Discovering Heirloom Rice

It’s no secret: we love good food. Sweet, decadent, umami – we seek out bold flavors and go all out to create meals that are hard to forget. We love ingredients that have a story. Whether it’s locally raised lamb that falls off the bone or provisions from farmers with a mission, we seek out suppliers who understand what it means to be passionate about food.

A few years ago, we came across a product that spoke to us – heirloom rice by Lotus Foods. Actually, friends introduced us to Forbidden Black Rice with its beautiful texture and even more striking flavor. After such a meal enhancement, we had to explore the whole line, from Bhutan Red Rice to Volcano Rice. Sure enough, each was as delicious as the next.

We felt compelled to seek out the people responsible for these amazing rice varietals. Sure enough, upon meeting Ken Lee and Carol Levine, we felt an instant connection. Not only for their work to promote sustainably grown, exotic rice hand crafted on small family farms in remote areas of the world, but for their purpose of championing such distinctive rice in the US.

The unique attributes of such heirloom rice are quite akin to wine. The terroir, or special characteristics of geography in which the rice is grown, impacts and adds to the individuality of each product. This rice truly carries the sense of place in which it’s grown, each exuding vastly different flavors, textures, aromas and cooking qualities.

There are currently twelve varieties of heirloom rice from Lotus Foods. We’ve tried them all it’s hard to choose a favorite, but for now, we’ve chosen the Forbidden Black Rice and paired it with Liberty Duck and Bing Cherry Sauce (and a bottle of Layer Cake Pinot Noir) for an unforgettable meal.

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 002. You can purchase a copy here.