Stuff We Ate
A Long, Haute Country Summer
Jelly jars, communal picnic tables, seasonal-local blah blah, and pork, pork, and more pork: The haute barnyard restaurant trend won’t quit. New York magazine’s Adam Platt coined the term a few years ago to describe the seasonal/local pioneers Craft and Peasant. But he noted how self-conscious the trend had gotten in an August review of Hundred Acres and Forge, where free-range chicken nuggets made a menu appearance. A competing term, monk chic, appeared in an Eater LA story about soon-to-open Los Angeles restaurant Libre. Get ready for “lots of slow cooked this and brick oven that … raw woods, beeswax candles, very natural.” Hair shirt gets you a seat near the sexy people.
Alert the Paparazzi
Like the cast of Gossip Girl or Angelina Jolie’s breasts, certain ingredients were everywhere this year. 2008’s list of “It” foods in cocktails, on menus, and adorning grocery store circulars was as follows: richer, thicker Greek yogurt; Green Goddess dressing; fried chicken; and probiotics. And quinoa. Everywhere quinoa. On the horizon: yacón root syrup. It’s going to be the new agave nectar.
All Pray to the Coffee God
We needed to be extra caffeinated in order to keep up with the pace of coffee news this year. New York saw beans from high-end roasters like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, and Ritual make their way to the city. And new serious coffee shops opened, like Abraço. Customers and wannabe coffee sommeliers learned how to detect notes of cassis and tobacco in single-origin brews through advanced “cupping” sessions, and more places offered double-digit-priced cups of coffee made with high-tech brewing equipment like the $20,000 Siphon. Starbucks, even though it acquired the company that makes the Clover (the must-have coffee maker before the Siphon hit the scene), could never hope to be this cool. Early this year, Chairman Howard Schultz announced that Starbucks would shutter 8 percent of its stores, and its stock price nosedived. And now that the stock market has generally tanked, it’ll take more than strong espresso to perk things up again.