On the Menu: 2011 Food Trends

trendsClockwise from top left: Matthew Lightner's Willamette Valley onion salad with caramelized allium vinegar, herbs, and crisp vegetables; Three Tarts Bakery mallomars, Del Posto's one-hundred layer lasagna; flavored butters at the Girl and the Goat

‘Tis the season to be predicting trends! We know that trying to find the next big thing in food isn’t an exact science, but we do have a decent track record to fall back on: in our 2010 trend forecast, we hit the mark with macarons and meatballs. So we’re feeling pretty confident that these emerging trends will make headlines in 2011: Upscale snack cakes and candy bars: The new Lulu’s Bakery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood beckons our inner child with their grown-up versions of Hostess’s Snowball and Drake’s Swiss Roll. Just a few blocks west, our friends at Three Tarts Bakery have whipped up their very own Mallomar. (Get the recipe here!) Up at the recently opened 9 Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, Eric Hara makes a peanut butter and chocolate candy bar, while Joanne Chang will send out homemade Oreos during her Beard House brunch in February. Lasagna: Macaroni and cheese? Meatballs? Check. It’s only a matter of time before this multilayered wonder becomes the comfort food della giornata. Mark Ladner debuted his hundred-layer lasagna at Del Posto earlier this year, while Jonathan Benno and Sara Jenkins fuss over the lasagne at their new ventures, baking individual servings to order. Over in Brooklyn, Brucie will bake you a week’s worth of lasagna if you bring them an empty pan. (The other item available for drop-off service? Meatballs.) Sweeping of the floors: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about NOMA’s René Redzepi and his breathtaking interpretations of Nordic landscapes that evoke in look and taste everything from the forest to the oceanbed, prepared with locally foraged ingredients. Meanwhile, Portland’s Matthew Lightner, a Redzepi protégé, plucks indigenous herbs, roots, and other flora from the Willamette Valley to recreate his local terroir on a plate. On a trip to Japan this summer, JBF vice president Mitchell Davis took an exhilarating stroll through a metaphoric forest floor in a salad at Les Créations de Narisawa. Local oils: At a meeting about sustainability in the foodservice industry this summer, we were proudly served a local, cold-pressed rapeseed (Canola) oil from Maine Natural Oils at Portland, Maine’s Fore Street. Then at the Union Square Greenmarket we spotted an intensely flavored, first-pressed sunflower-seed oil produced in upstate New York by Stolor Organics. Save for region-designated olive oils, it’s been near impossible to find a cooking oil with any particular provenance. Can the first truly local fry shop be that far away? Bread-and-butter pairings: James Beard was onto something when he declared the greatest of feasts to be good bread with fresh butter. Lately we’ve noticed that chefs are trying to raise the sublime match to even greater heights. When Stephanie Izard hosted a Friends of James Beard Benefit at the Girl and the Goat, we enjoyed one of in-house baker Greg Wade’s baskets of intricate loaves with coordinated condiments: fried pumpkin seed–studded chocolate sourdough paired with guajillo pepper–cinnamon butter and pumpkin purée; stecca (a no-knead baguette) matched with roasted garlic–white anchovy butter. Tartare: Though a battered Wall Street is making timid gains, the chopped meat that fueled the booming eighties is returning in full force. The tartare trio at Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern was some of the earliest evidence of the revived trend, but we’ve seen a real uptick on recent Beard House menus, which have featured nearly every uncooked meat imaginable, from veal cheek and elk to Anna Sortun’s kingfish nayeh, a traditional Lebanese preparation usually prepared with lamb. We even spotted ostrich tartare on the menu at the Essex Resort & Spa outside of Burlington, Vermont.

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