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5) Ancient Grains

Farro grains were hip last year. This oval-shaped grain comes from ancient agricultural lineage–way before the concept of heirloom existed. Even though farro still remains popular, quinoa appears to be everywhere this year. Quinoa, which has a fabled history in South American cultures, is known for its healthy benefits. But quinoa is not actually a grain; it’s really the seed of a goosefoot plant. This nutty-tasting seed comes in various colors, including pink, white, and brown. Dahlia Lounge in Seattle currently serves a toasted quinoa salad with its Dungeness crab cakes. Check it out.

6) Sticky Delish

Gooey honeycomb has been beloved in Europe for centuries. The French like to side this hexagonal mass of wax cells (used by busy bees to store pollen and honey) with stinky cheeses and fresh fruit. Honeycomb is starting to become hot this year, but it could be all over menus in 2010. Top American chefs are doing more with this sticky cross-section of honey than simply placing it next to cheese, though. Chef Charlie Trotter, of the super-popular Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago, likes to serve honeycomb with fragrant artichokes and pine nuts. Who’s next? Step on up.

7) Young, Tender Garlic

Garlic scapes and green garlic have made a strong showing on menus this spring, especially in the Northwest and Northeast. Garlic scapes are the curly flower stalks of young garlic that are in season during the spring and early summer. Garlic scapes have long been enjoyed in Europe–the Basques especially have a penchant for using them in sautéed dishes. These whimsical looking stalks have a much milder flavor than fiery mature garlic and are extremely tender. Chef Dante Boccuzzi, of Aureole in New York City, artfully composes a salad of garlic scapes and wild mushrooms with preserved lemon vinaigrette. Green garlic is simply the young bulb of hard-neck garlic varieties. This milder garlic, which looks like a large green onion, has been showing up on menus and at farmers’ markets in recent times.

8) Mary Had a Little Grass-fed Lamb

Like the grass-fed beef movement, the grass-fed lamb industry is currently thriving. A large share of the mass produced domestic sheep, most of which comes from Colorado, starts out eating grass on the pasture, before being moved into large feedlots to be plumped for the slaughterhouse. Feedlot sheep are commonly given antibiotics and sometimes growth hormones. The antithesis of these kinds of ranching practices is organic, grass-fed lamb, cut from sheep that spend their entire lives on the pasture eating grass, and antibiotics and growth hormones are a big no-no. Small producers of organic, grass-fed lamb are starting to pop up everywhere in the U.S. Food Network celebrity chef Cat Cora favors Lava Lake Lamb, which comes from near Sun Valley, Idaho.

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