At this point, kale feels kinda stale. Kañiwa (pronounced kan-YEE-wah) is the new Quinoa. The cronut has apparently "jumped the shark," tossed overboard in favor of flaky (in the right way) Southern buttermilk biscuits. And bitter is the new bold in flavors - in coffees (darker), chocolate (deeper) and drinks - particularly the well-named bitters: boozy infusions of herbs and botanicals.
Even the sweet stuff isn't safe: garden'y things have steadily been creeping into desserts, from parsnips, eggplant, asparagus, winter squash and celery to booze and sultry smoke flavoring, beets & sweet corn.
In premium ice cream, no less.
When Häagen-Dazs Japan introduced Sweet Purple Potato ice cream, it became one of the most successful new products in their 30-year history. Carrots and tomatoes were then selected as the key ingredients for their in-Japan-only line Spoon Vege (pronounced “veggie”). “The sweetness of carrots and tomatoes balances well with the tartness of orange and cherry,” explains Bela Schweiger, vice president of Häagen-Dazs Japan. “The two vegetables were picked and paired with the fruits to achieve the best marriage in taste.” Häagen-Dazs Japan is planning to build-out their Spoon Vege offerings to possibly include local goodies grown in the mountain of Japan, as well as spinach, beets and broccoli.
The veggie angle adds a timely twist to ice cream - consistently atop the list of dessert trends - begging the question: why? Or maybe: why now? "With his Tomate Confit Farcie Aux Douze, did Alain Passard pave the way for veggie-based dessert acceptance?" ponders CulinaryTrends.net. "Or was it the more recent creations of Sam Mason for WD-50? Maybe the dining public is just finally ready to throw in the napkin on Lava Cake."
Part is probably due to the current craze to cut out sugar. Part is the growing influence of Sriracha-sauce-on-everything Millennials - the group born between 1980 and 2000 - who are on a "quest" for taste adventures. "They are more apt to explore new flavor combinations, including ethnic fusions as well as sweet with heat," explains Food Business News about this booming foodie demographic that views desserts not just as a culinary experience, but a social one. To be explored. "Millennials were born into a world of infinite choice and have come to expect the unexpected in foods and beverages, including desserts."
And part is the influence of the celeb factor, in particular, Anthony Bourdain who combines eXXXtreme food porn with travel porn for an irresistible dish. But even if it's not on the menu to chow down on (rubbery) bull testicles with Piers Morgan, munch a crunchy boiled egg containing a tiny duck fetus, Balut, in Vietnam, or dine on dicey bushmeat in Liberia like Tony - it is do'able to send your palate on an adventure by making a rez at a fabulous new boite such as Momofuku Ko in NYC (chef David Chang's newest flavor lab and launch pad). Or perhaps checking out Ananda in Maryland for their feted food fit for Indian royalty. Or maybe heading to Portlandia to Ataula for a goatcheese-stuffed chorizo lollipop.
Whatever the reason for the new culinary- and dessert-adventurousness, it's definitely high time we bid adieu to the likes of lava cake and replaced it with ice cream deliciousness like cardamom and tahini (Portland's Salt & Straw), sweetcorn & black raspberries (Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams) or Coolhaus's Prada Strawberry Jalapeño Gelato With Mint. Inspired by Prada's Fall 2015 runway, Ms. Miuccia's “sweet but violent” pastels were translated into ice cream by punching up a classic Strawberries & Cream combo with fiery pepper followed by a cool surprise - literally. "The dash of mint at the end cools down the palate to bring the classic but edgy flavor to a balanced finish...just like the suits."