Traveling as much as I do, it’s fun to see how small changes to menus in certain restaurants gradually avalanche into big food trends that sweep across the globe. This year, we’ve seen pie replace cupcakes as the new “it” dessert, Sriracha and bacon sprinkled on everything, and kale emerge as the most popular green.
Going into 2015, I think you’ll start to notice lots of interesting changes in the food scene. The restaurant landscape is definitely evolving, like with the term farm-to-table, which now elicits an eye roll from foodies due to its overuse. We’ll continue to see the use of more whole foods instead of processed foods and transparency of sourcing will be ever increasingly important. Chefs are also not just sourcing locally, but highlighting the flavors and foods that make an area unique with the trend of micro-regionalism. And fine dining is still on the decline as guests prefer a more gourmet experience in a casual and comfortable setting.
But when it comes to ingredients and flavors, that’s where you’ll notice the biggest changes. Here are five travel food trends worth watching, whether you’re at home or away:
1. Fermented Foods
Move over sriracha, vinegar is taking its place as the preferred condiment on the dining table. This trend goes way deeper than a jar of kimchi or bottle of balsamic, as I now see popular chefs experiment with fermenting their own vinegars and bitters and even pickling their own garden vegetables.
Expect a lot more house made vinegars, fermented vegetables you never thought you’d find pickled, and vinegar and food pairings at dinner. The chefs to watch more closely for this trend include James Beard nominee, Jonathon Sawyer and past winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” Giorgio Rapicavoli.
2. Savory Desserts
Diners are making a conscious move away from sugar, which is causing chefs to get a little more creative with desserts. After dinner, expect to experience more bitter, sour, and salty flavors instead of sweet. Think pastries filled with olives, spiced apples, bitter orange slices, black pepper panna cotta, polenta cakes, and berries drizzled in flavor infused balsamic vinegar. There’s a real movement to incorporate and balance all five-taste profiles into the flavor of a dessert and the creativity on display knows no bounds.
3. Herbal Spirits
Craft beer might have been king in 2014, but that’s quickly changing to small batch, hand crafted spirits regionally made with local ingredients. I think we’ll start seeing more simple cocktails infused and garnished with a spring of rosemary or thyme and restaurants with small batch copper distillers in place of breweries.
Yes, you read that correctly – bugs. What’s a pretty popular snack in Asian countries is making its way to the USA. Fortunately, it’s in a bit more Americanized and palatable preparation. In fact, you might not even notice it. Crickets and other quick-to-multiply bugs are coveted as an inexpensive and sustainable source of protein. Where you’ll start seeing them pop up is as an alternative gluten free baking flour.
5. From Bacon To Bits
I didn’t think it was possible to get bored with bacon, but it seems chefs are venturing off to use other, odder, yet still edible, parts of the pig including ears, tails, cheeks, and head. You’ve got to give chefs credit for not wanting to waste a single ounce of meat. If it’s done correctly, it won’t look weird or bizarre, and it will still taste like bacon. I recently tried pork head in Scotland, and it tasted like pulled pork barbecue.
What are some food trends you’ve seen lately?