Photo: Flickr/miss karen
Thankfully, many of the food trends I feared at the beginning of 2012 have not come to pass.However, even in eight months, there have been some very noticeable developments in both the food we are served in restaurants and the way we cook at home.
Some of them are welcome and some less far less so, but it won’t be long before everyone is jumping aboard the latest food fads of 2012.
It would appear that the fact that bacon is proof that God exists and that he is a good god is not enough for some people. Now it is being candied, put into cocktails, covered in chocolate and used to top ice cream.
While some of these ideas might have merit, most are an abomination against an ingredient that is perfectly fine just as it is, thank you very much. I suspect that the next time I go into a restaurant and someone just serves me fried bacon, I may hug them so hard they'll pass out.
Unless you have spent the last year underground, you can't fail to have noticed that chefs from Sweden, Norway and Denmark are at the forefront of the latest culinary developments.
Noma, of course, is currently the top-rated restaurant in the world but has been joined among the elite by places such as Frantzen/Lindeberg in Sweden and Geranium in Denmark. The influence of the chefs' elegant yet simplistic attitude toward ingredients is already becoming apparent in menus across the globe.
After decades of being sold flesh of no discernible provenance by the supermarket chains, public tastes are changing and there is an increasing demand for meat from heritage and rare breeds of pig, cattle, sheep and poultry, as well as an appetite for some of the more unusual cuts that are now making appearances on restaurant menus.
Supermarkets are simply not set up to satisfy this demand, and this has led to the opening of a new wave of small, independent butchers such as Lindy & Grundy in L.A. and O'Shea in London, as well as a greater demand for the skills of old stalwarts like Pat LaFrieda in New York City.
One of my favourite restaurants in my hometown of Los Angeles is Picca, where Chef Ricardo Zarate has taken the food of his native Peru to a whole new level. The opening of Lima under the watchful eye of Virgilio Martinez also shows that this often underrated Latin American cuisine is finally getting the attention it deserves. Look out for gourmet antichucos coming to a restaurant near you soon.
A recent visit to Tales of The Cocktail in New Orleans confirmed that barrel-aged cocktails and spirits are all the rage. Many spirits, such as whisky, brandy and bourbon already spend time in oak to add colour and flavour, but now barrel-aged gin and vodka are becoming increasingly visible on the shelves of good cocktails bars.
Top cocktail makers are also ageing finished cocktails such as Negronis and Manhattans to great effect. Well worth seeking out when you visit your favourite bar.
Anyone who travels will know that restaurants serving one dish and one dish only have long been common in Japan. Now the trend has arrived in the West, with places opening in New York, London and other major cities that specialize in one or two ingredients such as mac 'n' cheese, meatballs, burgers, lobsters and even the humble fry.
While some of these places can actually be rather good, I can't help suspecting that their long-term appeal will be as limited as their menus.
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