Letters from New York

Le Repertoire
Miami Chapter of the American Culinary Federation
June 1994
Page 6

Letters from New York

Pea shoots are no longer in. That’s the word from the frontlines here in the Big Apple. I have to admit, I never quite understood why pea shoots were in in the first place, but they were. Baby vegetables are still in. I’ve seen some absolutely stunning presentations of baby beets (come to think of it, I think I designed one of the plates…) using red, yellow, and pink and white striped beets – so sweet they melt like candy in your mouth. Morel mushrooms are making a comeback. After several years of shiitakes, enokis and portobellos, morels are now the mushroom of choice in trendy restaurants across Manhattan Island. Somehow or other we skipped the $125 a pound matsutake insanity.

Speaking of trendy restaurants, I’m not sure that they’re quite the trend anymore. While last year there was a big hullabaloo about the return to “comfort foods,” somehow or other that didn’t end up meaning menus overflowing with pot-pies, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. Sure a few daring chefs dared to try such outré items, but that wasn’t quite what the populous wanted. They wanted things that “reminded” them of comfort food. You know, maybe put a little cheese on something, or a sauce that was just slightly heartier than a celery infusion?

See, the problem is, we chefs and the media have gotten everyone so into these bright oils and vinegars and teeny dices of vegetables, that they all went out and learned how to do those things at home. Now, when they go out, they want something different. They want, dare we say it, classic cuisine. Maybe not thick, heavy butter and flour sauces, but definitely headed that direction. As Australian humorist and food writer Terry Durack recently put it, who said we have to be thin anyway?

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