2010 Food & Drink Predictions: Dish It Up
Food and drink trends have never been a top priority for us, here at the Choosy Beggars. We cook what we want to eat, we pour what we want to drink, and we share what we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do. We feel strongly that there’s a time and a place for bottarga, and just because a particular food or dish is not considered haute cuisine it may still be quite welcome on our table. However, talking about food is almost as much fun for us as cooking and eating it, so here is our summary of what we see squeezing through the piping bag of gastronomy.
We’ll start today with a few of our predictions about the tasty tipples and dabbles that 2010 has in store for us. Tomorrow, we’ll follow up with the tired trends that are ready for the pig bin before foodies the world over try to strangle themselves with lightly blanched garlic scapes. Without further ado, let’s tuck in our napkins and begin!
DISH IT UP:
1. Nose to Tail. We’re going to see a change in the cuts of meat that are considered desirable. Although the loins will always have a place in our hearts and our stomachs, the prized cuts we seek out are changing. We’re going to be more experimental, with veal cheeks and beef shanks replacing strip steaks and rib roasts. Rather than prizing meat for it’s natural tenderness, the kudos will be to the cook for managing different preparations to bring the best out of cheaper cuts. Bring on the braising and aggressive marinades, because we know that those tough, sinewy, or overlooked cuts are delicious with patience and a bit of care. Meats we snubbed or crinkled our noses at will be the stars of the show, with offal playing a larger role than ever. Liver, tongue, kidney and sweetbreads will be more than just nightmare material for your children. Sweet bleating lambs will be spared as we turn towards their ornery uncles, the gamey old goats. As our virtuoso chefs start to channel Ghengis Khan, don’t be surprised if you see more than one lauded restaurant presenting horse as a daily special.
Vegetarians Are People Too
2. The “Pulse” of Consumption. The lowly lentil has been quietly, steadily gaining ground and meatless dinners have come a long way from being a beacon of the impoverished. The popularity of a vegetarian lifestyle continues to rise, along with public examination of the environmental and health benefits of reducing our flesh eating tendencies. Rice and beans are getting a makeover, and pasta with chickpeas and sage are vying with chicken tetrazzini on restaurant menus. The versatility and affordability of lentils, beans, pulses and legumes means that they’ll be taking up more room on the plate and not just as a side dish.
3. Wine Notes. Goodbye, Australian reds. We’ve had some good fun together, but it’s time for a change. Don’t take it too hard though, it’s not you, it’s me….and the sexy Spaniard I cozied up with last night. Bold, full and honest Spanish and Portuguese reds have been on the back burner for quite some time, but that’s going to change in 2010. The quality of our imported reds has increased considerably, and looking down the barrel of a gray and difficult year it’s no wonder that we’re increasingly attracted to the sunny, juicy and fruitful flavors of Spanish and Portuguese reds. Simple and honest, the Primitivo varietals (notably from Italy) will be replacing the loudmouthed Australian Shiraz at potlucks. Cheerful Rieslings and golden Verdicchios are gaily joining Pinot Grigio on our list of favorite whites.
4. Cocktail Snobs Continue to Shudder. Flavored vodkas have left a bad taste in our mouth. It started simply enough with citrus and chili pepper, before a rash of varieties like mango & passionfruit, lychee, açai and prairie grass started popping up on the shelves like warts on the ass of our alcoholism. With the flavored vodka market at critical capacity, the next big push from our favorite distillers is in ready to pour cocktails. The pour and serve cocktails are an interesting study in the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve had toothpaste flavored mojitos, sugary pink cosmos and the infamous Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade to whet our whistles. However, as competition for these drinks continues to increase we’re holding fast to the hope that quality will eventually follow suit. Ready to pour will continue to push the limits of our tolerance with fancy new flavors and saccharine sweetness, but we’re looking forward to spins on some of the old classics which have taken the bar scene by storm. The Manhattan, Side Car, Gimlet and Whiskey Sour are no longer your grandmother’s dirty little secret, and sophisticated drinkers are taking a step back in time to appreciate these classic cocktails that have stood the test of time. When the purveyors of pour and serve cocktail start to follow suit, I make you a solemn oath that we will try out each and every one that we can get our sticky little hands on, and let you know exactly how successful we consider their attempts to be.
