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Becoming a Master Sommelier was a necessity for Alpana Singh


The path to become a Master Sommelier is not for the weak of will or unprepared of palate. The certification exam literally goes on for days and includes portions on theory, practical knowledge and tasting. Those taking the exam must be able to taste wine at random and be able to name the grape, the place it's from, and the year it was made. Restaurateur Alpana Singh -- owner of Chicago restaurants The Boarding House, Seven Lions, and Terra & Vine -- made a name for herself in the wine world when, in her mid-20s, she became the youngest woman to ever pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam. She talked with contributor Shauna Sever about what drove her to dedicate her life to passing the exam. Learn more about Alpana Singh and her restaurants at her website.

Shauna Sever: What was your first restaurant job?

Alpana Singh: Officially, my first restaurant job was a hostess at Bakers Square.

SS: The last time I checked Bakers Square does not have much of a wine program.

AS: [laughing] No.

Alpana Singh
Photo: Jeff Schear

SS: How did you become interested in wine? What led to take the Master Sommelier exam?

AS: It was out of necessity. My parents had a business when I was growing up. But it didn't do too well due to the effects of the recession. When it came time for me to go to college, there wasn't any money. It's just what it was. I looked at the price of college and I looked at my bank account. I looked at my poor parents and said, "What am I going to do?" I ended up taking a job at this restaurant called Montrio Monterey. They originally turned me down for the job because I didn't know anything about wine. And I said, "Please, I need this job." I am very stubborn and I don't take no for an answer. I bought a couple books, memorized them, came back, and begged for the job. I was 18.

I did the math and realized that if I passed this exam, then I could write my own ticket. I found out about the exam because one of the managers at this restaurant was studying to become a Master Sommelier. I went to him one night and said I was thinking about taking the test. He knew from tastings that I had a natural palate because I was able to pick out wines and remember them once I tasted them. Turns out I would be spot-on in blind tastings. So, I started studying for the Master Sommelier exam and passed the advanced exam when I was 21.

I knew that I would have to go work at a nice restaurant to further my education. That's how I landed in Chicago. But truth be told, what originally got me interested in the exam was that I knew college was not a possibility for me because of financial reasons, and I didn't want to put myself in debt. I saw my parents struggle with debt; it's crippling and horrifying. It still haunts me to this to this day. I wanted to go to Berkeley to get a degree in political science. And I couldn't because the money just wasn't there. But there was this opportunity to take this exam. I knew if I applied myself, tried hard, and made the best use of my gifts, that perhaps I could write my own ticket. And I have been able to do that.

SS: For people who aren't familiar with the Master Sommelier exam, it's quite an undertaking. It's a monster of an exam and it takes a special kind of personality to even want to pursue it. Can you walk us through it?

AS: There was a documentary that was done recently called Somm; it's available on Netflix. It's an extraordinary and accurate look at what it takes to pass the test. There's a line in the documentary that says the exam doesn't make you crazy, but you have to be a little crazy to attempt it. And it's true.

SS: I believe there are now 149 master sommeliers in the world?

AS: Yes. I've been in the program since 1997 and 1998. It's incredible that it used to be this thing that few people knew about. Now when people find out that I am a Master Sommelier, it's really amazing. I used to have to explain it to people, and now people know about it; it's come a long way. It also shows the curiosity and how much our culture as a whole has embraced wine and the proper service of wine. That's encouraging.

The shifting popularity of fish throughout American history


Barton Seaver is an award-winning chef whose work now focuses on sustainability in the fish and seafood industries. He is the author of more than a half-dozen books including the essential American Seafood, a deep dive into the past, present and future of America's emotional and economic relationship with seafood. He talked with Francis Lam specifically about the ways that certain species of fish come in and out of favor with fisherman as well as professional and home cooks. Seaver also shared his recipe for Shrimp al Ajillo from his book Two If By Sea.

Francis Lam: You have this magisterial book on American seafood. I never realized the history of the American taste for seafood was so fascinating. For instance, certain fish became fashionable but then we forgot about them. I'm hoping you can walk us through it a little bit today.

Barton Seaver: American's relationship with seafood is utterly fascinating. It was the first economy this country founded, and upon which we took our first steps toward economic and political freedom. Yes, it was religious freedom that drew the first few settlers here. But it was the economics – a lot drawn off of the backs of cod, and those who fished them in the Northwestern Atlantic – that really provided the first siren call.

