The Newest Trend in London: Smoked Water
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Why everyone's flipping out over smoked water for both food and drink
Well, if you haven't jumped on the smoked water craze already, you're not too late. The Daily Mail now reports that you can buy the elusive smoked water -- that's smoked water that comes in a bag -- at select stores for £2.75 (or about $3.60).
The smoked water experiment comes from London chef and molecular gastronomy pioneer Heston Blumenthal, and the Anglesey Sea Salt company. The team introduced the smoked water last October at the Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales to huge fanfare. And it's really not too complicated: the water, just plain old tap water, is then smoked for four days in a smokery, says the Daily Mail.
Don't feel like adding a splash of smoked water to your risotto, or cocktails? You can find smoked water concoctions at some of London's top cocktail bars, like Ping Pong. And here we were thinking smoked cocktails were crazy.
Restaurants such as London’s Hoppers, mini chain The Coconut Tree and the success of the M&S Taste Asia range have put Sri Lankan food on the brink of a breakthrough. Think hoppers (bowl-shaped rice flour pancakes), kottu roti (fried veg, eggs, shredded roti and curry, as sold by street stall Kottu Lanka) and pol sambol coconut relish.
‘Before, Sri Lankan was lumped in with Indian cuisine but now, we’re not having an “Indian” anymore. It’s recognised in its own right,’ says Emma Weinbren, food trends editor at retail magazine The Grocer.
The 12 Food Trends You're Going To See Everywhere In 2020
Though no one could have predicted 2019's chicken sandwich showdown, every year we like to gather 'round the proverbial office water cooler (read: an internal slack channel called Delish Pizza Lounge) and guess what food trends the coming year holds. Here's what was see in our crystal ball at the start of this new decade.
As the worlds of meal-worthy smoothies and plant-based lifestyles collide, you're going to see pea protein offered up in place of powders like whey and collagen, both of which are derived from animal sources. But the concept of peas as protein source doesn't stop there. More and more brands will take a cue from trendsetters like Beyond Meat and add the protein powerhouse to faux meat alternatives and vegan cheeses.
According to Nielsen data, 66% of millennials are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption. Some say the "youth" is drinking less because they're smoking more (the phenomenon's been dubbed Cali sober). Others chalk up the decline in boozy nights to a rise in Goop-y lifestyles. Regardless, beverage brands are leaning in. New companies offer alcohol-free tipples that look pretty enough to pour in a glass and still feel fancy. Interested? Try a bottle from Seedlip, Kin Euphorics, or Curious Elixirs.
Can we let you in on a little industry secret? All it really takes to make (or break a trend) is for a storied media outlet to weigh in. (You do remember last summer's Aperol spritz drama, don't you?) We're not yet sure why, exactly, the Wall Street Journal thinks lasagna will blow up in 2020. But because they said so, well, we wouldn't be surprised to see it happen. It all seems a little like bringing sexy back (has it been long enough that even JT can admit sexy hadn't actually gone anywhere?), considering we've already got 88 lasagna recipes on this very site&mdashbut consider our interest peaked. Food brands are clearly already caching on, too: Banza (makers of our favorite chickpea pasta) recently released their first-ever lasagna noodles.
2: ‘New’ kebabs
When super-restaurateur Alan Yau gets in on the kebab act, it’s clear they’re no longer the sole preserve of late-night boozehounds. His newly opened Babaji Pide may specialise in Turkish flatbread, but succulent, spiced kofta kebabs also take pride of place. Kebabs are the latest junk food to receive the gourmet treatment: witness Lokkanta in Westbourne Grove, an upscale takeaway and diner where the design is chic and the Turkish kebabs smoky and fine. Or Clerkenwell’s Chifafa which avoids foam cartons and features ingredients such as high-welfare English veal. Coming soon is Berber & Q from chef Josh Katz, promising kebabs influenced by the grills of Istanbul. Move over, burgers: it’s kebabs’ turn in the spotlight. MO’L
Rice: a Savor the South cookbook
UNC Press, out now
In Rice: a Savor the South cookbook, Michael Twitty doesn’t merely present recipes based around a global staple (though recipes are indeed included). What’s more, in this newest addition to UNC Press’s series of cookbooks on essential Southern foods, the food historian gives rice its own hero’s journey, charting its path across continents and various foodways, as well as its place in dishes both simple and complex.
“[Rice] changes outfits well to suit the party,” Twitty writes of its versatility, but at the same time, it’s a food that invokes deeply personal connections. This holds particularly true for the American South — the book’s point of convergence of Asian, African, and Caribbean cuisines — where enslaved people cooked jollof rice and other dishes carried over from their Western and Central African homelands, adapted and passed down for generations. Those dishes appear here in sections divided loosely by their culinary influences, from “Deep Origins” (which features Liberian rice bread and Ghanaian crab stew) to “Southern Classics.”
