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Issue 100 - A Winter Playground

Whisky Magazine Issue 100
December 2011

 

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A Winter Playground

In the second of our reports from Hokkaido, the Whisky Magazine Japan team finds food and more drink for the soul.

An island encased in ice and snow, the place where Japan ends, home of the Ainu and their blue and white whirling patterns, winter playground, place of bears and orca. Hokkaido, as we have already seen exerts a great pull on all who love open spaces, tranquility and a certain adventurousness. Of course it has important historical and contemporary links with the Japanese whisky industry, but there is more to Hokkaido than just the distilled spirit.

Our exploration started as the train reached the port of Otaru on Hokkaido's west coast. Box-like pale blue and tawny houses huddle on the slopes above the busy harbour. The quiet streets are snow-filled.

Breath steams in cold, ozone-rich air as the suns dips into Ishikara Bay.

TIME FOR A SNACK

Otaru Fish Market
Otaru's location means only one thing in terms of food: fish and the long tented corridor which comprises its market is immediately on the left of the station. Massive spider crabs dance in slow motion in tanks, Ikura [salmon roe] piled like glass beads at Mardi Gras time, wet piles of Uni [sea urchin]. Many of the stalls have a couple of tables in the rear. Pick your fish, they'll cook it for you.

There's no need for a menu.

Our day's catch included Hakkaku [sailfin poacher], evil looking, glossy purple in colour, served sashimi-style; abalone, uni, pickled squid and a bowl of crab in miso which was a potent essence of the crustacean.

TIME FOR A DRINK

Otaru Brewery
Finding a craft brewery in Japan these days isn't...

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  • In : Flavour
  • Issue : 100
  • Page : 76
  • Words : 857

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