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The Crumb for April 14th, 2017

Lori Bailey / April 14th 2017

It's Easter Weekend! Help yourself to a peep. Or, if Passover’s more your style,the coolest matzo ever conceived.


Happy Friday! Time to kick back, relax, and settle into this past week's food news.


Have your coffee and drink it, too

Patrons of the premium, expertly-crafted pourover might cringe at the idea of drinking any sort of brown liquid at the $1 price point. But what if high-quality, well-sourced coffee and accessible prices converged in a single cup? That’s what the visionaries behind Locol, the “revolutionary fast food chain” bringing wholesome food to underserved neighborhoods, wanted to capture with their coffee program. $1 gets you a coffee, a good coffee. (Cream and sugar will set you back an extra $.50.) Their spinoff brand, Yes Plz, has grand plans of opening up windows and stand-alone shops to further the democratization of coffee. But, for the time being, you’ll have to trek to Oakland or LA to find it in one of the existing stores—or, if you’re antsy, sign up for updates on their mail-order subscription.

 

Secrets secrets are so fun

Could there be a business advantage to keeping secrets? Maybe if the secrets are tasty, and if restaurants let consumers catch a whiff. “Secret menus” can constitute anything from In-N-Out’s thoroughly-covered range of burger customizations to Chick-fil-A’s kitchen-hacked chicken quesadilla. The food may or may not be provably more delicious, but perhaps there’s something to be said for adding a little mystery to the experience. Another bonus: play like Starbucks, and secret menus can double as a testing ground for future menu items. Just food for thought if you’re rolling into Chipotle later for a “quesarito.” (You’re welcome.)

 

Big chef, bigger dreams

You may have seen the enigmatic chef Massimo Bottura on Season 1 of Chef’s Table, or noted the rise of Osteria Francescana through the 50 Best Restaurants ranks right up to the tippy top. But his goals don’t end at making groundbreaking Italian food, or even expanding his empire. No, he and wife Lara Gilmore are tackling issues of hunger and food wasteFood for Soul describes itself as “not a charity project, but a cultural one,” a multifaceted initiative to reclaim potentially wasted food and recreate it into nourishing, soul-satisfying meals shared at a table with people in need, local volunteers, and chefs from around the world. Bottura and Gilmore plan to expand the project to the United States and are scoping out possible locations. If they do eventually manage to take over the world, one thing’s for sure—we'll all eat well.

 

Hooked on whole grains

#TBT 2007 when nobody could pronounce “quinoa.” But look at it now—firmly established across restaurant menus, and well-loved for its earthy flavor, healthy vibes, and quick-cooking convenience. The rise of quinoa has paved the way for other grains once relegated to the bulk bins at the hippie natural foods store: think farro, barley, amaranth, spelt. This trend isn’t just for ethnic restaurants, either, where a grain salad offering is a natural move; if a fried catfish place can make kamut happen, anyone can. In a nutshell? Things are bound to get freekeh.

 

Learn this term: “New Romanticism”

Photo feed full of foraged flora, textural ingredients, perfectly imperfect arrangements of rutabaga and mustard greens on a bed of satsuma purée? Welcome to the “New Romanticism,” a term describing the layered, natural aesthetic spreading across plates the world over. Influenced strongly by the New Nordic style, perhaps, but growing into a movement transcending regional cultures and ingredients, this new culinary ethos seems to embody the larger, overarching trend towards authenticity, quality, and craft. Which begs the question: does a whole-beef hot dog, casually but elegantly dressed in ketchup and mustard, layered between halves of an artisanal bun, embody New Romanticism? (Probably not, but hey, you do you.)


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