Seattle Food and Wine Experience – FOOD FOCUS!
February 28, 2011 by Erin Thomas
Cue the riveting string instruments and Matthew McConaughey’s silky Southern pipes following the screen as it pans across visuals of streaming, juicy cuts of steak fillets and you have yourself a commercial featuring beef as “what’s for dinner.”
In one of the final days of “I Heart Beef” month, the Washington State Beef Commission‘s (WSBC) tent might have been the highlight of the Seattle Food and Wine Experience (SFWE) for this hollow-legged blogger.
Through a blind tasting, WSBC offered up servings of grass-finished, grain-finished and naturally-raised beef to determine a favorite by their consumers. More than one million beef farmers and ranchers raise cattle in every state and do so with the resources available to them in their local area to produce nutritious, safe and tasty beef. In this instance, resources ranged from grain products to grass only or a combination of both and were played out in a consumer study at the event.
Breakdown of the beef bared at the tent:
- Grain-finished – Cattle spend most of their lives grazing on pasture, then spend four to six months in a feedlot eating grain-based products (potatoes are most common).
- Grass-finished – Cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pasture only.
- Naturally-raised – Cattle can be grain-finished or grass-finished but have not received antibiotics, preservatives or added hormones.
Overall best taste on this palate? Grain-finished! Although all three servings were prepared identically, it was the most robust in flavor and richness.
A plethora of decadent food existed outside the beef tent as well. A few worth checking out in a larger, table-side dining format in the near future are below:
- Mini lobster and cream stuffed pastries topped with bright orange tobiko at Salty’s.
- Chicken and bacon “cupcakes” with Tabasco infused cream cheese frosting from Chef Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen Food Studios.
- Korean BBQ pulled pork sliders from Coho Cafe.
- Coffee-crusted beef petite tender from The Capital Grille.
- The now cultishly replicated and yet still perfection in a bar bacon-maple bar from Frost Doughnut.
All this food makes an eater thirsty. Here are the fan favorites from the booze side of the room:
- BIG BEER OF THE DAY: Laurelwood Brewing Co. Espresso Stout – Only their second run at this beer, Portland’s Laurelwood boasted their organic coffee-flavored ale that was literally brewed with local coffee beans. Far from syrupy yet toasty in its rich aromas, it’s delicious with caramel and malt flavors.
- LIGHT(er) BEER OF THE DAY: Pike Brewing Co. Monk’s Uncle Tripel Ale – A shout-out to the old school monk’s who were the original brewmasters. Their attempt at a Belgium Ale is big, full and complex with a yeasty nose, fruity aromas and yet still malty and dry on the finish.
- WHITE OF THE DAY: Bergstrom 2009 Sigrid Chardonnay – Quintessential Willamette Valley wine in regards to the jacked up pricing and Burgundian aspirations, Bergstrom actually is able to do both. Their Chard is none the different, it’s lush, generous and complex yet still youthful and bright. They call it their “life changing” Chard and they’re right.
- RED OF THE DAY: Barrage Cellars 2007 Trifecta Merlot – 100% Merlot, the name denotes the number of vineyards used (three) – Destiny Ridge, Marcoux and Conner Lee. Winemaker Kevin Correll does not mess around with his Merlot either, his oak usage will tell you so. 100% French oak, 50% new/50% one year, and spending 24 months in it. This Merlot is feisty, bold and proud yet still varietally correct and balanced.
With the beef song still ringing through hedonistic event-goers ears, the 2011 Seattle Food and Wine Experience did not disappoint. All drank, all ate and some even learned.