I’m always excited about the start of a brand New Year, new resolutions, new opportunities, new challenges, lots of fun. So what might be coming down the line in 2019, what do we think is hot and what’s not?….
Food trends are notoriously volatile but in any business, it’s super important to keep an eye on the indications relevant to your area, analyse them but beware of following them slavishly.
In my business, keeping an eye on what’s happening on the food, farming and beverage scene is essential to staying on the cutting edge and attracting both customers and students from all around the world to Ballymaloe and Ireland. I travel quite a bit, this past year I’ve travelled to China and the US…New York, Florida, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Turin, London…. Food is my subject and so I consider travel to be a vital element in my research. Everywhere I go, I meet artisan producers, farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers, visit Farmer Markets, seek out Food Trucks, taste Street Food and eat in a wide variety of cafes, neighbourhood restaurants, and fine dining establishments. I keep my eyes and ears open, ask lots of questions, take lots of photos and lots of notes.
So, here are some of my predictions for food trends in 2019 based on my observations over the past year…
The number of people choosing a plant based or vegan diet continues to grow exponentially. Countless others are becoming flexitarians and are choosing to eat less meat and are actively seeking meat and poultry that has been ethically and humanely reared. Believe me this ‘meat-free movement’, now linked to climate change, is no ‘flash in the pan’. Pasture-raised is the buzz word here, rotating animals through lush grasslands can dramatically improve their health, the health of the soil. Trap CO2 in the soil where it belongs, help with water reduction and reduce erosion – good news for Ireland.
Expect to see more shopper support and shopping brands committed to good animal welfare practices and environmental stewardships. Businesses and farms that support programs to relieve poverty throughout the world are also influencing consumers and has become a definite global trend. Mindful choices, ‘waste not want not’, is a growing preoccupation, consequently some supermarkets are now selling ugly and misshapen but perfectly delicious and nutritious fruit and vegetables at a lower price point.
There’s a growing annoyance among consumers about the excess packaging they are forced to accept. There is a definite awareness of the damage that plastic is doing to our oceans and planet and that it is gradually leaching into our food. We will see an increase in more eco conscious packaging, single use plastic is being replaced by multi-use and compostable. We are all addicted to plastic so it will be a difficult habit to break.
B.Y.O.V.B (bring your own vegetable bag) and coffee cup are becoming the norm. Waxed canvas or silicone alternatives for sandwiches and snacks is a significant growth area for manufacturers.
A growing body of research confirms that all disease starts in the gut… The realisation that both our physical and mental wellbeing depend on the health of our gut biome has prompted a huge increase in the number of probiotic foods that contain gut friendly bacteria to improve the immune system. Even granola bars, nut butters and soups are fortified but my advice is to eat real food, seek out raw milk, raw butter, good natural yoghurt, original cheeses, organic vegetables….and ditch ultra-processed food altogether.
Gut awareness continues to drive the interest in fermentation. Cool restaurants and hotels are serving house made kefirs, kombucha, kvass, drinking vinegars, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods.
Nootropics – brain food is coming to the fore, Crickets and other insects, (a ‘new’ inexpensive source of protein) are being added to processed foods.
In the US dietitians are becoming celebrities as the health crisis deepens and the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disease continue to increase at an alarming rate. We are moving towards more personalised food experience. Once again lets eat real food, chemical free food rather than ‘edible food like substances’ that are unquestionably fuelling the health crisis.
In the world of medicine, young doctors are calling for training in nutrition to equip them with the necessary knowledge to advise their patients on diet.
Whether we like it or not, increased automation is coming our way- and fast. Robots are already making pizza in France and coffee in San Francisco. They are taking orders and delivering room service. Hotel employees are becoming increasingly concerned about their new rivals – certainly not good news for the job market.
We are edging ever closer to lab grown meats becoming main stream. Jaw dropping amounts of money have been invested in ‘motherless meat’ in the past couple of decades. The Impossible Burger is now a reality, it can even bleed like a real burger if carefully cooked, however the jury is still out on the flavour. I’ve tasted three different versions of what are described as ‘insanely delicious’ plant based burgers and I’m here to tell you that ‘insanely delicious’ it is not despite the considerable hype to the contrary. Look out for sushi grade ‘not tuna’- made from tomatoes….It’ll be interesting to watch this space, a phenomenal investment has already been sunk into this plant based burger….
Meanwhile meat-free days are on the increase and multiple restaurants are now offering an optional Meat Free Monday menu.
In the US, UK and several other countries, more people are eating at home, the millennials are cooking again. How cool is that, if you’re not convinced, pay a trip to a Farmers Market here in Ireland, London, New York or the Flea Market in Dublin and watch the action.
Farm to Table and Root to Shoot eating continues to gather momentum and drive purchases. Urban vertical indoor farming in cities is exploding, reducing expensive and environmental impact.
Bill Gates has bought 25,000 acres to develop a new ‘smart city’ from the ground up.
At last some good news for farmers and food producers, new routes to market have been developed where consumers / members order their food on-line, not from the supermarket, but directly from the farmer or food producer who gets 80% of the retail price as opposed to 25-35% through the current retail system. Farmdrop in the UK www.farmdrop.com is a brilliant example as is NeigbourFood launched in Cork city in late November. It’s already increasing membership and producers week by week – a very welcome development, check it out on www.neighbourfood.ie
The ‘clean eating fad’ it seems, is waning but has been partly subsumed into the vegan food movement.
On the global restaurant scene, molecular gastronomy appears to have peaked, top chefs are moving away from using spheres and extreme molecular elements and are putting down their paint brushes and tweezers and chucking out their palette knives – I’m told smears on plates and skid marks are out….
