Enough episodes of Chopped or Iron Chef watched and you'll start to get a sense that presentation is half of the challenge to creating a good dish. You don't need TV to tell you though. A visit to an often recommended local restaurant and, Michelin star or not, if the food is well prepared you'll see it before you taste it.

Since the first sense to taste your food is actually your sight, here a few fun garnishing how-tos to try at home. Consider yourself an artist in the kitchen, and with simple ingredients and a paring knife who knows what you'll come up with?  

Caramel Lace (from Brave Tart)

Caramel Lace

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls (from Nature Insider)

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls

Radish Flowers (from scissors.paper.wok)

Radish Flowers

Carrot Flowers (from bento zen)

Carrot Flowers

Eggplant Starburst Garnish

First, you will start with a sharp chopping knife and one eggplant. Begin by removing both the stem and bottom ends of the eggplant.

Next, you will thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise into strips about 1/8 of an inch thick. (If you have a mandolin, you may want to use this tool for evenly thin slices)

Next, take one 1/4 inch strip. Laying it on a chopping board, begin to slice crosswise cuts into the eggplant just nearly end to end. The cuts will be about 1/8 of an inch apart.

Now, roll up the eggplant strip.

Finally, secure the roll with a toothpick at the base end of the rolled-up strip (opposite end to the loosely "frayed" cuts). Sitting the strip on its base, you will now have an eggplant starburst.

Tomato Rose Garnish, in three simple steps

First start with a fresh, washed tomato and a paring knife.

Step two, carefully peel the skin from the tomato in one coiling strip. The strip should be about 1-inch wide.

Finally, tightly roll-up the strip and set it on a plate. The peel should stay rolled into shape. Otherwise, feel free to secure the bottom of what is now a "tomato rose" with a toothpick.

Apple Starfish Garnish

First, start with a fresh, washed apple (the variety and color can be of your choosing, any will do). Chop-off the top of the apple, about 1/4 of the length of the apple from the stem.

Next, remove the stem and cut 5 oval-shaped impressions into the apple's top (these impressions could be of any size depending on your preference, note a few variances in the example).

Next, begin to shape each "leg" of the starfish by cutting away a triangular shape between each impression. You'll notice that cutting each triangle at a rounded angle changes the aesthetic of the garnish.

And there you have the step-by-step rundown of three wow-your-friends garnishes.


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