Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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"In our activities around the world, we realized how f lexible Greek food products are in making friends with different cuisines," adds Athanasiou. Learning More About Greek Wine One such outgoing product is Greek wine, with exports rising 28.4 percent in just eight years. Wine sales in the U.S. hit more than $13 million in 2016, and are tracking to continue to climb. In 2017, the average export price was up by almost 9 percent, notes Wines of Greece's Sofia Perpera. Walking into any wine-focused restaurant or bar, guests will likely find at least one Greek wine, even the varieties with difficult-to-pronounce names such as Assyrtiko and Xinomavro. In California, Georgos Wines imports grapes from Greece, but blends and bottles everything in Sonoma, introducing locals and tourists alike to the Greek wine tradition from their tasting room on Sonoma Plaza. The road to market penetration has not been without its bumps. While some consumers are more adventurous and willing to try exotic dishes or combinations of ingredients, that's not neces- sarily the average American diner, who may find the learning curve to the diversity of Greek food challenging. "The key is exposure—if people can taste the food, they can understand it," says Loi. "For example, we use dill heavily and com- bine tomato with cinnamon. Those are f lavor profiles unfamiliar to consumers—until they become familiar. Then they love it." "Once they love it," she adds, "they will adopt it as part of their routine."—S.C. EXPLORING THE FLAVORS OF THE MIDDLE EAST A mericans are falling in love with Middle Eastern food all over again. But this time, it's about much more than only pita and falafel. There's a new wave of Middle Eastern cuisine sweeping the culinary world, bringing a tapestry of fresh ingredients, vibrant spices, and iconic dishes to restaurant kitchens. The trend is poised for further growth with its irresistible offering of small plates, bold f lavors, healthful ingredients, vegetable-forward options, and an overall high-low appeal that fits well into today's dining landscape. global cuisine Along with an upscale take on familiar favorites and street food, chefs are offering a deeper dive into the regions and tradi- tions that give the cuisines of this part of the world its distinctive character. It's shaping up to be what some people believe is the most interesting food being served on American tables today, with sumac- marinated chicken, duck shawarma, spicy shakshuka-baked eggs, fried caulif lower, harissa-honey sauces, and tahini-spiked dressings increasingly making appearances on menus. "People have been eating hummus for a very long time," says award-winning chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav. The chef has been blazing a trail for Israeli cuisine since 2008, when he and busi- ness partner Steve Cook first opened their doors in Philadelphia. To their surprise, people were hungry for a taste of what's become the chef 's signature modern Israeli cuisine. "There's nothing modern about what we're doing," he says. "It's basically as rustic as you can get." True, though the chef 's innova- tive take applies refined techniques and a sophisticated palate to the age-old fare. At Zahav, diners find wood-fired laffa f latbread, small plates in the "mezze" style, skewered meats cooked on a charcoal grill, and house-made hummus with upscale garnishes. Solomonov's hummus recipe spawned a spinoff restaurant named Dizengoff in 2014, modeled for Israeli's hummus stalls, with a location now in New York City's Chelsea Market. Israel's rise in the food world is perhaps due to its inherent appeal as a complex melting pot cuisine that's a multi-ethnic mash- up of Middle Eastern and international inf luences. "Americans are really attracted to the story of it," says Solomonov. It's a style that's cropping up on menus across the country, at notable restaurants like 130 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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