Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 and 2011 food trends

Pie Is the New Cupcake: Pie has been sitting back, gaining momentum for a while, waiting for cupcakes to get over themselves. We saw pie all over menus this year, well before Thanksgivingtime. Sweet and savory; minis and normal-sized; graham cracker, pretzel, butter and leaf lard crusts; in a milkshake or on a stick. At Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Texas, they have an afternoon pie happy hour where you can score a slice and a drink for $3. Hill Country Chicken, which opened this year in Manhattan, does it too. Over in Brooklyn, the pie shop Four and Twenty Blackbirds makes a double-crusted strawberry balsamic pie and grapefruit custard ones. Whether they're age-old recipes or newfangled ones, pie is always a happy-maker. Step off, cupcakes.

New Food TV Shows: Food Network launched a second cable channel in May called Cooking Channel that aimed to be the newer, edgier baby. The programs targeted a hipper crowd interested in the grassroots of food culture. Paula Deen, for one, does not have a time slot on the channel. But three young guys from Canada who build taco vending machines do (they're on a show called Food Jammers). We also tuned in to watch some of the many new shows: Indian Food Made Easy, Rachel Allen Bake!, and The Great Food Truck Race. We were also very fascinated by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution miniseries this spring. He not only exposed the unhealthy state of West Virginia's school lunch program, but also dressed as a peapod.

Korean Tacos: Since the Kogi truck started roaming the streets of Los Angeles in early 2009, it has inspired a cult following. Many trucks across the country have adopted the Kogi model, including Marination Mobile in Seattle and KOi in Portland. The idea of Korean tacos isn't technically new—Koreans have been wrapping kalbi in lettuce leaves, in a taco-like fashion, for a while. But now people are actually calling them Korean tacos. Pork bulgogi and short rib topped with shredded cabbage and cilantro...they're popping up on menus all over, including non-trucks, like the brick-and-mortar Seoul Station in NYC.

Coffee Toys and Cuppings: Mr. Coffee and even his friend the French Press are getting pushed aside for brewing gadgets like the Aeropress (a pressurized space-age-looking tube), Clever Dripper (cone dripper that uses a gravity valve) and Chemex (stylish blown glass that uses the pourover method). We even hipped up and got a Chemex for the office! The coffee culture is expanding, looking more and more like that of wine. It's no longer just a caffeine delivery system, but something to savor and sip. Ooh, notes of cranberries and dank moss! (There are no wrong answers, right?) Coffee growers, traders, and roasters taste varieties side-by-side in a ritual known as cuppings, which even lay drinkers are getting into now and attending like wine tastings.

Miss Parloa's New Cook Book

Salt Swooning: Using salt is nothing new, of course. But using non-table-salts and showing them off as ingredients—salted caramel gelato, smoked salt on sardines, and just recently Wendy's introduced natural-cut fries with sea salt. This year, selmelier (pretty cool title, right?) Mark Bitterman came out with a book called Salted, a salt encyclopedia on its origins, customs, and recipes. Bitterman runs a shop with his wife in Portland, Oregon, called The Meadow that sells a library of finishing salts, and they just opened a sister shop in Manhattan. Are we turning into salt snobs? Or is it about time we started paying more attention to the pantry staple? And does pepper have a PR rep yet?

GIY: Grow it Yourself: Buying your tomatoes from a farm just 40 miles away, sure that's nice and all, but very 2009 of you. Grow them yourself! This year was marked by a GIY attitude. Being able to grow your own herbs and produce became trendy. It's good to see more people getting dirt under their fingernails and feeling closer to their food. It's as local as it gets.

Designer Ice Cubes: This trend is cool, literally. Sure it's just frozen water, but serious bartenders are hand-chipping ice to order with shiny chisels. It's becoming part of the behind-the-bar craftsmanship, right up there with the alcohol itself. Thad Vogler, the owner of Bar Agricole in the Bay Area, spent about $4,500 on a Kold-Draft machine, which makes about 650 pounds of one-inch cubes a day. The Kold-Draft forms bigger-than-normal cubes so the drink chills faster and dilutes less quickly. Vogler also purchased the Norlake ice crusher for about $2,000 to make those smaller pellets. Or you can just spend $13.95 on this bullet-shaped ice cube tray.


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