Win an Elizabeth Shaw Hamper

This week Elizabeth Shaw Luxury Chocolates are encouraging us to use the hour we gain when the clocks go back at the end of the month to do something kind and thoughtful for others.

I asked my friends for their suggestions on how to help others when you have just an hour or two to spare, and was truly humbled and inspired by all their ideas.

Whether it’s making an extra effort to share compliments and smiles with those all around you, or to put into action some of the suggestions in my post, I hope you will join us in spreading a little extra happiness on Sunday 30th and in the weeks and months to follow.



In the meantime, Elizabeth Shaw are giving away this gorgeous hamper of products to one Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes delivery to a UK address.

The hamper contents are:

  • Dark Chocolate Cappuccino Flutes
    Dark Chocolate Lemon Flutes
    Dark Chocolate Mint Flutes
    Dark Chocolate Orange Flutes
    Milk Chocolate Amaretto Flutes
    Dark Chocolate Mint Crisps
    Milk Chocolate Mint Crisps
    Milk Chocolate Orange Crisps
    Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Crisps
    Milk Chocolate Almond Bites
    Milk Chocolate Cappuccino Bites
    Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bites
    Dark and Milk Chocolate Mint Collection
    Orange Merry Christmas Mini Gift – includes Orange Flutes and Bites
    Mint Merry Christmas Mini Gift – includes Mint Flutes and Bites


You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
If you could design the next new flavour of Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Crisps, what flavour would you choose and why?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a hamper of @ESChocs goodies from Kavey Eats! #KaveyEatsESChocs
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid. Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)


  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 18th November 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a hamper of Elizabeth Shaw products, as pictured and detailed above. Delivery to a UK address is included.
  • The prize is offered by Elizabeth Shaw and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a name and valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats was commissioned by Elizabeth Shaw Luxury Chocolates to write this post and to run the giveaway.




Tips from a Professional Food Stylist

Today’s post is a rare foray into blogging about blogging ; specifically, one of the more useful skills for a food blogger today – Food Styling.

I recently attended a session in which professional food photographer and stylist Carole Poirot shared her tips with a group of bloggers. First, an Atelier des Chef class instructor showed us how to make a hazelnut torte, which each group diligently made too. Then, in our groups, we put Carole’s tips into practice by styling our own cake using a few seasonal props provided.

Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle (2)
This was my team’s efforts, after watching Carole’s demonstration, below

Carole Poirot’s Professional Food Styling Tips

  • Decorate the item itself, the plate or dish its on (or in) and the space around it.
  • Arrange the dish and props to create a balanced layout, using items of different sizes, colours and textures. Take into consideration the height of items, how far forward or back they are from your shooting point, and how each item relates to the ones next to it. Non symmetrical compositions are often more pleasing to the eye.
  • Use seasonal props, not just in terms of a recipe’s ingredients but by adding seasonal flowers and foliage.
  • Vary your images by adjusting how close or wide you shoot. Close ups can show details such as flowers, an individual ingredient or part of the dish.
  • Depending on the mood you are trying to capture, adding movement to the image may be beneficial – perhaps a hand doing something relevant such as picking up an ingredient or a forkful of food. Another way to add movement is to drape lots of fabric, which also serves to soften the setting.
  • Some colour combinations can be jarring to the eye, so use a colour wheel to help pick two or three main colours that work well together. Analogous colours (those that are adjacent to each other on the wheel) create a gentle palette, while complementary colours (those that are opposite to each other ) are more dynamic. That said, if colours are found together in nature, then you can use them together regardless of whether the colour wheel agrees – Carole’s rule is that ‘if nature says it goes, it goes.
  • Tell the story of the food by using ingredients and tools used to make the dish – egg shells, leftover ingredients, extra garnishes, specialist cutlery.

 Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle-9253 Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle-9260

I like to take photographs that show the making of a recipe, not just the finished dish. Here, a bowl of hazelnuts (a key ingredient in the cake) and our filling neatly arranged over the bottom layer, before the second layer was placed over the top; you can just about make out a bowl of apples in the background.

Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle-9263 Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle-9268
Carole Poirot showing her food styling tips in action

Food Styling (c) Kavita Favelle (1)
Carole Poirot’s demonstration on Food Styling

This Baked In Style event was hosted by Currys (in partnership with Neff) and held at Atelier des Chefs St Paul’s location.







