ByÂ Mary-Liz Shaw of the Journal Sentinel
Some trends are almost impossible to miss.
It wasn’t hard to notice that zombies out-spooked vampires and werewolves in 2010 as the new fantasy bad guys – thanks to the ghoulish success of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
Certain food trends were just as easy to spot. The rise of the mighty farmers market was among the year’s biggest trends.
For 2011, cupcakes are definitely out. We don’t know what will replace them, but the finalists are pie, whoopie pies and French-style macarons (see related story).
Here’s one we didn’t see coming: Italian food. More than one trend watcher, including The Atlantic andÂ thedailymeal.com, identified Italian food as the newâ€‚.â€‚.â€‚.â€‚Italian food! That’s right. Apparently it’s in again. Who the heck saw it leave?!
The invasion of gourmet food trucks serving Korean tacos or mac ‘n’ cheese sandwiches is a trend that zoomed through many cities in 2010, including New York, Seattle and Toronto, but it hasn’t parked in Milwaukee yet.
Following are 10 trends we think will get even bigger in 2011. Maybe a few of these happened your way. Or perhaps you spotted your own. If so, let us know. (We already know about the Italian thing.)
1. FORAGED FOOD is the new organic produce
Once “organic” food was appropriated by the likes of Walmart and Target – where you can get a quart of organic strawberries along with bargain-price bedsheets – then foodies had to find another breed of produce to be exclusive about.
Now you’ll find them, tastefully clad in Birkenstocks and Columbia-brand field shorts, rustling up a salad of watercress and morels from out of the wild wood.
Some restaurants now boast that at least a portion of their menu has been seasonally foraged, either by the chefs themselves, a hired “forager” such as the one on staff at Madison’s L’Etoile, or by any of dozens of independent contractors who aren’t afraid of a little mud, thank you, to pick you some of those delectable ramps and fiddleheads.
2. BITTERS are the new home brew
In late 2009 through early 2010, homemade, one-of-a-kind cocktails were the big thing in beverages. Now, the trend goes further with recipes for craft bitters, the spicy, concentrated flavorings that give cocktails their zing.
In Milwaukee, the proprietors of Bittercube, Ira Koplowitz and Nick Kosevich, have raised the profile of bitters with their unique creations, including Cherry Bark Vanilla, Blackstrap and Bolivar (chamomile, cinnamon and dried fruits).
3. BACKYARD BEES are the new urban chickens
All over the country, people started keeping beehives to augment their home gardens – which took off like gangbusters in 2009 and continued to grow in 2010. Urban apiculture (beekeeping) became a cool new buzzword.
The University of Wisconsin Extension in Milwaukee County now has anUrban Apiculture Institute, where you can take classes at two skill levels (Worker and Queen). It identifies at least five thriving beekeeping operations in Milwaukee. In April, Susan Bence of WUWM radio (the NPR affiliate) profiledÂ Terri Kinis, a Milwaukee beekeeper.
4. BROWNED BUTTER is the new butter
When it came to sweets, food blogs and magazines were all about putting more oomph into that most basic of ingredients, butter.
Browned butter is achieved by cooking unsalted butter over medium heat until it turns a pleasing caramel color. It’s a tricky process that could result in burned butter – or you can be like the French, call itÂ beurre noir, and pretend that you meant to burn it all along.
Browned butter imparts a delicate, nutty taste and pairs well with brown sugar.
FineCooking.com featuredÂ Browned Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake as a Thanksgiving showstopper. The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy’s tony food site, offered a luscious recipe forÂ Browned Butter Butterscotch Pie to usher in the fall. And Emily Annet, an English-language food blogger based in Belarus, createdÂ Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies in August and declared them to be the best she’s ever eaten.
Cook’s Illustrated put browned butter in chocolate chip cookies back in 2009 and dubbed them Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe appears below.
5. GRASS-FED BEEF is the new free-range chicken
2010 may well go down as the year it became cool to eat meat again – but only the right kind of meat.
Part of the long-arc trend of gourmands wanting to be on a first-name basis with their food, there was a big push for D-I-Y butchery, or at least the semblance of such under the watchful eye of an expert. In Milwaukee, Scott Buer ofÂ Bolzano Artisan Meats, continues to sell out his whole-hog butchering classes and his charcuterie school tours.
The rise of grass-fed beef is the newest component in the meat trend, which fits snugly into the small-farm, co-op movement that has been particularly fruitful in Wisconsin. TheÂ Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperativesupplies its brand of beef, “Wisconsin Meadows,” to several Milwaukee restaurants, including Comet CafÃ© and Le RÃªve, along with cuts for the home cook at Outpost Natural Foods.
