Herbs in a New Form: Crystals

I just got in from a schlep to Zabar’s to find everyone all aTwitter and emailing to marvel that the mysterious @RuthBourdain, the satirist who mashes up Tweets from two of the least similar food celebrities, has finally pulled off the cyber-mask. (Longtime readers here may recognize the name.) But I was planning to tout these revelations, and I’m sticking to my story. Of all the scores of products I tasted at the Fancy Food Show last week, these crystals were the most surprising. You had to try ’em. And if the experience was not quite on the level of Dom Pérignon’s when grape bubbles first hit his palate, it was pretty great. You get the flavor first, then the bright texture, and you’re left wanting more. I asked a rep at the booth how they’re made and he said: “Probably lots of sugar.” But he added that they’re very popular with bakers looking for a garnish that’s also an unusual flavor propellant. I could imagine them dusted over shortbread, for instance, either savory or sweet, and definitely over frosting (the mint on brownies?) And in the new heyday of the cocktail, they’re made for mixology. Besides the flavors here (and, yes, I know roses are not herbs), I tasted fennel crystals, and the rep said cilantro are in development. I couldn’t find the line on the exhibitor’s website and got no response to an email (the phone is dead to me), so I was glad to see they’re available from a purveyor that deals in so-called molecular gastronomy. Which may explain how they were developed. Pop Rocks are so last century.

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