Eau de vie
Fruity Otaki tomato and Cinnamon Basil
When I go to a supermarket in Otaki, I saw sometimes selling mini tomatoes labeled “loving tomatoes”, but although that impactful and corny name does not make it easy to reach out to them, they were very sweet with a moderate sourness once I tried them, so I found them delicious. Having been introduced to Mr. Mikami who grows those tomatoes, I drove 10 minutes from mitosaya to visit his field near the Isumi River.
The tomatoes are grown via hydroponics with a pump and boiler in the entrance of two greenhouses. Mr. Mikami originally operated an auto repair shop, but he closed the shop and started cultivating tomatoes with his wife some years ago. So as to grow sweet tomatoes with a consistent quality, he visited other farmers, studied, and repeatedly went through a process of trial and error. As a result of their choice of cultivar and the use of hydroponics, in addition to the careful pruning and thinning out they can accomplish because they are doing it themselves, they can now grow sweet mini tomatoes with a sugar content of more than 10%. Incidentally, they apparently only ship tomatoes with a sugar content of more than 10% as “loving tomatoes”, but after talking about it to that extent, I could not say anything about its branding anymore.
Furthermore, at Mr. Mikami’s farm, there are two growing seasons from the planting of the tomatoes to their harvest that run from spring to summer and from autumn to winter. At the end of each season, although the tomatoes have a high sugar content, there are a lot that cannot be shipped because they split from being overly ripe. The tomatoes from the end of summer they let me take are then made into tomato eau du vie at mitosaya.
Their high sugar content makes them naturally ferment, and when distilled, it is embodied with a condensed, supple and vibrant scent.
This only makes me think of pizza for some reason, and this is blended with spirits made from cinnamon basil seedlings. On top of that, by soaking mitosaya’s oregano blossom leaves in it for a while, it adds a spiciness to it. The ingredients are everything that goes into pizza marinara, but this makes a drink with a completely different taste.
Its sharp taste works best as a refreshment when eating, including with pizza of course.
Ingredients: Tomatoes (from Otaki, Chiba Prefecture), cinnamon basil (from Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture), Oregano (from Otaki, Chiba Prefecture), rice spirits
Alcohol volume: 44%
Bottle label drawing: Shinpei Kusanagi