Travel Quote Tuesday | Clifton Paul Fadiman

We’ve all come across those holiday makers who complain that the food, the service and endless other things are not like they are at home, inferring of course that they are not as good.

For me, one of the key joys of travel is to discover all the myriad ways that everyday life is different to how it is at home. I love using public transport, visiting supermarkets, taking a cookery class with a local, visiting a local place of worship, and just walking the streets among the people of that place.

This quote is from Clifton Fadiman, an American writer, editor, television and radio personality best known for his radio quiz show ‘Information Please’.

(c) Kavita Favelle - Clifton Fadiman - Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a wonderful destination for a city break, especially for those who love walking, bicycling or hopping on local trams.

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108 Brasserie | Dishes for Two in Marylebone Village

It’s taken me the better part of a year to get to 108 Brasserie, a bright, modern brasserie hotel restaurant located in the heart of Marylebone village.

Since January I’ve been receiving emails detailing each Dish of the Month, a featured main course designed to share between two. So far I’ve missed Josper grilled, dry aged tomahawk steak for two, with crunchy beer battered onion rings, homemade black truffle chips and a warming bone marrow gravy; roasted whole turbot with trumpet mushrooms, baby onions, spinach gratin and potato mousseline; roast Rack of slow-cooked neck of Devon lamb with spring vegetables; pan fried John Dory, fennel, pink grapefruit and tarragon vinaigrette and September’s Balmoral Estate venison Wellington with Savoy cabbage.

Luckily, October’s Dish of the Month was just as appealing – Josper grilled dry-aged porterhouse, baked bone marrow, hand cut chips and Stilton butter. Yeah!

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-123334

I’m always a little nervous about hotel restaurants – some are soulless places with menus designed to meet expense-account expectations. But I needn’t have worried. The Marylebone has an excellent location, surrounded by specialist food shops, cafes and restaurants and a good balance of office space and residential, which means the restaurant is extremely handy for a wide range of customers.

Although when we arrived, only two other tables were taken, within an hour, the place was almost full – impressive for a Monday lunch. People watching – a favourite pastime – had me guessing about which tables were business meetings (definitely the three men in suits that were posturing wildly at each other), which were hotel guests (perhaps the family of three on holiday in London?), which were ladies who lunch (the group of five?) and which might be clandestine romances or other more interesting rendezvous!

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-123217 108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9288

Do not miss the home-made bread (£2.50) even if you’re not that hungry. Sourdough, Guinness brown bread and soda bread were all three very good but the Guinness brown bread was exceptional! Rich, treacly, moist with a deep flavour and just a touch of sweetness…

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9291

And the good news is that it featured again in both our starters. The portion of Argyllshire smoked salmon was huge, though we ordered the smaller size (£9)– you can also order a larger portion and add scrambled eggs or avocado if you fancy, to make a perfect lighter lunch dish.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9298

Like the smoked salmon, my Dorset crab on toast (£12) came on toasted Guinness brown bread and with half a lemon handily wrapped and tied into muslin so the pips didn’t fall into my food. The serving of fresh, sweet crabmeat was generous, and I liked the balance of the lightly dressed watercress leaves and apple.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9305 108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9301

On to the reason for our visit, October’s dish of the month. We ordered the Josper grilled dry-aged porterhouse, baked bone marrow, hand cut chips and Stilton butter (£65) to come medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly.

The dish was garnished with the Stilton butter (a really perfect addition to the beef), an additional jug of sauce – we chose Béarnaise – and baked breaded bone marrow, served in the half bone.

Also included is a bucket of fat golden chips – if you’re having starters and desserts, this will be more than enough, but if you’re just having mains, you may need an extra portion of chips – the same size bucket is also served to diners ordering a one-person meal such as the hamburger or rib eye steak. They’re decent too – crisp outside and fluffy within and wonderful dipped into the cheese butter and Béarnaise.

The beef, for those who like to know, is Scottish Aberdeen Angus dry-aged for 28 days and it was really very good. Great texture and flavour, excellently cooked; we enjoyed it enormously.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9307

I’ve been to more than one restaurant that excels at starters and mains but falls down on desserts. That’s definitely not the case at 108 Brasserie.

