’Tis the season for fava beans, micro greens, fiddlehead ferns and rhubarb, and this spring many chefs say they plan to let the produce speak for itself.
Simplicity will be key in the coming months. Additionally, a shorter winter truffle season, meaning more expensive truffles and fewer of them, might mean an abundance of mushroom dishes to satisfy consumer cravings.
High beef prices and a bit of pork fatigue will give duck and lamb a chance to shine. And the flavors of the Middle East, Korea and Southeast Asia will likely gain more prominence, some chefs say. Other trend watchers note that diners’ cravings for bold, pronounced flavors will continue.
Kevin Johnson,and owner of The Grocery in Charleston, S.C., will introduce a Bowl of Spring to his menu this season — a crunchy salad of local, raw vegetables that could include beets, radishes, spring onion, carrots, arugula, asparagus, or anything else that sprouts in the Low Country in the coming months.
He also will offer a salad of blanched and chilled local asparagus topped with pecorino sabayon, shaved radish and spring onion, housemade pickle beets and herb vinaigrette.
Steven Redzikowski from OAK at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colo., said he sees the small farmers in his area getting more organized and capable of providing more produce for chefs. Those local items taste so good that he said it is important not to overwhelm them with other flavors.
Vicky Moore of The Lazy Goat in Greenville, S.C., plans to use fresh green garbanzo beans in a dish she calls falafel waffles.
Danny Bortnick, chef of Firefly in Washington, D.C., also is excited about green garbanzo beans, which he plans to cook, purée and serve with pan-roasted Alaska halibut, fingerling potatoes, turnips and either fiddlehead ferns or chanterelle mushrooms. He said green garbanzos also are great quickly fried and salted as a bar snack.
Bortnick also predicts an abundance of smoked fish this spring and preserved lemon, which is a favorite flavoring of North Africa.