Friday, February 4, 2011

Wild flavours and hay on the menu is a new trend

The latest newsletter from tells us that "From pine cones to hay, chefs are imparting gourmet cuisine with pastoral notes".

A few years ago, Swedish chefs were introducing the wild trend, leaving the admiration of French, Mediterranean and Thai behind for our Swedish traditional berries and flavours. It was a mixture of self-pride and being fed up with all the new, "exotic". Back to basic, to the roots, literally. This matches of course the organic trend, signalling a need of authenticity. A need of simplicity after being bombarded by options in the food stalls for a decade or so (we did not have 50 types of olive oil in the 90´s!) writes: "Cooks who are passionate about the farm-to-table ethos are roasting bulrush  and serving up free-range chicken with a side of common milkwee. With “plant food” culled from forests and barnyards appearing more regularly on gourmet menus, getting a taste of the wild appears to be gaining mass appeal."

"According to the Wall Street Journal, top kitchens are using dried grass to give dishes the ultimate earthy aroma. The most famous hay dish at the moment is found at Chicago’s Alinea, where chef Grant Achatz’s hay brulĂ©e is made with cream that has been steeped with hay. At New York’s Manzo, Mario Batali’s paean to beef found within his Eataly emporium, milk-fed veal chops are grilled until caramelized, then baked in a bed of rosemary, thyme and hay. Pastoral fare really can be found anywhere now, even if one rides the subway instead of a horse in order to enjoy it."

I think this is a sign of chefs being a little bored and that the huge organic trend is influencing the fancy restaurants. Will we no longer want 50 types of olive oil? We will. Once used to a large range of options, it is hard to accept only one choice. Homegrown brands are of course speaking against this, presenting a 'one fits all' alternative, selling well to those who are concerned about price, but the overall trend with variety is still very much alive and kicking. The "pastoral fare" is just one of many ways. Exotic in it´s own, pure way.

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