Lemon tart (£7) is a brasserie classic and this one was perfectly balanced between sweet and sharp and with that just-set texture to the filling that is so delightful to cut into.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9316

My favourite was the brown bread ice cream with caramelised walnuts and honeycomb (£7). As you might already have guessed, the ice cream is made using that delicious home-made Guinness brown bread and that really lifts it into the exceptional category – the crumbs of brown bread retain a dense chewiness that gives it a more substantial mouth-feel than most ice creams. The caramelised walnuts are sweet but with a decent bitterness from caramel properly pushed to the edge – a much needed balance to the super sweet honeycomb. I rarely go for ice cream when there are options such as warm chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream or baked coconut rice pudding with mango and passion fruit but in this case, I absolutely could not have been happier!

The wine list includes several very reasonably priced bottles and the presence of the neighbouring 108 bar means a wide selection of cocktails are also available.

Having already had positive reports from several friends, I was confident we’d enjoy our meal at 108 and yet I was still surprised at how much we enjoyed it – the menu is full of exactly the kind of food we really love eating, and the prices seem very reasonable for the quality as well as the generosity of portions.

Also worth mentioning is the set lunch menu, an absolute steal at just £17 for two courses and £23 for three, with a choice of three dishes for each course and all of them ones I’d happily order.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of 108 Brasserie.








Travel Quote Tuesday | Maya Angelou

I love the writings of Maya Angelou – she had such an incredible talent for describing the human condition, for capturing the very essence of human behaviour, feelings and motivations in the most poetic of ways. A prolific poet, writer and civil rights activist, she died in 2014 at the grand old age of 86, leaving behind her the most incredible body of work and influence.

Travel as a way to dispel prejudice and bigotry, to forge understanding and friendship across borders, to make a huge world seem smaller… is surely one of the most wonderful things about travelling.

(c) Kavita Favelle - Maya Angelou - Japan

One of the little details we noticed and loved on our first trip to Japan and all our visits since, is the beauty of Japanese kusari doi (rain chains). These take the place of vertical drainpipes, hung beneath the hole in a horizontal gutter, rain water falls into the top vessel in the chain and pours gently down from one to the next, all the way to the ground. The individual pieces are often shaped like flowers or lanterns.

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Smoked Mackerel & Wasabi Paté | Just 3 Ingredients

Bring food that pairs with sake!’ my friend said, as he invited us to a sake tasting to try some of the bottles he’s brought back from Japan recently. But what goes well with sake? With no further guidance I turned to Google where I found the advice that oily fish can work well with this classic Japanese alcohol.

Immediately, I thought of smoked mackerel pate – one of the simplest dishes in my repertoire, easy to scale up (or down) and great for all kinds of situations. It works as a starter plated elegantly with melba toast; it’s good to include in a selection of dips and spreads for an informal drinks gathering; it’s also delicious as a sandwich filling or on a jacket potato.

To add a little Japanese flavour I substituted the horseradish I usually use with wasabi – an ingredient closely related to both horseradish and mustard, with a similar flavour profile and heat.

The Smoked Mackerel & Wasabi Paté received many compliments, for which I was a little embarrassed given the simplicity of the recipe, but sometimes simple really is best.

Smoked Mackerel Wasabi Pate on Kavey Eats (c)Kavita Favelle (Text2)

Don’t worry too much if your supermarket sells smoked mackerel or crème fraiche in slightly different quantities – as long as you are reasonably close to the ratios below, the recipe will work just fine.

Smoked Mackerel & Wasabi Paté

This paté is very quick to make and perfect to take along to social gatherings when you’ve been asked to bring something that doesn’t need cooking or heating once there. If making to take to a party, I double or triple the quantities below. If not being eaten straight away, store in the fridge until needed. It will last 2-3 days.

200 grams smoked mackerel
150 ml crème fraiche
1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) wasabi powder

Note: If you don’t have wasabi powder use wasabi paste. If you can’t find either, fresh or creamed horseradish shares a similar flavour profile, as does mustard. Whichever of the three you use – since pungency is variable – add a little, mix and taste, then add more if needed.


  • Peel the skins away from the mackerel fillets – they should come away very easily.
  • Use your fingers or a fork to break up the fish into a mixing bowl before adding the crème fraiche.
  • Use a fork to combine, breaking down any larger pieces of mackerel as you work and continue to work the mixture until the fish is thoroughly broken down and distributed through the crème fraiche.

