In fine dining, presentation is a key component of the overall experience. Given that the average cost per person in the United States is just over $28.50 in fine dining, we want a sensational package when we go out to eat. As delicious as the food may taste, we also want to see it well plated — whether it’s elegant, creative, or colorful. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can elevate a simple side dish or a salad, such as microgreens, which are used heavily in the fine dining industry. Microgreens have been in use for 20-30 years, but have made a recent “comeback” in terms of popularity and use in recent years. Additionally, sugar flowers, herb crystals and flower crystals, and edible flowers are other components coming into play to add a layer of art, flavor, and polish to fine dining dishes and desserts.
The Art of Fine Dining
Fine dining (for most) is reserved for those special occasions — birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates — and it’s responsible for contributing around 10% of the total restaurant sales in the United States. In the last year, fine-dining visits went up by about 3%, which meant that there were thousands of people (possibly millions) who were eating at fine dining establishments.
Fine dining seeks to present a higher caliber of food, service, creativity, and style to eating out. Ingredients are often fresher — see organic micro greens for example — and higher quality. Food takes a bit longer to prepare and menus are carefully curated — many restaurants are starting to embrace seasonal dining, using only ingredients that are in season.
What Should I Know About Microgreens?
If you’re wondering what microgreens even are, they’re the small and tender shoots of salad vegetables, like kale, arugula, mustard greens, Swiss chard, etc., that are harvested as soon as the first leaves develop. Organic micro greens are grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, or dyes, and are harvested or processed without irradiation or genetic engineering. They take anywhere from ten to 14 days to harvest (from first seeding to harvesting), so stock can be replenished quickly. This is good, as their shelf life isn’t too long and they’re best when served fresh.
Microgreens need to be stored at about four degrees Celsius (or 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for best results and are frequently chosen to add color to a dish or a unique flavor accent. Interestingly enough, when it comes to food presentation, children would rather have six food colors and seven different types of food components on their plates, while adults would rather have three of each.
Microgreens are evaluated on a scale from one to five, with one being poor and five being excellent. They’re marketable when they’re at three and up (at least in terms of visual quality); a rating of any less than three marks them as an unmarketable product.
Where Can I Find Organic Micro Greens if I Want to Incorporate Them At Home?
If you’ve been inspired by your latest visit to a fine dining establishment and want to try to incorporate microgreens on your own plate, there are a few places to start looking. Your local farmer’s markets are an excellent place to find organic micro greens in a large variety and you may be able to find them year round.
Health food stores and even some supermarkets may also carry a few varieties of microgreens and you can experiment to see which ones you favor in taste and appearance, as each will taste a bit different. Some food delivery services also carry microgreens and you can also check with online retailers that ship food.
Be adventurous with your plate and try garnishes of microgreens, edible flowers, and other specialty produce. Take cues from what you’re eating when you go out to a fine dining establishment and incorporate your own ideas. You’ll be turning out beautiful meals in no time!