Dining and Restaurants / Eating / Food and Cooking / Food trends

2011 FOOD TRENDS: Kombucha comeback, Popcorn upgrade, Berkel slicers, smoked cumin, fried chicken boom, the foodiest city in America

Nibbles is a compendium of food, dining and beverage information and trends from the U.S. and the world edited by John Lehndorff

Reported by John Lehndorff at www.yellowscene.com:
As we head into 2011, I glance over my shoulder at a remarkable year of food in Colorado. Farm-to-table dinners became commonplace as farmer’s markets inched closer to being open year round. Many eateries – some new and some venerable, closed, but the economy didn’t stop most of the empty eatery locations from being filled pretty quickly. Various national accolades including “the foodiest city in America” were awarded and downtown Louisville grew into a dining destination unto itself. It was great 12 months to be eating here.

In 2011, I expect the local food, beverage and dining scene to continue blossoming. Here are a handful of trends that may become prominent in the coming months.

A kombucha comeback: First, the fizzy vinegar health beverage was everywhere. Then, it disappeared for awhile over concerns that the fermentation involved produced excess alcohol. Now, kombucha is filling the refrigerated shelves again including locally produced varieties from Celestial Seasonings (Boulder), Julien’s Cliffhouse (Jamestown) and High Country (Eagle). Expect to see more eateries with kombucha on tap and maybe additional controversy about the product.

Food trucks proliferate: Wary of the investment and commitment, more chefs and entrepreneurs will eschew brick-and-mortar locations and opt for food trucks selling on the streets and at events. The current roster includes Hosea Rosenberg’s StrEat Chefs Airstream, the pink Comida Mexican truck, Walnut A Go-go, an offshoot of the Walnut Café and Southside Walnut Café and a bevy of mobile kitchens in Denver. The real question is where local municipalities (and justifiably wary restaurants) will allow the trucks and trailers to park.

Popcorn upgrade: Popcorn is moving out of the movie theaters and away from that weird salty yellow grease. We’ll see locally grown organic popcorn fried in everything from lard and suet to bacon and goose fat with eclectic toppings including poutine-style (with gravy or green chile and cheese).

Salumi on the rise: As we did with soggy white bread, thin beer and yellow plastic cheese, foodies have moved beyond bologna and pepperoni and are discovers a world of wonderful cured meats including prosciutto, bresaola, culatello and guincale. Many chefs are serving up house-cured meats as appetizers and topping artisan pizzas with soppresata. We’ll even see salumi on fast-casual eatery menus. One indicator: The remodeled Frasca dining room now showcases its salumi-cutting red Berkel slicer in a glass showcase and slices a special salami created by Denver’s Il Mondo Vecchio.

Cumin is comin’: Ground cumin is the hot spice of the moment and will accent many more dishes from chips to entrees and not limited to its usual home in Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican fare. Look for “smoked cumin” as a flavor du jour. Cumin’s reputed health benefits also boost its appeal.

Some food trends to avoid: There are some projected national trends like the rise of pies and fried chicken that we applaud, but there are others I hope will skip over us and land in Kansas City such as savory soft-serve ice cream, and cooking with hay (“hay-smoked sweetbreads”), dirt (“radishes with toasted malt dirt,”) and pine needles (“pine-infused ice cream”). It’s been hard enough getting chefs to tone down the rosemary and mint and keep the herbs OUT of my desserts.

Reported at: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/best_of_2010/index.html?story=/food/francis_lam/2010/12/28/year_in_food_2010
For the better part of a century, Americans have reveled in the easy availability of meat, once reserved for when times are flush. But then came nofun-niks like … doctors and animal lovers and people who think that whole climate change thing isn’t a conspiracy made up by liberal scientists. OK, well, I guess we should rethink how much and what kind of meat we eat, and 2010 saw intense wrangling from all sides, but with a new character — sexy hip butchers. Some are sustainable-meat advocates, some are throwback craftspeople, some are beardos, some observe Meatless Mondays, and some are even vegetarians. Almost all of them, though, preach the culinary, environmental and ethical importance of eating less meat but better meat, and some of them will even invite you to a butchering party to get their point across.

A few words about food:
“As they say in Italy, Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other. The Medici family had to bring their Tuscan cooks up to France so they could make something edible.” – Celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali

Complaints, tirades, comments, critiques? lehndorffj@aol.com

John Lehndorff is co-author with Kim Long of the American Salumi Calendar 2011, the first calendar devoted to cured meat artisans in the U.S. Lehndorff is a former caterer, nationally distributed newspaper food columnist and restaurant critic, author of a restaurant guide book, and one of America’s foremost pie experts.

The 2011 American Salumi Calendar: http://www.americansalumi.com

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