Tavolàta Sunday Feast: Wagyu Beef

January 1, 2014

Volunteer Park Cafe Beef Stew northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Want to start the New Year off with a unique dinner treat?

Then how about signing up for Tavolàta’s first Sunday Feast of 2014?

Chef Brian Clevenger has planned a robust meal of Wagyu beef for the first Sunday Feast of 2014 on January 5.

The meal begins with Beef Tartare and moves through three more preparations of the sumptuous beef.

Dinner is $90 per person and, as the Sunday Feasts often sell out, reservations are highly recommended.

So here’s the beef. . .it’s what’s for dinner!

First:

Beef  Tartare with white anchovy, radish, and champagne vinegar

Veal Consommé with baby turnips, carrots, and celeriac

Mixed Greens with chioggia beets, hazelnuts, and ricotta salata

Second:

Strozzapreti with beef cheeks, red wine, and oregano

Third:

Roasted Kobe Coullote Steak with wild mushroom, Brussels sprouts, and croutons

Fourth:

Bay Leaf Panna Cotta with winter fruit compote and orange tuile

I’ve written about Sunday Suppers for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine in an article entitled, “Family-Style Supper’s on at Seattle Restaurants.”

At Tavolàta’s Sunday Supper in January, dinner will be served family style at the communal table (tavolàta) where seating is limited to just 26 guests.

Dinner begins at 6:00 p.m., and the cost is $90 per person.

Reservations are required. Please call 206.838.8008 to reserve your spot.

And if (like me) beef isn’t our thing, here are other options for Sunday Feasts in 2014.

2014 Sunday Feasts – SAVE THE DATE!!!

February 9 – Roasted Duck

March 9 –Strictly Seafood

April 6 – Cuisine of the Mediterranean

May 4 – Suckling Pig

June 1 – Wild Mushrooms & Garden Vegetables (Vegetarian)

Enjoy Trapeze Acts This Week at The Pink Door

December 16, 2013

The pink door aerialist northwest wining and dining website link

Are you thinking of doing some holiday shopping downtown or at the Pike Place Market this week?

Want a truly unique place to enjoy a very special holiday lunch?

Then how about making a reservation at The Pink Door, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., today (December 16) through Saturday, December 21?

Not only will you be able to enjoy Pink Door perennial favorites such as the Antipasti Plate or the Vegetarian Lasagne, but while lunching you can watch the PD’s holiday aerial show–a seasonal spectacle not to be missed!

The Pink Door will feature trapeze performances in the dining room to entertain and delight midday lunch guests, frenzied last-minute shoppers, and children of all ages.

While the highlight of the lunch hour may be the holiday performance overhead, The Pink Door also dazzles on the table.

The restaurant’s lunchtime panini party features five satisfying sandwiches priced from just $11 to $12. And while The Pink Door’s ciabatta bread is a favorite, gluten-free options are also available.

For dessert, don’t miss the luscious Butterscotch Budino (recipe below, generously shared by Pink Door “Padrona,” Jackie Roberts), which is back by popular demand. This incredibly rich and creamy Italian pudding–laced with Dewar’s Scotch!–is sure to satisfy and delight any sweet tooth.

You’ll discover The Pink Door at 1919 Post Alley behind, of course, a pink door!

The Pink Door's Butterscotch Budino northwest wining and dining website linkThe Pink Door Butterscotch Budino

Serves 6

Enjoy The Pink Door’s luscious Butterscotch Budino throughout the holidays for $7. Made in-house, with real Dewar’s Scotch and only the freshest ingredients, Butterscotch Budino is layered in a parfait glass with Chantilly cream and garnished with a Pizzelle crisp vanilla waffle cookie.

1/4 cup milk

3 cups heavy cream

6 oz Dark Moscavado Sugar (Or Dark Brown Sugar)

2 oz light brown sugar

1 oz cornstarch (by weight)

1/8 tbs. salt

Combine above ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pot. Whisk well. On medium heat, slowly bring up to a boil. Boil briskly while whisking 5 minutes or until very thick. Turn off the heat.

Whisk together:

5 Egg yolks

1/8 cup milk

Temper hot pudding mix into the yolks and then back into the pudding.

Add:

1.5 oz. vanilla

1 oz. Top Shelf Scotch

3 oz butter, diced in 1/2 inch squares

Whisk vigorously for one minute or until the butter has melted.

