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Mint refreshes restaurants’ holiday menus

Mint, cool and refreshing, might seem like a flavor that would be appropriate for the summer. But as restaurants prepare for the December holidays, many are turning to mint as a perennial winter favorite.

The offerings include a Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake from Chick-fil-A, which the quick-service chain is selling for the third year in a row, and the return of Dunkin’ Donuts’ Peppermint Mocha Coffee and Latte. Yogurtland, a 160-unit frozen-yogurt chain based in Anaheim, Calif., brought back its Snowflake Mint flavor for November.

In addition, IHOP debuted White Chocolate Chip Mint Pancakes as part of its seasonal holiday offerings, and McDonald’s introduced for the first time limited-time seasonal drinks to its McCafé line: Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

Watch a commercial for the new McCafé beverages; story continues below

Beverages now represent more than 20 percent of sales at U.S. McDonald’s units, “so it’s becoming increasingly important to add new and unique beverage options to the McDonald’s menu,” said Marta Fearon, McCafé marketing director for McDonald’s USA, in a release.

“With the introduction of the decadent Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, we are pleased to provide customers with a flavorful taste experience that is perfect for the holiday season,” she added.

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Independent restaurants also are serving minty desserts this season.

Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen in San Francisco recently added chocolate profiteroles served with peppermint mousse and hot fudge fondue to its menu.

De Santos in New York City is drizzling peppermint syrup on mixed berries, which are then covered with mascarpone cheese and browned in the oven.

Dennis Marron, the new chef at Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, D.C., is serving a chocolate-mint torte with blood orange crème fraîche ice cream.

• Salt & Straw, an ice cream shop in Portland, Ore., has made mint not just seasonal, but local, by using Oregon mint oil sold at the local farmers market in its Peppermint Cocoa ice cream, which also is made from locally processed chocolate and crushed hand-made peppermint candies.

Mint is appearing on the savory side of menus, too, including the following dishes:

• Chicken posole with tomatillos, mint and serrano chiles, La Sandia Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, Santa Monica, Calif.

• Roasted sardines with root vegetable giardiniera, breadcrumbs, hot peppers and mint, BiNA Osteria, Boston

• Grilled lamb sirloin with artichokes, green beans, mint and Ligurian olives, Tulio, Seattle

• Slow-braised lamb ragù with taggiasche black olives, pecorino and mint, Culina, Los Angeles

• Thai shrimp and chorizo lettuce wrap tossed with sweet chile, mint, cilantro and green onion, served with mint and tamarind chutneys,s Zengo, Denver

Technically, mint isn’t a flavor sensation at all, but a feeling, as our sense of touch detects mint. We feel it in our mouths, similarly to how we feel the spiciness of hot peppers. Why that sensation appeals as temperatures drop is unclear.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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