Among the most intriguing recipes in Rice are red rice, an adaptable tomato pilau favored by Twitty’s grandmother and sourced from cookbook author Damon Lee Fowler country captain a la Hazel, a contribution from that same Alabama-born grandmother and a collection of rice-based desserts, such as Nancie’s historic rice pudding, an update on an 18th-century recipe, and Louisiana calas, a fritter “sold on the streets of antebellum New Orleans by Black Creole ladies,” Twitty writes. The recipes, which appear with informative headnotes but sans photos, are largely approachable to beginning and intermediate home cooks. But as Twitty continuously demonstrates through his adept storytelling, no dish — be it effortless or challenging — arrives at the table without a story. — Madeleine Davies
Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food
Harper Wave, out now
Julia Turshen, the author of three beloved cookbooks, shares her most personal stories and practical recipes in her fourth, Simply Julia. There are a whopping 110 recipes broken down into 10 chapters. Their beauty is that in reading every one of them, you’ll think, I can do that!
As the book’s title suggests, Turshen herself is the only thematic link for the recipes in the collection. This manifests as dishes that make her happy, those with a connection to the people for whom she loves to cook. The honeymoon chicken, for example, is inspired by sopa Azteca, the Mexican chicken soup made with chiles and topped with fried tortillas that Turshen and her wife, Grace, shared during their honeymoon. Beatrice’s bubaleh, light pancakes made of whipped eggs and matzoh meal, is Turshen’s grandmother’s recipe. Each dish is accompanied by photos that feel more like candid snapshots from Turshen’s upstate New York home than highly edited studio photo shoots.
Turshen’s personal approach, bolstered by separate “thought” chapters on topics such as confidence and anxiety that read like journal entries, is meant to encourage anyone who feels intimidated in the kitchen. There’s no laundry list of ingredients readers should buy, but rather suggestions for small, workable plans that will inspire home cooks and reignite their enthusiasm for cooking. Her overall message is this: Just do what works for you. Turshen’s book makes it easy to channel that casual yet comforting approach. And once readers flip through each page of heartwarming stories and encouragement, they will feel simply sated. — James Park
My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water
Harper Design, out now
There’s a magic that happens when you attempt to cook a cuisine you have little personal familiarity with, something you’ve only ever eaten by someone else’s hand, and you take your first bite and realize, Holy shit, that’s it. That kept happening when I cooked from My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water, the debut cookbook from photographer, blogger, and surgical resident Betty Liu.
Liu’s parents grew up in Shanghai during the cultural revolution and moved to Oregon, where Liu was born, for graduate school. Family stories punctuate Liu’s comprehensive tome on the home (and street) cooking of Shanghai she includes memories of foraging spring bamboo on a trip back to China, as well as the traditions surrounding dishes customarily served at festivals.
Organized by season, My Shanghai does not let you quick-hack your way into this cuisine. It rewards patience and close reading. Every detail is there, from how to make sure your bao dough achieves the proper shine to how to build a perfect bowl of breakfast noodles and make red-braised pork belly so good, I stood in my kitchen thinking, Surely it can’t be that simple. The beautiful photography helps guide the reader through techniques that may be trickier for a beginner, such as folding shaomai or twisting scallion buns.
Frankly, I haven’t been able to stop cooking from My Shanghai since I got it, starting with bowls of wonton soup in the winter section and progressing to spring with fried pea shoots and “oil-exploded” shrimp. I imagine I’ll keep coming back every season. — Jaya Saxena
Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food
Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho
Ten Speed Press, out now
If there’s one dish that’s most emblematic of the Mister Jiu’s menu, it’s the cheung fun topped with Santa Barbara uni. It succinctly articulates chef Brandon’s Jew’s point of view, highlighting the bounty of California and the luxury of high-end Bay Area dining, all while nodding to the dim sum carts for which San Francisco is known. I think I ordered it nearly every time I went to Jew’s restaurant (and I went a lot). Its narrow, crowded bar hummed with people drinking tea-spiked cocktails, eating Dutch crunch BBQ buns, and waiting their turn to feast in the gorgeous dining room, with its postcard views of San Francisco’s Chinatown — the oldest Chinatown in the country.
