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Isn't spring the time to celebrate ingredients that are here oh-so-briefly and then disappear? Ramps, fiddlehead ferns, rhubarb...
Yes, it is, and yes, everyone is talking about them. So let's talk about something else. Here are the most exciting foods you can get right now, plus great places to find them.
Duck is the MPB (Most Popular Bird) right now; most popular of all are the wings. At Skál in New York City, they smoke duck wings then serve them with seaweed, squid ink and crushed mussels. The awesome gastropub King James Public House in Asheville, North Carolina, doubles down on their crispy duck wings, topping them with duck cracklings and adding house-made bacon-ranch dressing. Over at the Barrel Room Rockridge in Oakland, California, spiced duck wing confit gets a Calabrian chile-lemon glaze.
Eggs, Eggs, Eggs. You'll still find fried eggs on almost everything, but pickled eggs have become a surprise hit. At Chicago's excellent new Lone Wolf Tavern, pickled eggs are ingeniously presented in a torn open bag of potato chips. At Manhattan's Northern Spy Food Co. the pretty beet-pickled eggs come with house-made aioli ($5). Portland, Oregon's favorite salumeria, Olympic Provisions, also believes in beet-pickled eggs: Their snack is called Pink Eggs and Ham.
Tartares aren't new, but the unclassic ways that chefs are looking at them now is. At Bestia in L.A., chef Ori Menashe garnishes veal tartare with tonnato sauce and house-made sourdough bread. In Philadelphia, Stateside's unconventional tartare is whiskey-spiked bison topped with a fried quail egg and celery root. Meanwhile, at NYC's Estela, the innovative chef Ignacio Mattos packs his beef tartare with crisp caramelized sunchokes to add wonderful crunch.
Bagels are on fire right now, especially in NYC. At the just-opened Black Seed Bagels, Noah Bernamoff is hand-rolling and then wood-oven baking his Montreal-style bagels. Across town at Bar Bolonat, the Israeli-born chef Einat Admony has introduced NYC to the Jerusalem bagel, a golden-brown, sesame-encrusted ring served with olive oil and house-made za'atar. Out in Boulder, Colorado, Small Batch Bagels boils their hand-rolled bagels in honey-water, making traditional flavors like poppy and sesame along with more modern ones like rosemary-sea salt. You can buy them from the site and from several small businesses in the Boulder area.
In fun flavors like kung pao chicken, dumplings are having whole restaurants dedicated to them. Roy Choi makes stellar Kat Man Doo dumplings at his new restaurant POT in L.A., along with scallion and chile dipping sauce.
And in the Opening Soon category:
SF's Chino which has been preparing dumplings and potstickers galore at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, is opening a brick-and-mortar spot in the Mission. And Cara Stadler is opening a dedicated dumpling house in Portland, Maine. The brand-new F&W BNC is a dumpling expert at her place Tao Yuan in Brunswick, where she makes versions like kung pao chicken dumplings.