But, funny enough, eating seafood has always been somewhat beneath our aspirations. This starts off with a quote from William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth colony back in 1623. In a plaintive letter back home, he writes, "If ye land afford you bread, and ye sea yeeld you fish, rest you a while contented, God will one day afford you better fare." There was real trepidation, but also a bias against this, and despite the fact that we came here seeking religious freedom, we didn't necessarily bring with us a lot of religious tolerance. In the Catholic calendar, there was over 150 fast days that required the devout to abstain from meat. So, seafood was first seen as a food of the Catholics. And from our Protestant beginnings, they were the "others."

Throughout our history of immigration – which is the story of America – often these new waves of immigrants came from cultures where seafood was a mainstay of their cuisine. And further on, during World War I and World War II, there were campaigns to save meat and eat fish. Americans fed themselves fish to save the products of the land so they could send them to the boys over the sea. Victory Gardens was one means to inspire the citizenry, but seafood also became a food, an asset, to victory. The problem with that though is that once the seasoning of patriotism was removed with the clanging bells of armistice, our preference for seafood again diminished. So there's been this history of seafood being seen as a penance, or something you do for sacrifice, and that's also borne out of the fact that we've only ever eaten about fifteen pounds of seafood per person per year in this country.

FL: Compared to chicken?

BS: Over 200 or 225 pounds of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey. It's just not our preferred food.

Barton Seaver
Photo: Michael Piazza

FL: It's funny you say that. It is obviously cultural. I come from a culture that reveres seafood; it's the highest form of food. And over the years, we still eat 15 pounds per person per year, so that's a lot of fish, a lot of seafood. And as I understand it in your history, there are definitely fish that become extremely popular through the years. What are some reasons that certain fish might become popular and why do some fish stop being delicious to us?

BS: Well first, when we're talking about wild fisheries, this is nature. There are fluctuations. Some seafood like bluefish now pares the albatross with widespread disdain. Bluefish was once an incredibly popular, revered, and valuable seafood that just disappeared from the waters. Not necessarily because of overfishing but because of decadal fluctuations in population landmass.

Part of the shifting in preference for seafood is that before the early 1900s, seafood was caught by small boat regional fisheries – with the exception of the North Atlantic Fleet that was catching this abundance of cod. Small boat fleets caught most of the seafood, whether it was the Greek fishery for shrimp, octopus, or even sponge - which they didn't eat - out of Florida, or the Portuguese coming out of Bedford, in areas a little bit south. The Chinese immigrants that settled along the West Coast brought with them their own preferences in fishing methods and even a boat design called the Chinese junk. During this phase, preference was based on regional availability. But after the early 1900s, technology took over and the diesel engine allowed massive nets to be towed through the water to indiscriminately catch whatever was in its path. The small boat fishery never regained prominence in the fishing economy, and we moved more towards a very limited scope of species.

FL: Some of these individual species have some pretty crazy stories about why they became popular one day and not the next. Can you tell us about tilefish?

BS: Tilefish is pretty awesomely unique in the canon of America's seafood stories. Tilefish was discovered in the late 1800s by a captain named Captain Kirby who was fishing in deeper waters than was normal, doing an experimental fishery, and up came about 5,000 pounds of tilefish - a fish never before seen. They immediately sent one down to the galley and cooked it up.  Everyone present declared it to be one of the finest fish they had ever tasted. This new discovery was brought to the attention to the American public. Captains began targeting it and it became the darling of the culinary scene in America.

Along with tilefire, Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean seabass or orange roughy, also suddenly found a new astronomical rise to the top of every menu. But what's amazing is that three years later an event happened where an inversion of cold water trapped all the tilefish and killed them. And this is a naturally occurring event. Steamships going back and forth from Europe to Boston, all the way down to Norfolk, reported passing through tens of square miles of ocean completely covered in dead tilefish. It was decades before tilefish were seen again in the fisheries, and it was further decades before it was of any abundance. But by the time tilefish returned to market and America's tables, it had fallen from our graces and we had moved on to new favorites. And tilefish has never gained the popularity it once enjoyed.

American Seafood American Seafood by Barton Seaver

FL: As you said, there are so many biomass fluctuations and changes of water currents that can cause a population of fish to explode or decrease. But that also gets me thinking about seasonality. Most fish do have seasons, right?

