Food marketers going for the gold


Wednesday, August 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


By Teresa Gubbins / The Dallas Morning News


Gold is the color of Olympic medals. Wedding rings. Beets.

Beets?

Yes, gold beets. And gold kiwi. And gold tequila.

In fashion, gold always seems to come into vogue when times are flush. Now, as we become more open to novel food colors and presentation, gold has become a culinary trend, too.

Color is the No. 1 trend in food, says Tristan Millar, director of marketing at Frieda's Inc., the gourmet produce supplier.

"People shop with their eyes," she says. "There isn't that much difference in taste between a regular beet and a golden beet. But presentation is key, whether it be in a restaurant or if you're making it for friends at home. You can impress them by making something where they say, 'I've never seen that before.' And all you've done is introduce new colors. That's really the base behind the trend."

Gold communicates something special, says Karin Gardner, spokeswoman for the fruit industry of New Zealand, where growers are producing beautiful gold kiwi and a pear variety called Taylor's gold, available at some Albertsons, Tom Thumb and Whole Foods stores.

"Gold adds a certain aura of indulgence," Ms. Gardner says. "There are hundreds of varieties being grown in New Zealand, and one of the [important] attributes is the color yellow because they thought that would be appealing. It looks pretty on desserts and salads."

What we call "gold" can range from the shocking orange-yellow of a bell pepper to the mellow gold of a mango. It can be the subtle translucency of an herbal juice drink or the shimmering brilliance of edible gold leaf, traced onto a decadent chocolate dessert.

Gold has already had that Midas touch for successes such as the Del Monte Gold pineapple, whose gorgeous color seems to emanate sweetness; and the Yukon gold potato, whose golden hue hints at its buttery flavor. Gold is also the color for all kinds of beverages and liqueurs: from trendy aged gold tequilas to Goldschlager, the clear cinnamon schnapps with 24K gold flakes floating in the bottle.

Chow Thai Pacific Rim, the Asian restaurant in Plano, serves a lively, golden fresh-mango margarita, while Jamba Juice makes Mango Go-Go smoothies with chunks of mango, passionfruit juice and pineapple sherbet.

And, in some restaurants, you can even consume gold - in gold-leaf form, that is. It's often found gilding desserts or even entrees, such as a pasta with foie gras that's dusted with 24K gold leaf at Salve!, the Italian restaurant on McKinney.

"It says something about the richness of the food and the quality we're going for," says Salve! executive sous chef Daniel Regan. "Going with foie gras, which is one of the most expensive foods you can have, and gold is expensive - everybody knows gold represents quality."

GOLD RUSH

Here are more opportunities for you to add sparkle to your diet:

•Golden raspberries. They peak in early summer.

•Yellow tomatoes and smaller yellow pear tomatoes.

•Gold tequila.

•Saffron. The world's most expensive spice adds a golden tint to everything it touches.

•Gold-medal wines from Australia.

•Snyder's of Hanover cheese mini pretzels - like Goldfish but in a pretzel shape.

•Edible gold decorations for baking cakes and cookies, including: Drageez, round balls in medium "bb" size and tiny pin-head size; Sparkling Sugar "star gold" sprinkles; Royal Gold edible luster; and Celebration edible liquid color.

Pacific Rim Mango Margarita

2 ounces Jose Cuervo tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 fresh pitted mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2 ounces sweet and sour mix
1 cup chopped ice

Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Serve in chilled glass. Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: Cal 594 (1% fat) Fat 1 g (no sat) Fiber 4 g No chol Sodium 45 mg Carbs 105 g Calcium 26 mg