At last night's Taste of the Nation, one of my favorite samples was from Opus Restaurant. The summer menu sneak peek was of a Parmesan-stuffed pasta dish topped with sweet corn foam and a kernel of popcorn.
Odd, yes, but not surprising. The movie theater classic has been popping up on menus at well-regarded restaurants around town for a while now. Popcorn's first appeareance was on Interstate Kitchen & Bar's happy-hour menu, cooked in bacon grease and served with spice-dusted peanuts and bacon bits. Recently, the ingredient has appeared at Satchel's on 6th—where it's tossed with fresh rosemary, Parmesan, and a dash of truffle oil and plated with Marcona almonds; and the just-opened Linger, where popcorn, dusted with whatever the kitchen is in the mood for (think tumeric-dill or curry), gives diners something to snack on as they peruse the menu. Encore on Colfax even created "quacker jacks"—made with duck fat, house-made white-miso caramel, hazelnuts, and sea salt—for last month's Big Eat.