Ode to spring: Food trends from Taste of Vail and food consultants Baum and Whiteman
Special to the Daily
While spring has thus far been elusive at 8,150 feet, I do feel like George Winston’s melodic “Winter Into Spring” instrumental will be serenading our valley this week.
As we tentatively tiptoe into the new growth that is springtime, let’s open our epicurean souls to new food trends in this year’s culinary scene, some of which were showcased at this year’s Taste of Vail and others introduced by international food and restaurant consultants Baum and Whiteman.
Focus on veggies
Vegetable- and grain-focused plates are ingraining (excuse the pun) themselves in the mainstream food culture and even extending the nose-to-tail movement of using the entire product in dish creation in leaf-to-root dining. This warm onion tart honors the vegetable-forward cuisine and is a silky egg custard combined with subtle sweetness from caramelized onions.
The tart pairs deliciously with a dry rose, which has the acidity of white wine and the fruit character of red wine. Interestingly enough, another rose accompaniment to any springtime salad or side to a main dish would be roasted radishes, as these would pair well with the crisper and drier Provence rose.
Welcoming spring with these recipes and a rose wine, such as the wines sampled at the Taste of Vail’s Debut of 2015 Rose, would be sublime.
Warm onion tart
(Serves 4 to 6.)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 pounds yellow onions, sliced in rings
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup half and half
5 strips bacon, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Heat large saute pan on medium heat, melt butter and oil in a large skillet, and add diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is halfway cooked. Add thyme, onion and salt to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the onions are translucent and caramelized. This will take approximately 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Combine eggs and half and half in a bowl. Add the onion mixture and the freshly ground black pepper. Roll out the puff pastry in a buttered pie or glass dish, making sure the pastry has four edges to hold the onion mixture and add it to the pastry and bake 35 minutes, until the crust and top are slightly browned. Cool, and top with the arugula salad.
Simple arugula salad
2 cups fresh arugula
¼ lemon, juiced
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Toss arugula with lemon and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and serve atop the warm onion tart.
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
In saute pan, add butter and sliced or quartered radishes. Brown over high heat until radishes are golden, and season with salt and pepper.
In juxtaposition of highlighting vegetables, the Taste of Vail’s American Lamb Cook-Off and Apres Ski Tasting showcased some luscious lamb dishes with finesse and mastery. Baum and Whiteman foreshadow turmeric to be the spice of the year, as in Larkspur’s Tandoori tacos with Armenian feta and bright tzatziki slaw.
Korean flavors, such as sweet-spicy gochujang (a thick Korean barbecue sauce made from malted barley, fermented soybean flour, red pepper and rice flour) are appearing on this year’s menus, especially as advancement from the ubiquitous Sriracha in Asian fusion dishes.
Sweet Basil featured a wood-charred leg of lamb with jasmine rice, kimchi, sweet Thai basil, a sweet-and-salty sauce of soy caramel, all served on a Korean pancake.Matsuhisa showcased one of my favorite lamb dishes: pastel de choclo, like a Chilean shepard’s pie, with black bean sesame lamb, olive caramel sauce and an Asian-inspired watercress and sake-soaked raisin salad. As we store our slow cookers and bring out the barbecues, I offer a Korean barbecue sauce recipe that can marinate any shredded meat and a Korean slaw recipe.
Korean barbecue sauce
1 cup gochujang (a Korean red pepper paste)
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons sesame oil
Whisk all ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Keep refrigerated.
1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 long English cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cups green onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
8 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 tablespoons ginger powder
3 tablespoons white sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Toss vegetables in an appropriate amount of dressing and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Toss again before serving.
Something to drink
Local distilleries continue to make mixologists the new celebrities. Such is the case with Steven Teaver, beverage director for Four Seasons Resort Vail, who creates renowned cocktails for The Remedy Bar.
In anticipation of spring and enjoying a refreshing cocktail that pairs with the outdoors and possibly a smoky barbecue, Citrus and Smoke is layered with herbal richness, slight bitterness, a smoky flavor and a clean, bright lime finish.
Citrus and Smoke
3/4 ounce Lagavulin (16-year single malt scotch whisky)
3/4 ounce Galliano (sweet herbal liquor)
3/4 ounce Contratto Aperitif (infused brandy)
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Strain over new ice in a double old-fashioned glass.
The calm after the culinary storm happened at The Remedy Brunch at Four Seasons Vail on Sunday morning, with not-so-traditional eggs Benedict with apricot and tomato preserves, artfully stacked huevos rancheros and flaky pastries. The delicious mimosas and quaint atmosphere was a calm reprieve after the epicurean whirlwind.
With applause, I congratulate Taste of Vail on expertly celebrating the new flavors of the year.
Jennie Iverson lives in Vail and is the author of the “Ski Town Soups” and “Ski Town Apres Ski” cookbooks. She provides insight into the culinary scene of ski towns across America. You can find more recipes and information at http://www.skitowngroup.com.