BS: Absolutely. Coming up into spring as we are right now, there's a lot of attention being paid to seafood. Why? Well, going back to the beginning of this conversation: Lent. This is when most seafood is eaten in America. Lent and right around Christmas. This is when the waters come alive. This is when the waters warm and masses of fish begin make their migration towards shore, often times to spawn, and then to begin their summer-long predatory indulgences that fattens them towards fall. And this is an exciting season, but not necessarily one that offers us the best quality fish.

FL: Right, because they've already spent a lot of the fat they built up over the winter.

BS: Exactly. One of my favorite fish, mackerel, which I fish quite a lot in my harbor, has been described in spring as lacking in richness, stale in flavor, and as retched skeletons at their worst.

FL: That's cold, man.

BS: Their fat content can drop down as low as two percent, whereas in their fattest form, they're up to over twenty percent fat in that richness and luxuriousness. That's not to say they're not worth eating, but then there's other species that come in to our culinary cannon in the spring that are the pinnacle of things that we celebrate. On the East Coast, we have the stripe bass. Over in the Pacific Northwest, up in Alaska, we have the Copper River salmon, which is American's most famous branded providence of fish. And that fishery opens up around May fifteenth every year or so. There's a lot of things in spring to really celebrate. Shad roe and shrimp open up down in the Gulf. There's a lot there and it only gets better throughout the summer.

Studying the flavor of a landscape: foraging with Pascal Baudar


Forager Pascal Baudar wildcrafts plants, herbs and fungi from the wild, then uses them as ingredients to create food and beverages that he says express the true flavor of the environment. He is the author of two great books on the topic, The New Wildcrafted Cuisine and The Wildcrafting Brewer. Contributor Russ Parsons talked with Pascal about his passion for foraging and the restorative result of recent destructive California wildfires on some of his favorite foraging spots. Try your hand at making Pascal Baudar's recipes for Nasturitum and Watercress Hot Sauce and No-Fermentation Soda.

Russ Parsons: Tell us a little bit about the foraging you do and how you got into it.

Pascal Baudar: I pretty much grew up that way in Belgium. I grew up in a tiny little farming town with maybe 1,000 people. We had a garden; we had chickens and rabbits. My grandma used to send me into the forest and say, "Can you get me some nettles?" Or walnuts, or hazelnuts. That's what got me into foraging. From that perspective, I never had this conception of being disconnected from nature. There is always food everywhere. What I do is study the flavor of a landscape, of an environment. I can do that in California, I do it in Vermont, sometimes I go back to Belgium. My passion is to discover what is the taste of a location.

RP: Can you give us some examples? Like here in southern California, what are some of the things that you collect?

PB: There are so many things. For example, mustard. We have mustard everywhere. Nobody does anything with mustard here in Los Angeles; people don't think about it as something edible. They're all edible. A good one, for example, would be the black mustard, which is super invasive. You can make the most incredible Dijon mustard. But you can also go for other plants. Here in my hand I have a mountain vinegar that I make myself. I make my own cider with Manzanita berries; I change it into vinegar, and then I infuse it with pinion pine, mushrooms, all kinds of different wild berries. If you smell it, it completely smells like the mountain. People absolutely go crazy on that one. It's one way to take a look at the environment and research the flavor to be able to create condiments out of it.

Pascal Baudar teaches classes on foraging and fermentation (left, top right) and creates recipes such as Forest Beer (lower right) from the ingredients gathered in the wilderness in Southern California. Photos provided by Pascal Baudar

RP: What are some of the other ways that you capture and preserve these flavors?

PB: Last time I counted there were 16 different methods of food preservation. You can make wine, sodas, or infusions. I can turn all the drinks that I make into vinegar, I can make sauce or condiments. Last week, I was making some oyster mushroom ketchup. I can do an infinity of products, really.

RP: Where do you collect these things? Do you have favorite hunting grounds?

PB: What you're looking for will dictate the environment that you're looking for it. I have 2,000 acres of private property, so I do all my foraging on private property. If it's non-native, then I don't care. I can go to a place and pick up dandelion – no one wants dandelion. And by the way, 90 percent of the things I collect are actually non-native, because the native stuff is usually very strong. Foraging can be a little bit controversial, but I look at foraging as one way to actually help the environment at the same time.

