SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
You know the saying, “trends come and go?” Well, this is about the ones that didn’t get the memo. These food and beverage trends were the hot topics of 2017 and should, apparently, have the goods to stay relevant for another year (at least).
From Filipino cuisine and tech-savvy kitchen equipment to matcha and food waste, consider this your refresher course on all the things that made headlines in 2017.
Chilled Red Wine
It’s not just that more and more Americans are drinking wine—according to statistics, the US is the highest wine consuming country by volume—but they’re getting smarter about what they drink and how they drink it. Case in point: Savvy wine drinkers beyond the somm/industry community know that like whites, some (read: light-bodied and low-tannin) reds are best served with a chill. (Between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, if you want to get technical.) I’m looking at you Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, Lambrusco (natch), and Zweigelt. Chilled red wine and chill? I’ll cheers to that.
Really, it should come as no surprise that this melting pot of a country of ours had embraced the delectable, diversely-influenced cuisine that makes up the Filipino kitchen. An intriguing mash-up of Spanish, Western, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Malaysian flavors, ingredients, and techniques, everyone from Vogue to Anthony Bourdain to Google confirms that the popularity of this cuisine is only going to continue on the up-and-up. (And special props to Andrew Zimmern for beating them all to the punch and making the call a good five years ago.)
“Smart” Kitchen Gadgets
An egg tray that highlights which ones are oldest and about to go bad. A wi-fi-connected crock pot that can be controlled via your cell phone. Water pitchers that will self-order replacement filters. A fork that that monitors your eating habits. Our homes are only going to continue getting smarter, and the kitchen is no exception.
With claims of being a natural purifier/detoxifier/digestive aid/hangover cure-all, you could argue that activated charcoal has been the must-have accessory of the 2017 food season. The sheer Instagrammable appeal alone is enough give this trend legs (you have to admit, that ice cream cone looks pretty badass), but really it’s the controversy over the ingredient’s health benefits that will continue to whet the public’s curiosity.
Given that it has proven good-for-you benefits (anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-virus—literally all the things you want your food to take a stand against), there’s no doubt turmeric will continue to be the star of the spice rack well past the early winter diet craze phase. Its earthy, ginger-pepper-citrus vibe is equally delicious in everything from a marinade for chicken to roasted cauliflower, and basically a key component to the flavor profile of all your favorite Indian dishes.
And while we’re on the subject of health-minded trends, we can’t overlook the fact that this earthy, antioxidant-rich powdered tea is not only making it easy to be green but helping it taste good too. Yes, it’s been around for ages, but the tea enjoyed a new life beyond the cup as everything from a flavor-enhancing glaze to the base for muffin batter brownies, pancakes…you get the idea.
The customizable meal appeal of a Chipotle (sans the crazy calorie load), more interesting than a basic build-your-own-salad, cheaper and more filling than sushi: It’s easy to understand why this classic Hawaiian street food bowled over the competition in the fast-casual arena.
Minimizing Food Waste
Cooking with both the good and the “bad” bits of every vegetable. Embracing whole animal butchery. Recycling. Compositing. Using everything. Today’s most influential chefs—Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Roy Choi, and April Bloomfield (just to name a few)—are all helping spearhead a waste not, want not approach to cooking that is becoming more long-term lifestyle than flash-in-the-pan trend.
Piggybacking off this idea about putting a microscope on our food system and making sure that everything’s out in the open and nothing goes to waste is the developing trend of “transparent” labels. Consumers are demanding to know what’s in what they’re buying, where it comes from, how it was raised, how it was processed, etc., and that’s changing the look of labels as we know it.
Not to minimize the amazing things French and Italian cuisines have done with bread (I mean, come on, who doesn’t swoon for a warm, perfectly crusty baguette or a bite of expertly seasoned focaccia?), but this puffed, crisp Native American fried dough classic gave the category a run for its money. Not only is it easy to make, it’s all too easy to find delicious things to top it with. Literally everything tastes better on a fry bread vessel.
Can we all agree that as far as cool, in-the-know spirits go, whiskey has more or less jumped the shark? Instead, trendy tipplers gravitated towards rum-based cocktails made from newly formed local distilleries. Taking it in the tiki direction is an obvious choice, but IMO, nothing is more classic or thirstquenchingly satisfying than a simple, perfectly executed daiquiri.
We are a nation that just loves having options when it comes to food: Pasta made from myriad grains and noodles made from vegetables; natural sweeteners (honey, molasses, maple syrup) in place of sugar; oils made from items besides the conventional olive. If only we’d known in high school how cool the alternative look would be, right?
As much as I would like this to mean that the consumption of sparkling wine—Champagne specifically—is on the rise (and seriously, we would all be so much better off if it was), the data indicates that the bubbs people are clamoring after are of the non-alcoholic variety. Expect to see a lot more naturally flavored sparkling waters, cold brew coffees, and mocktails hitting the shelves in the coming year.
Segueing from our earlier conversation about “smart” kitchens, it’s worth noting that it’s not just the gadgets but the food itself that’s are getting technological upgrades. For example, we now have a plant-based burger that looks, (and by many accounts) tastes, and even bleeds juices like a medium-rare beef patty. Clearly the plant revolution is upon is a much more evolved way than just having legit veggie-based entrees appear on restaurant menus.
From your basic takeout and grocery shopping to meal-planning kits and CSAs, just about every food experience had an app-able, order-it-online option. I don’t see myself using my phone and/or laptop to do fewer things in the new year, do you?
This doesn’t need an explanation.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.