As we head into 2011, I glance over my shoulder at a remarkable year of food in the North Metro area. Farm-to-table dinners became commonplace as farmer’s markets inched closer to being open year-round.
Many eateries closed, but the economy didn’t stop most of the empty eatery locations from being filled pretty quickly. Various national accolades including “the foodiest city in America” were awarded, and downtown Louisville grew into a dining destination unto itself. It was a great 12 months to be eating here.?
In 2011, I expect the local food, beverage and dining scene to continue blossoming. Here are a handful of trends that may become prominent in the coming months.
A kombucha comeback: First, the fizzy vinegar health beverage was everywhere. Then, it disappeared for a while over concerns that the fermentation produced excess alcohol. Now, kombucha is filling the refrigerated shelves again including locally produced varieties from Celestial Seasonings (Boulder), Julien’s Cliffhouse (Jamestown) and High Country (Eagle). Expect to see more eateries with kombucha on tap.
Food trucks proliferate: Wary of the investment and commitment, more chefs and entrepreneurs will opt for food trucks selling on the streets and at events. The current roster includes Hosea Rosenberg’s StrEat Chefs Airstream, the pink Comida Mexican truck, Walnut A Go-go, an offshoot of the Walnut Café and Southside Walnut Café, and a bevy of mobile kitchens in Denver. The real question is where local municipalities will allow the trucks and trailers to park.
Popcorn upgrade: Popcorn is moving out of the movie theaters and away from that weird salty yellow grease. We’ll see locally grown organic popcorn fried in everything from lard and suet to bacon and goose fat with eclectic toppings including poutine-style (gravy or green chile and cheese).
Salumi on the rise: Foodies have moved beyond bologna and pepperoni and are discovering a world of wonderful cured meats. Many chefs are serving up house-cured meats as appetizers and topping artisan pizzas with soppresata. One indicator: The remodeled Frasca dining room now showcases its salumi-cutting red Berkel slicer with a special salami by Denver’s Il Mondo Vecchio.
Cumin is comin’: Ground cumin is the hot spice of the moment and will accent many more dishes and not be limited to its usual home in Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican fare. Look for “smoked cumin” as a flavor du jour. Cumin’s reputed health benefits also boost its appeal.
Some food trends to avoid: There are some projected national trends that we applaud, but others I hope will skip us and land in Kansas City—such as savory soft-serve ice cream and cooking with dirt (“radishes with toasted malt dirt,”) and pine needles (“pine-infused ice cream”). It’s hard enough getting chefs to tone down the rosemary and mint and keep the herbs OUT of my desserts.