Food trends really have a way of making the rounds.
Be it an actual ingredient, a style of preparation, or even a plating technique, once you see something that catches your eye at a restaurant, chances are it’ll start popping up everywhere.
And nowhere is this phenomenon more noticeable than in a place like Aspen, where fine-dining establishments per capita verge on the absurd, and where it’s also quite feasible to set foot in nearly every one of them in a month or so.
For a while in Aspen, you couldn’t pick up a menu without seeing the chef’s take on a kale salad. Then upscale comfort food was all the rage, with hush puppies and mac n’ cheeses having their moment. Avocados and bacon have both had their time to shine, and so have Asian twists on everything from hot dogs to tacos.
But food trends sweep the rest at nearly as fast a speed as it can up here at 8,000 feet. And Epicurious, the online bastion for hipster foodies, even comes out with an annual food trend list dictating what’s in and what’s out. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps. But they certainly seem to hit the nail on the head year after year.
This year’s predictions include everything from tech-savvy restaurants using Instagram and iPad menus, cauliflower taking over as the new kale, hand-crafted mezcals replacing white corn liquor moonshine, and Brazilian food pushing Southern food to the back burner (the Olympics are less than a year and a half away!) And, for the record, these are all trends I can get behind.
But one that I’ve noticed all on my own is Brussels sprouts. And it’s been one of those great trends that perfectly coincides with an unlikely infatuation. I wasn’t like most kids. Most kids hate most vegetables; I hated them all. In retrospect, this is probably due to my inner-city upbringing that saw most vegetables coming out of a can or the freezer section. And, apparently, my inner food snob was already trying to burst through. But in any case, Brussels sprouts — which I’ve seen shaved in salad, sautéed simply with a little salt and pepper, and even done up in Asian and Italian styles — have been making their way onto my plate at least a couple of times a week.
And one of the best - combining my love of Brussels sprouts with pomegranates comes from Matt O’Neill over at Ajax Tavern. He doesn’t have it in his recipe, but I cooked up a few strips of thick cut bacon, sliced it and threw it in. It’s easy to make, and has salty, sweet, bitter, nutty, and creamy components that makes for the perfect side. Or meal, on some nights.
The Perfect Brussels Sprouts
20 Brussels sprouts
2 oz pomegranate molasses
1 oz lemon juice
2 oz chestnuts
2 T butter
Take Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise. Blanch them in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes or until tender. Then shock in ice water to cool. In a large sauté pan, heat up some olive oil until the smoke point. Remove from heat and add Brussels. Add butter to even out browning color to Brussels. Once golden brown remove from pan and add pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice and crushed chestnuts to finish on top.
If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, you can buy pomegranate juice from the store and reduce it in a pan on a low flame until it reaches a syrupy consistency.