January 8, 2014
January 10, 2014

A look at the culinary food trends in the new year.

Cauliflower is the new kale, salt is the new pepper and doughnuts and burgers are going gangbusters.

Food trend watchers are bidding adieu to sliders, those small sandwiches made of beef, chicken, pulled pork or fish, cupcakes are waning while quinoa, now that everyone has learned to pronounce it, has gone mainstream.

There are oodles of noodles, from ramen to pho, while salted caramels, flavored waters and roast chicken are taking off.

Coconut, too, is exploding this year, prepared sweet and savory. Look for it in sugar, flour and vinegar.

Vegetables continue to be center of the plate, edging out meat.

Some predict Swiss chard will take over from kale. For those who don’t know what to do with it, some say ‘treat it like spinach,’ and then they’re OK.

Which will make a bigger hit in 2014 – Swiss chard or cauliflower?  Cauliflower probably has a bigger chance of being a rival for kale than other veggies.

Cauliflower can be mashed, grilled, broiled or cut in steaks and barbecued, served on its own or in salad or tossed with herbs, vinegars and oils.

Could salt be the new pepper? When at food shows and when looking at restaurant menus and even grocery shelves, the number of flavored salts continue to grow. It’s overtaking the pepper category.

Salt can be infused with almost any ingredient, ranging from citrus, jalapeno, banana peppers, balsamic, apple cider, edible flowers, onion or garlic.

People are learning different flavored salts help different dishes along better and they’re not afraid to use it in small portions to our own discretion and, wow, what a flavor burst those different salt flavors can actually give you.

Salt falls into another trend–customization–which is particularly strong.

 Let customers put their own twists on foods. That can happen in a restaurant setting, or in a grocery retail setting depending on the products that gives you options when you purchase it and it can certainly happen in the home setting.”

Creativity and innovation extend to burgers too.

They’re becoming more healthful and more local. Some chefs and burger restaurants are grinding their meat in-house and making house-made condiments for on top. They’re giving the consumer all the customization with a choice of toppings and sides, like sweet potato fries, rice pilaf or grilled vegetables.

Some restaurants bake their own buns and brand them with little irons.

Sliders are not exactly on the way out, but fresh burgers are definitely on the increase. Burgers are competitive too, with people arguing over who has the best one.

The whole burger gourmet thing, is interesting not necessarily just because people are responding to it and they want to pay more for burgers, but it’s also the way that the quick service restaurant side of the business is flourishing and why that middle section of the restaurant business is dying.

Cupcakes, beloved by trend watchers a few years ago, have plateaued. They’re here for the foreseeable forever. People just kind of count on them the same way they count on being able to get a muffin or a cookie.

Doughnuts, meanwhile, are still very popular, with shops devoted to the sweet treats mushrooming.

We’re going to see a huge explosion of interest in what we would call weeds or just foods around us that we’ve forgotten about and I think it speaks directly to our confidence in our cuisine.

Using local suppliers, hopes consumers will be more aware of where their food comes from, which will help them make informed decisions about where they buy their fish and meat.

Salted caramels are exploding, with the flavor infused into doughnuts, crepes and ice cream, into any sort of glaze or sauce for pound cakes or angel food cakes or melted and drizzled over any desserts.

Source:  Canadian, 12-31-13

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