The Evolution of Taste

Posted in Wine.

The Evolution of TasteI originally wrote this post for The San Francisco Wine Trading Company on their blog, "Let's Talk Wine." It is reused here with their permission.

This is the dawn of a new era for California wines. After years of trending in overly oaked Chardonnay and highly extracted Pinot Noir in California, a new ethic has been introduced into winemaking: balance. In the country that invented Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, we have grown accustomed to the predictability of taste—even in our wines—and obvious, uniform and sweet flavors have historically won out over nuance and subtlety. It only makes sense that big, bold, hit-you-over-the-head wines were once in vogue in America. However, much has changed since that era. As Americans are developing a greater conscientiousness around the provenance of food and drink, our palates are evolving, too.

Tomatoes Galore

Posted in Food.

tomatoesIn the middle of winter, is there anything as unappealing as a sad, mealy tomato from the grocery store? That’s reason alone to celebrate the arrival of summer. Bursting with ripe juice, enticing with sweet viney aromas, and diverse in color and shape, tomatoes become worthy of their fruit status.

This past weekend, I attended a tomato party that a friend of a friend has been hosting in San Francisco annually for the last nine years. Everyone was asked to bring a different tomato-based dish. But this was no half-baked pot-luck—everyone thought outside of the box. While there were plenty of classic tomato recipes, including a gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup, the number of unique dishes present would make your head spin. I’ll let you in on a few of my favorites.

Old or New: What Do You Value?

Posted in Marketing.

I’m fascinated by technique. Whether traditional or modern, it’s always interesting to learn about what makes a better product, let alone what motivates people to buy it. Why do certain people favor old ways of doing things and others new? I'm equally fascinated by how companies choose to present themselves and their processes. Some old-school methods have become as trendy as ever. Likewise, techniques couched as cutting-edge are really nothing more than innovations on old ideas. Isn't the iPod just a new incarnation of the Walkman?

The Benefits of Light-Bodied Reds

Posted in Wine.

I’m certainly not the first person to blog about the benefits of light-bodied red wines, and I hope I’m not the last. A crusade like this is worth fighting for. Not only are such wines easier on the palate, but they pair with the largest variety of dishes. The secret lies in the high acidity of the wine, which stimulates the saliva in the mouth, rather than tannins, which can dry out your gums. In his heyday, Robert Parker was said to taste up to 150 wines a day. Talk about palate-numbing. Towards the end of his career, the fact that most of the well-scored wines were also ones with the biggest tannins did not go unnoticed. It’s not that tannins are bad—au contraire—they are essential structure components to the long-term aging of a wine. It’s just that big clunky oak-bombs are going to overpower virtually every dish but red meat, which might have you reaching for more water rather than wine. Where’s the pleasure in that?

In Love with Cacío e Pepe

Posted in Food.

lori-varsames-ink-cacio-e-pepeHaving Italian blood on both sides of the family has certainly allowed me my fair share of pasta. The Italian-American tradition of pasta marinara on Sundays has always been a highly anticipated meal of the week, without which I feel something is missing. But tonight, I finally tried the pasta dish that may just surpass all others: cacío e pepe—or cheese and pepper. So simple, so ridiculously fast and easy to prepare, and so incredibly gratifying. Am I subject to hyperbole? Let’s just say it’s in the DNA. But the thought of denying oneself the pleasure of this grown-up macaroni n'cheese seems silly.

Cacio e Pepe has always seemed intriguing to me. I’ve read about it for years, but I never really got around to making it. Maybe I imagined that it could never surpass a traditional marinara, a sinful carbonara, or an oily pesto. Over the last few weeks, my boyfriend, John, was eager to go see a new spice shop in Oakland that opened over the last year—the Oaktown Spice Shop. The store was beautiful, the gentlemen working there were knowledgeable (and delightfully free of the East Bay smugness), and we walked away with a great assortment of spices, including the wonderfully aromatic Kampot peppercorn varietal from Cambodia.

Lori Varsames Ink • Encinal Avenue; Alameda, CA 94501 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • (510) 872-2827
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