You step into a restaurant in another city and you become excited by a new-to-you list of offerings. How exciting to see shishito peppers on the menu, for instance. And in the marathon that is dining out while on vacation, for those of us very interested in that sort of thing, you start to notice trends. When you hit a dozen restaurants in a week and half of them are serving broccoli and in the exact same way, it’s safe to say it’s a thing they’re doing right now, in the way we’re doing…well, that’s the thing. In my own city, the trends are so familiar it’s harder for me to call them out. Sea-buckthorn! (Don’t stop though!)
Here are the things I saw on oh-so-many menus in April 2012 across LA.
shishito peppers: Which I fell in love with in NYC last year. Toronto, these can’t be hard to grow. What is the hold up. I have seeds, I had to get some so I could get my fix. Do you want some, restauranteurs? Free, just put blistered shishito peppers on every appetizer list. Thanks.
broccoli: And mostly, in a soy sauce, chili oil and garlic preparation.
chicken skin, fried: Like in the manner of pork rinds, but not so crisp, and sometimes, just the lard, skewered.
tacos: But it’s LA. That’s practically native, not a trend. grits/polenta/corn everything: See above.
welsh rarebit: Or some variation of creamy sauce on a thick, open-faced brioche slice.
kale: Cavolo Nero stewed down to nothing.
salted caramel: On every dessert list, in ice cream, etc.
chocolate/candy bars: Gussied up in the restaurant’s take on it and sometimes deconstructed too.
also: burrata, zucchini blossom pizza and… Brussels sprouts.
Now, Brussels sprouts appear on a ton of menus in Toronto right now too, but they seems to be featured solo–that whole, roasted Brussels sprouts are so much better than the ones you grew up with and we’re not over that yet–which is great. But in LA, I loved how Brussels sprouts were used in so many salads, just another green to throw into the mix. And as with another recent recipe, I was inspired to combine some of my favourite tastes from my visit, Last time it was super-dried olives and roasted chickpeas, this time, Brussels sprouts, kale and avocado, which of course found it’s way into many LA dishes and probably always will. It’s a serious salad, high in flavour from the roasted vegetables and greens but nutty too and rich. You can serve it for lunch or as a starter and there’s no reason you can add or swap out other roasted vegetables too. Also, I am going to try this with crushed nori on top, maybe black sesame seeds too, which is more of a mood thing. I kept it simple here so you can see why I love it so much so I hope you try it and then make it your own too.
Oh wait! One more thing that’s on every LA menu–like almost every one!
Jidori chicken. Most menus proclaimed that the restaurant “was proudly serving Jidori chicken”. I didn’t sample any but I had to investigate. It refers to a Japanese chicken, vegetarian-fed, no antibotics but more uniquely, super-local to the point of often being delivered within a day of slaugther. That’s fresh. That was Steph and my takeaway from our learning and we’ve happily made the word jidori ubiquitous with fresh in our venacualar, and are abusing it every chance we get. Ex. “Hmmm. This fish. Is it jidori?” and much worse: “Girl, you’re lookin’ jidori today!!” Our new, highest compliment.
This recipe can be found in “GREEN”, ISSUE 017 of Le Sauce Magazine! Please get it here: http://www.lesauce.com/app