Sake School

Sake is slowly growing on me. Initially I found the taste to be bitter and strange, but the more I try, the more I am able to find pleasure in it. Here is a run down on various types of sake and their flavor. The following text and images are courtesy of Time Out New York and the article can be seen here.

Sake school: Six sake types for wine drinkers, Scotch sluggers and more

Master sommelier Roger Dagorn (15 East) gives us a 101 on the fermented-rice hooch. From oenophile-baiting junmai to kimoto for Scotch sluggers, there’s a variety for every type of drinker.

By Christina IzzoTue Apr 23 2013

Sushi Of Seki

Sushi Of Seki – Photograph: Filip Wolak

You know if you’re a merlot fan or a champagne sipper, if you’re a sherry devotee or a Scotchaficionado. But do you know junmai from honjozoGinjo from nigori? Before you step into another sakebar, get schooled on six different types of the Japanese fermented-rice beverage and find out which variety will tickle your boozing fancy best.

If you like full-bodied cabs, try a junmai
Heavier and fuller than its delicate sake brethren, the concentrated, acidic junmai grade—pure sake made from rice, koji (starter enzyme) and water—boasts a bold, rich earthiness similar to a robust cabernet sauvignon.

If you like Scotch, try a kimoto or yamahai
Love the peaty malt of good Scotch? Brews crafted in the kimoto or yamahai technique—made without adding lactic acid to the yeast, resulting in more wild bacteria—have that smoky, savory funk that single-malt drinkers crave. This variety is sometimes aged in cedar barrels, which can imbue these labor-intensive sakes—the starter mash is hand-churned over a period of at least four weeks—with a Scotch-like peppery finish.

If you like dry sherry, try a ginjo
The difference between hearty junmai and the lighter ginjo grade is its polishing rate (in layman’s terms: the amount of rice remaining after the husk has been milled) and, with a 60 percent polishing rate, ginjo is leagues more refined than rustic junmai. The superpremium brew is dry, fruity and aromatic, à la Spanish sherry. Sip it chilled for optimum smoothness.

If you like champagne, try sparkling sake
A Japanese twist on bubbly, sparkling sake is distinctive due to its in-bottle secondary fermentation, which produces the fizz and soft sweetness that bottle-poppers look for. Bonus: Unlike the blinding champagne-induced hangover you get every New Year’s Day, carbonated sake’s alcohol content clocks in at under 8 percent, making for easy, breezy tippling.

If you like classic merlot, try honjozo
The medium-bodied cousin of bold junmai, the everyday honjozo-grade sake adds a touch of distilled alcohol to the mash, lending it a soft, easy-to-drink quality in line with a milder merlot. Like that grape varietal, honjozo commonly gives off a cherry flavor and touch of spicy clove.

If you like dessert wine, try nigori
The sweetest of the bunch, milky, creamy nigori caps many Japanese meals as a digestif. The cloudy sip (unfermented rice solids produce the brew’s signature murkiness) is unfiltered and low in alcohol, with light fruit notes. It’s best served cool to bring out its complex sweetness, so chill the brew in an ice bucket as you would dessert wine.

CHEAT SHEET

Warm or chilled?
Sake’s traditionally served warm, but the higher the quality of the sake, the more it should be chilled—warming sake can mask the subtle flavors of premium brews.

Wooden box or stemware?
Wood tampers with the nose of high-end sake (sip delicate ginjos in glassware), though it can actually help smooth out cheaper, harsher varieties.

To pour or not to pour?
Pour for your fellow boozers but not yourself—tejaku (pouring your own sake) is considered very rude in Japanese culture.

What to pair?
A common misconception is that sake should be paired with sushi. Avoid rice-on-rice overkill by soaking up your brew with soba noodles, braised pork belly, miso-glazed Chinese sausage or sashimi.

Sake bomb: yay or nay?
Just say no to sake bombs. They are an American invention and, if ordered at a real-deal sake den, will betray your rookie status.

What’s the difference between junmai and daiginjo?
There are four main grades of sake: junmai (pure rice sake, at least 30 percent polished), honjozo (a tad of distilled alcohol added, at least 30 percent polished), ginjo (highly milled rice—at least 40 percent polished—with or without added alcohol) and daiginjo (even more highly milled rice—at least 50 percent polished—with or without added alcohol).

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The Wim Hof Method – How to Consciously Control Your Immune System

The Wim Hof Method. This has become a bit of a fascination for me. I’ve yet to have the chance to personally try it out, but the philosophy behind it intrigues me. The following pictures and text are courtesy of High Existence and the article can be seen here.

The Wim Hof Method *Revealed* – How to Consciously Control Your Immune System

wim-hof-method

We previously published an article about Wim Hof, holder of 20 Guinness World Records for withstanding extreme temperatures. He has climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in only shorts and shoes, stayed comfortably in ice baths for hours, and run a marathon in the desert with no water.