Strain through a fine sieve.

Cool in an ice bath.

To serve, layer in a parfait or other glass with Chantilly cream. Serve well chilled with a vanilla cookie (Pizzelle).

Cook’s Note: While I haven’t had a chance to test this recipe in my home kitchen, I can attest to how wonderful the pudding tastes. It was our designated dessert a year or two back when my BFFs and I were at The Pink Door for a birthday celebration. Incredibly rich and satisfying, there were a few spoonfuls left, which I took home to a VERY appreciative husband.

Photos courtesy of The Pink Door.

More Tummy-Trimming Tips for the Holidays

December 9, 2013

Wine World Bubbly

In my post of last Monday, I highlighted half a dozen tips to help your tummy appear less puffy, taken from the great new book entitled, “Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies,” by Erin Palinski-Wade, Tara Gidus, and Kristina LaRue.

This week we cover four more, but these tips specifically related to alcohol consumption (and who doesn’t drink a bit more during the festive holiday season than other times during the year)?

In the new book, the three authors cite alcohol as a belly bloater since it is a source of empty calories. Alcohol can actually increase your appetite, and can be a major source of weight gain and increased belly fat when consumed in excess.

“You don’t need to eliminate alcohol over the holidays; just keep an eye on the quantity you consume,” says Palinski-Wade.

In addition to limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, the co-authors suggest that you follow these simple guidelines:

• Your best choice for alcohol is red or white wine, a wine spritzer, or light beer. Some alcohol can have health benefits. Red wine, for instance, is a great source of resveratrol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial to heart health.

• If you have a mixed drink, avoid high-calorie mixers such as a sugar-laden soft drink. Instead, try mixing your drink with club soda or seltzer with a splash of juice for flavor.

• Drink alcohol at the end of the meal instead of before eating. Alcohol can stimulate appetite and lower inhibitions, resulting in your making less healthy food choices or eating larger portions.

 

 

 

Even “Dummies” Can Have a Slimmer Tummy This Holiday Season

December 2, 2013

Etta's Seafood Dungeness Crab Benedict

I know that dieting is pretty much out of the question during the hectic holiday season, but a new book entitled, “Flat Belly Cookbook For Dummies,” is chock full of helpful hints on how to at least make that spare tire around your waist a little less obvious.

“No one is claiming the holidays are a time to embark full force on a weight-loss plan, but neither do you want to show up in your cute party dress with a bloated belly,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, coauthor along with Tara Gidus and Kristina LaRue of ‘Flat Belly Cookbook For Dummies.’ “There is a balance between enjoying the season and overindulging—and it begins with a working knowledge of foods and drinks that are and aren’t waistline-friendly.”

According to the press release which announced the book’s debut, some foods and drinks can bloat your belly almost instantly by increasing gas in your digestive tract, causing your abdomen to look distended. This condition can be uncomfortable, but the good news is it’s only temporary.

“When you have an event coming up where you want your midsection to look as slim as possible, such as a holiday cocktail party, it’s usually best to avoid these foods for a few days beforehand,” says Gidus. “Keep reminding yourself how great you’re going to look in that little black dress—for most people, vanity combined with a short-term deadline is more powerful than textbooks full of information on how to achieve long-term health!”

In Flat Belly Cookbook For Dummies®, Palinski-Wade, Gidus, and LaRue (all of whom are recognized nutrition experts) share everything you need to know to shed fat and tone your midsection.

However, if you have time for only a crash course before facing off with an array of tempting holiday choices, read on to learn about six of the biggest belly bloaters and where they’re found:

Belly Bloater # 1: Sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes that are only partially digested in your body. Because of this, they provide fewer calories per gram than regular sugar. They can also cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects such as bloat, gas, and diarrhea, all of which can cause your belly to look and feel distended—and which can put a major cramp in your holiday style.

Belly Bloater # 2: High-sodium foods. Salt may not stand out as a belly bloater because it’s calorie free. But excess sodium causes your body to hold onto water weight, which leaves you feeling bloated and makes it hard to have a flat, toned midsection.