Wasabi Smoked Mackerel Pate on Kavey Eats (c)Kavita Favelle-143035

  • Add wasabi to taste and mix thoroughly again to ensure it is evenly distributed. I recommend adding about a tablespoon, mixing well and tasting before adding more.
  • Serve with toast or crackers, or refrigerate until needed.

Save for later on Pinterest using this handy tall pin image.

Smoked Mackerel Wasabi Pate on Kavey Eats (c)Kavita Favelle (Tall Pin)

I have another similarly simple smoked fish paté recipe to share with you soon but do let me know how you like this one!

Sagardi | A Taste Of The Basque Country

Already well established in Spain and Latin America, Sagardi have now opened a restaurant in London serving their well-honed Basque country cooking. The restaurant group was founded by chef Iñaki Viñaspre and focuses on traditional food from the region, which he promotes in association with the Basque Tourism Agency. At the heart of the menu are Basque ingredients, flown in daily from San Sebastián, with a focus on grilled meats and fish and seasonal produce.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181256 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181648

The restaurant is in Shoreditch, about ten minutes walk east of Old Street tube station. Just inside the door is a butcher’s counter, where the chefs can cut and prepare the meat. To the opposite side is a generous bar, and then one passes by the open kitchen to reach the main seating area.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181631 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181618
Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-184147 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9248

The interior is semi-industrial, with lots of bare concrete and exposed pipework but softened by lots of wood and leather; a kind of barnyard chic! I have no idea why there’s a vintage Basque fishing boat suspended to the ceiling – perhaps it represents the fish dishes on the menu? A large feature wine cabinet runs along the back wall.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9213

I struggle with the menu, partly because there are many things that tempt, but more because so many of the dishes I want to try are available only in large sharing portions which means we’re restricted to things that only both of us would enjoy. Steak, for example, is impossible to order unless at least two people want it for their main – they have no one-person cuts available. I’d really have liked to try the beef sweetbreads but again, the portion is a whole piece, listed as a main dish priced at £26 – I’d like to see it portioned so it could be enjoyed as a starter.

As we juggle through our choices for starters, our waitress tells us that all tables are being served a complimentary taste of the traditional pan-fried Orio txistorra – these thin little sausages are chorizo-like in flavour and a perfect taste-bomb to start with – so we are finally able to narrow our choices enough to pick two temptations.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9217

The charcoal-roasted Ibai pâté de Campagne (£12) is a really thick slice, served with a simple but delicious onion jam and some green leaves. I can’t detect any flavour notes from the charcoal roasting, but it’s a good, hearty pate. We enjoy it on excellent fresh sourdough bread (£2.50), served with the txistorra.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9218

I guess the assumption is that every starter is intended to be shared, rather than individual diners choosing different ones – The grilled morcilla from Biscay (£9) doesn’t come out until we’re just finishing up the pâté. In our case it’s not an issue but I often dine with fussy eaters who won’t eat half of what I fancy, so it might be helpful for the staff to ask whether starters are being shared or not, and have the kitchen time delivery accordingly.

It’s a really delicious black pudding, and I’m impressed by how thin the skin is compared to ones I’ve had before. If you’re a fan of morcilla, you need to try this!

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle- Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9224Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9229

I would have preferred to order two different mains and taste a wider range of the menu, but as the smallest cuts of beef are huge, we went for one steak instead; it’s such a core feature of the menu. Two different options for Txuletón (Basque beef) are offered – vaca (ex dairy cows) and buey (Galician ox). After our helpful waitress Silvia showed us the two smallest cuts (so I could get a mental picture of just how enormous they were), we picked the 900 gram vaca, a ribeye on the bone, priced at £7/ 100 grams.

Cooked simply on the grill, it’s served sliced off the bone and laid out on a large plate. Salted to bring out the flavour, it’s a beautiful piece of beef, with a rich beefy flavour.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9230 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9228

There are a few menu items that appear in more than one section of the menu – the slow-roasted Tolosa-style red piquillo peppers (£16) being listed as both a starter and a side dish. These were silky soft and absolutely delicious but seemed a small portion for the price tag. Our other side dish was more substantial – homemade Sagardi style potatoe wedges (£5) which are basically skin-on thick-cut chips.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9238 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9239

I’m glad we decided to be a little greedy and squeezed in desserts!

