By Linda Hayes | May 23, 2014 | Food & Drink
Aspen's sushi obsession is on par with its penchant for the sporting life. At Matsuhisa, pairing seafood with sake is a flavor-filled win-win.
The fare expertly prepared by Matsuhisa sushi chefs perfectly complements the sake offerings
So you think you know a lot about sake? Or, conversely, perhaps you know nothing at all and want to give it a try? Either way, some time with sommelier Carlos Solorzano-Smith, Matsuhisa Aspen’s beverage director and resident sake expert, will enlighten you—and your taste buds, too.
“Sake is known as ‘water from heaven’ because it’s made from mountain snow that melts and runs down into wells,” Solorzano-Smith says with contagious enthusiasm. “It’s a beautiful beverage that comes from a great culture and is easy to drink.” Offered exclusively at Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants, the premium sakes Solorzano-Smith pours are all imported from Hokusetsu, an award-winning brewery on Sado Island (aka “Sake Island”) in the Sea of Japan. While his drink menu includes a sake list, a sake fact sheet, and even a map of Japan, true knowledge comes with tasting.
Sake at Matsuhisa
Don’t know what you like? “For a first introduction, Nobu Junmai Dai-Ginjo is an easy starter sake,” he says. “From there, you can go up or down [the list]. You get an understanding.” Want to find a sake to pair with your fish? “There are not classic pairings for sake like with wine,” he says. “Sake has no acidity, so it doesn’t interfere with food and allows you to enjoy the pure flavor.”
While there is no set sake-pairing menu at Matsuhisa, Solorzano-Smith shares a few favorite combinations: Floral Nobu Junmai Da-Ginjo complements spicy yellowtail jalapeño, delicate Nobu YK35 Dai-Ginjo balances fatty-salty toro tartare with wasabi and caviar, and earthy Hokusetsu Dai-Ginjo enhances briny oysters on the half-shell. Offering one-ounce sake pours, Solorzano-Smith recommends moving around the menu and sipping tropical Nobu TK40 with king crab tempura, or dry Music-Aged Onigoroshi with sweet miso black cod, for instance. “It’s like everything we do here,” he says, “an adventure.” 303 E. Main St., 970-544-6628
photography by chris gamly