteria Mozza and an interactive Junior Pastry Academy session for 25 children with db Bistro Moderne's executive pastry chef Benjamin Siwek.

Or, indulge in a little food retail therapy at a modern farmers' market, where one can bag summer and winter fruits, organic vegetables, macadamia nuts as well as organic beef and lamb from Australia, along with kale in various forms, such as kale juice and kale chips, all prepared fresh on the spot.

Visitors can also buy home exclusive items from Marina Bay Sands' celebrity chef restaurants that are otherwise not available for sale, such as steak seasoning from CUT by Wolfgang Puck, spice rubs from Mozza, Ginger Flower Vinaigrette from Sky on 57 and a specially-created db Singaporean chili sauce by db Bistro Moderne.

Or indulge the budding bartender in you at a pop-up retail store by local alcohol importers Proof & Company, where you can purchase artisanal spirits and cocktail ingredients, Japanese and European bar tools and books on cocktail making, as well as attend mini cocktail making classes by three world-ranked bartenders - Joe Alessandroni, Zdenek Kastanek and Peter Chua.

In line with Marina Bay Sands' eco practices, sustainability will also be a key thread running through the event, from the chilli seeds that guests can take home from the event to seed their own herb garden, to the recycling bins prominently placed throughout the fair for paper, plastic and food waste to drive home the message.



The Epicurean Market will be held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Basement 2, Hall D & E from 12pm to 9pm on Sept 12, and from 11am to 9pm on Sept 13 and Sept 14 . Tickets are priced at S$22 for a three-day pass, inclusive of free pair of Schott Zwiesel wine glasses, available from Sistic

Slice of Italy

Gusto Italiano

Sept 1 to Nov 2

No time to jet off to Italy? No issue, for the best of Italy is set to come to you next week. Month-long food festival Gusto Italiano returns again this year with a range of enticing food offers from Michelin star eats to casual pizza feasts.

Organised by Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) and presented by HSBC Cards, Gusto Italiano will run from Sep 1 to Nov 2. The main attractions this year are guest dinners by two-Michelin-starred culinary maestros Gennaro Esposito and Enrico Bartolini.

Elegantly established in and around a 1,300 year-old-watch tower within the tiny fishing village of Seiano, near the Amalfi coast, Chef Esposito's Torre Del Saracino is known for its light, seasonal cuisine that features plenty of regional ingredients - all of which will be showcased in a series of lunches and dinners presented at partner restaurant The Lighthouse from Sept 9 to 13.

From Sept 22 to 26, meanwhile, inITALY Bar Ristorante will present the cuisine of masterchef Bartolini. Also a two-Michelin-starred chef, Bartolini began his culinary career at the age of 19 and obtained his first Michelin star by the time he was 30. He will showcase how simple Tuscan ingredients such as humble homemade breads and pasta can be put together to conjure bold flavours.

Other than the international guest chef appearances, Gusto Italiano will also feature highly esteemed wineries such as Quintarelli, Pio Cesare, Isole e Olena and Bruno Giacosa that produce some of Italy's finest labels.

Highlights among the array of wine dinners lined up include Gattopardo chef-owner Lino Sauro's menu of signature seafood dishes paired with the wines of Jermann and Chef Kentaro Torii of Forlino's presentation of Japanese-inflected contemporary Italian dishes with the wines of the family-owned and operated Alba winery, Pio Cesare.

Capping off the event is the Best of Italy Gala Dinner to be held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore on Sept 25. Chef Andres Bontempi from Grand Hyatt, Chef Mario Caramela from inITALY Bar Ristorante, Chef Roberto Galetti from Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar, Chef Lino Sauro from Gattapardo and Chef Emanuele Faggi from Gaia Ristorante & Bar will prepare one course each for the dinner, which will be paired with wines from the various regions around Italy.

Casual diners can also look forward to Pizza Pizza!, an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet featuring more than 10 varieties of pizza at Pete's Place at Grand Hyatt, along with four one-hour cooking demonstrations per day on Sept 6 and 7 conducted by chefs such as Gabriele Piegaia from Burlamacco, Michele Pavanello from OTTO Ristorante and Yves Schmid from Senso Ristorante & Bar, among many others.

Hungry for more? As part of the EATaly dining promotion, a selection of Italian restaurants across Singapore will dangle additional dining offers on their a la carte menu items to fans of Italian cuisine all year long.



Gusto Italiano runs from Sep 1 to Nov 2. Ticket prices start at S$25++ for the culinary workshops at Tott and S$40++ and S$20++ for adults and children for Pizza Pizza! and from S$158++ and up for the dinners. HSBC cardholders get 20 per cent off all event ticket prices, and 15 per cent off international guest chef menus, as well as a la carte food bill at participating restaurants of EATaly dining promotion

This article was first published on Aug 30, 2014.
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