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Media Spotlight – Menu Innovator® – Spring Part 1

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As we entered into Spring, our Media Spotlight noticed some interesting trends!

This season’s most talked about cuisines were:
1) Italian
2) Asian
3) New American
4) Southern
5) Latin

The season’s most talked about topics were:
1) Beverages
2) Vegetables
3) Desserts
4) Small Bites
5) Sandwiches

Latin & Asian:
In our last post, we talked about booming Southern cuisine and its national presence in fine dining and casual restaurant settings. It should come as no surprise that we also see Latin and Asian continually in the top five of our most talk about cuisines. The population of America today is made up of various cultures, more eclectic than ever. Two of the fastest growing ethnic groups, Latins and Asians, are shifting the flavor preference on menus across the country. Now, restaurants of different cuisines have Latin and Asian foods on their menus. Some of our favorite trends, like hot and spicy mirror Latin and Asian ingredients, while small plates have a similarity to dim sum and tapas. At Joule in Seattle, chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi cook with a Korean-French flare resulting in dishes like their Chile Frozen Soufflé made with Korean chile paste, or their traditional beef tartare seasoned with Asian pear, pine nut, and soy sauce served with spicy cod roe aïoli. Looking for more of a Latin edge? Try Chile Relleno with ratatouille, Asadero cheese, spaghetti squash and tomato fondue at Mexique in Chicago.

Sandwiches:
We have also begun to delve into bold flavors, recently highlighting sour as a way to kick up flavor without adding large amounts of fat and salt. And who can forget chocolate’s role in the ever-changing beverage scene? Another food topic that continuously rises to the surface is sandwiches. Sandwiches keep popping up on the radar for various reasons, such as their vegetarian options or high end ingredients. Now, they are a dish of contrast! Diverse flavors and textures keep diners intrigued. Bobby Flay’s hamburgers are topped with thin potato chips, coleslaw pickled jalapenos, chipotle ketchup, thinly sliced red onion and served on a soft seeded bun, resulting in what he calls the perfect combination of beefy, juicy, and crunchy. Joseph Heppe of Oak + Char in Chicago prepares a sandwich with housemade pepper jam, curried chickpea mash, cold-smoked eggplant, smoked cilantro yogurt, and Upland cress, layered between griddled-crisp sandwich buns. His most popular sandwich combines creamy yogurt with crunchy Upland cress creating opposing textures, and the jam plays a sweet counterpart to the smoky eggplant, resulting in a harmonious contrast the exposes the various ingredients in the sandwich. Sandwiches like these provide layers and dimension, proving that there are no limits to sandwiches.

Locavore Desserts
Gone are the days when desserts had to be visually appealing but lacking in flavor! Chefs recognize that desserts are the perfect way to not only highlight local spirits and wines, but also local ingredients. Just look at the Locavore Cheesecake from The Wine Cellar & Bistro in Columbia, Missouri, a peanut butter-goat cheese cheesecake with a pecan crust, topped with goat milk caramel and chocolate buttercrunch. The restaurant pairs it with a small batch sherry, also from Missouri. This is results in the perfect combination of clear, bold flavors and regional ingredients. Desserts are both “classic and imaginative”, a far cry from the old fashioned, visually appealing, but flavor lacking desserts of the past.

Stay tuned as our next post covers the vast array of vegetables on our plates and the small bites trend that continues to flourish!

Eat well.

Culinary Systems Inc

Windermare, Florida 34786

Email. tlagana@culinarysystems.com

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