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Issue 128 - Mission Impossible?

Whisky Magazine Issue 128
June 2015


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Mission Impossible?

How Japanese whisky and food pairings hit the spot

There was a certain degree of confusion at US Immigration. “Why are you here?” asked the chap behind the desk. I was tempted to say because you made me queue up, but responded, “To do a presentation for the CIA.” He looked at me with a coldly bemused stare.

“The what?”

“The CIA,” I replied.

He looked me up and down. “The CIA,” he repeated back at me.

“Yes,” I responded, realising that this might need a little more explanation. “The Culinary Institute of America.” There was a pause. “Ah…” I said, “you thought I meant…”

I was now wondering whether this would count as wasting immigration officer's time. “Hmmm,” he said and stamped my passport giving me another long look as if to say, I never believed you could be a spook. I gave him one back trying to communicate that if I actually was a CIA operative I wouldn't be wearing a suit and tie, and that the beard, jeans, and Talisker hoody combo is exactly what a successful undercover agent is wearing these days.

The CIA, it transpires, is a mighty fine organisation whose California campus is based in the old Christian Brothers/Heublein winery in St. Helena. Its aim, to educate and train the new generation of chefs. I was there to speak on the links between Japanese whisky and Japanese food.

My senior partner in this exercise was Chef Ken Tominaga of Hana restaurant, in nearby Sonoma, and Pabu, in San Francisco, while the whiskies were kindly donated by Suntory. Our aim wa...

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