Now is the time of year when restaurant folks start issuing their predictions for 2015 food-and-beverage trends. I usually stay out of the fray, but I was recently invited to address a group of resort restaurant operators on the topic. As I started scanning trend reports in preparation, I realized none of us really know what’s coming, so my guess is just as good as Baum + Whiteman’s (incidentally, the consulting firm is calling for advances on the neurogastronomy; insect-eating and tablet-based ordering fronts.) So here’s what I think we’ll see lots more of in the next year:
1. Gawky vegetables
Kale isn’t over, but it’s telling that a South Carolina farm this year started growing kalettes, a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale. Americans suddenly seem to want their vegetables bulky, chunky and funny-looking. Like most of the items on this list, this trend has already shown up in Charleston: Think of the turnip custard on Edmund’s Oast opening menu. But turnips are just the beginning: Look for parsnips, rutabagas and kohlrabi to take center stage in 2015.
Taking fermenting to extremes is where the path paved by one million pickle plates surely leads. Up in Asheville, Elliott Moss is fermenting pimento cheese, cole slaw and Brussels sprouts at The Thunderbird, his MG Road pop-up. Expect to soon find out how your favorite food tastes when it gets some age on it. Or, at the very least, prepare for omnipresent fish sauce. After his successful Southern Foodways Alliance lunch this fall, Underbelly’s Chris Shepherd mailed out small bottles of Red Boat brand fish sauce. Trust the man.
3. Sour flavors
All of those pickles that prepared eaters for fermentation’s next frontier also acculturated palates to sourness, long the most underrated flavor in Western cooking. The ascent of sour bodes well for the Eastern European influences starting to take hold in upscale restaurants, a phenomenon that probably arose from the success this decade of San Francisco’s Bar Tartine and new-wave delis, such as Atlanta’s General Muir and New York City’s Russ & Daughters. Eaters in the Pacific Northwest are now enthralled by Kachka, where the menu includes sulguni cheese, sour cherry vareniki and cabbage rolls. The Lowcountry rendition may include more sour cream, buckwheat and horseradish.
Article from The Post and Courier, December 22, 2014, by Hanna Raskin.