Wim is able to accomplish these feats with ease through the use of ‘The Wim Hof Method’ — a breathing technique that allows you to control the autonomous systems of the body.

However the most earthshaking effect of the Wim Hof method is the ability to consciously control the immune system to fight off any disease. By becoming more in tune with the body, Wim says you can rid yourself of even the most destructive diseases, including AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer.

Wim is currently working with a group of university researchers to prove that anyone can do the extraordinary things he does. He’s taking 12 participants who have no prior training, and instructing them over the span of a week. At the end of the week, each participant will be injected with a bacterium than normally causes violent nausea, vomiting and fever for several days. However, with the use of the Wim Hof Method, the participants will feel nothing (Wim previously did this and felt no more than a slight headache).

Martijn was previously told by Wim’s people that we were not allowed to publish the method here. But Wim recently came to do a workshop with the Valhalla Movement team and explained that he wants as many people to know about this as possible. His vision is a world without sickness.

So without further ado, here is the Wim Hof Method…

The Method

The Wim Hof Method is similar to Tummo (inner heat) Meditation and Pranayama (yogic breathing). Yet it is something else entirely. While Wim has studied yoga and meditation for many years, this technique primordially comes from what he terms ‘cold hard nature’. By subjecting himself to the bitter conditions of nature, he learned to withstand the extreme forces of cold, heat and fear. If you learn this method or technique correctly, it will empower you do to the same.

The first part is a breathing exercise which can be likened to controlled hyperventilation. This is, of course, an oxymoron. Hyperventilation is something which happens involuntarily. But just imagine the breathing part, without any of stress triggers that normally cause this way of breathing. The image will consist of rapid breathing that makes one languid, invigorates one, makes one high on oxygen. One mechanism of this practice is the complete oxygenation of your blood and cells.

1) Get comfortable and close your eyes

Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty.

2) Warm Up

Inhale deeply. Really draw the breath in until you feel a slight pressure from inside your chest on your solar plexus. Hold this for a moment and then exhale completely. Push the air out as much as you can. Hold this for a moment. Repeat this warm up round 15 times.

3) 30 Power Breaths

Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. The belly is pulled inward when you are breathing out and is pulled outward when you are breathing in. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times or until you feel your body is saturated with oxygen. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body, electrical surges of energy.

4) Scan your body

During the 30 power breaths, delve into your body and become aware of it as possible. Trace your awareness up and down your body and use your intuition as to what parts lack energy and what parts are overflowing. Scan for any blockage between the two. Try to send energy/warmth to those blockages. Then release them deeper and deeper. Tremors, traumas and emotional releases can come up. It can be likened to kundalini rising. Feel the whole body fill up with warmth and love. Feel the negativity burn away.

Often people report swirling colors and other visual imagery during this exercise. Once you encounter them, go into them, embrace them, merge with them. Get to know this inner world and how it correlates to the feeling of tension or blockages in your body.

5) The Hold

After the the 30 rapid succession of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using too much force. Then push all of the air out and hold for as long as you can. Draw the chin in a bit so as to prevent air from coming in again. Really relax and open all energy channels in your body. Notice how all the oxygen is spreading around in your body. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex on the top of your chest.

6) Recovery Breath

Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. Release any tension in the solar plexus. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath once more. Drop the chin to the chest and hold this for around 15 seconds. Notice that you can direct the energy with your awareness. Use this time to scan the body and see where there is no color, tension or blockages. Feel the edges of this tension, go into it, move the energy towards this black hole. Feel the constrictions burning away, the dark places fill with light. Relax the body deeper as you move further inward, let everything go. Your body knows better than you do. After 15 seconds you have completed the first round.

Start this practice with one or two rounds. Try to do it daily and add two more rounds in a few days. After you feel more comfortable with holding your breath you can start to add exercises and stretches. Work up to a minimum of 15 minutes or 6 rounds with exercises. You can do this practice for how long it pleases you.

If you feel dizziness or pain, get out of the posture and lie on your back. Breathe easily again and stop this practice session.

Reserve at least 5 minutes after this practice to relax and scan the body.

Summary

  1. 30 times balloon blowing
  2. Breathe in fully
  3. Breath out fully and hold until gasp reflex
  4. Inhale fully and hold for 10-15 seconds.
  5. Repeat until finished
  6. Take 5 minutes to relax and scan your body

Bonus Power-ups

  • Add push-ups or yoga poses during the time you are holding your breath until you wait for the gasp reflex. Notice that you are stronger without air than you would normally be if you could breathe!
  • Charge the energy up the spine by holding moola banda, contract the rectum & sex organ and pull the navel inward towards the spine.
  • Stand up in squat position and do the balloon breath. Try to breathe away the burn. (get seated again the moment you continue the cycle, you don’t want to be standing and faint) See if you can get the energy overtake the pain. Don’t give up easily and see how far you can go if you have the willpower!

