Incredible Breakfast Trends

California Sunrise

Interest in better-for-you (BFY) breakfasts has steadily risen in recent years. According to Datassential, a full 50 percent of Americans are now interested in BFY breakfasts, with Hispanics coming in significantly higher at 65 percent. What is known as California Cuisine personifies this trend.

Creation of the term, California Cuisine, came about in the 1970s and is credited to Alice Waters, of the iconic Chez Panisse restaurant. The chef distilled cuisines of the significant long-time resident immigrant populations, year-round outdoor lifestyles and specialized agrarian industries into what has become a guiding principle for many of the state’s foodservice operations.

California Cuisine is fusion cuisine, marrying the best of foods and techniques, which keeps menus dynamic. Taking advantage of the freshest local ingredients leads restaurants to change menus seasonally. These concepts help create endlessly interesting and varied menus, keeping things fresh on many levels.

Skillful use of herbs and spices with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood, typify the style. This fits in well with the light protein and vegetable-heavy Asian cuisines, as well as with the deeply entrenched authentic Hispanic fare that began with Spanish colonialism.

So how does this translate into today’s California breakfast?

The California culinary community leads the rest of the country in creative and flavorful BFY dishes:

  • Smoked Salmon Pizza: with crème fraîche & scrambled eggs (Rose’s Café, San Francisco)
  • Shirred Egg: with Bloomsdale spinach, chorizo, medjool dates and chermoula, a Moroccan marinade (Farmshop, Santa Monica)
  • Shrimp & Goat Cheese Omelette: with caramelized onions, topped with tomato-bacon relish (Brenda’s, San Francisco)
  • Grilled Asparagus: with polenta, root vegetables and soft egg (A.O.C. Wine Bar, L.A.)
  • Avignon: scrambled eggs with eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and Provençal herbs (Zazie, San Francisco)

Non-ethnic breakfast sandwiches are not as common here as in other regions. Here a breakfast bánh mì (a bánh mì op la is stuffed with an omelet) or morning burrito fill that spot. Eggs tend to be baked, scrambled, poached or coddled as opposed to fried. Fresh veggies are used in abundance, as in the Harvest Time Scramble with eggplant, roma tomato, fennel, kalamata olive, pesto, grilled asparagus and pine nuts at Mymy in San Francisco, or the Chicken Sausage Scramble at Berkeley’s Venus, with roasted red bells, caramelized onions, fresh basil and mozzarella.

California Cuisine was ahead of its time by the rest of the country’s standards. Supporters took an early interest in organic farming and vegetarianism, and were locavores long before the word was coined. Today, these trends are increasing on menus nationwide:

  • Spring Vegetable Frittata: made with oyster mushrooms, baby zucchini, Genovese pesto, ricotta, crispy leeks (Bar Toma, Chicago)
  • Spandex: with poached egg, miso quinoa, farm greens, avocado and pickled carrot (Egg Shop, NYC)
  • Wood Oven Baked Frittata: of new potatoes, spring onion, greens, herb aioli and Parmesan (Westward, Seattle)
  • California Dreaming: with two poached eggs, smoked wild sockeye salmon, asparagus and sautéed spinach (Eggspectations, 5-unit Eastern seaboard chain)

Additionally, California Cuisine has spawned “Fresh Mex” or “Baja-style” Mexican food. Emphasizing fresh ingredients, this trend produced the El Pollo Loco, Baja Fresh, Chipotle and Qdoba chains, which are now popular throughout the country.

One hundred years ago farmers ate the fresh foods they produced, primarily during the season in which they produced them, and California has rediscovered this healthy approach. It seems the rest of us are beginning to learn delicious possibilities from both of them.


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