Belly Bloater # 3: Refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs are everywhere you look—they’re found in white rice, white pasta, sugary cereals, enriched-flour crackers, and much more. These grains have been processed and stripped of the outermost and innermost layers of grain, leaving all the carbohydrates and calories, but little of the protein, fiber, and nutrients. While this type of processing allows grains to be digested rapidly, they provide little in the way of fullness after eating. In addition, their rapid digestion leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, causing additional fat storage right where you want it least—your belly!

Belly Bloater # 4: Processed meats. Meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs are high in sodium and saturated fats. Because sodium causes your body to retain excess water, this alone can bloat your belly. But combine that with a high intake of inflammation-promoting saturated fat, and you have a recipe for excess belly fat.

Belly Bloater # 5: Carbonated beverages. Carbonation is mostly just water, and it’s typically calorie free, so it seems innocent enough—especially when you’re not even consuming it in a soda!—but it can really bloat your belly.

Belly Bloater # 6: Soda. Although this popular beverage is a staple in most restaurants and homes (and at most holiday parties), it’s a big belly bloater. For one thing, soda contains gas-producing carbonation. Even more potent is its main ingredient, sugar, making it a rich source of empty calories that don’t provide any fullness. And finally, soda sparks a spike in blood sugar, which is followed by an insulin spike, leading to excessive belly fat storage.

“When it comes to staying healthy over the holidays, forewarned is forearmed,” concludes Gidus. “Before walking into a situation where you know there will be food, review your goals and strategies.”

Les Dames Online Culinary, Wine, and Travel Auction!

November 25, 2013

Victoria British Columbia Horse and Buggy Christmas Holiday photo

With holiday gift-giving much on everyone’s minds right now, may I suggest an easy way to get some incredible experiences for those you love by going to the Charity Buzz website and choosing an auction item or two?

By following this Charity Buzz website link, you’ll discover 13 unique and phenomenal auction packages, live now through December 10!

The packages were put together by Chapters of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality.

Beginning in late October, I started my one-year term as Second Vice President of LDEI, so this organization is very near and dear to my heart.

So please take a moment to have a peek at the fantastic auction items for sale.

Packages include Four Tickets to the International Pinot Noir Celebration and a $100 Gift Certificate to the Joel Palmer House in the Willamette Valley (donated by my very own Seattle Chapter); a Three-Day Napa Wine Experience for Four at Cakebread Cellars (San Francisco Chapter), and Lunch with Carla Hall and Four VIP Tickets to “The Chew” in New York City (Washington, D.C. Chapter).

So please go to Charity Buzz and start bidding today!!!

Celebrate the Holidays at the Pike Place Market

November 18, 2013

Pike place market xmas photo northwest wining and dining website link

Pike Place Market brings the magic back to the holiday season with the fun and joyful event, Magic in the Market, on Saturday, November 30. The festivities take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the Market shops and restaurants open all day.

Meet Santa and his favorite elf in front of the Pike Place Market clock and take your own family photos while also finding original stocking stuffers, specialty foods, and handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list.

Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Teams will perform for holiday shoppers from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm under the Market Clock.

Kids 12 and under will have fun decorating cookies made by Pike Place Bakery in the new Atrium Kitchen located on the first floor of the Economy Building from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The lighting of the 20-foot holiday tree as well the Market Swine Deer, Carrot, Strawberry, and Pear will be led by Santa with the help from Figgy Caroling teams at 5 p.m.

Event Details

What: Magic in the Market holiday celebration featuring free photos with Santa, a tree lighting ceremony, Figgy Pudding Carolers, and cookie decorating for kids.

When: Saturday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Santa, tree lighting ceremony and Figgy Carolers will be located near the Market clock and sign; cookie decorating held in the Atrium Kitchen, Economy Market Building at 1st and Pike St.

Dish of the Day: BOKA Duck and Claret Cocktail

November 11, 2013

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website

At a  press dinner last month to celebrate the new Fall menu at BOKA Kitchen + Bar in downtown Seattle’s Hotel 1000 (just a few blocks from our condo), executive chef Peter Birk (formerly with Ray’s Boathouse and McCormick & Schmick’s) wowed the crowd with many lovely courses.

BOKA duck breast northwest wining and dining website link

This is a lousy photo due to the ever-changing rainbow of colors glowing from the wall near our table, but among his best dishes that evening was Crispy Duck Breast with Black Tea Custard, Chanterelles, and Roasted Grapes.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining website link

It paired perfectly not only with a Matthews Cellars Claret, but with a Black Tea Martini with Matthews Claret Mousse created by BOKA’s new bar manager and chief mixologist Cory Duffy.

