Beef, the all-American staple whose reputation suffered in the fat and cholesterol scares of recent years, is enjoying a renaissance. According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, per capita consumption increased from 64.6 pounds in 1994 to 68.8 pounds in 1995.
Why? In part, people's attitudes about red meat have been “greatly influenced by the promotional efforts [of] upscale steak houses,” according to Ruth's Chris, a nationwide chain of upscale steakhouses. (The chain operates a restaurant at 1700 California.) In other words: Push it, and they will eat.
Amid the self-congratulation are some telling nuggets of information about who likes steak so much. Ruth's Chris research suggests that the typical “ardent beef lover” (ABL) is often the president of his or her own company (often a manufacturer of machine parts) or works in sales (“particularly national sales managers”) or marketing. The ABL also “balances discipline in work and diet with occasional indulgence, even overindulgence, with pleasurable activities.”
On the other hand, the ABL is “highly conscious” of what guests think of his or her choice in restaurants, and is apt to select a steakhouse as the “safest” choice for entertaining clients. So if the suit is the uniform of corporate America, is the “upscale steakhouse” its mess hall?
True vinegar connoisseurs can now subscribe to The Vinegar Newsletter, which aims to provide all the news that's fit to print about “acid wine.” The newsletter offers reviews of new vinegars (in the charter issue: sherry vinegar from Bodegas Paez Morrilla); tips on making one's own and conducting a tasting; and recipes that use vinegar.
Members of Vinegar Connoisseurs International receive the quarterly newsletter free as part of their annual dues of $10. Otherwise, it costs $3 an issue. For more information, contact the editor, Lawrence Diggs, at email@example.com, or at (605) 486-4536.
So you don't have the time or money to go to La Varenne, but you still want to learn more about French cooking? The Mission's Restaurant Le Trou is offering a series of classes this spring titled “The Domain of the Olive.” The classes will meet on Monday evenings at the restaurant (1007 Guerrero in S.F.; 550-8169); each night costs $50 and culminates in a three-course meal. The instructor will be Chris Moore, who recently succeeded Robert Reynolds as chef de cuisine.
Reynolds, meanwhile, is offering his own cooking courses — in France. They're a little pricier: $2,200 for a one-week session, meals, and five nights in a first-class hotel. Call Le Trou to find out.
By Paul Reidinger