Cold Exposure

After the  body scan of the previous exercise you are ready let your body embrace the cold. It is very important to try to relax as much as you can, really be with the cold, only then can your body process the signals and start thermogenesis. As Wim says, “the cold is your warm friend!

Cold Showers

If you are new to cold exposure, start with cold showers. Begin with your feet and then follow with your legs, your stomach, shoulders, neck and back and finally your head. An initial shock, shivering and hyperventilation is normal. Try to remain calm and breathe easily. Close your eyes and really try to embrace the cold.

If you feel any strong physical uncomfortableness, like heavy shivering, numbness or pain, get your body warm again as soon as possible.

Once you are out of the shower, take a moment to do another slow body scan before you dry yourself.

Cold exposure works like weight lifting, you get stronger over time. There are little muscles around your veins that contract when they get into contact with the cold. After some time (only 1-2 weeks according to Wim) these become stronger, making your veins healthier and reducing the force that your heart has to use to pump blood around your body.

You can increase exposure over time. At one point the cold will feel just as comfortable as wearing your favorite pajamas and you can skip the warm shower completely. Notice how you feel amazing after a cold shower and sluggish after a warm one.

Ice Baths

After a few weeks of cold showers you can up the ante to an ice bath. Get 2-3 bags of ice at your local convenience store and put them in a half-full bath tub. Wait until around two thirds is melted or that the water has reached your designated temperature (10 / 12 °C (50 / 59 °F)). You can throw in a couple of handfuls of salt to speed up this process.

As with the cold showers, try to relax as much as you can. Start out with around 10 minutes and increase exposure over time. If you feel uncomfortable or in doubt, get out. After this exercise make sure you do another body scan.

It is normal to feel extra cold after a small period of time after the ice bath. This is called the after-drop. Take a hot glass of raw coca and keep your blood flowing by talking a walk. You’ll feel amazing after!

These exercises are extremely powerful when done consistently and with intent. Try them and out and report your findings in the comments below! Remember, the cold is your warm friend.

 

Spring Pea Soup With Fromage Blanc Cream

The following text and images are courtesy of Etsy. See the article in full here

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Photo by Adrianna Adarme

Story by Adrianna Adarme

Published on Apr 11, 2013 in Eatsy

acozykitchen

I went through my entire childhood being a pea-hater. My poor mother put peas in all sorts of dishes, only to be met with me sitting in my corner, picking every single one out. I was sending a very clear message to her (and anyone else that would notice) about my pea-intolerence.

Even as I became a more adventurous eater, I steered clear of peas. It wasn’t until a few springs ago when I warmed up to the idea of them being on my plate. I mean, they’re so adorable in their little pods. A few dishes later featuring perfectly cooked peas, I realized that I don’t hate peas; I actually just dislike the starchy, overcooked peas of my youth.

This soup celebrates the sweet and deliciousness of peas. The spring onion bulb and shallot are roasted, adding a wonderful hint of onion that works so nicely with the sweet peas. A few dollops of fromage blanc cream adds a touch of decadent creaminess. I can’t think of a better way to consume the season of spring.

Spring Pea Soup With Fromage Blanc Cream
Serves 4

1 shallot, peeled
1 spring onion bulb
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 pound peas (fresh or frozen)
2 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
4 ounces fromage blanc
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the shallot, spring onion bulb and 1 tablespoon of butter in the center of a sheet of parchment paper, folding it over like a business letter and sealing it on the sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes and until the shallots are translucent and soft. Allow the shallot and onion to cool enough to touch. Using a small knife, cut off the outer layer of crispy skin around the spring onion and discard. Set the spring onion bulb and shallot aside.

2. To a medium saucepan, add the peas and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the peas are slightly softened. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, until melted. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender, and add the shallot and spring onion bulb; purée until smooth. Add the salt and adjust according to taste. Pour the puréed soup back into the saucepan and heat over medium-low to keep warm.

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the fromage blanc and whipping cream. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. Salt to taste. To serve, divide the soup between bowls and top each soup with a dollop of the fromage blanc cream.

All photos by Adrianna Adarme.

Avocado-Lime Popsicles

As we enter the dog days of summer, here is a recipe to a cool and refreshing treat to beat the heat.

Avocado Lime Popsicles

Avocado Lime Popsicles

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free

Yields 6 to 12 popsicles

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2 avocados
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Dash unrefined sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to Popsicle molds.
  2. Freeze for at least 24 hours before serving.

Find recipe in full here.