Food Trends: Savory Caramel Dishes At Dinner

Salt and sugar get ready to play

It's not exactly news to extol the merits of the marriage of savory and sweet.

From spinach-feta cheesecake to honey-wine vinegar, we've been convinced that picking just one side on the flavor spectrum is clearly a miss.

More to this point, thanks to a handful of innovative chefs, we're seeing the savory uses for caramel in a new, delicious light.

Uchiko Restaurant in Austin sweetens Kurobata pork belly with an espresso fish caramel, black lime and coriander in a bacon tataki dish. And though Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta keeps caramel in the dessert camp, its version is robust, with bone marrow and apple elements.

In Los Angeles, the Spice Table makes seafood a little sweeter with a dose of Vietnamese caramel sauce in its catfish claypot.

Our favorite taste-bending application of caramel shows up at Blackbird in Chicago, where a garbanzo-bean soup is gussied up with a topping of egg-yolk caramel, Aleppo pepper and falafel. The caramel (click here to see the recipe) is delicious and versatile; like liquefied flan, it could be used in sweet applications such as banana pudding or savory, as an accompaniment to a nutty cheese.

Move over umami, there's a new top taste in town.