One More Ubiquitous Food Trends for 2014 Post

After a year of exhaustive research, eating somewhere between two and four meals a day,  I can say I’m qualified to develop a list of 2014 food trends.

Burrata
It’s inexpensive to make, it’s stuffed, it’s creamy, it seems exotic. It has all the traits of being a huge hit. You can even bread it and deep-fry it. I expect this cream-filled mozzarella ball will show up on as many Italian menus as fried calamari. This last summer it started showing up as part of caprese salads, but chef’s will find a way to get more creative. Burgers? Deep fried burrata?

Korean
People have been talking about Korean food hitting main-stream America. But thanks to TV, every Iowan knows what a bulgoghi taco is. Next up, Korean dishes making it into non-Korean restaurants and or Korean restaurants making it into non-Korean neighborhoods. On the coasts you are starting to see dishes like bibimbap show up in top restaurants.

Popcorn
Not gourmet flavored popcorn, but popcorn as an ingredient. Popcorn goes great as a garnish on soups. It’s a versatile ingredient that can add texture, crunch or starch. In Ecuador and parts of Peru, it’s the traditional accompaniment to ceviche. Popcorn won’t be a s big as burrata this year, but it will start making more of a presence.

Micro-Specialists
Menus will continue to get shorter. More new restaurants will focus on a specific niche, instead of offering a variety from a given cuisine, chefs will specialize in just one dish, in three to four variations.

Vegetable Entrees
Vegetarian dishes aren’t anything new, but in most places, a non-meat entree is focused around pasta, bread or rice. 2014 will see the move toward vegetables treated like the focal point. Non-meat entrees won’t just be salads and starches.

Prices
People are back to work in the U.S., many are spending money again, tired of penny-pinching and willing to spend a bit more on food. Restaurants will add a 2nd , even a 3rd extravagant item to their menu. Consumers who restrained from luxury, except on special occasions will start to be a bit more open-walleted when it comes to date-night.

 

Advertisements

Favorite Food Hacks

I picked up a few tricks in the last couple of months. Some of them are pretty good, but I’m not sure any meet the cupcake sandwich standard.

Pizza Leftovers
 My wife insists leftover pizza is best eaten cold. I disagree. It’s best eaten with a crisp crust, and just warmed through enough that the cheese is soft. To accomplish this, drop a cold slice of pizza into a cold skillet or frying pan. Set the burner to medium-high. and weight about 3-5 minutes until the cheese has softened and warm. The bottom of the crust will have a very thin crisp layer on it, and everything else will have just the right temperature and consistency.

Char Grilled Streak
 Looking for a nice char on the outside of the steak like you would get if you could get your oven/grill/range to 900 degrees? Try roughing up the surface of the steak. Take a sharp knife and slice dozens of tiny scores, barely breaking the surface of the steak. the rougher you can get the surface, the more great little brown bits you’ll get at relatively low temperatures. You end up with a nice carmelized exterior without overcooking the steak.

Make Anything a Bowl
 For years I used upside down muffin tins to form a bowl-shaped crust for a favorite apple dessert. The recent bacon bowl TV ads inspired me to try a few more items.  You can take Japanese sticky rice, from it over the tin and you get a great rice bowl with a little bit of crispness around the edges. And no, you don’t have to buy the bacon bowl, as seen on TV, a muffin tin works just fine, but be sure to place a hotel pan or cookie sheet or  underneath it to catch the drippings.

Slicing an Avocado
This one seems super simple, but I see people slicing avocados wrong all the time.  Slice the avocado before peeling it. RUn you knife through the meat just until the tip hits the skin. Don’t slice through the skin. Then just peel the skin back or run a large spoon between the meat and the skin.

Peel just About Anything
I’ve only tried this with potatoes and roasted chiles but I bet it works for many other things as well.  Steam or bake the item that you want peeled, then drop it in an ice bath.the peel usually slides off cleanly in one big sheet.

 

Getting Kicked Out of a Vegas Mall and Beer Ignorance

About two weeks ago I was in Vegas for the day — about 7 hours. I had some meetings late in the afternoon, but based on flight schedules I arrived around 10:00 a.m.

It had been a while since I was in Vegas. Last time I was there was just before the opening of CityCenter. Since I had some time to kill before my first meeting I decided I’d go explore. After checking out the basics, I need to go catch up on some work. Vegas being Vegas, the hotel lobbies don’t have easily accessible power outlets, but I noticed a very comfortable bench with an outlet next to it across from Harry Winston inside the Crystal Mall. This was a Wednesday morning and the place was empty.  It probably was obvious that I wasn’t there to buy a $250,000 watch, I was wearing a sport coat and slacks. Not the usual Vegas wear, but not a total slob either.

I sat down to work and after about 10 minutes a very large man in a black suit that was nice enough to have been purchased at the mall and not JC Penney approached me and said “Our electricity is not for public use.” This caught me as a little odd since their Wi-Fi is public.

I decided not to mess with the man, walked downstairs and found a coffee stand. I grabbed the cup of coffee and sat down on another bench just outside the coffee stand and opened up my laptop. As I finished my coffee and tossed it in the nearby gold-plated trash can, a different security guard approached. Similar black suit, but also an earpiece in his right ear. “We already told you that wasn’t allowed. I must ask you to leave the premises.”

I was then escorted out by the man in black, with a second equally well dressed UNLV lineman following behind us about 20 paces.

Rather than test my luck again. I hopped into the Todd English gastropub and taphouse for a sandwich and a beer, where I heard the waitress tell the table next to me that an IPA was just like an amber.