This traditional Goxua sponge cake with chantilly cream (£7) is only for the sweet-toothed – a gorgeous sponge with a thick layer of cream, topped with a creamy custard and a cracking layer of bruléed sugar, it was super sweet, soft and very good.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9247

Our second choice was another winner, though less of a hard hitter on the sugar front. Poached peaches in txakoli sparkling white wine syrup served with lemon verbena ice cream (£7) were a last taste of summer. Even with the ice cream, they were a much lighter choice. The chopped fruit was perfectly poached to retain its shape and yet be pleasingly soft all the way through; the syrup had a good balance between tartness and sweet and the wonderfully smooth lemon verbena ice cream was just the right partner for the peaches.

On the drinks front, I liked the list of sixteen gins offered for gin and tonic – and a choice of tonics too – and that my G&T was made freshly for me on a trolley pushed to our table. As I’d expected from the wine cabinets across the back wall, the wine list is extensive, with a strong selection from the Basque Country, and there are several Basque ciders as well – Sagardi is named for the term for the smell of apples when made into cider, after all. Several cocktails feature Txakoli firewater, with some classics cocktails also available. There are beers too – with a good range of styles offered rather than lager after lager.

Overall, we really enjoyed the meal and I’d certainly go back, though only with a group of at least four people.

You’ve already picked up on my frustration that the menu is designed for larger groups – even with two of us, the portion sizes were a challenge. Of course, I am certain this reflects the way people dine in the Basque Country; larger groups of family and friends can order lots of dishes to be shared family-style. For me, a little adjustment to better cater for those dining in ones, twos and threes would be a positive move – especially when it comes to the grilled meat dishes.

What I loved the most was the focus on fresh ingredients, cooked simply to let them shine. Everything we had was delicious.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Sagardi London.



Travel Quote Tuesday | Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India and ruled from India’s independence in 1947 until his death in 1964. He was a central figure in politics both before and after independence and ‘is considered to be the architect of the modern Indian nation-state: a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.’ (Wiki) He was a prolific writer, and had a number of books published including historical accounts of Indian history, his autobiography and a collection of letters he wrote to his daughter when she was a child at boarding school.

This quote is a wonderful reminder of the need to have a positive attitude in order to appreciate and enjoy the wonders of the world around us.

(c) Kavita Favelle - Jawaharlal Nehru - Hikone Japan

For our third trip to Japan, earlier this year we travelled in spring – our first two visits had both been in autumn. Serendipity resulted in a visit to Hikone Castle during the peak of Sakura (cherry blossom) season.

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Want to Learn About Sake? My Sake Guide For Beginners

Today is World Sake Day. Kanpai!

Sake is a drink I’ve been learning more about over recent years and I’ve come to really appreciate it. I seek out new sakes whenever I can.

Here’s my beginner’s guide to sake.

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Images from


What is Sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcohol made from rice.

Although it is referred to in English as rice wine, the process is more akin to brewing beer, where you convert starch to sugar and then convert the resulting sugar to alcohol. In wine making, it is a simpler process of converting sugars that are already present in the fruit. Of course, brewing sake is not entirely like beer making either as the sake production process is quite distinct.

Wine is typically around 10-15% ABV. Beer is usually lower, with most beers coming in between 3-8%, though there’s been a trend towards ever stronger beers lately. Sake is brewed to around 18-20%, but often diluted to around 15% for bottling.

Until a few years ago I’d only ever encountered cheap sake served warm and was not a huge fan. However, since trying higher quality sakes served chilled, I’m an absolute convert.

In terms of typical flavours, my vocabulary is woefully lacking, but for me the core flavour is a subtly floral one – perhaps this flavour is intrinsic to rice and rice mould? The balance of sweetness and acidity varies though classic sake is not super sweet. Sometimes it is fruity and sometimes it has a more umami (savoury) taste. I am often able to detect clear differences on the palate but unable to define them in words – clearly I need to drink more sake!

How is Sake made?

Sake is made from rice, but usually from varieties with a larger, stronger grain that has lower levels of protein than the rice varieties that are typically eaten.

The starch sits within the centre of the rice grain, surrounded by a layer of bran, so rice is usually polished to remove the outer layer before being made into sake. The more the rice is polished, the higher the percentage of starchy centre remains, but of course this is more expensive as it needs far more rice to produce the same volume of alcohol.

