Cross-cultural cuisine takes a hot new turn as gourmet lifestyle stores and food markets give Sarasotans the opportunity to indulge in the latest international trend: a fusion of hot and spicy foods from around the world. Top chefs are mixing diverse flavors and techniques from Mexico, Southern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and more—all within a single dish or meal. And global events are spawning new interest in Filipino and Syrian food.
In North Africa it’s a tagine; in Cyprus, they say tavvas. Either way, yours will taste better if seasoned with Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice with a curry flavor ($7.95), and cooked in an authentic hand-painted Tunisian clay tagine, pictured above ($59). williams-sonoma.com
Arguably the hottest cookbook of 2014, Jerusalem ($35) was written by two chefs from opposite sides (the Arab east and Jewish west) of the divided city. Recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi reflect influences from Jerusalem’s Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. Books-A-Million, 6591 S. Tamiami Trail, (941) 922-7804.
Spice markets across America are reporting demand for zahtar, a zesty blend of thyme, sesame seed, sumac and sea salt favored in North Africa and the Middle East. Use it on flatbreads or pitas, or add to hummus, tabouli, or salads. The Spice & Tea Exchange, 345 St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-1411.
A growing trend with big-city chefs, Filipino food is a rich blend of Malaysian, Polynesian, Hispanic and Chinese cuisines. In Sarasota, you can experiment with Sinigang or Ginisang Monggo soup mixes ($1.09; $1.19), banana ketchup ($1.09), lumpia ($3.79) and more at Vung Tau Oriental Market, 1333 N. Washington Blvd., (941) 366-2552.
Veggies star on contemporary white-glazed porcelain Great White rectangular serving pieces (asparagus platter, $24; medium platter, $35), a beautiful counterpoint to asparagus and artichokes, two Mediterranean treats with roots in ancient Egypt. potterybarn.com
Grill your American steaks and home-grown veggies on a hand-cut slab of salt mined in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan ($34.95) for wonderful flavor. This one can be also be used in the oven, or chilled to serve sushi, appetizers and more. Sur La Table, 22 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, (941) 365-0380.
Hybrid heaven is coming to a supermarket near you with all-natural fusion flavor snacks like falafel tortilla chips and the new kimchi tortilla crackers ($3.89) from Food Should Taste Good, now in test market at select supermarkets or foodshouldtastegood.com
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This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Sarasota Magazine. Like what you read? Click here to subscribe. >>