Seems like growing numbers are annoyed by the favouritism shown by restaurant critics to avant-garde molecular food. More diners would like to see restaurants concentrating on flavour and not overly complicating dishes, just to make them look pretty. Apparently we’re also over frilly foliage and limp pea shoots but lots of edible flower petals are still in evidence. Small plates are a definite trend.
Amazon’s takeover of Wholefoods in the US is having a profound impact on retail. There are greenhouses on supermarket rooftops in Japan, talk of being able to pick your own tomatoes straight from the vine when shopping….
Smart fridges that will automatically replenish when you are out of the branded products you can’t live without, is already a reality.
Every conceivable type of meal kit and ready meal….Home delivery of restaurant meals, soon by drone rather than bike, it’s a brave new world out there….
- Chefs and home cooks are becoming more adventurous with chilli pepper flakes, Aleppo Pepper or Pul Biber, Piment d’Espelette, Timut pepper from Nepal and Korean Gochugaru.
- Bitter greens of all kinds are on the best menus, Radichios, Chicory, Sorrell, Tardivo Dandelion leaves…. Amaranth is the new Kale…
- Marine Munchies –Seaweed and sea vegetables, all more nutritious than anything on land and intriguingly delicious – dried seaweed sprinkles, kelp noodles, samphire, dillisk soda bread… Dillisk has three times the nutritional value of kale.
- More unusual herbs, Lovage, Claytonia, Hyssop, Shiso. Wild and foraged, Pennywort, Purslane, Winter Cress, Tagetes, Ground Elder, Chickweed….
- Artisan Bakeries – Real natural sourdough fermented for at least 24 hours, better still 48 hours, made with flour from heritage grains.
- Specialist Teas – Tea bars are springing up serving exquisite (and super expensive) teas like we can’t imagine, Pu-erh tea has changed my life. Check out a little Taiwanese tea bar in New York called Té on 10th There are even tea cocktails now.
- Good fats are back, not just butter but ghee from grass-fed cows, organic pork lard, goose and duck fat…
- Argan oil and MCT oil
- Organic raw milk and raw butter ($19.99 a pound in San Francisco) much more nutrient dense and delicious
- Puffed and popped snacks – Organic popcorn with many flavours, sweet and savoury
- Faux meat snacks, a big trend. …. Yuk!
- Alcohol free spirits, booze-free cocktails, flavoured whiskeys, artisan gins, beers and ciders…
- Natural wines and organic wines are a particularly welcome trend for those who can no longer drink the chemical laden cheap wines.
- Hemp derived products are exploding…
- Doughnuts are still huge in every sense of the word, remember the excitement when Krispy Kreme opened in Dublin…
- We’ll see more African flavours, in particular Ethiopian food
- Flavours of the Pacific Rim (Asia, Oceanica and the Western coasts of North and South America) are also a strong trend so stock up on fish sauce, wasabi, lemongrass, star anise, pandan leaves, black sesame, soy sauce….
- Mushrooms, particularly the wild varieties are naturally rich in umami flavours so are being used in ever more creative ways to create ‘a meaty bite’
- Pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are really having their moment, an important and inexpensive source of protein, there’s a growing choice of pulse based snacks.
- Dried, pickled and smoked foods are ever more evident, smoked butter, salt, chill flakes, garlic, potatoes, carrots, black pudding – even porridge…
- Riced and diced as a carb substitute…cauliflower, Romanesco, broccoli…
- Stracciatella is everywhere, where can we get it here? – https://www.toonsbridgedairy.com/ .
- Cold Brew Coffee – nitro coffee…
I’m running out of space but there’s so much more, meanwhile here’s what I’ll be enjoying this week….
Bitter Endive, Escarole, Dandelion or Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing and Pangrattato
Bitter greens are enormously nutritious, we need more in our diet.
8 handfuls of salad leaves, cut or torn into generous bite sized bits (use a selection of bitter greens endive, escarole, dandelion, pursulane, winter cress….)
Caesar dressing (see recipe)
1 -2 fistfuls of freshly grated Parmesan
Pangrattato (see below) OR
40 croutons, approximately 2cm square, cooked in extra virgin olive oil
16 anchovies (Ortiz)
Choose a bowl, large enough to hold the salad comfortably, make the caesar dressing as below, sprinkle with enough dressing to coat the leaves lightly. Add a fistful of finely grated Parmesan. Toss gently and add the warm croutons (if using.) Toss again. Divide between eight cold plates. Top each salad with a couple of anchovies and serve.
If using pangrattato instead of croutons, scatter over each of the salads and serve immediately.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
150g white breadcrumbs
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Heat the extra virgin olive in a frying pan; add the garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown. Remove the garlic cloves and keep aside. Add half the breadcrumbs and stir over a medium heat until they turn golden. Spread out on a baking sheet, repeat with the remainder of the breadcrumbs. Grate the garlic cloves over the bread crumbs. Finely grate the lemon zest over the crumbs also. Toss, season with salt and taste.
2 egg yolks, preferably free-range
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 x 50g tin anchovies
1 clove garlic, crushed
a generous pinch of English mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
1/2-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
175ml sunflower oil
50ml extra virgin olive oil
50ml cold water
I make it in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together. As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water to make a spreadable consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.
Té Company is a tiny secret Taiwanese tea shop on 163 West 10th Street in Manhattan, superb teas, add it to your New York list…
12 Medjool Dates
12 Strips of homemade candied orange peel
12 Fresh walnuts
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
Assemble all the ingredients.
Split the dates down one side, prise open and remove stones.
Carefully pour a drop of balsamic vinegar into each date. Tuck a strip of candied peel and half a fresh walnut into each. Press and seal.
Enjoy with a cup of special tea.