Food Trend 2005: Raising the Bar on Rhubarb

June 03, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
(June, 2005) Pity the poor rhubarb. While high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and low in calories, it has long been regarded merely as a filler for strawberry pie or—doused in sugar—the brassy tart flavor in a humble crumble.

That’s changing this summer, as rhubarb makes unexpected appearances in such trendy specialty foods as barbeque sauce, salsa, glaze, yogurt and flavored water. According to food industry journal Natural Foods Merchandiser, “Rumors abound that gourmet food manufacturers are planning rhubarb-flavored treats.”

Consider a rhubarb reduction infused with onion, raisins, sugar and spices. Organic herb grower and sauce marker Bear Pond Farm calls it Rhubarbeque™ Sauce Grilling Sauce & Marinade—and introduces the recipe at Whole Foods Markets and other gourmet retailers this month. Thirst after decidedly original tang? Spring water bottler Belvoir blends rhubarb, ginger and still water to create a soft drink variety called Rhubarb & Ginger Crush.

So good-bye humble pie. Payard Bistro, a highly regarded Manhattan eatery and patisserie, put a fragile Napoleon of rhubarb with fromage blanc (creamy white cheese), sorbet and candied lavender on its menu this spring.

For centuries, rhubarb stalks and roots were used to concoct tonics for relieving digestive distress; its astringency was regarded as cleansing. Today, a new generation is poised to pucker up with panache.