A time-honored tradition in Boulder, Colo., is the Boulder Creek Festival, held annually on Memorial Day Weekend since the late 1980s. And it wouldn't be the Boulder Creek Festival without a dousing from Mother Nature, which happened right on cue Sunday afternoon as my husband and I perused paintings and handcrafted jewelry shortly after arriving. Our original intent was to enjoy local food fare while taking in some music and art. Moving out of the arts and crafts tent, I popped open my trusty compact umbrella, which we immediately learned doesn't cover two grown people. Squeezed under our meager covering, we walked in lockstep over the bridge toward the food section. But due to the fest layout, we had to first travel through the metaphysical booth aisles, where we were promised the opportunities to get to know Jesus better through science and to learn our future fate through pulse reading. The dentist promising whiter teeth in just 7 days was pushing a broom in a failed attempt to thwart rainwater from flooding his booth. Our enthusiasm for the Boulder Creek Festival was by then completely dampened.
Backs, shoulders and feet soaked, we headed toward the refuge of Pearl Street shops, watching the fast-moving Boulder Creek filled to its banks. Destination Boulder Book Store where I picked up two new books I'm looking forward to reading: Colorado State University animal behaviorist Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human and How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham, Harvard University professor of biological anthropology. (Hmm, I just noticed common thread: Perhaps, I was feeling particularly inhuman at that moment in the bookstore, drenched and cold.)
Having missed the opportunity for Creek Festival noshing, we considered our options and chose Hapa Sushi, a Colorado franchise with a restaurant two doors east of the bookstore. Seated at the front window watching the deluge, we were warmed by miso soup and sake (rice wine) topped off with nigiri sushi (smoked salmon, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna and mackerel). Hapa Sushi boasts the largest collection of sake in Colorado and serves it cold, in chilled glasses. In Japan, sake is served warm, cold or at room temperature, depending on the season and quality of sake. Higher grade sakes are usually served chilled to bring out the flavor and aroma, which is masked when heated. Taking a recommendation from the waitstaff, I chose Onikoroshi, which was described on the Sake list as silky. Indeed, it was. "Onikoroshi," in Japanese, means demon or goblin killer. Specific to beverages, Onikoroshi originally described a sake so bad it could kill a demon. But its meaning morphed over time to the opposite, so that now Onikoroshi is the namesake for a sake so good it could kill a demon. It's similar to an American hipster saying, "That's so bad, man," to describe something really good. We found Onikoroshi sake to be the perfect libation for waiting out a wicked Boulder thunderstorm.