After polishing and being set aside to rest, the rice is washed, soaked and steamed. kōji rice mould (Aspergillus oryzae) is sprinkled over the rice which is left to ferment for several days. This mould helps to develop the amylase enzyme necessary to convert starch to sugar. Next, water and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are added and the mixture is allowed to incubate. Water and yeast are added multiple times during the process. The resulting mash then ferments at 15-20 °C for a few weeks.

After fermentation, the mixture is strained or pressed to extract the liquid, and the solids may be pressed again to extract a fuller range of flavours.

In cheaper sakes, varying amounts of brewer’s alcohol are added to increase the volume.

Sake is usually filtered again and then pasteurised before resting and maturing, then dilution with water before being bottled.

These days you can also find unpasteurised sake and sake in which the finer lees (sediment) are left in. I’ve even had some very thick and cloudy sakes where some of the solids have been pureed and mixed back in to the final drink.

What are the different categories of Sake?

Because the most desirable bit of the rice is the core of the grain, the amount of polishing is highly relevant. Labels must indicate the seimai-buai (remaining percentage) of the original grain.

Daiginjo means that at least 50% of the original rice grain must be polished away (so that 50% or less remains) and that the ginjo-tsukuri method – fermenting at cooler temperatures – has been used. There are additional regulations on which varieties of rice and types of yeast may be used and other production method restrictions.

Ginjo is pretty much the same but stipulates that only 40% of the original rice is removed by polishing (so that up to 60% remains).

Pure sake – that is sake made only from rice, rice mould and water – is labelled as Junmai. If it doesn’t state junmai on the label, it is likely that additional alcohol has been added.

So Junmai daiginjo is the highest grade in terms of percentage of rice polished and being pure sake with no brewer’s alcohol added.

Coming down the scale a little quality wise, Tokubetsu means that the sake is still classed as ‘special quality’. Tokebetsu junmai means it’s pure rice, rice mould and water whereas Tokebetsu honjozu means the sake has had alcohol added, but is still considered to be a decent quality. In both cases, up to 60% of the original rice grain may remain after milling.

Honjozo on its own means that the sake is still rated above ordinary sake – ordinary sake could be considered the equivalent of ‘table wine’ in France.

Other terms that are useful to know:

Namazake is unpasteurised sake.

Genshu is undiluted sake; I have not come across this yet.

Muroka has been pressed and separated from the lees as usual but has not been carbon filtered. It is clear in appearance.

Nigorizake is cloudy rather than clear – the sake is passed only through a loose mesh to separate the liquid from the mash and is not filtered. There is usually a lot of sediment remaining and it is normal to shake the bottle to mix it back into the liquid before serving.

Taruzake is aged in wooden barrels or casks made from sugi, sometimes called Japanese cedar. The wood imparts quite a strong flavour so premium sake is not commonly used for taruzake.

Kuroshu is made from completely unpolished brown rice grains. I’ve not tried it but apparently it’s more like Chinese rice wine than Japanese sake.

I wrote about Amazake in this post, after we tried it in Kyoto during our first visit to Japan. Amazake can be low- or no-alcohol depending on the recipe. It is often made by adding rice mould to whole cooked rice, allowing the mould to break down the rice starch into sugars and mixing with water. Another method is to mix the solids left over from sake production with water – additional sugar can be added to enhance the sweetness. Amazake is served hot or cold; the hot version with a little grated ginger to mix in to taste.

Sparkling, Sweet and Flavoured Sakes have become increasingly popular as sake brands look for ways to appeal to new demographics to widen their customer base. Sparkling and sweet sakes are often marketed to women but worth seeking out as a light, refreshing and summery alternative to the classic styles. Fruit options, such as peach, plum and yuzu are also popular.


I hope this guide helps you to understand more about this wonderful drink and you are encouraged to seek it out and try for yourself.

If you are interested to read more about Japanese food and drink and travelling in Japan, please check out my other Japan posts.








Travel Quote Tuesday | Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine was a Christian bishop of the Hippo Regius, now known as Annaba in Algeria. He lived in the 4th and 5th centuries CE and his writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and philosophy.

As a book lover and a keen traveller, this quote resonates with me on multiple levels.

(c) Kavita Favelle - Saint Augustine - Greenwich

I took this photo on a day out in London with fellow amateur photographers. This colonnade is part of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. I was mesmerised by the lines of light and shadow cast by the beautiful stone pillars.

More Kavey Eats Travel Quotes.


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