Monday, January 2, 2012

Time to Delve into 2012!

Tasty and Healthy Food Trends for the New Year

Can’t decide between a side of the down home locally grown vegetables or the international taste adventure of a Korean kimchee? Then you’re smack dab in the middle of two colliding culinary trends predicted for the New Year. We want the world, but we want to support local farmers and producers.

Chef Micah Willix of recently opened Latitude Food and Drink in Buckhead has found a way to satisfy both of those cravings. His globally inspired cuisine is a delicious mélange of flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia and South America all featuring many ingredients from around the southeast.

Chef Micah Willix with guests at Latitude
Latitude’s pan roasted Louisiana redfish is served with quinoa, tangerine and local winter squash; the freshly ground lamb and beef burger acquires an Italian accent with rosemary aioli and arugula. Willix says, “Latitude will be an opportunity for me to explore more options of different cuisines and cultures, but I still want to cook and create dishes that are simple and close to the source.”

Farmer Dave Taylor's Chefs' Garden for Old Edward's Inn  

More farmers on the menu. The National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot?” menu trend survey of chefs places locally sourced meats, seafood, produce as well as alcoholic beverages in the top ten for 2012. Dietitian Joy Dubost, director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the NRA says, “Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus.”

Nutrition plus: organic and locally grown produce often tastes the best.

World Tours- “Cooking is at a crossroads where everything collides!” according to restaurant consultant, Michael Whiteman of Baum & Whiteman. Their 12th annual menu trend prediction list says from tortillas to tarragon we still want the world on our plates, “The wilder, the better. After all, if your new car’s parts come from around the world, why shouldn’t your sandwich ingredients?”

Just a tiny taste of the spice selection at the Culinary Institute of America Napa Valley campus! 

Nutrition plus: Borrowing from the world’s spice cabinet from Spanish saffron to Indian curry powders you can add flavor to food without as much salt.

Healthy Kid Stuff- Children’s menus continue to get an overhaul in 2012. Dubost says, “Nutrition - especially when it comes to children – is becoming a major focus for the nation’s nearly one million restaurants, in tune with consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating.” The NRA’s annual convention in 2012 will feature a new Healthier Kids Fare Pavilion to showcase healthful children’s options.

Nutrition plus: The NRA’s Kids Live Well program helps restaurants develop menu items that meet specific and strict nutrition criteria.

Veggie Variety- Side dishes continue to gain gourmet steam as chefs put more effort into quality and quantity of choices. Willix’s warm beets with tarragon and smoked fingerling potatoes are show stoppers.

Nutrition plus: easier to eat your vegetables.

Gulping the Garden- Think way beyond the Bloody Mary as kitchens and bars continue to collaborate in 2012. The category of “culinary cocktails” made the NRA’s list of top trends. Mixologist Thomas Keenan at the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, North Carolina creates refreshing blends of beet juice, broccoli, cucumber, herbs and edible flowers get a kick from vodka, tequila, rum, brandy or moonshine.

Nutrition plus: The drinks are made with vitamin and antioxidant rich fresh fruit and vegetables.

Would you like a little or a lot?

Have it Your Way- Expect an easier time asking for ‘sauce on the side.’ Mintel Research predicts more consumer control in 2012 as customized ordering systems will continue to flourish, as will greater flexibility in menu design.

Nutrition plus: Special menu requests help you control the salt, fat and calorie content of your meal. Gluten free choices more mainstream too.

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