These cone-bearing plants bring foresty flavor to every dish. 

By Elyse Inamine
December 22, 2016
© Jon Angelo

David Barzelay has a thing for trees. The chef at San Francisco’s Lazy Bear is obsessed with bringing conifers—cone-bearing plants—into the kitchen. Whether steeped, smoked or fresh, they’re lending foresty flavor to everything from cocktails to oysters. Barzelay isn’t alone in his fixation: There will be pine needles scattered over veal tartare at Mads Refslund’s forthcoming Brooklyn restaurant and more shrubbery on the 
menu at Harvest in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here, Barzelay geeks out on the prickly treasures. 

Redwood Tips

“You can find these light-green tips year-round. They have 
a piney flavor with bright, citrusy notes.” At Lazy Bear, Barzelay purees the 
tips with cream to drizzle over oysters.

Juniper Leaves & Berries 

“Look for the scaly mature leaves of this cypress-family tree. They have a ton of flavor and less of that oily, resinous quality.” Barzelay infuses mushroom broth with the berries for a grassy punch.

Douglas Fir Tips

“This is your 
classic Christmas tree aroma. It’s more distinctively woody than redwood or juniper.” Barzelay bottles Negronis with the tips to boost the aromatics of the gin.

Spruce Tips

“These needles are tender enough to use as a raw garnish.” Barzelay does just that with his 
squab, porcini and blueberry dish. 

Pine Nuts & Needles

Barzelay throws these over a smoldering fire 
when grilling mushrooms or meat.