Food Trends Watch 2014

16 December, 2013

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Free-range chicken with cipollini onions, wild mushrooms and guanciale at Ember Yard

Smoking

Smoking is no new trend, though the enthusiasm for it does not seem to be ceasing in the slightest coming into 2014. Champions of the States-style, rich, barbecue approach to smoking, like Pitt Cue Co and Dukes Brew & Que, are still as popular as ever, though the world of smoking is branching out to not just meat, but to vegetables, cheeses, olive oils, waters and even cocktails.

A notable new establishment that is bringing a fresh take to smoking is Ember Yard, a new tapas restaurant from the Salt Yard Group. Inspired by ‘years spent travelling around Tuscany, Basque country and various other regions around Spain and Italy’ according to the group’s executive chef Ben Tish, Ember Yard delivers a grilling and smoking-orientated version to Italian and Spanish tapas.

Among much impressive kitchen equipment, Ember Yard has a hot smoker and a cold smoker – the latter perfect for creating a subtle smoky flavour with their remarkable smoked bream carpaccio dish with bergamot, coriander and bottarga. Ben also speaks of a slow-cooked and hot-smoked Old Spot pork belly cooked in a Basque cider glaze, to appeal to those with a slightly less delicate taste.

Another unique element to the offering at Ember Yard is their approach to crafting cocktails. A standout menu on its own, the cocktails each have their own identity and many come alive when smoke is applied. Their Il Profuma di Maria cocktail is a sweet but zingy treat to both see and sip, billowing with cherry smoke and laden with edible flowers, while their Vintage Negroni is a stiff but inviting drink, made with smoked Campari, Tanqueray No.10, Anitca Formula, grilled orange and smoked ice.

Some other restaurants practising the art of smoking are:
Smokehouse, Islington
Rita’s Bar & Dining, Hackney
Blue Boar Smokehouse, Westminster
Yauatcha, Soho
Alyn Williams at the Westbury, London

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Ember Yard’s selection of smoked spirits and powerful Vintage Negroni

Moroccan

‘When you’re trying to create a kind of identity-based cooking, the Arab world has a lot to draw from, to discover and rediscover. I think chefs in Morocco are starting to become more aware of that heritage.’ Says ElBulli’s Ferran Adria in a recent Telegraph article.

Morocco’s mixed influences makes its cuisine truly special: its first inhabitants, the Berbers, brought in staple dishes like tagine and couscous, while with the Arab invasion came new spices, nuts and dried fruits, as well as the sweet and sour combinations that we see in tagine dishes with dates and lamb.

The Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus while the Jewish-Moors left behind their sophisticated preserving techniques that we see in the frequent use of preserved lemons and pickles. The Ottoman Empire introduced barbecue (kebabs) and the French colonists left a legacy of cafes, pastries and even wine.

Key Moroccan cooking ingredients include:
Dried ginger, cumin, salt, tumeric, cardamom, cinnamon, ras l’hanoot, pure saffron pistils, sesame seeds
Parsley, coriander, mint, anise, thyme
Argan oil
Dates, figs, dried apricots, prunes, almonds, walnuts
Rosewater, orange-flower water
Preserved lemons, olives, honey
Semolina, barley, couscous

Scandinavian

From lingonberries to angelic cinnamon buns, cured fish and wild game, Scandinavia continues to influence global gastronomy with simple and natural ingredient-led food.

In 2014, the age-old cooking styles of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland will further inspire the international community, with the Skandi-curious experimenting with beach and hedgerow foraging and preserving with pickling, salting and fermentation. Expect to also see a turn to appease a more sour palate, with an emphasis on green and sea vegetables and a closeness with nature.

Scandi chefs to watch include:
Rene Redzepi, Noma, Copenhagen
Christian Puglisi, Relae, Copenhagen
Bjorn Frantzen, Frantzen, Stockholm
Rasmus Koefed, Geranium, Copenhagen

More cuisines creating buzz in 2014:
Japanese
British
Korean
French
American
Spanish
Brazilian
Peruvian
Mexican
Thai
Chinese
Italian
Middle Eastern
Vietnamese

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Pizza Pilgrims’s most popular pizza: margherita with Nduja

Pizza

Fast and delicious, with street food and American-style “dude food” taking the UK by storm, it was only a matter of time before pizza demanded our attention.

Carving the path for pizza in the UK away from poor quality student-targeted take-aways, Pizza Pilgrims’s Thom and James Elliot sparked the capital’s interest in the dish when they started selling pizzas from their three-wheeled street-food ape.

After ‘a year and a half of saying yes to everything from festivals to pop-ups’ Pizza Pilgrims have published a book and have a fully-fledged pizzeria on Dean Street that feeds their loyal following of pizza lovers, who come in time and time again for their fresh and floppy Neapolitan-style pizzas with puffed-up crusts to savour.

The Elliots say that they have seen a big rise in mobile pizza businesses as well as in large pizza-focused chain restaurants opening up. Ones to watch include Homeslice, Franco Manca and Zucca, while Polpo’s Russell Norman is rumoured to be opening a New York-style pizza concept in 2014 and Alan Yau’s forthcoming Turkish restaurant at the site of former Scotch Steak House on Shaftesbury Avenue will reportedly be serving lahmacun, a minced lamb-covered flatbread similar to pizza.

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Inside Pizza Pilgrims pizzeria on Dean Street

Batter

Once an ingredient synonymous with the local chippy, batter will come into its own in the world of food trends for 2014.

Though the British interpretation of batter can be rather heavy and greasy, the Japanese have been using tempura for years and know its virtues well. If crafted well and paired with the right foods, batter can lift a dish, as opposed to drag down.

In London and in the UK we are seeing a slew of trendy battered dishes come to the fore – with a focus on shellfish, in particular.

Some venues championing batter include:
Josh + Johnnie
Kensington Place
Chotto Matte
HIX Oyster & Chop House
Wright Brothers’ Oyster & Porter House
Newman Street Tavern
Psychic Burger at Birthdays
Shrimpy’s
Sea Shell
MEATliquor

Vegetables

The trend for eating less meat and more vegetables is ever increasing, linking with heightened consumer awareness about the positive health repercussions of having a diet rich in vegetables. A greater variety of vegetables are also becoming available to consumers and chefs alike, helping to bolster this culture of interest.

Some very popular international cuisines, including Japanese, Nikkei and Scandinavian, feature vegetables heavily in their dishes, and emphasise naturally balanced flavours and added sourness as well as pickling.

In London, Bruno Loubet has created a menu that makes vegetables the focal point of each dish, in his acclaimed restaurant the Grain Store.

Tied in with this trend is the noted rise in interest towards raw foods. The basic idea of “eating raw” is that all meals are unprocessed, unrefined and untreated with heat. There are many health benefits that come with this diet, including constant hydration and boosted levels of antioxidants. In London you can find raw food at Saf and 42Raw.

Food Buzzwords for 2014:
Fusion
Heritage
Natural
Healthy
Local
Artisan
Provenance
Ethical
Fairtrade
Environmentally sustainable
Food waste reduction