10 eccentrically innovative foods
Maple syrup flavor beads? Spreadable salami? Yes, please.
1. Flavor Beads
Christine Le Tennier has spent 25 years examining the potential for turning sea plants into desirable food. She experimented with them on a molecular level to make Flavor Beads, tiny jellied balls that resemble caviar. Except Flavor Beads are no ordinary fish jelly; these come in any number of flavors designed to enhance any cuisine. Flavors include wine vinegar & shallots, truffle, lemon & pepper, and maple syrup.
This summer, The Specialty Food Association awarded top honors to this pretty purple ravioli made by La Pasta. It features the rather unique combination of beets, butternut squash, goat cheese, chives, and sea salt.
Before Gatorade, there was Switchel. For hundreds of years, it was made for farm workers who labored in the sun, its tangy sweetness reputed to quench thirst more effectively than even water. Now Switchel — which boasts "the natural sweetness of maple syrup with the tanginess of organic apple cider vinegar, with added hints of lemon, ginger, and molasses" — is back on the market, ready to make your harvest season a little less dehydrated.
Blueberries eaten with maple isn't that far of a stretch; there can't be many of us who haven't had that combination in pancake form. But the addition of vinegar, thanks to Wozz Kitchen Creations, well, that's a new idea. And it's one that apparently makes the dressing a compliment to almost any kind of food you can think of, sweet or sour. The creators offer some recipe ideas for that and many of their other cutting-edge culinary experiments here.
Speaking of vinegar, did you know it was for drinking? And not just as a punishment for mouthing off to your mom? Pok Pok, a Portland Thai restaurant, has been serving flavor-infused Som Drinking Vinegars since 2005. They work either as mixers for other drinks or as an adventurous alternative to soda pop. Most flavors are sweet, like tamarind and honey, but it was the pretty pink Thai basil vinegar that took home the 2014 Specialty Food Association Sofi award for best vinegar.
And here we thought Nutella was the holy apex of all snack spreads. It turns out there might be a competitor in the form of Dave's Gourmet Oatmeal Cookie Butter. It's one of three cookie butters Dave's is planning on producing, and can be used to top toast, apple slices, waffles, and just about anything that can hold a nice smear of yum (fingers included). The only problem is waiting for the award-winning Cookie Butter to become available online, which Dave's hopes to accomplish by the end of the year.
I was raised in a religion that has practiced vegetarianism for 150 years. It… was rough going. Even in the 1990s, we relied on lentil loafs and gooey balls of sodium and gluten pulled out of a can for our proteins. But bless the 21st century, and the beautiful options it brings for meatless meals. Fishless Tuna is an entirely new one to me, made from textured soy flour, and naturally low in fat and calories.
8. Sunny Seeds
Made with no artificial ingredients, Sunflower Food Company's new snack pack, All Natural Sunny Seeds, is a bestseller. The chocolate covered sunflower seeds claim no artificial ingredients, and even utilize natural dyes (beets and cabbage!) to create their rainbows of cheery chocolate color.
Rock Garden Herbs has specialized in providing unique herbs and lettuces since 1977, making them one of the oldest herb distribution farms in the country. They recently went beyond specialty herbs, and created one of the first entirely new vegetables the world has seen in a long time: BrusselKale. They used "old fashioned methods," according to Bill Squire, retail development director. "A Brussels sprout plant was cross pollinated with a kale plant," he explained. "Old-fashioned hybridization." From the website: "BrusselKale has a flavor that's milder than either Brussels sprouts or kale and contains double the amount of vitamin B6 and vitamin C of Brussels sprouts."
10. Spreadable salami
Meat paste isn't usually at the top of any gourmand's wish list, unless they're astronauts, or fond of duck liver. But who doesn't like a good salami? Boccalone, purveyor of "Tasty Salted Pig Parts," has developed an enticing spreadable meat for the common man, Nduja (say "en-doo-ya"). It's cured like hard salami, but stays soft inside its casing. This makes it perhaps the most versatile salami ever, perfect for everything from toast to pasta sauce.