Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Aug. 29
Adiós Micro, Hello Norse Foraging
The fascinating scientific techniques of microgastronomy (as at Ferran Adria's now-closed restaurant near Barcelona) are suddenly passé. The latest hot hot restaurants are in (or near) cold, cold Stockholm, Copenhagen, and even Finland.
They're the ultimate in locovore -- the chefs typically insist on using very few products from outside a 50-mile radius of their restaurant. They go out and forage every day for the bounty of the forests and the marshes (lichens, nettles, greens, etc.). They serve seafood in empty clam shells, they use local juniper for smoking, and they flavor their food with things such as hay and grass and pine needles, not to mention reindeer blood and moose roast.
And from October to April, they serve that bounty smoked, cured, or pickled. There's nothing to forage during a snowy Scandinavian winter, so they've become experts in preserving local bounty when it's still bountiful.
It's hard to see how this might affect local cooking. Top S.F. chefs are already cooking locovore, and they don't have to stop and pickle everything for winter. But then, the micro trend had only a minor effect here, too. Oh, by the way, some of those new Scandinavian chefs do use foams.