Now that you have planted your herb garden in a variety of pots and plots throughout and around your restaurant it´s time to begin adding a few items to tantalize and excite your customers.
The creativity of your kitchen, whether on par with Thomas Keller, or Sandra Lee, can always "bring it up a notch" in the dishes designed for your menu. Spring is the season when beets, in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors start to appear in your produce departments. Local farmers begin piling these root vegetables high in about two weeks at area markets. One of the advantages of the beet is that few people cook them at home, thinking that they still taste like the sliced variety that comes in a can or the jar. However, a beet, a well prepared beet, offers more flavor than anyone would imagine. Packed with sugar, antioxidants, vitamin A and fiber, beets are sweeter than carrots or corn and intrigue patrons.
Try them roasted, slightly drizzled with olive oil on an appetizer platter of vegetables and cheeses. They are a great menu item and can also be made into a tremendously popular relish that works with cold poached Salmon and other summer fish plates.
My dear friend, Hallie Harron, just published her latest book, Tomatoes & Mozzarella: 101 Ways to Enjoy This Tantalizing Twosome All Year Long. Now that the Basil and other herbs in your garden are being weeded and fed, get to the bookstore nearest you and buy three copies of this "must have in every kitchen" book. Give one to your chef, keep one for yourself, and leave one at the bar for browsing. With 101 recipes ahead you can never let a tomato turn bad again. And, there isn´t a person alive that doesn´t love the combination.
Once you´ve read the book, meet with your chef and brainstorm about promoting the summer Tomato section of your menu. They are a great bottom line item and with the variety of combinations in the book you can please palates across the community for the next three months without a problem. With Harron´s book, the future for Tomatoes and Mozzarella looks bright. At a drizzle of McEvoy Ranch Olive Oil to one of her recipes and you may have them coming back for lunch and dinner. With the farmers markets offering a wide variety of the fruit, I mean vegetable, creativity abounds.
So as the summer season unofficially begins this weekend, think of adding a bit of freshness to your menu. Create some items that you have never served before. Pick up Harron´s newest creation, along with a few other culinary guides and have some fun with freshness. It will dress up your menu, liven up your kitchen, give your customers something to look forward to and inject fresh feelings into the staff.