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Q&A with Kristen Johnson

Q&A with Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson, Blue Sardinia, Seattle

Which classic grape varietal is the most underrated?
I’d like to say Grenache. However, we sell it like water at Blu Sardinia, featuring two Cannonau wines by the glass and another half a dozen bottle selections, coining them our “House wines”.  Therefore, I’d have to go with Merlot.  Unfortunately, I think it’s still recovering fro Sideways.  People simple don’t want to admit they like it.  That’s the reason I believe the Old World has much greater success with it. Most guests don’t even know they’re drinking it because the varietal isn’t seen anywhere on the label. A few years back I suggested a wine for a few of our regular clients that had come trust my palate. About 3/4s the way through the second bottle of the same wine, I revealed that is was 100% Merlot from Tuscany. One of the four guests proceeded to try to convince me that something was wrong with the wine.  Fortunately, the others convinced her that it was fine. For me, some of the best merlot in the world comes out of Tuscany.  More specifically, Bolgheri.

What kind of flavors inspire you most?
Pretty much anything herbal, aromatic, bitter and citrusy.  I like calisaya and it’s signature place in Amaros.  I love cardamom and the way it can lift savory or sweet ingredients.  I enjoy rhubarb root, anise, clove and cinnamon. If it’s sweet, I’d like it to be well balanced.  A good friend recently introduced me to a tea made of roasted dandelion root and French vanilla. I’ve had a great time playing with it behind the bar as well as sipping it before bed.

Choose a drink to match with pork – and why?
If not wine, a layered brown based cocktail; more specifically one made with a great rye, such as Cadee Cascadia Rye Whiskey from Whidbey Island.  On it’s own, it’s a nice sipper but when mixed with the right ingredients such as Alpine spice, chai, the perfect vermouth and a light amaro you get a wonderful warm medium bodied drink that finishes light enough for even the ladies to enjoy.  When you get the right balance, you find the perfect accompaniment to food such as pork prepared with either sweet or savory ingredients. A great cocktail should not taste the same from start to finish.  It should develop and unravel with each sip throughout a meal.  I recently converted four of my “vodka drinking” college girlfriends that claimed they could never drink anything brown. After one sip, I had a glass in each of their hands and that cocktail became the highlight of the weekend.  That was a fun experiment.



"2016 Event of the Year!"
Time Out New York

"Raising the Bar for Dining Festivals"
LA Times

"The Porcine Equivalent of Christmas"
Seattle Metropolitan

"Pork-tastic Goodness!"
Food & Wine Magazine

"Stunning in its Professionalism"
Jonathan Gold

"Stunning in its Professionalism"
Jonathan Gold

"Cochon555 Features Some of The Best Chefs in Town"
Time Magazine

"Everyone’s Favorite Pork-centric Cooking Competition"

"A Great Celebration, the Ultimate Pig Out"
Bon Appetit

"Chefs Bring Their A-Game for a Cause"

"Enough About Bacon! Let's Talk Whole Hog"
The Seattle Times

"Cochon555, a Touring Porcine Bacchanalia Slash Competition"
SF Weekly

"A Super Bowl of Swine, Bite After Bite of Swoon Worthy Swine"
Denver Westword

"The Pork Flowed Like Wine at Cochon555"
Eat Me Daily

Cochon555, the competitive celebration of heritage pork... [+] Eater

Cochon555 founder Brady Lowe is a tireless champion of heritage pigs... [+] Food Republic

Heritage-breed pigs in the competition yield melt-in-your mouth chops that you’ll crave for days... [+] The Village Voice

Meant to raise awareness about heritage-breed pigs and sustainable and socially responsible farming... [+] Miami New Times

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Where can you find 3,500 pounds of Heritage breed pigs, locally sourced... The Daily Meal [+]

This culinary competition celebrates family farms, heritage breed pigs and today’s emerging chef community... NBC Bay Area [+]

Whole heritage-breed pigs in a head to tail showcase for a crowd of pork-loving gourmands… The Huffington Post

One of the country’s most delightfully decadent food fests... Chicago Tribune [+]