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US: Hibiscus blossoms on menus

Edible flowers, long used to add a pop of color to menu items, are increasingly making their way not on top of, but in to a variety of food and beverages.

Among the trending flowers is hibiscus, beloved for its bright blossoms, which chefs are using in various forms — from dried and steeped to cooked down into syrup to infused in spirits — as a way to add a fresh floral flavor and aroma to desserts, entrées and cocktails.

"Floral flavors play really nicely with ice cream,” said Tyler Malek, co-founder and head ice cream maker of Salt & Straw in Portland, Ore.

Also a fan of leveraging the unique flavor of hibiscus in desserts is Sal Alvarez, executive chef of modern Izakaya and sushi restaurant Ozumo Santana Row in San Jose, Calif. For his hibiscus-shiso panna cotta, Alvarez steeps the vibrant flower in the panna cotta base, resulting in a bright pink dessert. He serves it with a raspberry sauce and a shiso leaf steeped in raspberry sauce.

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