Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 In / Out with Cook In / Dine Out

In Out
Imitating Chipotle. The fast-casual Mexican chain has revolutionized fast food to embrace freshness, sustainability, quality and local ingredients for just a few dollars more, and the stalwarts of the industry have taken notice. Imitating Jaleo. Every time I go to a new restaurant and the server explains to me that their menu is small plates and we should order X number to share, I long for an entree I can call my own.
Roasted chicken. Palena Cafe, The Nomad and Zuni Cafe all have their house specials. It's time we each did. Luxe burgers. Chef-driven burgers were everywhere last year, achieving market (and arterial) saturation.
Mezcal. The smoky Mexican spirit is increasingly popular and bars and has culinary uses too (try glazing sautéed chicken with mezcal and agave nectar--yum). Bacon. The smoky-salty meat has gone from breakfast to sandwiches to dinner to dessert and even cocktails. I love the versatile meat as much as anyone, but I think it needs a rest.
Mustard greens. Whether sautéed, steamed, braised or raw, this green is ready for its close-up. Kale. Sure, it's delicious and nutritious, but the hearty green got overworked in 2012 and needs a break.
DIY pickles. Fermentation appears to be a growing trend and pickling, whether quick or in jars for longer term, is a great way to creatively preserve foods. DIY yogurt. Seems like a lot of effort when there are so many inexpensive and delicious varieties on the market now.
Farro. I'm seeing this chewy Italian whole grain more frequently on menus and I think it's time for home cooks to give it a try. Quinoa. Definitely overplayed as grains go. Plus, a lot of people don't seem to really like it, so time to find a healthy grain you don't have to convince yourself to eat.
Izakayas. An Izakaya is a Japanese-style bar that also serves food. Several notable ones have opened recently in D.C. (Kushi, Seki) with more on the way (Daikaya, unnamed 6th & F NW).  Gastropubs. Commonweath and Againn in D.C. have closed. This trend appears to be on the way out.
Bread courses. Bon Appetit and Food & Wine both noted that specialty breads are hot in restaurants now. Love it.Tasting menus. Critics are turning against restaurants that hold diners captive for hours with course after course of pricey, self-indulgent nibbles. Isn't "choice" one of the nicest things about reading a menu? Let's bring it back.
The '80s cocktails. Last year's cocktails were all about the early 20th century cocktails, as "speakeasies" dotted every city. With the '80s having already made returns in fashion and music, it's time to put a fresh spin on drinks from the greedy decade. Aperitif-based cocktails. I'm sure we'll still be making cocktails with Aperol, Campari and Cynar, but it's time to draw the line. Their low alcohol content means they can't be stored in the bar, and my fridge is full!
East Asian influence. D.C.'s Little Serow and New York's Mission Chinese Food were two of 2012's hottest new restaurants (and see Izakayas above). Americans are increasingly interested in Asian food with spice, creativity and authenticity. Scandinavian influence. How much longer can Noma hold on to its "best restaurant in the world" title? And why, if it's so great, hasn't Scandinavian cuisine taken much hold in America beyond the cafe at Ikea?

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for imitating Chipotle -- as long as the imitations are as good. And looking forward to those '80s cocktails!