Cory, who also owns Rain City Spirits (“Seattle’s Craft Vodka”), is taking the BOKA bar menu in intriguing new directions with a carefully curated collection of handcrafted, culinary-inspired cocktails.

You’ll want to try Cory’s house-made tonic water (made with Pinot Gris!) that figures “big” in the House Made (Big) Gin & Tonic.

Cory, a self-avowed “big fan of punches,” wowed the crowd with his Dark Rum Punch. It’s made from roasted figs, orange peel, brandied cherries, Dark Rum, and VSOP Cognac, among other ingredients. Full of rich, spicy flavors, the media members at our table pronounced it, “Christmas in a glass.”

You’ll want to stop by BOKA for its upcoming seasonal events, which include chef Peter’s Thanksgiving Cooking Class on November 14, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and three Holiday Hideout Pop-Up Boutiques in December.

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website link

Here is chef Peter at evening’s end, relieved and proud after a job well done.

 

Free, Interactive eCookbook Available from Visit Seattle

November 4, 2013

Fresh from seattle ecookbook cover northwest wining and dining

Visit Seattle has launched a free interactive eCookbook that highlights a range of talented chefs and signature Pacific Northwest cuisine. “Fresh From Seattle” features 26 recipes from 12 noteworthy contributing local chefs, including award winners such as Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, and Thierry Rautureau.

The 92-page eCookbook is a rich compilation of recipes, cooking and storage tips, color photos, food history, chef bios, and more.

Fresh from seattle salmon northwest wining and dining

Seattle chefs contributed original recipes, as well as personal restaurant favorites, that are designed to pique the culinary curiosity of the inspired home chef. In addition to Seattle celebrity chefs, the cookbook also features acclaimed hotel chefs.

Fresh From Seattle is available here, where it is downloadable as a PDF or you can link to Apple iTunes App Store for download. Both options are free of charge.

“Between Seattle’s creative chefs and welcoming hospitality community, we formed the perfect marriage for this project,” said Ali Daniels, Vice President, Marketing, Visit Seattle. “We are a city of gourmands, constantly exploring and finding new ways to share the inspired culinary offerings of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle’s vibrant food culture just has to be shared, and ‘Fresh From Seattle’ does just that.”

Fresh from seattle ecookbook crab cakes northwest wining and dining

“Fresh From Seattle” eCookbook contributing chefs and recipes:

Thierry Rautureau – Luc and Loulay

Northwest Wild Mushroom Salad, Toasted Hazelnut, Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Neah Bay Wild Coho Salmon with Moroccan Olive Tapenade

Skagit Valley Savory Strawberry & Red Wine Soup

Tom Douglas – Tom Douglas Restaurant Group

Tom’s Tasty Sashimi Tuna Salad with Green Onion Pancakes

Peak of the Season Crisp with Brown Sugar Oats

Etta’s Rub with Love Salmon with Grilled Shiitake Relish

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Maria Hines – Tilth, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle

Skagit River Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare with Dijon and Grilled Romaine

Loki Fishing Vessel Seared Sockeye Salmon with Sweet Corn Salsa

Oxbow Farm Mixed Summer Squash Salad with Parmesan, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette

Daisley Gordon – Marche, Café Campagne

Warm Potato & Salmon Roe Salad

Marché Mackerel

Pernod Mussels

Salad Marché

Sarah Lorenzen – Andaluca

Chorizo and Clam Fettuccini

Pavlova with Lemon Cream and Fresh Berries

Gavin Stephenson – The Georgian

Rooftop Honey-Smoked Salmon

The Georgian Black and White Chocolate Soufflé

Kerry Sear – ART Restaurant

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad

Grass-Baked Chicken

Sean Pals – Brella’s Restaurant & Lounge

Grilled Peach Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Thomas Horner – Hook & Plow

Razor Clam, Local Sausage, White Bean & Kale Stew

Peter Birk – BOKA restaurant + bar

Roasted Quail with Bluebird Grain Farms Farro

Preston Hagan – Jimmy’s on First

Jimmy’s Bloody Bakon Martini

Chris Lobkovich – Bookstore Bar & Café

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

Dames Auction Offers Up Dessert “Dash,” Signature Cocktails, Amazing Cuisine, and More!

