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F and B Trends 2012

16 Hottest Food and Dining Trends for Restaurants and Hotels in 2012

1 … WHAT'S THAT CRUNCHING SOUND? As the economy crawls sideways, like blue crabs at the shore, mom-and-pop eateries will be hit the hardest.
2 … THE WHOLE WORLD ON A PLATE. Look for excitement at the lower end of the market where devil-may-care entrepreneurs are piling flavors from all over the globe onto a single dish. Gastronomically, everything goes.
3 … A WIDENING "FLAVOR GAP": The menu items discussed above contain ingredients and multi-ethnic combinations that are alien to your local Panera Bread or Pizza Hut or even Five Guys -- because chains' financial stakes are so high, they're compelled to serve the fewest number of items to the greatest number of people. Savvy independent operators (most of them young) use this growing "flavor gap" to differentiate themselves from more staid corporate competitors.
4 … INSTEAD OF BREAD: Stretching for even more differentiation, look for sandwiches piled on things other than bread. Arepas, for example. Flattened tostones. Bao. Waffles. Rice cakes. Think of KFC's notorious Double Down calorie bomb… but with more inventive ingredients.
5 … INNARDS AND ODD PARTS: We said it last year … and we're saying it again: Tongue – lamb and beef -- and gizzards are hot.
6 … IN A PICKLE: House-made vegetable and fruit pickles will appear on more and more menus as chefs concoct ever more complex ways of making these preserves.
7… AT LAST, KOREAN HITS THE CHARTS: Thanks largely to food trucks, Korean food has entered the American lexicon. Bulgogi, kimchee, kalbi, bibimbap are all the rage in Wednesday food sections, which means that shelter magazines will start running dumbed-down recipes in 2012 and we wouldn't be shocked to see Korean-inflected fried chicken appearing on some chain menus.
8… NO, EVERYONE'S NOT BROKE: About a quarter of America's population is still happily working and another large chunk has a bit less – but not nothing – to spend, and after deep psychological retrenchment they'll be returning to restaurant life. They're not burning money, but they're still having fun spending. And when they do, they're seeking fun, interesting food and a sense of adventure. From this, we see the following:
8 a … COMFORT FOOD HITS THE WALL: When the recession hit three years ago, Americans gravitated to "crisis food": homey roast chicken, soothing meat loaf, voluptuous mac-and-cheese, unchallenging sushi, and the Holy Cheeseburger.
8 b … EARLY DRINKING, LATE NIGHT DINING: People making sales and service calls, and supervisory staff, are spending more time in their cars, so they're shifting social times to cocktails at four and dinner at ten.
8 c … ROUND THINGS THAT GO POP IN THE MOUTH: Kimchee- and-parmesan-filled arancini (photo by Pablo76), fried goat cheese balls, spherical falafel, meat balls of all kinds, bacalao croquettes, crispy oxtail risotto balls – all of them dropped briefly in the fryer and served with multi-ethnic sauces and dips – are becoming hot-hot sharable bar food.
9 … BEER GARDENS: Outdoor or indoor/outdoor, beer gardens will boom around the country, – especially from restaurants and breweries with unused backyards, oversized parking lots or available rooftops.
10 … WHEELS COME OFF FOOD TRUCKS: Dozens of food truck operators will open brick-and-mortar shops in 2012. Many will put their vehicles on the block; others will attempt to run both businesses.
11. CHOCOLATE DIRT: THE FORAGERS ARE COMING! A few years back, an unknown chef at restaurant Noma, in Copenhagen, created a strange series of tableaux on his dining room tables, using tree bark, pine needles, lichens and other things normally grazed by reindeer. So it was that in 2010 the Nordic forager Rene Redzepi (sounding much like an acid rock band) displaced the Spanish chemistry wizzrd Fernan Adria (for whom he once worked) as the world's numero uno chef.
Molecular gastronomy hasn't exactly evaporated, but now you might get trampled by dozens of upscale chefs rushing to harvest dinner from the underbrush and under rocks – or assembling dishes that looked like they might be untamed gardens.http://rozannegold.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/chocolatedirt-is-it-art-or-is-it-dinner/12 … JAPANESE CRAFT BEERS will gain a following.. They're already is making inroads on beer-centric menus and Asian-inflected restaurants and they give lots of local artisan brews a good run for their money.
13 … FORGET SKYSCRAPER ARCHITECTURE. Chefs are shifting from stacking food as high as possible to stringing out ingredients in caterpillar-like lines along oblong or rectangular plates.
14 … PERU GAINS MOMENTUM: Peru's food is cross-pollinated by Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Andean flavors and cooking techniques. It is the source of the world's most exciting ceviches and tiraditos (Huffington Post …http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rozanne-gold/food-trend-pop-goes-peru_b_982949.html
15 … WRONG ON HAMBURGERS: We predicted last year that "gourmet burgers" would peak in 2011. But they haven't and we may be premature.
16 … THREE CAUTIONARY TRENDS: (1) Misuse of words like "artisan" and "heirloom" and "local" will pollute their meaning, especially as chains co-opt them for marketing slogans. Adding a whole grain to factory bread doesn't make it "artisan" and not all misshapen tomatoes are "heirlooms" from "local" growers. "Green" and "sustainable" are in this category, too. (2) There's a looming oversupply of farmers markets. (3) Too many chefs are smoking too many foods.

Fresh sardines. Ultra-long dry aging of meat. Uni. Yuzu. Tamarind. Ox tail, (see "Innards and Odd Parts," above). Duck will make a comeback but not slathered with orange marmalade. Hand-made ricotta and burrata. Kalbi, bibimbap, bulgogi (bulgogi photo right from ifood tv). Huacatay (better look it up). Bone marrow. Flowers re-appearing on dinner plates. Hibiscus. Arepas. Coconut oil. Goat meat crosses the border from ethnicnabes. Shiso. Nordic cooking and ingredients. Upscale restaurants re-tenanting shopping center food courts. Lamb ribs and belly. Bao. More entries into the tossed salad restaurant business, using ever better ingredients. Nduja. Micro-distilleries. Bacalao. Large displays of exotic bitters on the bar. Crazier taco fillings migrating from food trucks to restaurants. Green papaya. Seaweed in non-Asian dishes.