"Beer without hops? Keeping it kosher? Cannabis cuisine?" That's how marketing firm Sterling Rice Group introduces its 2015 "Culinary Trends List."
"We are becoming sophisticated diners here in the U.S., discovering delicious foods from every part of the world. Technology has helped, as has the entrepreneurial millennial generation," says the marketing firm.
"In 2015, expect to see deeper explorations of global cuisines and cooking methods, especially Asian; continued efforts to reinforce community connections and adopt buying habits that promote sustainability; and new foods and flavors that meet our demands for balanced nutrition as well as adventurous (and, well, “elevating”) eating experiences."
Sterling-Rice's top 10 for 15 (2015), which is heavy on the trendy restaurant side, follows; the original (including restaurants already offering each trend) is findable at www.srg.com/news.
- Advanced Asian. Get ready for more complex and true to region Asian foods for 2015. This spicier and funkier fare appeals to the “advanced” Asian food lover and goes beyond the sweet, the tame, and the friendly. Thanks to a growing group of Asian inspired culinarians, appreciative diners are discovering Northern (Issan) Thai cuisine, Japanese okonomiyaki pancakes, and the tangy flavors of Filipino foods.
- Cannabis cuisine. Being in Boulder gives SRG unique insight into the, uh, budding edible marijuana trend. Going beyond pot brownies, today s edibles come in many forms, including confections, bars, simple syrups, and even bottled cold brewed coffee. Cookbooks, cooking classes, and online reviewers legitimize the burgeoning industry, which already has a food truck.
- Incendiary charcoal. Thanks to the rise of grilled Asian foods, more chefs are turning to ancient styles of charcoal. Japanese charcoal, or binchotan, is kilned oak that burns at 1,652-2,192°F in a clean, odorless, and smokeless way that allows food to cook fast and retain natural flavors. Thai charcoal performs a similar feat. Beyond the grill, charcoal is also coloring breads, crackers, lemonades, and even beauty products.
- Coconut sugar sweetness. Sugar is in the doghouse these days and has many gravitating toward less processed sweeteners like coconut sugar. Made from coconut blossom nectar, it has a lower glycemic index than white sugar and more nutrients, adding a sweet halo to granolas, confections, and spreads in the natural channel. Coconut sugar also appeals to sweets-loving Paleos and home cooks making Southeast Asian recipes.
- Hunger Games: Restaurant edition. What combines communal dining, pop up restaurant novelty, chef competitions, and crowd sourced creation? It s 2015 s newest restaurant concept, incubators that support aspiring chefs with kitchens, dining spaces, and marketing power. Diners vote with their forks.
- Matcha madness. In 2015, our quest for vitality will lead to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea hitting the market in convenient formats. Made from crushed green tea leaves, matcha is brimming with antioxidants, L theanine, and beta carotenes. Next year s go to energy and wellness beverage exerts a calming energy with less caffeine than green tea, but with more nutrient benefits.
- Hop-free suds. Countering the surge of IPAs, brewers are taking a cue from their medieval predecessors and using herbs, spices, and other bitter plants to provide flavor balance and aroma to beer instead of hops. These seasonings, or gruits, include mushrooms, sassafras, rosemary, tea, hemp, and even reindeer lichen, yielding intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.
- Local grain network. Regional grain economies are growing with farmers raising small scale alternative grain varieties and selling them to local bakers, brewers, chefs, and consumers, who are in turn using mills to grind fresh flour for bread, pizza, and pastries. With more farmers’ markets selling locally grown grains, expect a bigger demand for countertop mills, grain milling appliances, and products made from fresh milled flour in 2015.
- Farm-to-table kosher. Seeking to eat in a more sustainable, conscious, and cultural way, millennial Jews are starting to keep kosher, supported by a rise in small businesses offering better tasting, better sourced, and more varied kosher fare. These include artisan Jewish delis, handcrafted bagel shops, and restaurants that also appeal to non Jews attracted to food that seems cleaner and purer.
- Ugly fruit and vegetable movement. In line with growing concerns over food waste, this French born trend gives misshapen and funny looking produce a place at the table and in recipes where looks don t matter. People around the globe are uniting to find new ways to reduce food waste. Efforts are already underway here to raise awareness to this issue and to find resourceful ways to manage our food supply and feed the hungry at the same time.