Sure, you claim to avoid fast food chains and only shop at the farmers’ market. But the numbers tell another story. Data recently made available from data.mint.com shows where the people of Seattle are spending their food dollars. The data is based on the credit and debit transactions of Mint.com users in the greater Seattle area.
2009 has been a great year for food in Seattle, but with the new year just around the corner, I thought I’d share my
guesses insight into what we’ll see in restaurants and home kitchens 2010. Some of these may be national trends, but as Pacific Northwesters, we tend to be the canaries in the coalmine, especially when discussing what we put in our bodies.
As always, there will be a balance of healthy, socially-conscious eating and perverse gluttony (see Bacon Explosion).
Seattle will go sous-vide crazy
The fancy restaurants have already been doing it for years (though, perhaps illegally). But in 2010, I predict that sous-vide preparations will start showing up on restaurant menus everywhere (like The Keg and McCormick & Schmick’s), not just at cutting-edge gastropubs. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, sous-vide describes a cooking method where food is vacu-sealed and heated very slowly (hours or even days) in temperature-controlled water baths. The method lets cooks achieve heavenly textures not achievable with an oven, stove or fry-o-lator. 2009 saw the release of the SousVide Supreme, the world’s first home-use water oven. But at $499, it only appeals to serious food geeks (even I don’t have one yet). I predict that 2010 will give us the “George Foreman Grill of sous-vide”, an afforable, mass-market water oven, complete with late night infomercial.
Homemade Pasta is the new Canvolution
There’s nothing new about homemade pasta. Nor is there anything new about canned foods. Both are oldschool, inexpensive, and very social ways of preparing food. 2009 gave rise to a huge wave of canning parties, covered under the umbrella movement of “Canvolution”. I predict a similar wave of ad-hoc food gatherings next year, and I think homemade pasta could be the recipe of choice. Making pasta – particularly rolling and cutting noodles – is a fun group activity. Plus, dried pasta lasts forever and makes for a great gift (just like canned goods). Stock up on Semolina flour – it’s gonna be a carb-tastic new year!
Sliders Out, Rillettes In
You know sliders are falling out of fashion when they appear on the menu at Jack-In-The-Box. Although the mini-burgers enjoyed their time in the spotlight at almost every restaurant in the city, it’s time for us to move on to the next “it” dish. My prediction: rillettes. Sure, they lack the mass appeal of a very small hamburger, but these spreadable potted meats are a total rustic treat. The first rillette I ever tasted was a creamy little pot of salmon at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in New York. Let me tell you, it left an impression. Although pâté may be hopelessly off the mainstream, I think rillettes have a fighting chance.
Other Predictions, Hopes and Ramblings…
- Cupcakes are over. And so are the Pinkberry knockoffs. Please, let’s move on.
- Sustainable sushi will be the new norm. With more and more diners checking sustainable seafood watchlists at the dinner table, we can no longer gorge on unagi without social consequences. Bravo to chefs like Hajime at West Seattle’s Mashiko for leading the charge.
- Salts on the rise. Look for specialty salts to play a major role in restaurant menus. Oh, and regular table salt is so last decade. If it’s not Chardonnay-smoked, truffle-infused, or from an obscure seaport town in France, I’m not interested.
- We get it: bacon is delicious and makes for ironic kitsch. Let’s find a new punch line in 2010. How about blowfish?
- Seattle chefs embrace (or at least tinker with) molecular gastronomy. It may not be for everyone, but molecular gastronomy – sciencey food made through extremely geeky methods – is still turning heads around the country. There are a number of brave Seattle chefs are already having fun with science, but in a city with so many artists, I have to believe the best (and weirdest) is yet to come.