I didn´t get the call before dawn this morning, nor was anyone reading it on the Food Network at daybreak. You won´t see it announced on the nightly news, and Katie Couric will probably not be posting it next to her cook´s stove. However, the top ten flavor-pairing list of 2007, compiled by spice king, McCormick, is now public.
Released every January the list supposedly ranks up there with the Oscars, Golden Globe, and People´s Choice Awards according McCormick’s spice experts. They of course may be biased.
This year the list spans sweet, hot, bitter, tangy and sour. The annual look at the tastes that may define dishes tthis year has been release annually since 2000.
This year the winners are"?¦
"?¢ Clove and Green Apple
"?¢ Thyme and Tangerine
"?¢ Tellicherry Black Pepper and Berry
"?¢ Sea Salt and Smoked Tea
"?¢ Lavender and Honey
"?¢ Crystallized Ginger and Salted Pistachio
"?¢ Cumin and Apricot
"?¢ Toasted Mustard and Fennel Seeds
"?¢ Wasabi and Maple
"?¢ Caramelized Garlic and Riesling Vinegar
“In creating this report, we examined two overarching trends influencing flavor,” said Laurie Harrsen, Director of Consumer Communications at McCormick. “The first is the ever-expanding breadth of choices, specifically within individual ingredients. Even staples like salt are now available in a diverse palette of flavor, color and texture. Also, global cuisines, particularly those of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, continue to drive our exploration of new foods and flavors.”
Harrsen is right, salt is hot. But flavor infused pepper is rapidly raising its stature in the popularity ranking. The salt counter at Dean and Deluca sems to expand with every visit and the introduction of Sea Salt and Smoked Tea has been beeping on the radar for months now. Soon to be hotter are numerous varieties of pepper.
On her last visit, before jetting of to France, before returning to Arizona, before going to Costa Rica to lead a kitchen crew in a jungle top seaside spa, Chef Hallie Harron brought an enormous jar of French lavender infused fresh pepper that sits stove-side in Sonoma. Her own mixture should top the top-ten flavor list for 2007. Mixing flavors is a Harron trademark, as it is with so many chefs.
One of the joys of cooking is to be able to experiment with the union of two flavors creating a sensation.
Now that the list is out, it may be time to post it in the kitchen. Let your chefs take it in, study and sample the flavors.
Encourage each of them to experiment with flavors of their own. A signature mixture boosts a restaurant´s notoriety and can put your flavor on the map. Who knows, next year you could make list.