As a self-appointed Relish Queen I was surprised last week when I read Steven Kurutz's New York Times piece on the demise of relish. In fact, the article began more as obituary than revival. While Kurutz pledged his undying loyalty to the dying condiment, he admitted that relish never really was the darling of the dog topper game. Now, relish is becoming ever more impossible to find whether scarfing down wieners at the ballgame or ordering no-nonsense burgers at your favorite joint. Thankfully, Kurutz discovered that artisan picklers are focusing on high-end uniquely flavored relish. (Yes! My ridiculous fantasies about artisan pickles are unfolding into reality!)
Another great food news bit last week was the StarTribune's excerpt from Kim Ode's Rhubarb Renaissance. I'd already planned on featuring rhubarb in my Called to the Table column this week, and was curious to see how the StarTrib would cover our favorite spring pleasure. Ode's rhubarb awakening was more like a sour baptism, while mine was a warm and gentle afternoon on the front stoop happily dipping stems into my popcorn bowl filled with sugar. What other food encounters are as memorable as the first kiss of that beautiful sharp stalk?
Modern rhubarb encounters are as likely to be savory as they are to be sweetened. Try tarting up your table with rhubarb relish and ketchup.