Welcome to Flavor Notes!
I'm Robert Rich, and Flavor Notes is the online outlet and archive for my food-related writings.
I have been writing about food since the mid-1990's, when I became obsessed with wild mushrooms and started a cookbook from the mushroom meals I prepared for a circle of friends. My "day job" as a musician offered time and travel to extend my passion as foodie and wine geek.
I started reviewing restaurants for the local newspaper in 2000, but soon became disenchanted with restaurant culture. I began writing a column called "Flavors" that focused on home cooking, wine pairing and culinary traditions. As the newspaper format became increasingly confining for the topics I wanted to cover, the plans for an online culinary journal took shape.
By no means do I intend to keep an impartial editorial slant. I have certain personal preferences and I am happy to show them. For example:
- I am a member of the Slow Food movement, and I agree with their support of local and sustainable food production. I also feel that the "pleasure principle" is often the best method to inspire social change.
- I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so most of my focus will revolve around Bay Area culinary culture. I love to discover regional cooking from around the world, but my reference points tend to return to northern California.
- I prefer to celebrate rather than criticize. I don't consider myself the arbiter of good taste. I hope to point to experiences that enrich life, and tend to ignore those that disappoint.
- You won't find point scores in my wine notes. I dislike the point system and I feel that it disrespects the complexities of flavor and smell.
- I like to celebrate the actions of good people, and I often become friends with people whose products I respect. I don't intend to keep a journalist's distance from the community that I write about, because I value the community more than an editorial stance.
- I tend to favor small producers over the large ones. You won't find many reviews of chain restaurants, huge wineries or food conglomerates. I admit that I tend to treat large companies with a slight negative bias, and I would rather help the little folks.
- I'm a bit of a xenophile. I love diversity, and I love to try new tastes. I like strong flavors, spicy food, freshness and authentic preparation. Inversely, I remain sceptical of preconceived culinary "fusions" for the sake of novelty or marketing. I'll admit that I have eaten some great fusion cuisine, but I would rather seek out its roots.
I hope that the writings you'll find on this website inspire you to seek out new flavors, to cook more at home, to take time during this busy life to partake in simple pleasures and share joy with friends and family.