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Spring Menu Novelties

Brussels sprouts on pizza … Soft-shell crab on an Old Bay waffle

I admit to food biases. Some foods I have no interest in wasting calories on: sweet potatoes (even the trendy fried version), liver and onions (I get nauseous thinking about it) and fois gras (there’s that liver again). So when I was invited to try two new dishes at California Pizza Kitchen at the Westfield Mall, you’ve gotta give me credit for venturing outside of my comfort zone for two of my least favorite foods: Brussels sprouts and beets.
    Seasonal and versatile, both have risen in popularity with the farm to table movement. California Pizza Kitchen tempted me with a salad of roasted beets with whipped goat cheese. Purple foods seem somewhat unnatural, but I’m a fan of goat cheese, so I dove in. It’s a pretty plate with watercress, roasted pistachios and shaved celery piled on top of a goat cheese mouse. Mixed together, it had tons of flavor and texture.
    As for the Brussels sprouts, I know I’m not alone in my objection to the smell of these mini cabbages. They are blanketed on a thin-crust pizza with bacon, caramelized onions and goat cheese. It’s pretty and pretty smelly, but surprisingly flavorful. I asked chef Chuck Greenlee how the sprouts are prepared and was surprised to hear they aren’t precooked, only peeled, tossed in olive oil and laid on top in a thick layer. It’s not a pizza for everyone, but my 12-year-old son ate two pieces and wanted more. Go figure!
    I give California Pizza Kitchen credit for a menu that’s fresh and seasonal. It’s refreshing that a corporate chain restaurant takes the time and initiative to augment their menu with temporary items. If you want to end your meal on a sweet note, I highly recommend the salted caramel pudding, a perfect balance of sweet and salt. And happily stink-free!

    Miss Shirley’s at Park Place in Annapolis, is updating its breakfast and lunch menus with spring drinks and dishes. Beginning this week, you’ll find seasonal additions like Born on the Bay-O, a cornmeal-fried soft-shell crab on an Old Bay waffle with Cheddar cheese, bacon, roasted corn, red and yellow tomatoes and green tomato jam … Crabby Deviled Egg Salad, topped with Maryland jumbo lump crab, red and yellow tomatoes and Bibb lettuce on pumpernickel … and Savannah Salad with blackened shrimp, blackened chicken, mixed greens and iceberg lettuce, diced red onion, sliced peaches, roasted corn, grape tomatoes, shredded cheddar, fried okra with peach jalapeno vinaigrette. Wash it all down with new alcoholic concoctions, including Blueberry Mojito Crush and Orangesicle Cream Crush.

Got a tasty tip for next week’s Dish? Email Lisa Knoll at [email protected]