Kate Jacoby never trained formally for any of her roles at Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia, where she serves as pastry chef, front-of-house manager and beverage director. She credits her unorthodox view of pastry—flavor first, not dogmatically following recipes or traditional techniques—as the reason she’s been able to dive into the wine list for the vegan restaurant she and her husband own. Now with a diploma level certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, Jacoby focuses on “natural” wines for the page long list she offers.
On drinking bubbles other than Champagne
Last year I would have told you I wanted more folks to try orange wines. But this year, I’m really into sparkling. And I don’t mean Champagne, but sparkling wine from all over. Champagne houses that strive for house style can totally be boring, even if the wine is good, but there are just so many sparkling wines that have such personality. There is so much diversity: you can drink reds with sparkle, or a beautiful funky rosé, or a bigger, waxier white. Bubbles can be sipped on their own, pair really well with food, especially the vegetable dishes we serve.
Philadelphia has a strong cocktail culture and lots of people want to share small plates, and sparkling wine totally fits into this style of eating. One producer I’m really excited about right now is Alberto Tedeschi from Emilia-Romagna. His pet-nat pignoletto is delicious! He makes a tiny amount of wine and has something like eight hectares, and does everything himself. The end result is gorgeous and well done with a beautiful body and fizzy bubbles.
On dessert pairing
I actually designed a dessert to serve with the sake we are currently pouring, the Ooki Daikichi Shuzo Shizengou Cuvee 18: floral acidity with dry, toasted coconut notes and burnt sugar. It is a coconut milk-based yuzu custard which is modeled after crème brûlée, but not as thick, almost more like the texture of the inside of lemon meringue pie. The custard is bruléed with organic cane sugar, building a caramelization on its surface, then we add a coconut miso-glazed pocky: a breadstick/thin cookie hybrid that has been dipped in chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut. The flavors play so well together, and even though sake is hard sell and I don’t generally like to upsell our guests, the two are just made for each other.
Caitlin Griffith knew her future career would entail food and drink when, at the age of six, she munched an anchovy from her father’s Caesar salad thinking it as a small strip of bacon—and was more than pleasantly surprised. While enrolled in New York University’s Food Studies program, she learned the secrets of affinage in the caves of Murray’s Cheese.