Now that we have happily welcomed in 2014, we can take some time and look ahead at the hottest up-and-coming food and beverage trends.
Look twice at the poultry section on local menus, as this year, the humble chicken is expected to take center stage. Chickens will be prepared expertly roasted, prepared sous-vide (an almost fool-proof cooking method of placing food in an airtight bag and then in a water bath, cooking to the right temperature), fried, and pan-seared. Due to Americans’ more adventurous palettes, we’re also expecting to see saltier fish make appearances on our plates. Fish like anchovies, mackerel, and sardines are adding depth as ingredients and are also being showcased on their own.
The “It” Vegetable
If 2013 was year to eat your greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach) than 2014 is the year to go white with your veggies. Cauliflower is the new “it vegetable” and thanks to its ability to lend itself to almost any flavor, cauliflower is a vegetable that most non-veg eaters can get on board with. With more people going gluten-free and paleo, cauliflower is a go-to vegetable that can replace starches like rice, risotto, couscous, or mashed potatoes. To break away from the monotony of white, look for purple, yellow, and green cauliflower.
With everyone seeming to be more health conscience this year, fruits are being juiced (typically with a few veggies too) for more than just a trendy-celebrity cleanse. People are looking to pressed juices as a way to receive more balance and nutrition any time of the day. The best part about juicing is being able to personally mix blends suited for each individual taste and dietary needs. Customized pressed juices will be added to breakfast, buffet, and lunch menus, and made at home by the truly devoted.
Spirits & Beer
Last year we saw bitters splashing around in nearly every cocktail glass. This year, expect to see vermouth highlighted. The old-school drink of our grandparent’s generation, technically a fortified wine with herbs and spices, is making a comeback in cocktails other than just martinis, and is predicted to be fashionable to drink alone over ice. Expect to see mixologists infusing their own vermouths with everything from bright citrus to spicy chilies.
Local Colorado breweries and beyond are now stepping outside of IPAs, stouts, and lagers, and are looking to sour beers as the newest brewing trend. Sour beers are made by adding wild yeast strains (or bacteria) to the beer during the brewing process. The batches are then aged in wood casks to give the newly-appealing sour taste. Traditional beers avoid the wild yeast strains, and this makes brewing sours un-predictable. The batch-to-batch difference in sours could be part of the sour craft brew appeal.
As our culinary melting pot continues to brew, we are looking for more exciting and unusual flavors. Now that sriacha has gone mainstream, and the ramen burger is so last year, we are looking toward more Asian foods and culture to inspire our dishes. This year expect the spiced Korean condiment gochujang to become as used in our households as our beloved sriacha. Okonomiyaki, savory Japanese pancakes, may be our newest food obsession and will appear on both Asian and crossover menus. Also beginning to gain popularity are flavors of the Middle East. The smoky, exotic spices of the region lend boldness to healthy dishes. Think chickpeas, eggplant, nuts, and spice mixtures like za’atar and harissa. Rounding out our now very global palettes is Mexican food gone gourmet. Goodbye to smothered (insert what ever you’d like here) and cheesed Americanized Mexican dishes and look for healthy, fresh and, more authentic takes on Mexican cuisine.
Cronuts (a wildly popular croissant and doughnut hybrid), cupcakes, and macaroons are the sweets of yesterday; looking ahead, the delicate éclair will go beyond teatime, Paris, and pastry cream. The choux paste puff will be filled with an unlimited combination of flavors: salted caramel, berries and pistachio cream, and citrus with jasmine…. They are also elaborately decorated, enough to make any cutesy sprinkled cupcake jealous.