As the world of food continues to rapidly evolve before our eyes, chefs, bartenders, and industry professionals everywhere are doing whatever it takes to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not. New menus, ideas and creations are debuted everyday, just pick up your local newspaper and you will be sure to see some new hybrid that’s sweeping across the nation (Can you say “Cronut” and “Ramenburger”?). As tough as it is to keep up, it is even harder for a trend to catch and hopefully stick. Here are some of the trends that are set to emerge this year.
Pommes Frites, Empire Biscuit, The Nugget Spot, S’mac, Rice to Riches…the list goes on and on. Some of these establishments are far from new, but their brilliant idea of focusing in on one thing and one thing only is quickly catching on. Restaurants, food trucks, and street vendors everywhere are realizing that there is nothing wrong with only having one item, many ways. The idea of doing one thing perfectly, rather than 20 things decently will be a focal point this year, and we’re not complaining! Coconut coated Nuggets with Mango Sweet Chili Sauce — Photo courtesy of The Nugget Spot
Match Made in Heaven
The coming year is sure to be filled with culinary fusions of all types. On the large scale, you can anticipate new and unique cuisine mash-ups, everything from Scandinavian and Japanese to Spanish and Mexican. On the smaller scale, expect to have the lines blurred between what is savory and what is sweet. Unique moles and the introduction of chocolate into entrees is said to be big, while savory French toasts and veggie yogurts are also all over the radar. Blue Hill's Savory Yogurt Line — Photo courtesy of Blue Hill
Expect to see some of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Referred to by some as “haute comfort foods”, chefs are taking healthy ingredients and transforming them into new and unique dishes. Cauliflower is certainly a front-runner this year, standing in for pizza crust, mashed potatoes, and pita just to name a few. Another favorite is zucchini that has been julienned with a peeler to take the place of carbohydrate filled pasta. Last but not least, the magical one ingredient ice cream. Simply puree frozen banana segments until they begin to cream together and it will not take long to forget Ben or Jerry. The healthiest comfort food yet! A pizza baked on a pureed cauliflower crust — Photo courtesy of Paulimus J
People have been aware for quite some time how important it is to eat sustainably, but some things are easier said than done. 2014 looks to be the year to finally bring these foods to the table and to make a change. Different seafood species such as barramundi, arctic char, and swordfish, will all steal the spotlight due to their responsible farming practices and population numbers. Not a seafood person? Don’t worry! Not only will you be seeing locally sourced meat, but you will be seeing meat from a variety of different animals. Say goodbye to just chicken and beef. Fresh Fish at the Market — Photo courtesy of Justin Ornellas
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Need I say more? Yes, they have been around since you were a child, but have you ever taken the time to think of just how special this frozen treat is? Not just ice cream, not just cookies, but both, at the same time, perfectly married together. Quite possibly one of the first ‘hybrids’ of its time, this warm weather snack is ready for its close-up. You choose the cookies, and you choose the ice cream. From here on out, you never have to have the same ice cream sandwich twice again. Chocolate Cookie with Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich — Photo courtesy of Coolhaus
All too often is the emphasis of a meal put on the protein or main entrée. But, what is a burger without ketchup or mustard? The unspoken heroes of food are the condiments. The hot sauce you add to your eggs without thinking twice, or the roasted garlic mayo you must have to dip your fries in, that’s where the flavors at. This year expect a surge of new concoctions ranging from everything to salsa flights, to homemade mustards and mayo’s. Chefs are looking towards the smaller things to make a big impact, and they’re ready to get a little funky. Salsa Flight for Dipping — Photo courtesy of Empellon Taqueria
Simple & Artisanal Cocktails
Turns out, people love a fancy cocktail, whether to celebrate a milestone or simply cap off a long day. But gone may be the days of long and unpronounceable cocktail lists. This year, expect to see minimalist drinks in comparison to years past, but with no compromise on flavor. Simplicity is key, allowing local liquors to shine through and be the star player.
Restaurants like The Dutch and Fatty Crab have taken to barrel aging whole cocktails rather than just a single liquor, all that’s missing is the garnish. And do not let the term barrel-aged fool you into thinking it’s a whiskey drink; tequilas and gins are here to make their mark and benefit from the rich barrel flavor we all love so much.
If you prefer you drink on the rocks, get ready to be wowed. The ice cube may steal the show this year, debuting new shapes and infused varieties with herbs and tinctures, making sure your drink never gets “watered down” again. A Barrel Aged Cocktail — Photo courtesy of Van Gachnang
“If they have been around for so long, then why have I never heard of them”, you ask? Many have just recently made their way to U.S. soil, but have quickly burst onto the scene touting wonderful health benefits and unique flavor profiles. Forbidden rice, commonly referred to as black rice, is definitely the new brown, and white for that matter. Expect to see it lending some color to your normally mute rice dishes.
Another grain to keep an eye out for is Freekeh. Wheat, harvested when young and green is then roasted, lending a grassy flavor to grain salads, soups, meatballs, or whatever else you may make with it. Be it kamut or amaranth, forbidden rice, or freekeh, these underused grains are here to stay and help put the flavor back in healthy dishes. A diverse collection of rice — Photo courtesy of International Rice Research Institute
Healthy Children's Food
So long to the days of kiddos only having 3 menu options. No matter how different you are from the parent next to you, you can likely agree that healthy and fresh foods for your tot are essential. Restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon and putting a stop to the French fries and breaded chicken nuggets of the past.
If you have ever tried to feed a child something green, then you know it is not always the easiest task. This year looks to bring the healthy kids meal to the table. Creative ways to sneak in veggies, baking rather than frying, grilled chicken tenders-- and fruit, lots of fruit. It is all about options for your bundle of joy, and when the kids are happy, the parents are happy. A well rounded lunch for your little one — Photo courtesy of Catherine McCord of Weelicious
The gluten-free market is saturated with products and companies jumping at the opportunity to cash in on what’s unfortunately thought of as a “fad diet”. The overnight popularity of eliminating wheat, barley, rye, and some oats, from ones diet caused skepticism from many on whether it was truly necessary or not. However, for those living with Celiac disease and severe gluten intolerances, they have no choice.
The diet has been around for years, but reports show that 2014 is the year that gluten-free options will be unlimited and abundant. Realizing just how many customers are affected by Celiac disease has been reason enough for restaurants drastic menu transformations. Quinoa pastas, buckwheat groat oatmeal, vegetable lasagnas, flourless cakes, and many others are set to appear and dominate, proving that gluten free packs just as much flavor as any gluten filled counterpart. Gluten Free Lasagna, packed full of veggies — Photo courtesy of Pinch Of Yum