You absolutely have to try this. Fennel pollen is quickly gaining a reputation as a magic spice that enhances the flavour of everything from pears to pork. It is a yellow powder hand-picked from the flowers of the fennel plant, and the labour involved in harvesting it makes it quite expensive. But it really is worth it.
Fennel pollen has been harvested and used in Italy for some time but is almost unknown in North America. Until recently, you couldn’t bring it in from Europe at all due to import laws regarding food items. Mario Batali supposedly loved it so much after tasting it in Italy that he smuggled in into the States every chance he got. It is frequently featured on the menus of his restaurants. Today, fennel pollen is grown in California, which is where we get ours from. And its reputation is growing: it’s set to make a major splash with cooks everywhere.
The flavour is hard to pinpoint. It’s not quite the same as fennel seeds or anise, but it’s more intense than either. Its biggest asset is its versatility. It goes great on grilled meats or fish, it’s lovely with vegetables, it’s incredible in desserts. It can be cooked in a pasta sauce, or sprinkled on top at the end. It blends well with all kinds of other spices and flavours. See for yourself; you won’t regret it.