RP: Are you on the coastal plains? Are you on hills?

PB: I'm all over the place. If I want to make the mountain vinegar, my friend Claudia has a whole property and she has 60 acres of pinion pine and white fir. I just go over there and collect whatever I need. Close to Los Angeles, I have some friends who have property in the Angeles Forest.

Pascal Baudar is the author of The New Wildcrafted Cuisine and The Wildcrafting Brewer.

RP: All those hillside properties. Everybody knows this winter was just horrible as far as wildfires. Were you affected by that?

PB: I pretty much lost everything. What I used to do in the Angeles Forest – on the property where I use to have my wild food garden – I had a beer garden and a spice garden, both that I created with native plants – it's all gone. At the same time, I took a look at it, I'm saying, "How can I use that to be more creative?"

RP: Can you tell us the first time you went back after the fire, what did you see?

PB: There's nothing. I had never seen something like that before. It was just completely black. Some of the bigger trees are still there. The oak trees are okay; they survived the fire. But there was nothing left. The smell was like bacon. There was smoke everywhere. It was scary. But the interesting part – and I'm not a botanist – but from my perspective, I'm seeing the native plants coming back and not the non-native plants, which is interesting. The environment cleaning itself to some degree. I see much more native plants growing right now than ever before.

RP: That's fascinating.

PB: You have a lot of plants like mugwort showing up. Wild essence, California sagebrush, giant nettles, they're all native plants that are taking off. A lot of grass too. The hillside is turning green right now. It's interesting that in the old days people used to do that on purpose. It was a process of regeneration. I'm still learning, and it's a fascinating learning process. As horrible as it was, I'm looking at it more from an educational experience and see what I can learn from it.

Try your hand at making Pascal Baudar's recipes for Nasturitum and Watercress Hot Sauce (far left) and different variations of his No-Fermentation Soda. Photos provided by Pascal Baudar

Antibiotics and the future of Big Chicken


Maryn McKenna is a journalist who specializes in superbugs – bacteria that have evolved to survive antibiotics. Her book, Big Chicken, focuses on research involving the use of antibiotics in modern agriculture and how they changed the way the world eats. McKenna says the chicken industry is largely to blame for our enormous overuse of and exposure to antibiotics. But, as she shared with Francis Lam, as she followed the story of Big Chicken, she also found a real reason for hope.

Francis Lam: You have this idea that once raising chickens stopped being about growing animals and became more about growing meat, the industry basically became this laboratory of technological innovation. I love this story about how 50 or 60 years ago there was a contest to create what they were calling the "chicken of tomorrow." What, in their minds, was the chicken of tomorrow?

Maryn McKenna: In order to understand the chicken of tomorrow – which is actually the chicken that we eat right now – you have to think about what the "chickens of yesterday" were like. They would have been the chickens outside the back doors of our grandparents or great-grandparents. They would have been mostly chickens that were there to lay eggs. They would, for the most part, have been eaten after their egg-laying days were done, which means they would have had several years of running around a barnyard or backyard after chicks, flapping up into trees, pecking around for insects, and so forth.

While all that exercise and diet might have made them very rich-tasting; it would also have made them kind of scrawny and stringy. In order to get people to eat more chicken – which was the entire goal of this, to increase the demand for chicken, because industrialization was already increasing the supply of chicken – the USDA and the A&P supermarket chain held a contest, the goal of which was to physically remake the chicken. It aimed to hybridize chickens from the varieties of backyard chicken all over the country so that they would be, first, white-feathered, because that was more appealing to consumers; and docile, not running around a barnyard, but willing to sit in one place; but most of all, meaty. When they proposed the contest they talked about breasts you could slice like a steak, which not only sounds delicious, but also gives you a sense of what a chicken breast must have been like before this contest. The chicken of tomorrow marks the transition from chickens as a backyard thing, as heritage varieties that differ from town to town and ecosystem to ecosystem, to one consistent chicken all over the world – it looks the same, gains weight in the same manner, has the same temperament and body composition, and produces all that meat that is now the number one meat that we eat in America.

Maryn McKenna
Photo: Billy Howard

FL: To get to that point, where you have chicken as the number one meat, they had to make all these technological innovations to keep making the growing of chicken faster, more efficient and cheaper. Maybe the most important one you write about is that the chicken industry was the first industry to introduce antibiotics to the animals, which no one had done before. Why did they start doing that?

