Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Food Trends

New Year's Eve seems like the right time for a wrap up of the year in food. This past year saw lots of bad food news. There were mad cow scares, Martha Stewart eating prison food, fast food health scandals (including the death of McDonald's CEO) the death of Julia Child and all around low-carb craziness.

On the upside the restaurant scene in San Francisco seems to be coming back to life with the opening of some new high profile restaurants, such as Michael Mina. The other trend seemed to be towards lounge/nightclub restaurants like Lime, Frisson and Levende to name just a few. The trend towards "small-plates" has generally meant more creative menus and more choices at the dinner table.

The interest in local produce, farmers markets and organic food continued to grow this year. There was a huge resurgence in artisan chocolate, including those with untraditional flavorings such as curry or ginger and ultra traditional flavorings such as chili.

So what will the trends be for next year? As far as restaurants go, the Nuevo Latino movement may continue to build momentum. More regionally specific restaurants will also be in vogue (like A16). I think we'll see exotic ingredients such as pomegranates, unusual citrus fruits like bergamot and yuzu, and Middle Eastern spices and spice mixes (such as dukkah and ras el hanout) gaining in popularity. I also predict that we have barely scratched the surface of the cutting edge cuisine where dishes are deconstructed or ingredients are pushed to their limit (a la Ferran Adria of El Bulli).

For all my readers I predict a happy, and delicious new year!