Over winter break, I had three friends text me and ask for restaurant recommendations in New York City, where I don’t even live. I am a huge nerd who flips through cookbooks while I eat breakfast and I check out menus of restaurants online just for fun. I love going out to eat: breakfast, lunch or dinner; at a fancy restaurant, at a dive.
Food is even one of my favorite things to talk about with friends, which they kindly put up with. Every few years, a new batch of food trends gains popularity, taking over restaurants and social media. While most of these things are appetizing, visually and by taste, some are not worth it.
My parents always tell me about how when their parents would cook Brussels sprouts, it would fill the house with a horrible odor that would stick around for days. In the past, this cruciferous cabbage relative has been something on the dinner table that kids will not touch. This is because Brussels sprouts were often overcooked, turning them gray with an off-putting smell and taste. Now, chefs and home cooks have developed ways of preparing this vegetable to make it much more appetizing and even delicious.
When done right, Brussels sprouts are worth the hype: They are extremely versatile. The most flavorful ways of cooking the infamous vegetable are roasting, which allows for a little caramelization to create crispier and sweeter sprouts.
The best flavors to add to enhance the taste of Brussels sprouts are cheese, balsamic vinegar, mustard, bacon or pancetta, and apples or pears. Raw Brussels sprouts can even be shaved or chopped very finely and mixed with dressing to create a crunchy salad. Either on their own, or in salads or pastas, Brussels sprouts are worth conquering childhood fears.
Next up is everyone’s favorite condiment: Sriracha. Most commonly associated with the green top and rooster logo of Huy Fong foods, this hot chili sauce is available almost everywhere. Sriracha is my condiment of choice because there are so many ways to use it. My favorite food to put Sriracha on is basic fried eggs, but restaurants all over the world are incorporating this hot sauce into their more intricate dishes. It can be mixed with avocado, mayo or hummus to make a dip. It can be added to the butter you put on your corn on the cob or added to roasted nuts. You can even make cocktails like a Bloody Mary or a margarita with Sriracha. Over break, while having access to a kitchen, I made roasted carrots with a Sriracha maple sauce that gave them just enough spice.
Almost all of my Instagram feed is made up of pictures from chefs, restaurants, bloggers, magazines or just regular people like myself who are obsessed with food, and one of the most common items I see featured is avocado toast. It is simple enough for anyone to make at home, but with a few upgrades, restaurants are incorporating it into their brunch and lunch menus. It is often made with whole-grain or sourdough toast and can be garnished with many toppings such as sea salt, red pepper flakes, smoked salmon, feta or Sriracha. Avocado toast makes an easy, healthy and filling breakfast that tastes much better than, but is almost as easy as, a bowl of cereal or frozen waffle.
Kale, a green that is heftier and sturdier than its peers like spinach or romaine, is somewhat controversial. If I’m being honest, plain kale has nothing appetizing about it: It’s difficult to chew and basically tastes like a leaf, but when prepared well, kale can be very appetizing. The best way to make kale tastier? Massage it.
While kale is a health-food staple, it also adds a nice touch to more indulgent recipes. You can throw kale into mac ‘n’ cheese, top pizza with it and even add it to mashed potatoes for some color. Kale must be good if Beyoncé is willing to wear it on a sweatshirt.