MM: There's an interesting nexus of a couple of a couple of different trends happening, and they all happen at the end of World War II. The first is that antibiotics come on the market. All of the antibiotics that we think of as starting the antibiotic era arrive between about 1944 and 1948. And they make an enormous social impact. They change the course of the war. They bring soldiers and sailors back that otherwise would have died on the battlefield. The war also marks a huge upsurge in the infrastructure of growing meat so that all those soldiers and sailors can be fed.

But when the war ends, that guaranteed market goes away, and the meat industry suddenly needs – in order to keep from collapsing – to cut its costs sharply. They start using much cheaper feed, and then they start looking for supplements that they can add to that cheap feed in order to make it more nutritious. This rogue scientist, Thomas Jukes, who is a specialist in the dietary needs of chickens and who happens to work for one of the companies that made one of these first antibiotics, gets the idea to try dosing chickens with tiny doses of antibiotic in their feed. When he conducts an experiment in 1948 to figure out if this is going to work, he gives a set of chickens all kinds of different supplements, and the ones that get the tiny doses of antibiotics grow faster than any of the others.

FL: Why do antibiotics make the chickens grow faster? They're not growth hormones.

MM: Right. They're not hormones. Antibiotics are compounds made by bacteria to kill other bacteria. That's what they were originally before we took them into the lab and synthesized them and made them more perfect. We give antibiotics to animals in their feed and water, they're swallowed, they go into the guts, and then they affect the community of bacteria that exist in the guts of animals and every living thing in such a way that it changes their uptake of nutrition. It makes them put on tasty muscle mass faster than they otherwise would.

FL: Why is it a problem?

MM: It's a problem for a whole nested set of reasons. First, most antibiotics aren't being given to animals that are sick. In human medicine we take for granted that antibiotics exist in order to cure something, but most of the use in agriculture isn't to cure anything. It's for these other uses. The second reason is that as we start to give antibiotics to animals, it gives us kind of a new framework to think about the way we raise them that undermines animal welfare. That causes farms to be more concentrated and it changes the economics of farms – the balance between industry and labor. But the most important reason that we should be concerned about this is because when antibiotics are given to animals in that matter, it causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria to arise and flourish in their guts – in that collection of bacteria that lives in the guts of every animal and every other living thing including us. Those antibiotic-resistant bacteria then exit the animal, either on its meat when it gets disassembled at slaughter, or in its manure, which then goes into the farm environment in one way or another through various pathways. Those drug-resistant bacteria travel to humans and cause drug-resistant infections.

irvin lin (photo: alec joseph bates) Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna

FL: But you also write in your book that – I don't know if it's a happy ending, but maybe a hopeful ending – the chicken industry which started this may actually be helping to lead us out of it. Can you tell me about that?

MM: It's a lovely and surprising symmetry in this long history of making this mistake. Starting about four years ago, poultry producers – led by the company Purdue Farms, which are the fourth largest chicken company in America – started to turn away from routine antibiotic use. The head of Purdue, Jim Purdue, the grandson of the founder, called a press conference in Washington in 2014 and announced that his company had decided to go as close to antibiotic-free as they could. And now, three years later, they are very close. After Purdue came so many other poultry production companies and food service companies: Tyson, Chik-Fil-A, McDonald's, Costco, Wal-Mart, and a whole suite of fast food chains announced that they were going to pursue antibiotic-free chicken. The backdrop to all of this, the reason why this happened, that sort of proximate reason, is that there was a change in regulations around antibiotic use in agriculture in the US. But the real reason, I believe, is that consumers were turning against antibiotic use and were speaking up to companies and saying, "We don't want to spend our food dollars on this anymore. We want you to find a different way."

FL: It really was that hopeful? I hate to think it would be naive to have hope, but it enough people just said, "I don't want to eat chicken with antibiotics. I don't want to feed that to my kids." And that's why they changed?

MM: I really do think so. Purdue says that before they made this change they were getting 3,000 comments from their customers a month through various channels asking about antibiotic use. Before that company made the change and started this snowball rolling, there were large health care systems like the University of California and large school systems like the Chicago Public Schools that were saying to the meat production industry, "We're going to change our buying. We're not going to spend our money on this anymore." When buyers that large speak to big companies, big companies listen.

