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In this series, Mintel analysts share their recent food adventures – highlighting the exciting, the delicious, the intriguing and the terrible food and drink they’ve tried lately. This month has been all about unexpected discoveries – whether it’s taste, texture or colours!

The colors of vegan Flower Burger (Milan, Italy)

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Global Food Analyst

We’ve seen a lot of activity around plant-based options in foodservice, from Impossible Burger at Burger King to Beyond Meat starring in one of Del Taco’s most successful new menu options of all time. What I’ve seen less of is restaurants that use “real” vegetables in their whole(ish) forms. This is something unique at Flower Burger, a plant-based fast casual chain with locations across Italy. What makes it truly unique is that fruits and veggies are incorporated across their creations, with cherry and beetroot extract being used to create a vibrant pink bun in the Cherry Bomb and spirulina lending a bright blue hue to the limited edition Ocean Burger. The result is an Instagram- and planet-friendly burger that is as tasty as it is fun and engaging. I’m thinking about finding ways to make my own veggie patties now since I liked these so much! Plus, the bright colored buns would definitely be fun to experiment with.

Credit: @melanietastestheworld

The sweetness of caramelized sweetbreads (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Jill Failla, US Foodservice Analyst

This was my first time trying sweetbreads, the thymus glands from a cow’s neck, and I’m SO glad I did it in carnivorous Argentina! I visited the country this spring for a birthday trip with my husband. At a fantastic parilla (steakhouse) in Buenos Aires called La Carniceria, the caramelized organ meat was crispy and crunchy because it was fried, and oh so sweet with sugar and honey. Paired with black garlic and a thick slice of homemade cornbread, this indulgent dish was one of the best things I ate in 2019 so far. I would definitely eat sweetbreads again, but they’d have to be from a reputable restaurant and previously taste-tested by a restaurant critic. I’m not quite ready to jump on the organ meat bandwagon yet!

Credit: @jilleatschicago

The ethical taste of food waste (London, UK)

Trish Caddy, Senior Foodservice Analyst

I ate a starter dish called ‘Old Allium Broth, Yesterday’s Bread, Aged Fat and Wild Herbs’, a collaboration dish between the independent restaurant Silver Lining in London’s Hackney and organisations FoodChain and Refettorio Felix. As part of its new FeastFairly initiative in May 2019, Foodchain is encouraging chefs to put edible food waste on the menu, with proceeds going to Refettorio Felix, which provides meals for vulnerable Londoners. For every onion soup sold, which costs £8 on the menu, Silver Lining will donate £3 to Refettorio Felix. Instead of chucking away stale bread, Silver Lining’s Head Chef Josh Dallaway doused it with a clear broth made of old onions, drizzled with aged animal fat and garnished with wild herbs and wild garlic flowers, foraged in his neighbourhood. What really sets this food waste dish apart is its presentation and the seasonality of the foraged garnishes. Making a food waste dish visually appealing with fresh, seasonal edible flowers and herbs tackles the “yuck factor” that some people may have about food made with “scraps”.

Credit: @dishheads

The unexpected contrasts of shaved beets (Chicago, US)

Dasha Shor, Global Food Analyst

Elske is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, offering American food with Danish influences. I recently tried their smoked fjord trout with beets, ‘golden’ honey and oxalis flower. In this dish, thin, wide sheets of pickled yellow beets are blanketed over smoked fjord trout. Golden honey and oxalis flower elevate the humble beet, and the subtly sweet beet brine perfectly complements the smokiness of the fish. Toasted buckwheat adds unexpected crunch, with the interesting texture playing to contrast the softness of the fish. Overall, a really well thought out dish. I may have to try recreating this at home though, as the restaurant menu changes often.

Credit: @elskerestaurant