October 28, 2013

Les Dames, Seattle Chapter 2010 Italian Ceramics Fundraiser

Readers of my Northwest Notes blog and the Northwest Wining and Dining website love great food, wine, cocktails, and travel–in short–the storied “good life!”

And one sure way to enjoy an evening of the “good life” is to attend the upcoming Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter’s  biennial fundraiser entitled, “There is Nothing Like a Dame.”

I’ve been a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter (LDES) since 2004, serving in many positions including President, Vice President, Secretary, and International Liaison, my current role.

Our chapter’s 70 members include such food- and wine-industry luminaries as Renee Erickson (Boat Street Café, The Whale Wins, The Oyster and the Carpenter, Barnacle, the Narwhal oyster truck, and Boat Street Pickles), Fran Bigelow (Fran’s Chocolates), and Kay Simon (Chinook Wines).

In 2012, I stepped onto the International Board, serving as Chapter Board Liaison. Later on this month, I will become the organization’s Second Vice President!

So you can bet that LDES’s auction/fundraiser is an event for a cause VERY near and dear to my heart.

This year, the popular, 200-seat auction will take place on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at the Women’s University Club (Sixth Avenue and Spring Street) in downtown Seattle. Doors open at 5:00 for the silent auction; dinner starts at 7 p.m.

“There is Nothing Like a Dame” will feature our chapter’s signature Dessert Dash, when guests bid on their favorite desserts created by LDES members, and then race to claim them. This year’s 20 offerings include Flower-Power Cake (Dame Sue McCown), Dark-Chocolate “Royal” Ruffle Cake (Dame Lisa Dupar), and New York Bye and Bye Cheesecake (Dame Rose Ann Finkel).

Dame Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Food Studios—Liquid Kitchen fame will once again serve as Master of Ceremonies. And, for the fifth time in a row, Kathy has designed a special cocktail in keeping with the theme of the event—South Seas Sparkling Punch.

The menu also tempts, with Sushi Rolls provided by Dame Thoa Nguyen of Chinoise Café; Salumi Artisan-Cured Meats courtesy of Dame Gina Batali; Salade Verte with Mustard & Hazelnut Vinaigrette provided by Dame Joanne Herron of Le Pichet and Café Presse; and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Celeriac Crema & Pomegranate from Dame Holly Smith of Café Juanita. Dames Leslie Mackie, founder/co-owner of Macrina Bakery & Café, and Kristi Drake, co-owner of Le Panier Boulangerie Francaise, will supply the evening’s artisan rustic breads.

Auction items include an overnight stay at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and dinner for two at ART Restaurant & Lounge; dinner and wine for six people at ARAGONA restaurant, the latest creation by über Seattle chef Jason Stratton; and Willis Hall wine tasting in your home for 10 lucky people!

John bell willis hall photo northwest wining and dining website link

Speaking of Willis Hall and its super-talented founder/owner/winemaker John Bell (above), Spencer and I purchased a similar auction package at an American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) event and enjoyed a tasting with John and two other couples last month during my birthday weekend.

John bell willis hall winemaker group photo northwest wining and dining website

The photo above shows John “holding court,” as he likes to call it, explaining his philosophy of making “Old-World wines with New-World grapes.”

John bell willis hall wines photo

John makes all sorts of wine (including dessert wines such as Razzmatazz, a luscious, not-too-sweet raspberry wine that pairs perfectly with dark chocolate) but he specializes in Merlot (his favorite grape and what he feels is Washington State’s best varietal).

Among our favorites that day (an entire mixed case of which made its way home with us!)? John’s 2002 Syrah, Willis Hall 2005 Merlot, and Willis Hall 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The chance to buy unique auction lots such as tastings with winemakers; dinners prepared by LDES members; and travel opportunities, such as a romantic San Juan-Island getaway for two people on a private yacht, with lodging and dinner in Friday Harbor, make the LDES biennial auction a not-to-be-missed experience!

Monies raised through the Dessert Dash, Silent and Live Auctions, Raise-the-Baguette direct-donation of funds, and the Cork Pull will be used to fund scholarship endowments for women, Green Tables grants, community-outreach programs, and sustainable-agriculture projects. All of LDES’s efforts are based in Washington State. To date, the organization has raised $482,000 toward these efforts.

