Our friend Tracy of bellowblogs writes about food, but you won’t find recipes in her posts. Instead Miss Bellows (who is based in London but often commutes to the States) covers culinary trends, restaurants – (dishes and decor), food stores and other edible finds. In this blog post ,she recapped last year’s food trends and predicts what she thinks will be big in 2013.
Sitting in LA and Cape Town, we decided to add our two cents worth – based on what’s happening in our respective outposts. And we threw in some suggestions on where you can find some of these delicacies.
From Los Angeles:
- Lobster rolls, a main staple in lobster states like Maine, are definitely hitting LA menus. Two popular food trucks can be spotted around town but, for the very best lobster roll in LA, you want to secure a reservation at Son of a Gun in Hollywood. Their tiny brioche rolls, packed with perfectly cooked and buttery lobster, can be downed in two bites. I have made it a personal mission to go back and order a dozen.
- Juicing: The way cupcakes stores seemed to pop up on every corner half a dozen years ago, now it’s the turn of juice bars. And I am not talking about Jamba Juice. Rather, it’s fancy establishments that offer from the to-go pick me up to a complete line of cleansing juices, with names like Burdock Daikon Citrine or e3Live, Brain on. Ingredients, besides fruit and vegetables, include probiotics, grass shots or any antioxidant known to man. I am partial to Moon Juicein Venice but, then again, I have owned and used a juicer for the better part of 20 years.
- Anything pickled was huge in 2012 but, judging from the pages of Lucky Peach, the NYT food section and a smattering of newly published books, fermenting is the way to go in 2013. I can’t get past the yuck factor but we will see.
- Foraging: more and more often I find myself asking the server to explain what that obscure ingredient in the dish I want to order is and it’s invariably a vegetable. If foraging means more healthy food on our plates, bring it on. But let’s not go scouring our garden if we are not sure what we are doing – a couple of weeks ago an entire family in Northern California died from the mushrooms they picked and cooked.
- Goat Meat:A recent dinner at Tar and Roses in Santa Monica featured goat crostini on the menu. Goat has become the new pork. Some places offer entire goats on the spit. The meat is not as gamey as you might expect but, personally, I would rather see goats being used for brush clearance on our hills than roasted on my plate.
- Sweet desserts: LA has finally moved from macarons, cupcakes and the likes to rustic. Pastry chefs here are committed to develop the best sweet doughs, the airiest puff pastry – for a taste of old world pastries, try Huckleberry, Bouchon and Maison Giraud. Looking forward to the new bakery by Spago’s former pastry chef, Sherry Yard, slated to open this year inside the Helm’s Bakery building.
- Sweeteners: If Stevia and agave syrup are not the sweeteners of choice where you are, they will soon be. Agave is a syrup collected from the plant of the same name. Not as strong as maple syrup and not as sweet as sugar, it’s a good substitution even in baking. Stevia is a plant native to South America and Asia, the leaves of which, once grounded, are 300 times sweeter than sugar. A little goes a long way and it’s soluble enough to use in baking.
From the fairest Cape:
- Sausages: Hot dogs, designer boerewors (farm-sausage) rolls or bespoke exotics. Inventive Butchers and a top celebrity chef (Bertus Basson cooks at Overture – one of SA’s best restaurants) are using the food truck and neighbourhood market phenomenon to sell great quality sausages with sexy sauces and delicious sides.
- Shisa Nyama (literally ‘burn the meat’ in isiZulu): this communal way of barbecue has drawn people from suburbs into the townships. Select your cut, baste and sauce and hand it over to one of the braai/bbq-masters overseeing the huge fires. Bring your own drinks and sides, turn up your car radio and get the party started. This is true ubuntu or samesyn (togetherness) – good food, good atmosphere, good people. (Though Franchises are popping up – which makes me a bit nervous.)
- Goat: we’re loving our mild flavoured, softer chevins. And are using them grilled as a starter, in pasta pillows as a main course, in ice-cream and desserts. Strangely though, we don’t love strong-tasting goat meat – which is a shame as it would solve many of the environmental problems around grazing cattle.
- Italian Cheeses: on the subject of formaggio – we are making our own mozzarella, pecorino and Parmigiano – and very nice they are too. That’s not to say I won’t drive across Cape Town for a well-priced wheel of the original. But these more than do in a pinch.
- Nursery Puddings: crème brûlée made the traditional way in a shallow bowl (with a thin crust that doesn’t require an ice pick to crack it), custards, vanilla sponge cake, rice and sago puds, pumpkin fritters and tangy lemon curd. Old fashioned desserts are all showing up in our fancy restaurants.
- Make Your Own: as in honey from uban rooftop beekeeping and Grow Your Own: as in veggies – not the other herb. And as for trends: peas are huge – South Africans can’t get enough of them. With pea-shoots finally appearing in our supermarkets.
- Family friendly (and pet welcoming) eateries – the economic crunch means we don’t go out as often – but when we do we want to bring the kids too. Any restaurant with an outdoors play area, on a beach, at a park, on a wine farm that welcomes littles – is always packed. Regardless of the weather. And if you can take your dog – even more so.