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Kale, the new superfood


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#1 Rich

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:18 PM

Decided not to take a trip to Corona and visit Park Side, ended up having dinner at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge. Now Tanoreen is an interesting place of Mediterranean descent, which uses 117 pounds of parsley per day. They have one employee who does nothing but chop that green leaf all day - but I digress.

 

The menu tends toward middle-eastern and has received excellent reviews over the years and we have frequented on several occasions and always enjoyed their cooking.

 

So last night we sat down, ordered a bottle of South African Cab and began perusing the menu (they always have a "today's specials" insert). Then it happened. There it was. In bold type. Staring at me defiantly. Leering at me. Tempting me. Soliciting me.

 

What was it, you might ask? The special of the day - KALE SALAD!!!!

 

Kale salad. In Tanoreen, which has no room for another green item in its kitchen because of the invasive parsley. How did it get there? Where did it come from? Why now? Why ever? Kale in Tanoreen? Say it ain't say, Joe. Please tell me this is time warp stuff.

 

Kale Salad in Tanoreen, no it's not possible I thought. So summoning the waitress, I was nervous. Were my eyes finally failing after all these decades? Was my gray matter turning green because of the all-consuming parsley? These were the thoughts dancing in my head.

 

My voice slightly cracking, my lips pursed, I asked the question. Dear waitress, is this really kale salad on the menu at Tanoreen? She looked me directly in my swollen eyes and said, "Yes, of course, we put in on the menu weeks ago because one of our chefs discovered it in a Manhattan restaurant. It's been one of our biggest sellers and it's always a special."

 

Thanking her, the sweatiness began to subside, my heart rate was returning to normal and my eyes regained their natural luster. 

 

Scrambling to regain my composure and re-organizing my thoughts, it struck me - Kale Salad in Tanoreen (I know, sounds like a title to a Sondheim musical)? Yes, the reality was humbling. There are no more safe havens. Kale is now king. The king is dead, long live the king. Goodbye Butternut Squash Soup, you're reign was noble and just.

 

Now don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy Kale. But Kale is something you bring home, you cook, you imbibe raw, you coddle it, nurture it. It never belonged on a restaurant menu - never. But alas sweet Esmeralda, now it does. It belongs on every restaurant's menu. Never mind, you came from humble origins and married well. Never mind you were once used to fertilize the earth where cabbage grew. Never mind you were once forced to submit documention that you were indeed a native vegetable. Those days are over. Royalty is yours.

 

But before you sit on your laurels, remember uneasy lies the crown.... I will challenge your reign. This is your fair warning. From this moment on until midnight, December 31, 2013, I will not patronize any restaurant that has the word "Kale" on the menu. And don't think this is a fight of one person. I have friends. I have relatives. I have an Italian background with associates of an Italian background.

 

You have now been publicly served. The challenge is yours to take. But I must remind you, I successfully boycotted any restaurant without a female chef for a year. And what happened? Every restaurant now has a female chef (except Carbone).

 

I will not fail, Kale. Your fate is sealed. Enjoy your fame and reign. It will be over soon. That I promise.

 

And for those who are not convinced of how dangerous Kale is, I leave you with this - Kale spelled backwards is Elak. Just look it up. 



#2 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:21 PM

Are we banning all forms of Kale? What is the Berlin Wall of Brassicas beyond which you shall not pass?

 

Savoy Cabbage? Napa Cabbage? Lacinato Kale? Kohlrabi?


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#3 Wilfrid

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:26 PM

I've always felt sorry for the way Tanoreen thinks it has to present itself as "Middle Eastern/Mediterranean."

 

The family is Palestinian.


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#4 Stone

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:28 PM

The fellows next to me at the bar ordered the kale salad and it looked really good.  When it arrived I realized quickly that I've had enough kale salad.  It's become the seared ahi tuna of the 21st century.  I like kale salad, but I don't care whether they put in goat cheese, parmesan, crushed macadamias, hazelnuts or pine nuts -- at this point it's all the same.  I realized a while ago that as much as I like broiled salmon, I'd had it enough that I didn't need to order it again.  Kale salad is now on that list.  As is beet salad.  

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#5 Orik

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:43 PM

Kale is a newcomer to the Israeli market (2012?) and probably not used at all by Palestinians given the scale of production (a couple of boutique farms who sell everything in the expensive Tel-Aviv farmers market), but it fits right in with the many green leaves and herbs that form the basis for Palestinian country cooking (chard, various wild bushes like the local Mallow, Bugloss, wild arugula, wild spinach, wild sorrel, etc.). The extensive use of parsely, and parsley alone, often with megatons of lemon salt, is a degenerate form and not one that should be celebrated.

