Literature’s best undertones are bordered in parentheses.
Quotes, undertones, playwrights and really anything supported by two crescents that are the beginning and end of a tale.
After salivating through 11 food trends for 2014, its time to explore what I find to be the epitome and essence of any meal. Desserts, followed by drinks, in that order of priority. Akin to the parentheses that hold a meal together.
Ice Cream Sandwiches
I have shared my indulgences on quirky ice cream flavors before… but now the stage is set for ice cream sandwiches. Probably borrowing some honor from the reign of bread and my ultimate fad for cookies, comes this underutilized, sumptuous post workout staple, luxury-fied. Replacing the likes of donuts and cupcakes are these cool multi-textured morsels, which will naturally evolve into flavor bombshells. Think ginger ice cream embraced by pepper infused cookies, aka my first foray into gourmet ice cream sandwiches.
While I like the way macaroons look, and the creativity of flavors that usually accompanies them, they are frankly not my go-to dessert. I prefer something that grounds me in its molten density instead of whisking me away with French fluffiness. Albeit, another pastry that is making the rounds in its makeover is the éclair: a hotdog shaped pastry fluffed with cream, chocolate and caramel, and frankly whatever you may please. I have only indulged in the traditional flavors in New York, or the kinds that are printed with art and melt in your mouth in Vienna, but Chef Chistophe Adam, known for his eclair makeover, has more recently attempted yuzu popcorn and the likes, and we can only but anticipate a surge of quirky flavors to follow. Welcome to your new sweet staple.
Chocolate is not a fad, but a way of life. And yet, its forms change year after year. This year will see the growth of chocolate as a superfood, supplemented with antioxidant powers and ingredient insertions to make it the daily dose of your Superman strength. Something I saw with Gnosis chocolate at a previous chocolate show, and which we’ll continue seeing with chocolate having adulterous affairs with chia, edamame, pomegranate, sesame, seaweed, and all those nutrient rich foods. Watch out for the likes of probiotics, superfood and wellness lines instead of your favorite candy bars!
I’ve had the likes of tomato and potato ice cream before, but full-fledged desserts incorporating vegetables in their visible format are truly here to stay. And no, we are not talking about carrot cakes! Candied celery and cabbage with sorbet, kale ice pops (check out GreenWave Smoothies!) and sweet onion with ice cream are just a few whimsical affairs that vegetables are starting to have with desserts. My favorites thus far have been sweet medley of sugary noodles and purple glazed caramelized carrots and celery ice cream with tomato droplets in Napa Valley… or Chicago’s creative inclusion of sweet onions with sorbet, or better yet, candied celery with citrus fruits and lemon tart in Princeton, New Jersey!
The era of tea parties is back. Borrowing a habit from the British side across the pond supper, it is often called high tea, or even recently touted as low tea to make it less pretentious. It is an iconic meal of sorts which we will now need to make room for on our schedule in the early evening… a merry replacement to happy hours if you ask me! When Starbucks and Teavana joined roots to come up with a tea bar in New York, tea made a rather obvious foray into leading the beverage category this year. Whether it becomes more popular than coffee or not remains to be seen. For the comfort zone, there is always masala Indian chai in a glass! Till then, there will be a rise in quirky tea flavors, extending this trend from last year , some even including chocolate, and some even infused into cocktails! And soon, it will even be a flavoring ingredient: tea noodles, even tea ice cream.
Sugary and artificial sodas reign in popularity, as do cavity inducing sugar spiking cocktails. But for those that are health conscious or, like me, not swept in an alcoholic wave, there is the world of fresh soda. Thanks to the trend of everything homemade, sodas will foray into domestic kitchens too. Carbonation is a rising fad, and with technology at easy disposal, fruit juices and even teas are easy to make at home with a dash of fizz, giving a stylish twist to your average party cocktail or kid drinks.
Solid Cocktails and Fancy Ice
Cocktails are always an easy specimen for gastronomical experimentation. Two distinct trends in the frozen epitome of fancy emerge, starting with solid cocktails, i.e. a non-liquid chunks of heavenly, alcohol infused goodness for dozy summer months. Akin to a whiskey bourbon ice pop, just stronger. I have seen these mostly as gel, like vodka jelly which is alarmingly potent. Additionally, creators are going creative with ice: understanding the science of ice and how its shape affects the drink over its short life, almost making different shapes of ice per cocktail! Or infusing the ice with herbs and garnishes, preserving their almost lifeless sheen in fearless, still state. Charming, really.
Flavors of Gin
If the New York Wine and Food Festival was any indication, gin is the hottest alcohol of the year. Flavored, infused with bitters, brewed with herbs, gin is sure to unleash a new life into its relationship with tonic at bars worldwide. My favorite has been a spice infused gin, homemade at South Beach Miami’s luxurious Rose Bar.
My devotion to desserts, followed by drinks, is unmatched. And I’m looking forward to these 8 trends even more than meal staples.
Which one of these trends will remain between the parentheses of a meal, and which ones will fall off the culinary dictionary?