We love drawing menu inspiration for events from trends featured in influential restaurants and culinary magazines, like Bon Appétit and Saveur.
Last year’s food trends were highlighted by cupcakes in every size shape and flavor, a love affair with bacon and a continued interest Latin-infused specialty cocktails and cuisine. What mouth-watering cuisine will be the taste(s) of 2010? Here are some speculations.
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The cupcake trend is definitely still popular for events, and DC now boasts close to a dozen cupcake shops, but many people are ready for a new sugar fix. This year the desserts go upscale and downsized. Picture miniature two-bite caramel dipped apples, exotic truffles laced with spices like gray sea salt and fennel seed, and decadent confections that are almost too pretty to eat, like perfect, jewel-toned macarons. Presentation, like last year, will continue to be almost as important as taste in the form of kicked up candy and dessert bars a la Amy Atlas.
Bacon became hugely popular this past year. It was featured prominently in new ingredient-focused cookbooks, several fan blogs emerged confessing undying adoration for the once-typical breakfast accompaniment, products like bacon studded chocolate chip pancake batter are now available through gourmet food stores, and Arlington-based Restaurant 3 even featured a bacon tasting menu earlier this year.
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What will be the next hot comfort food? Chicken skin (think a CSLT sandwich), brussels sprouts (they have started to appear onto menus nationwide) and eggs (fried and draped over burgers, deviled and served as bar snacks, poached for French-inspired salads) are all new “it” ingredients, which may be in line to be the next big trend. Trays of deviled eggs with a spicy twist may become new hors d’oeuvres of choice. Or picture a delightful first course of grilled asparagus topped with a poached egg and thin shards of shaved parmesan. With such a versatile ingredient, the possibilities are limitless.
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Latin and South American-inspired cocktails, like mojitos, margaritas and caipirinhas are moving over for more delicately crafted classic cocktails. A perfect martini, gimlet, and manhattan are just three examples of the kinds of drinks that are making a comeback. As Latin-inspired cuisine takes a backseat to farm-to-table and more local, regional food interests, we may look to our neighbors up north for culinary inspiration.
Vancouver, a far cry from the Equator and the site of the Winter Olympics, offers an exciting culinary scene, including a slow food movement and a handful of eco-conscious restaurants. Vancouver has an emerging group of chefs and restaurateurs who value using ultra fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Alderwood grilled salmon, venison carpaccio and roasted caribou are all examples of the novel cuisine being crafted by Vancouver chefs. Canada also now boasts over 600 wineries and some are making noteworthy wine according to Wine Spectator. In lieu of tequila or margarita bars at events, can we look forward to caviar and ice wine tastings? Will catering companies amass requests for fresh preparations of local game meat and duck instead of more traditional dishes? It is predicted that chefs will begin to utilize different proteins and cuts of meat this year as well. It will be fun to see what influence Vancouver will have on our country’s cuisine. It will also be an important year for the local movement as more catering companies source ingredients from local farms and gardens.
It is always exciting to see new culinary trends emerge, particularly as they are interpreted for large scale events. Regardless of which trends stick around and which are fleeting, 2010 and the decade ahead are bound to be highlighted by some incredible innovations in cuisine. So, raise a glass and welcome the new year!