Huffington Post Casts Predictions For The Culinary World

Jan. 3, 2012
The economic doldrums of the past few years have hit most restaurants hard, but fast casual is flourishing, reports the Huffington Post.

The interesting action is in Asian food. From Shophouse Asian Kitchen, a Southeast Asian takeout Chipotle spinoff in Washington, D.C., to banh mi, which have been cropping up on national chains, or maybe David Chang will make some kind of fast casual chain version of Momofuku Noodle.

There's nothing wrong with a workaday beer tap -- who doesn't love a cold, freshly drawn draught of craft brew? The bartenders at acclaimed New York Czech restaurant Hospoda pour normal beer into a whole host of different textures and tastes by playing with taps. Mario Batali's Birreria is doing great things with wine on tap.

French dips have both of the qualities that have made Cubanos and banh mi the dominant sandwiches of the past few years -- namely, substantial bread and lots of red meat. But they add a fun, DIY element in their accompanying bowl of dipping broth. Expect the trend to reach a boiling point in the next year.

Food trucks were hot two years ago, but people started to get tired of long lines and lack of seating. But the real death knell for the trend may have been food trucks' adoption by mainstream companies like Applebee's and Jack in the Box. Bye-bye, cool factor.

Tequila is a credible upscale spirit, but mezcal, tequila's rangier cousin, remains the province of frat boys willing to brave the meguey worm at the bottom of the bottom. That will change: companies like Scorpion and Ilegal are doing a great job marketing their products as a cool alternative to tequila and cachaca, while enterprising barmen are coming up with ever-more-interesting cocktails that put mezcal's smoky flavor to good use.

Pretzels are small and nostalgic. And if they aren't as lovable as cupcakes or doughnuts, they have the advantage when it comes to flexibility: you can incorporate pretzels into fried chicken, cookies and ice cream sundaes with equal efficacy. 

Copenhagen's Noma paved the way for restaurants to cook food that was truly local, both biologically and culturally. We've heard whispers of Welsh and Danish restaurants that use hyperlocal ingredients and recipes to revivify moribund cuisines

A large proportion of the American eating public is committed to eating meat but is also vaguely concerned about the ecological harm brought about my the meat industry. Two kinds of meat that may appeal to these ambivalent carnivores are rabbit and goat. Both eat a wide variety of kinds of feed, making them easy and economical to raise.

Most of the action in the tableware arena over the past few years has been in finding new and exciting shapes for white plates. (Big white square for the foie gras service, scooped-out crater for the tiny sliver of cured hamachi.) But that model can be costly for restaurants, who may have to replace entire sets of pristine china if just a couple items break when they're using matchy-matchy plates. It can also be create a stuffy atmosphere for dinners, which explains why we've noticed more and more restaurants going with quirky, mismatched sets of serviceware. The logistical ease of this trend make it a natural for restaurants going forward.

Chicken skin, the fatty, crispy ingredient has been beloved by Japanese yakitori masters and a select few chefs for years, a taste for its distinctive succulence will hit the masses in the year ahead.

The rise of craft beers is now firmly entrenched. The time may be right for a truly strange mode of beer: sour ales and lambics. Though unfamiliar to most U.S. palates, they're popular in Belgium and among American craft brewers themselves -- so they may soon gain broader recognition.

Sous vide movement -- Nearly every new high-end restaurant has an immersion circulator for sous vide.

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