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Food Trends 2017: What's on the Way

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Food Trends 2017: What's on the Way

As an obsessive foodie and avid traveler, I have the opportunity to eat at a wide variety of restaurants around the world. That puts me in a good position to spot emerging food trends. 

One current food trend I hope will go away soon is pine. Every restaurant of a certain creativity level has a dish flavored with pine right now. Yep, that's Christmas tree flavor. We can thank Noma and the Nordic food revolution for this addition to the global food lexicon. A lot of amazing things have come out of the Nordic movement, but pine is not one them. When I ate at Noma, Geranium, Radio and Relæ in Copenhagen in 2014, I had a LOT of pine. (If Rene Redzepi were here now, I'd have a very creative way to thank him for the pine in my food!)

Below are some food trends that I expect to gain popularity in the next few years. Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments section below.


Koji

SingleThread  in Healdsburg, CA - Mt. Lassen trout ibushi-gin with shio koji vinaigrette, trout roe, and myoga

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Mt. Lassen trout ibushi-gin with shio koji vinaigrette, trout roe, and myoga

Koji is the fungus used to make soy sauce, miso and sake, and shio koji is a salted liquid that is used as a marinade and sauce which contains enzymes that help break down proteins which releases free glutamate, the main source of umami. Koji preparations are clearly well known in Japan, but koji has been on the menu at SingleThread in Sonoma, Baroo in Los Angeles, Barley Swine in Austin, The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa, and Restaurant Andre in Singapore.

Barroo  in Los Angeles, CA - Farro and kamut cooked with koji beet creme and dashi with nuts and rose apple pickle.

Barroo in Los Angeles, CA - Farro and kamut cooked with koji beet creme and dashi with nuts and rose apple pickle.


Raw Fish

Gaggan  in Bangkok, Thailand - Raw fish taco

Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand - Raw fish taco

Raw fish preparations are a part of many cultures, but we are not simply seeing them in expected places like Japan (sushi), Mexico and Peru (ceviche). We are seeing raw fish in Hawaiian poke-like preparations in fast casual restaurants, and a raw lobster preparation at Bianchi in Zurich. There were recently two raw fish dishes on the menu at Gaggan, a high end modernist Indian food restaurant in Bangkok, and just about every chef driven restaurant in the US will have a crudo or ceviche like dish on the menu.


Edible Clay and Dirt

Central  in Lima, Peru - Cushuro (a round colony of bacteria from the Andes that are solid but chewy), cacao, chaco clay.  

Central in Lima, Peru - Cushuro (a round colony of bacteria from the Andes that are solid but chewy), cacao, chaco clay.  

Noma in Copenhagen has served dirt to their guests (on purpose), and for years Michel Bras has garnished his famous gargouillou salad with a bit of dirt. Andean natives in Peru eat the clay that sticks to the potatoes they cook in the earth, and Central and other restaurants in Peru have started serving edible clay. Central actually serves a dessert with edible clay and white chocolate.  As Peru is driving many culinary trends right now, the edible clay trend will continue to grow.

 

 


Non-alcoholic Drinks and Pairings

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Turmeric and grenadine with smoked salt

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Turmeric and grenadine with smoked salt

Many high end restaurants are putting more effort than ever into beverage pairings that do not contain alcohol. SingleThread in Sonoma County offers a revelatory non-alcoholic pairing. Coi in San Francisco offers a tea pairing, and Restaurant Andre in Singapore is fermenting their own juices. The trend is also starting to trickle into more casual chef driven restaurants and will continue to do so.

 

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Ramen School in Osaka, Japan

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Ramen School in Osaka, Japan

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Over the holidays some families stick to age old traditions of cooking and baking holiday favorites.  My younger son Cooper and I make ramen! We love ramen and avidly explore every Bay Area ramen shop we can find.  When I travel across the nation and globally I do the same, looking for the best and most popular ramen I can find!  

When we make ramen over the holidays we often use the Momofuku recipe.  That is a great book with very creative recipes, many of which aren't too labor intensive, have a small number of steps and each recipe is packed with flavor.  Their ramen recipe, however, is quite a bit of work, which is why we do it over the holidays when we have time away from work and school to focus on doing it right!  

When we were in Japan last year, we were delighted to find out that there was a professional ramen school in Nagase, a short train ride from Osaka, and we made sure to sign up.  The Toranoana ramen school is run by ramen master Hiroshi Miyajima.  He trains chefs who want to open ramen restaurants, and also teaches one-day classes to amateur cooks.  Miyajima-sensei is, by his own admission, not fluent in English, so a translator allowed us to get the most of out his class.  Cooper was nine years old at the time and I love that cooking schools outside of the US are open to having children join their classes.  Cooper is a passionate cook, very responsible in the kitchen, and has an innate set of cooking skills that make him a natural in the kitchen!  It's often hard to find good classes for him to take at home but here they had no reservations about Cooper taking the class with me.  

We both learned a lot during the course.  In the morning we started preparing the chashu, dashi for tare, onsen eggs and broth.  We made the broth in just a few hours with a giant pressure cooker.  Partway through the morning we took a break to eat ramen that the chef had made in a course the day before and received a great lecture on ramen theory (as I now call it).  The morning ramen was chicken based, surprisingly rich and very tasty!  In the afternoon we climbed a set of  very steep stairs (maybe it was really a ladder) to find a few small rooms with machines for quickly making fresh noodles.  Cooper had a great time collecting the noodles quickly and efficiently as the came down the conveyor belt and placing them in a noodle tray.  At the conclusion of the class midway through the afternoon, we ate another bowl of the ramen that we had made that day.  This was pork based and just as good.  We were very full after two bowls of ramen, and actually couldn't find it in ourselves to eat any more ramen for the next few days!  This was actually very sad because we were in Japan!  The good news is that we made a quick recovery, and were able to resume our ramen regimen by the time we reached Tokyo a few days later!

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Smoked Brisket Dip and Sous Vide Chicken Ballotine: Private Workshop on Modernist Cuisine

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Smoked Brisket Dip and Sous Vide Chicken Ballotine: Private Workshop on Modernist Cuisine

Jacinta D'Souza joined us for a private workshop on sous vide, hydrocolloids, the Pacojet and transglutaminase.  We made sous vide steak, sous vide chicken ballotine, smoked brisket dip, crispy chicken skins, peach fluid gel, and whipping siphon extruded microwave cake.  The most unusual item was the smoked brisket dip.  We froze brisket, homemade bbq sauce and sour cream in a Pacojet container and pacotized it the next day.  It was smoky, slightly sweet from the bbq sauce, and creamy.  It was a very unusual dip and everyone who tried it took a minute to consider it, then decided they liked it. 

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