FL: The hope here is that through our – meaning us, the people, the consumers – continued demands, producers will respond and they can show how you can have these industries without this practice. Thank you so much, Maryn.

MM: Thank you for having me.

The beets go on: America's Test Kitchen reimagines beet salad


Beets just may be the king of vegetable world. No other vegetable gives you the same mix of sweetness and delicious earthiness as a good beet. But no matter how good they are, there is a limit to how many formulaic beet and goat cheese salads one can enjoy in life, right? To that effect, Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Molly Birnbaum from America's Test Kitchen about their great new take on the beet salad - Charred Beet Salad.

Sally Swift: Have you noticed how many pre-packaged cooked beets are showing up in produce departments? They are everywhere. I'm going to make a prediction: beet salads are back big time.

Molly Birnbaum: Beet salads are everywhere.

SS: And it seems to me the thing that makes a beet salad great is the cheese. Do you have a theory on why that works?

MB: Beets and goat cheese have always gone well together, and there is a reason. Beets are earthy and sweet. Pair that with a tangy, creamy, salty cheese, and you have a pairing that really works.

Molly Birnbaum
Photo: America's Test Kitchen

SS: What makes a beet sweet?

MB: Beets are one of the sweeter vegetables. It's one of the reasons that people really love them; it's also a reason why some people don't love them. The beet's sweetness is the result of a winter survival strategy. The sugar in beets act like a natural antifreeze. That means they bring down the freezing point of the fluid – the water – that is within beets, making it harder to freeze. That prevents their cells from rupturing due to ice crystals in colder weather.

SS: That is a crazy story; I never knew that.

MB: There are some other vegetables that can do the same thing. For example, kale is sweeter after a freeze while it's still growing.

SS: I've experienced that in my own garden. I want to go back to beet salads. I know America's Test Kitchen took on a beet salad recipe in effort to make it perfect. Tell me about that.

MB: We developed a Charred Beet Salad, and it is amazing. It puts a twist on the regular beet salad. Traditionally, you'll have beets and goat cheese.  For this salad, we didn't go the goat cheese route; instead we decided to mix up feta cheese and Greek yogurt. It still has that tangy and salty creaminess, but it's a little different. For the beets themselves, we give you two options – because whole beets are really hard and take a long time to cook. One good option for cooking beets is to sous vide cook them – putting them in a plastic bag, taking out all the air, and cooking them in a low-temperature water bath.  You do that for about four hours at 190 degrees and you'll have beets that are perfectly cooked all the way through.

SS: If you have a sous vide stick, this is what you need to be doing with it.

MB: Exactly. It's the perfect first recipe for your new sous vide circulator. But if you don't have one, roasting is an excellent option.

SS: The thing that I noticed about your recipe that I found interesting is that you're re-roasting the cooked beet. Did I read that right?

MB: You did. We char the beets. After the beets are totally cooked – whether that is by roasting or sous vide – you peel them and cut them into rounds. Then char them in a hot skillet with a little bit of oil. That burns off some of the sugar to help add a bitter note to what is otherwise uniformly sweet; this adds a lot of depth to the flavor of the salad.

SS: Which pairs amazingly with that cheese as you mentioned.

MB: Exactly. We also add radicchio, which is likewise bitter and compliments the bitterness of the charred beets, and pomegranate seeds, which adds a nice, bright pop of acidity.  

Try the America's Test Kitchen recipe for Charred Beet Salad. Photo: Steve Klise

SS: What do you use to dress those charred beets?

MB: That's a great question because it's a really interesting component of the salad. When we're roasting the beets, we're adding a bit of water, oil, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to the packet in which we roast it. When you're done roasting that aluminum foil packet, you use that liquid for the dressing because it's filled with lots of delicious beet flavor. All you need to do is add a little bit of yogurt and you get this creamy, flavorful beet dressing ready-made.

SS: You also pair some wonderful green herbs at the end of cooking. You use both dill and tarragon, which never would have occurred to me.

MB: The fresh dill and tarragon add this fresh herbal flavor to the salad. What we really want to do here was combine all of these different kinds of taste sensations – the sweetness and bitter of the beets and radicchio, the creamy saltiness of the feta and yogurt, the acid and brightness of the pomegranate, and the freshness of the herbs. They all come together to create a perfect salad.