I'm always up for trying new, exotic ingredients. Some--like the smoked Himalayan black salt--really didn't reach its potential. Maybe it was my fault for thinking that Himalayan black salt had potential! One of the newish designer ingredients that I do love is fennel pollen. Fennel pollen is harvested from, you guessed it, fennel plants. Like fennel it has a licorice flavor, however I find that the licorice flavor of the pollen is more subtle and much sweeter.
I began to experiment with fennel pollen last Thanksgiving when I decided to make a traditional Thanksgiving rabbit. I was going to use a Culinary Institute of America recipe for rabbit that called for fennel pollen. Although I never have actually made that recipe (due to popular, yet misguided, demand I ended up making a turkey), I have had fun experimenting with the pollen. It has such a lovely flavor that it is delicious sprinkled over roast vegetables or on pasta. It's also a really good base for dry rubs for meats, poultry and fish. The company I purchased the fennel pollen from, Pollen Ranch, has many good rubs that are pre-mixed. It's a really easy dinner to rub one of the spice blends on chicken or fish or my favorite, lamb chops, and throw them on the grill!