Now, thanks to Jew’s first-ever cookbook, the recipes for those barbecue buns and even the cheung fun are available to us home cooks. I’m personally not ambitious enough to tackle either of those, but sprinkled throughout the book are recipes and techniques I look forward to trying, including the Chinese pancakes, the Taiwanese-style eggplant, and the pie-plate-and-steamer approach to sizzling fish. What I’m most excited about, though, is actually right there in the title. This isn’t just Mister Jiu’s, this is Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown. So while the book offers personal stories and insight into how the restaurant’s dishes came to be, it also features dispatches from Jew and his co-author, Tienlon Ho, on drinking good tea, the origins of prawn toast, and the Americanness of pot stickers. The book is an exercise in context, so it’s only natural that it opens with a rich dive into the past of the historic building that now houses Mister Jiu’s. The words that follow makes it wonderfully clear just how much Jew and his cooking, like the building and the restaurant inside it, embody the story of Chinatown, its history, and its future. A night on the town isn’t an option right now, but for anyone who’s desperately missing restaurants, a night curled up with this cookbook absolutely is. — Hillary Dixler Canavan
Rodney Scott’s World of Barbecue: Every Day Is a Good Day
Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie
Clarkson Potter, out now
James Beard Award-winning chef Rodney Scott is a legend in the world of whole-hog barbecue, but as a kid growing up in the PeeDee region of South Carolina, he hated how much time he spent tending to the family’s barbecue pit — until, that is, it became his calling. In this debut cookbook, Scott does so much more than share recipes or lighthearted anecdotes: He offers an intimate portrait of his life, recounting stories of a childhood working on his parents’ farmland, his initial reluctance to pursue a career in barbecue, the family fallouts and bitterness that came with his meteoric rise, and, ultimately, his path to becoming the pitmaster he is today. If you don’t cook a single recipe, this cookbook is worth opening for these stories alone.
But really, you’ll want to cook from this book. Scott invites readers to join what he describes as a “fellowship” of whole-hog cooks, using step-by-step photos and detailed instructions to walk readers through the process of barbecuing an entire pig. To start, he demonstrates how to build a cinder-block barbecue pit and a burn barrel before putting the hog on the fire. And though he’s known for this style of barbecue, he also offers plenty of recipes for smaller, but no less impressive, projects you can tackle on a regular-sized grill or in the kitchen: honey-butter fish smoked chicken fried catfish and fresh, zippy sides, such as wedge salad dressed with white barbecue sauce pork belly succotash and corn bread with honey butter. For dessert, maybe a big wedge of layer cake, crowned with salty shards of pork skin.
“One of the great things about cooking whole hog,” Scott writes, “is that it takes so long to do it, that you just naturally gather around the pit with good friends and fellowship while the meat and wood do their thing.” Admittedly, as the pandemic rages on, the idea of convening with friends and loved ones around a feast of pork feels like little more than a dream. But after a year without dinner parties, this kind of ambitious, big-project cooking is the perfect fodder for post-pandemic dreaming — a light at the end of a very long tunnel. — Elazar Sontag
The Food of Oaxaca: Recipes and Stories from Mexico’s Culinary Capital
Alejandro Ruiz and Carla Altesor
Knopf, out now
When Alejandro Ruiz was 12, his mother died suddenly in a tragic accident. In his introduction to The Food of Oaxaca, Ruiz, one of Mexico’s most prominent chefs, writes that afterward, he felt unmoored, as if he stopped being part of something larger than himself. He soon left home to live in a different part of the country, but returned to Oaxaca after more than a decade. There he began to hone his cooking at Casa Oaxaca, the hotel where, over time, the chef established himself as an ambassador of Oaxacan cuisine. With this cookbook, Ruiz proves himself a patient and thorough teacher as well, ensuring the recipes and stories that have meant the most to him can be made and celebrated far from the bustling dining rooms of his restaurants in Oaxaca and Mexico City.
The book’s sections are marked by places and moments pivotal to Ruiz’s development as a chef. The first shares recipes from Ruiz’s childhood in La Raya de Zimatlán, such as rabbit cooked simply with oregano, lime, and garlic, and a mole negro whose ingredient list fills two pages. Ruiz, who takes care to transcribe the traditions of the women who taught him to make this food, writes that the work of translating recipes from verbal instruction to written text “goes against their essence.” So he includes all of the olfactory and visual cues he was taught to follow, giving readers the opportunity to learn more than just measurements. When masa, for example, is soft and moist but not yet sticky, the dough is properly hydrated. If it cracks when pressed, add more water. These small lessons build confidence in a home cook and leave less room for error.
The second part of the book follows Ruiz’s move to Mexico’s coast, with recipes for deep-fried whole fish, mangoes soaked in chiles and warm spices, and buttery prawns with mojo de ajo. The third section is something of a homecoming, its recipes inspired by the chef’s restaurants and his return to Oaxaca. These pages hold jicama tacos delicate ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms and rich, umber mole. Ruiz’s goal is not to show readers how to make one Oaxacan dish so much as it is to teach them how to cook this food with all of their senses, intuition, and a willingness to make some mistakes along the way. — ES
Max’s Picnic Book
Max Halley and Ben Benton
Hardie Grant Books, March 23
It is only March, but it seems safe to announce that Max’s Picnic Book is the most idiosyncratic cookbook of the year. That said, it is not a cookbook precisely — as its authors Max Halley and Ben Benton assert, it is a book about picnics. Yes, there are recipes, but they are merely one layer of a large, fragrant, and wondrous onion that functions as a sort of cri de coeur to (re)consider the picnic, a form of food consumption that, as Halley and Benton write, originally started out as “a good excuse for a few drinks outdoors” but has since “been ripped from its roots, chewed up, spat out and then stamped to death by art, literature, movies and cynical branding.”