Meanwhile, Franklin’sÂ Strauss Brands Inc., introduced meadow-fed veal and free-raised lamb to its product line less than two years ago, which are available locally at Sendik’s and Whole Foods stores and at several restaurants, including those in the Bartolotta Group (Lake Park Bistro, Bacchus). In 2010, Strauss’ environmentally friendly meats gained national attention thanks to features by Anthony Bourdain, O Magazine (Oprah’s publication) and the online food zineÂ Tastingtable.com.
6. ARTISANAL HOT DOGS are the new panini
This one surprised us, especially after such well-known media types as Rachael Ray and Canada’s CTV television identified it as a trend. Their source is Andrew Freeman, a San Francisco hospitality and restaurant consultant who identified the fancy hot dog as a sprouting trend in restaurants in New York and California. (He is also the guy behind the idea that pie is the new cupcake – but that’sÂ another story.)
Freeman thinks more restaurants will follow the hot dog trail, as chefs have a penchant for taking novelty or workaday foods and dressing them up as gourmet. Last year it was mac ‘n’ cheese. Before that it was the humble grilled cheese, which got an Italian twist and became the panino.
In Milwaukee, meanwhile, we got our firstÂ Dr. Dawg in 2010. It specializes in high-end Chicago-style hot dogs made by Vienna Beef.
7. THE SCIENCE AND TRAVEL CHANNELS are the new Food Network
It isn’t enough anymore to just cook or eat the food. We have to know, ahem, theÂ science behind that serving of mac ‘n’ cheese or that tasty extruded dessert product (otherwise known as the Twinkie).
What’s more, these shows are hits with kids. Just try prying your adolescent away from such fare as “How It’s Made,” “How Do They Do It?” or “Factory Made,” all of which take us into giant food processing centers to show us the science behind seemingly simple meals such as a plate of bacon and flapjacks from the International House of Pancakes.
On the Travel Channel, there is the Food of the Weird as seen on “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” and Food as Pastime as seen on “Man v. Food.”
Add in the makeshift dining, including but not limited to roaches, “land shrimp” and raw, wild goat innards, seen in “Survivor Man” and “Man vs. Wild” on the Discovery networks, and food is suddenly at the heart of amazing, if stomach-turning, adventure.
8. RECIPE APPS are the new cookbook
Serious Eats, the online food magazine, and other food watchers cited the digital reanimation in 2010 of defunct Gourmet magazine to an iPad app as the advent of a new era of cookbook.
Certainly we all noticed foodies in grocery stores, their smart phones loaded with a recipe for tonight’s dinner, hunting the shelves for ingredients listed in the recipe app. And hundreds of cooking apps seemed to rise out of the ether like so much quick-rise yeast on a sugar bender. Many of them are free, including veganyumyum_mobile, ucook, epi (Epicurious recipes) and Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook.
But traditional cookbooks got some of their own back with the siteÂ Eat Your Books, a searchable database of more than 16,000 cookbooks. Membership is by subscription ($25 a year; $50 lifetime), but it means perpetual, mobile access to all of your cookbooks. If you have a beloved text that isn’t in the database yet, you can request that it be added.
9. HOME PRESERVES are the new home gardens
With all that produce filling up their backyards, foodies had to find something to do with it. Home preserves, those staples of the pantry 60 years ago, quickly rose to new heights of D-I-Y coolness.
Thanks to Wisconsin’s “pickle bill,” which allowed for the sale of home preserves by independent cooks at farmers markets, new and interesting preserves and chutneys started appearing around Milwaukee. The pickle bill meant for a lot of extra work for food scientists like Barb Ingham at the UW Extension, who read through hundreds of home-preserves recipes to determine whether the foods would be safely cooked.
Overall the trend to home preserves has inspired adventurous cooks to bring new twists to the old ways. Lianna Krissof’s “Canning for a New Generation,” is one example of a 2010 cookbook that breathed new life into a time-honored tradition.
UW Extension publishes severalÂ free guides and recipe booklets for safe home canning, which are available online.
10. GLUTEN-FREE is the new nut-free
2010 was the year many eaters sought liberation from the binds of gluten, that protein compound found in wheat and wheat-related species such as barley and rye, which makes bread chewy.
For several years in a row, nut-sensitivity was the allergy to watch. But in 2010, every other cookbook that arrived in the mailboxes of food journalists seemed to have “gluten-free” in the title.
Many of these were in response to a medical trend identified by allergists around the middle of 2009. Gluten sensitivity (of one type or another) was regarded as among the most overlooked maladies affecting Americans.
It is estimated that 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder (not an allergy) that includes a severe reaction to gluten. There is an even higher incidence of gluten sensitivity.
People who have problems with gluten suffer from symptoms that include stomach upset, weight change, painful rashes and asthma.
And unlike nuts, which are obvious in most foods, gluten can be a hidden ingredient lurking in unexpected applications, such as commercially produced ice creams and ketchups.
ByÂ Mary-Liz Shaw of the Journal Sentinel