After evening dinner service, chefs Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza would often find themselves with leftover quinoa at their award-winning State Bird Provisions in San Francisco.
They ended up frying it and mixing it with nuts, seeds and spices to transform it into a crunchy topping for other dishes. In the process, they created something so delicious that they and their staff could not resist snacking on it whenever possible.
Now, you can try it for yourself. Their whimsically named State Bird Seed just launched last month. It’s now available in resealable 3.5-ounce bags for $4.99 each through Good Eggs, and at stores such as Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, SHED in Healdsburg, and Bi-Rite in San Francisco.
The organic puffed red quinoa blends come in three flavors: Sea Salt, Furikake, and Almond Rosemary. I had a chance to sample them recently.
Think of State Bird Seed as savory granola. It’s a mix of crunchy little pieces like that, but with a lighter, airier texture. Besides the quinoa, each blend includes organic pumpkin seeds, organic white sesame seeds, organic sunflower seeds, and organic apple cider.
The Sea Salt one showcases the nutty grain flavor the most. It’s great eaten straight out of hand or would be delicious atop yogurt or oatmeal.
The Furikake has a blast of umami from the addition of organic toasted seaweed flakes. With its Asian profile, it would work well sprinkled on steamed spinach, tossed greens, simple fish dishes or cold noodle salads.
The Almond Rosemary has the strongest flavor, with the herb coming through predominantly. I can imagine it being tossed into a bowl of popcorn, garnishing roasted carrots, sprinkled over sweet potato puree or even atop Thanksgiving stuffing.
State Bird Seed is a collaboration between Krasinski and Brioza, and Render, a new Healdsburg food company that collaborates with chefs to bring their delicious ideas to a store shelf near you.
If you’re wondering how they’re so adept at that, just consider that the company co-founders include Dan Felder, former R&D chef of Momofuku; and Kyle Connaughton, chef-owner of the acclaimed SingleThread in Healdsburg and former R&D chef for the Fat Duck in the United Kingdom.
State Bird Seed is Render’s first project. The company is already hard at work on its next one: a line of beverages with Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of San Francisco’s Duna (formerly Bar Tartine).