5. Korea Takes Control. Move over Thailand, because there’s a new kid in town. For every lemongrass curry or mango salad on the market, we’re going to see a grilled shortrib or Kimchi fried rice. Goodbye Sriracha chili sauce; hello to our new friend Gochujang. Get your small bowls washed and ready for the pan chan, because Korean food is going to be the next big Asian food phase that we have the opportunity to eat our way through.
6. No Man Is An Island. Mexican food has come a long way, with the help of champions like Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy leading the charge and helping us to understand this complex and diverse cuisine. Old El Paso taco kits have been seceded by guajillo chilaquiles and slow cooked Oaxacan moles, and most foodies can easily rhyme off their three favorite carnita recipes. Although the Mexican craze is far from done, we’re ready to broaden the net with more traditional Cuban and Puerto Rican cuisine. What’s that, you say? Cuban food is more than just porky sandwiches? Get ready to trade your yams for yucca and explore the nuances of these two islands as pastales join the parade of empanadas and rice and beans reign supreme.
7. Savory Sweets. Our tastes are evolving and more than ever we’ll be playing with savory flavors when it comes to dessert. Enough with the dulce de lece, already. The sugar fiends of 2010 will be playing earthy, spicy or herbal flavors with their saccharine sweets. Think of dark chocolate pots de creme with crème fraiche and a drizzle of basil oil, or jalapeno sugar cookies gracing your next holiday tray. Spurred by the chili and chocolate movement of 2007/2008, we’re embracing complexity in our guilty pleasures and replacing vanilla beans with cracked black pepper in cookies and scones.
Condiments & Miscellaneous
8. All We Need Is Cheese. You can now buy Comté, a French cow’s milk cheese, at Costco. Oh, how far we’ve come! The momentum for cheese plate popularity is continuing strong, and creative cheese pairings are forging their way through stylish appetizers, intermezzo and desserts. The availability of international cheeses at local grocery stores is astounding, and we’re no longer limited through lack of opportunity or the availability of a good cheesemonger. We’re going to see this reflected in the food that we consume at home or in restaurants, when piquillo peppers are getting stuffed with Spanish Manchego, Gorgonzola paves the way for creamy Cambozola to get sliced thickly on top of an open faced steak sandwich, and the Italian truffle cheese Sottocenere is nibbled whilst sipping on sparkly Prosecco. There is more to life than just cheddar and havarti, and consumers are hitting the shelves hard with demand for variety in the cheeses that we cook with and eat.
9. The Seasoned Chef. Salt and pepper are shaming us with their simplicity. We all know the importance of seasoning to make your dishes pop, and a quick sprinkle of fleur de sel can elevate steamed green beans from simple to sublime. Next year, we’re going to see a return to basic seasoning rather than complicated and overly assertive spice rubs or marinades. Salt and pepper will be more than just overlooked staples, they will be the main event even if our inner foodies rebel at the thought of replacing the rosemary and wooster sauce on our steaks with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a good grinding of fresh black pepper! Nigella encouraged us to abandon the small shaker in honor of an accessible salt pig for easy and regular use, but small jars are back and individual dishes of various salts will be increasingly en vogue. The difference is that this time they’re housing Indian black salt, Himalayan pink salt and chardonnay smoked fleur de sel. Miniature grinders house Madagascar pink peppercorns and Saranak from Borneo, while African long pepper is freshly grated at the table.
10. Peter Pickled A Pint of Pepperonata. Pickling and preserves are a natural extension of our return to home gardening. The sense of pride that a cook/gardener feels when presenting a fresh caprese salad with warm tomatoes, picked moments before from the vine, can only be rivaled in the dead of winter when fried risotto cakes are topped with a homemade tomato jam that had been lovingly crafted months before. All kinds of pickles, preserves, chutneys and jams will be making their way out of the home kitchen next year, as well as an increase in popularity for creatively infused oils, vinegars, sugars and salts. If you’re planning on having the party house next year, consider yourself lucky because the quality of your hostess presents is about to markedly improve.
What do you see as the future food and drink trends of 2010? Are there foods or preparations that we just won’t be able to get enough of this year? We’d love to hear about which gourmet food trucks you’ll be chasing down the street at 11 o’clock each day, or what you think our culinary visionaries are going to be dishing out.