The year 2010 was a great cap to an exciting first decade of the new millennium. The McRib made a come back, the First Lady singlehandedly brought back sweet potatoes and the "other white meat" PIG entered rock star status. If the first ten years is any indication of what is to come, I am going to grab a fork now and lick my lips in anticipation!
To recap the decade: The cupcake craze took us by storm when Carrie from Sex in the City made cupcakes a sheik item when she visited New York's Magnolia Bakery. "Cupcakeries" popped up left and right and continue to create a coo of creative compilations.
Whether you are a fan of her bubbly approach to the kitchen and everything food, Rachael Ray is a food force. She graced the Food Network this past decade and immediately became a fixture on the culinary channel.
The only labels we used to look for were "Fat free", "Fresh" or the expiration date. When "organic" hit the scene it was a label of authentication. Organic became assurance that the nutrition was not getting killed by the onslaught of pesticides that are increasingly present.
We were introduced to the word "locavore" around 2007. Unlike a carnivore, you will not have to "hunt" for this meal. The idea is "everything local" is better for you and the environment.
The wheels on the truck went round and round and made a permanent pit stop into our lunchtime, dinner time and late night routines. With everything from lobster rolls to sushi, food trucks shattered the notion that "fine dining" has not transportable.
As we transition into the new decade we find our food possibilities limitless in flavor, innovation and presentation. Foodies and Fatties alike have taken stronger interest into production to plate and are steering the food truck of trends. From my eyes I see a handful of things to look for this year....
1. Oh my....pie!!
While cupcakes show no real sign of cooling their real-estate-boom-like rise, they are destined to at least level off. Don't get me wrong; I have crossed state borders and patiently camped in front of the hottest "cupcakeries" across the world and I will always love them. But just as the cupcakes emergence there is a veteran to the dessert game on the comeback...PIE!! The crust encased dessert will be reintroduced to us in delightful modern ways both sweet and savory.
2. Gourmet to go
When the first innovative food truck revved its engine and hit the street, the concept of "mobile meals" leaped pass that of pretzels and hot dogs. Now the quality of 5th Avenue cuisine can be found in the Boogey down Bronx. A continuation of that trend will be the under ground rise of "Pop-up kitchens" and secret dinner locations. These secret society events will continue to pop up all over the place. Unfortunately, only those "in the know" will be the recipients of these covert cooking cults.
3. There's an "app" for that
Technology has and will continue to push the food industry forward. From apps on cooking to complete menu selections, look for your smart phone to help you make some of the most brilliant meal ideas yet.
4. The kiddie table
Far be it from me to complain about those simple foods I love oh so much: chicken tenders, waffle fries, mini pizza and sliders. But food sophistication is slowly leaving the adult table and making its way to the table of the under 5' feet. Look for a refinement of kiddie classics and an introduction of new "kid friendly" cuisine.
Orange pepper, Himalayan Pink peppercorns, Peruvian blend? If you are looking for good ol' Morton's table salt, you are definitely in the minority. The majority are embracing the import of sensational selections of seasonings. Not just in tucked away specialty stores, exotic spices from the furthest reaching regions are popping up everywhere. While farmer's market are still the best place to seek out all of their aroma wonder, look for a mainstream embrace and a slow expansion in your grocery store spice isle.
6. ETHNIC SIDES
In addition to ethnic spices becoming American mainstream, ethnic side dishes are being offered more in restaurants across the nation. The mystique of Moroccan couscous and Tanzanian cauliflower can be decoded now at your favorite local restaurants. Expect to find a love of tapas, appetizers and side dishes as they are spun 180 degrees and back with new flavor profiles.
I don’t know about you, but I could eat breakfast: morning, noon, night and late night. And while there has always been “24 hour breakfast” menus and the local IHOP, a trendy move has been to offer Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner simultaneously… I call it B-L-INNER (Bu-lin-er). I see the Michelin star elite dabbling with the interplay of meal times.
8. WE’RE BRINGING KITCHENS BACK
As if they ever left, I see a return to the favorite room of the house. The slow economy definitely caused a curtail of the “eating out” budget in the last year. As a result people fell back in love with their kitchens and family meals. People will continue to flock to the kitchen as everyone searches for their “inner chef”. Food hasn’t been more fun than it is now. Enjoy the art and process of a well crafted meal.
9. HOME GROWN
When the First Lady broke ground on the first vegetable garden at the White House she started a movement. Vine ripened tomatoes, robust sweet potatoes and vitamin rich greens got us all thinking of re-exploring our green thumb. We will continue to roll up our sleeves and fertilize our grounds in hopes of knowing firsthand How did that get on my plate?
10. SIDE to SIDE
As it pains me to write this, I have to admit the trend of “less meat” is on the up swing. There was a statistical drop in Americans eating meat and the like last year. With the advent of Meatless Monday and other "anti-meat" food movements expect to see the portion sizes decrease in the protein and increase in their co-stars.
Here is to a year of delectable delights, innovative inceptions and tasteful treats. Bon Apetite!