 

Rich might be further dismayed to hear that Kale is currently featured on some menu in that worst of European cities - Paris.  :lol:


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#6 Lex

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:48 PM

There is a place in Long Branch that Deb and I have been going to for years for Sunday lunch.  Very good burgers, paninis, and other sandwichy things.  All are served with excellent fries and a sprig of kale on the side.  I avoided the kale for a long time but then one day I took a forkful.  How can something be tasteless and offensive at the same time?  Awful stuff.

 

I resumed not eating it on the Sundays that followed and then I had a thought.  If the kale always returns to the kitchen uneaten what if they recycle it?  Maybe kale has a half life like plutonium and it stays green and springy for 10,000 years.  I began to hatch a plan to put a subtle mark on the kale and see if it returns to me the following week.  So far the sprig has defied my attempts to mark it but I have time and determination on my side.


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#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:52 PM

I cook kale at home all the time. Kale is a fine green.

I couldn't imagine what would lead anyone to order a kale salad in a restaurant.
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#8 Stone

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:55 PM

I was speaking with a first-generation Irishman recently.  He said his mother grew up on a farm in Ireland.  She said, "Kale?  On the farm, we would only feed kale to some of the animals."

 

Oh -- get ready for chia seeds everyone.  Has there been a chia pudding dessert on any of these fancy tasting menus yet?


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#9 Rich

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:56 PM

Rich might be further dismayed to hear that Kale is currently featured on some menu in that worst of European cities - Paris.  :lol:

Yes, I could see Kale being used in Paris. It would fit. Wasn't Louie XVI king for them at one point as well?



#10 Rich

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:57 PM

I cook kale at home all the time. Kale is a fine green.

I couldn't imagine what would lead anyone to order a kale salad in a restaurant.

Yes, exactly - Kale should stay at home in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.



#11 SethG

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:05 PM

When I was a teenager I worked at a Marriott hotel in the restaurant.  We used kale then, in the late 1980's.....

 

as decoration to fill the spaces between the earthenware crocks in the salad bar.

 

Remember the classic Cheers episode, with Woody landing a role in an ad for a drink called "Veggie Boy?"  

 

"You can REALLY taste the kale!"


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#12 Daisy

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:07 PM

I was speaking with a first-generation Irishman recently.  He said his mother grew up on a farm in Ireland.  She said, "Kale?  On the farm, we would only feed kale to some of the animals."
 
Oh -- get ready for chia seeds everyone.  Has there been a chia pudding dessert on any of these fancy tasting menus yet?
I recently had lemon macarons with chia. Not bad but the chia added a texture similar to poppyseed but without any discernable flavor (unlike poppy seed).
 
I love kale cooked. The salads no matter how long they are marinated as proponents of such salads say they need to be in order to attain tenderness taste to me like  a mouthful of chlorophyll. And Stone, your Irish friend notwithstanding most Irish eat a fair amount of kale but they tend to mash it up with other stuff like potatoes (champ) or potatoes and cabbage (bubble and squeak).
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#13 Stone

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:12 PM

You must hang out with a different class of Irish.


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#14 splinky

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:32 PM

I was speaking with a first-generation Irishman recently.  He said his mother grew up on a farm in Ireland.  She said, "Kale?  On the farm, we would only feed kale to some of the animals."

 

Oh -- get ready for chia seeds everyone.  Has there been a chia pudding dessert on any of these fancy tasting menus yet?

i heard tell of chia seed tapioca but i don't recall where at


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#15 Suzanne F

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 05:21 PM

Thank you, Rich, for bringing up this issue. There are several posters here whose judgement on food I almost always trust; they give fair and balanced accounts of what they eat and where they eat it. So why "almost"? Because they have an unfathomable love for kale salad.

 

I have eaten kale salad once. In Berkeley, CA, at a truly wonderful butcher shop that gave it to my chefs' tour group along with the best porchetta I have ever had. This kale salad was made with very, very young lacinato kale that had been massaged with the lemon (possibly Meyer?) and oil dressing, and topped with toasted bread crumbs from the bakery next door and shavings of cheese probably from a purveyor at Oxbow Market down the street. It was simple, it was excellent, and I was happy to eat it.

 

But kale salad made with the curly stuff? The stuff that, as SethG points out, used to be only for decorating hotel pans (and front lawns, and massive planters)? Cooked, that's fine. As salad? FEH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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