Tickets, which cost $125 per person, are available on the LDES website.

 

Electronic Tongue Evaluates Washington Wines

October 21, 2013

Charles daiko electric tongue wine evaluation washington state university northwest wining and dining website link

Washington State University Ph.D. student Charles Daiko uses the e-tongue to evaluate red wine.

One of the worries that every wine “expert” harbors, whether he or she admits it or not, is how “good” their nose, a.k.a., their perception of wine aromas and flavors, really is.

Now, according to a press release from Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Department, there is  an “electronic tongue” that is hard-wired to taste wines in a way that human tongues cannot.

According to Carolyn Ross, associate professor of food science and viticulture and enology, unlike human taste buds, this so-called “e-tongue” never tires or takes a day off, even after hours of around-the-clock sampling. Ross runs the sensory evaluation lab on the Pullman campus.

Ross is evaluating wines produced in the state of Washington, which is the second largest producer of premium wines in the United States. Working with Ross is her Ph.D. student, Charles Diako, originally from Ghana, who is a super-taster himself.

Diako appears to have met his match, though, working with the e-tongue to evaluate Washington wines.

While humans can detect flavor attributes, the e-tongue identifies taste compounds at the molecular level, said Ross. “The e-tongue gives an objective measurement of taste profiles and we try to correlate that to what happens in human sensory evaluation,” said Diako.

Automatic Wine Taster

The e-tongue works by dipping its “tongue” into a beaker filled with wine on a rotating platform called an autosampler. Then it reads a profile of sensory attributes ranging from metallic and savory to sweet and bitter. After the tongue recoils from the sample, the platform turns to present it with the next beaker of wine.

While human taste buds can get saturated and lose their keen ability to accurately distinguish taste features, the e-tongue never gets fatigued. But that doesn’t mean human taste testers and sommeliers will find themselves out of work. Many companies and institutions, including WSU, use tasters–some volunteer, some professional and paid—to sample products and provide feedback that fine-tunes the development process.

“Human evaluation is more sensitive and integrates a huge amount of information and perceptions in response,” said Ross. “This new technology won’t replace human evaluation.”

For example, the e-tongue might be able to give some information about the mouthfeel of a wine, but it isn’t designed to do this, said Ross. A wine’s mouthfeel provides sensations of physical and chemical interactions among the human palate, often described in terms like tannic, aggressive or “chewy.”

And while the e-tongue interprets data by using biosensors and statistics, Diako uses his taste buds and brain. “The human tongue is the primary taste organ of the body,” said Diako. “Being a living tissue and being integrated with the most sophisticated computer the world has ever known–the brain–its perception of taste is absolutely matchless.”

Flesh-and-Blood Wine Taster

Just as fortuitous as pairing a good wine with the right cheese, the new e-tongue has been paired with the right scientist. Diako joined Ross’s lab a year ago, shortly after WSU purchased the e-tongue for its expanding role in Washington’s wine research. While there’s no way to know if the e-tongue enjoys its work, it’s clear that Diako loves what he does in the lab. Always smiling and often laughing, Diako knew little about wine or e-tongue technology when he came to WSU, he said.

“I didn’t even know there was a difference between Washington the state and Washington, D.C.,” he said, throwing his head back in laughter.

But he does know sensory science and, now, what makes a good wine. Diako’s research history includes work on aromatic rice, an important staple food in his native African country. Diako plans on applying his expanded sensory skills to the research and higher education needs of his country upon returning home.

“I love research. I love teaching,” he added.

Diako is often sought out by lab members for his ingrained expertise at detecting precise tastes. Advanced taste sensitivity is often genetic and he was born with finely-tuned taste buds, he said.

“You need that to be able to work in this field.”

Raising a Glass

The sensory lab is evaluating 60 red wines from Washington state, including a planned follow-up-study on the same number of Washington-produced white wines.

“The use of the e-tongue for assessment of this many red wine samples hasn’t been undertaken before,” said Ross.

The information gathered from the evaluations is important to the Washington grape growers and winemakers to guide fruit and wine flavor development, said Diako. After all, a great bottle of wine begins in the vineyard. Will the e-tongue know if that bottle does contain, in fact, a good wine?

Absolutely, by providing it with a gold standard, said Diako, adding with a smile, “But it doesn’t know the price.”

Photo credit: Chelsea Pickett/WSU
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