Halley, the proprietor of a well-loved London sandwich shop, makes his case for the picnic’s malleability and portability by organizing his book into 16 chapters, each one dedicated to a different fictional picnic: There’s a “raw” picnic, a “Vegas legends” picnic, a “hidden potential” picnic, a “surrealist” picnic, and so on. Every one is assigned a fantasy host and guests, which is how you end up with Hunter S. Thompson and Mary Berry sharing an all-day breakfast quiche and pickled eggs on a park bench, as well as Little Richard and Picasso unpacking a hamper of poached chicken and chicken-stuffed pumpkin in an “urban wasteland.”
But for a book that reads as a pleasing traipse through a fever dream of unapologetically louche al fresco consumption, Halley errs on the side of the achievable: One picnic is anchored by hard-boiled eggs with flavored salts, while another calls for an “infinitely hackable” sausage-and-egg muffin. A surplus of useful picnic hacks includes “wonderful things” to mix into mayonnaise, while a fly swatter and cigarettes are among “eight things to make old-fashioned picnics better.” You’ll also find recipes for a slightly terrifying meat trifle and an entire English breakfast folded into the confines of a sandwich, but throughout the book, Halley is there to reassure you that what really matters is whether you enjoy yourself. “If you can’t be arsed to make a quiche, just buy one,” he writes as a prelude to his all-day breakfast quiche recipe. Is this a good cookbook? I have no idea. But with its enthusiastic embrace of absurdity and heartfelt dedication to its cause, it is a book that’s easy to love. — Rebecca Flint Marx
Cook Real Hawai‘i
Sheldon Simeon with Garrett Snyder
Clarkson Potter, March 30
I spent an excessive amount of time this year thinking about Hawai‘i, and how much I would like to be there instead of at home. But I wasn’t daydreaming about the beach. I longed for freshly caught ahi poke served from the second floor of a strip mall a combination plate of kalua pig and laulau with house-made poi at the world’s most picturesque roadside stand and shave ice in flavors such as lilikoi and coconut, wrapped around vanilla ice cream. Ever since I edited Eater’s guide to Hawai‘i in 2017, I’ve been smitten with the state’s food culture, and thus I am happy to report that Sheldon Simeon’s new cookbook, Cook Real Hawai‘i, delivers on the title’s promise. It’s an incredible primer on the delights of Hawai‘i’s food, and a heartfelt portrait of Simeon’s own family history there.
Best known for competing in two seasons of Top Chef, on which he was a fan favorite, Simeon is the owner of Maui’s lauded Tin Roof restaurant. A third-generation local, he grew up in Hilo in a large Filipino family jam-packed with excellent cooks. Throughout his cookbook, he and co-author Garrett Snyder discuss frankly the islands’ painful colonial history and exploitative plantation systems, as well as the people — including Simeon’s grandparents — who survived both and created Hawai‘i’s extraordinary food culture.
In recipe headnotes and chapter introductions, Simeon explores the tension he’s navigated his entire career between using restaurant techniques and the Hawai‘i traditions with which he grew up. Parts of Cook Real Hawai‘i do resemble a restaurant cookbook some recipes spawn sub-recipes and use complex techniques best suited to professional kitchens. But there’s a great deal of approachable home cooking, too, and tons of inspiration in terms of flavor (breakfast fried rice) and technique (give cauliflower the katsu-curry treatment). There’s a poke recipe (and a recipe for stir-frying the leftovers the next day). The grilling section, titled “Hibachi Styling,” features perfect summer recipes such as shoyu-sugar steak the “Sim Simmer” section is packed with hearty stews. Every dish’s history and development is captured in the headnotes, resulting in a book that illuminates not just the food of Hawai‘i, but also how growing up there shaped Simeon’s entire understanding of what to cook and why. — Meghan McCarron
To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart
Prestel, April 6
The term “Asian cooking” can be vague, with no clear sense of culinary identity. But in To Asia, With Love, it becomes a term of endearment. Cookbook author Hetty McKinnon grew up in a traditional Chinese household in Australia with a mother who cooked constantly, making use of huge jars of preserved eggs and pickled ginger. Later, McKinnon made frequent trips to Asia and learned how to incorporate a wide range of Asian flavors into her own home cooking. With her fourth cookbook, McKinnon, now “an adult living between disparate cultures” in Brooklyn, presents these flavors in a delicious hodgepodge.
Her book is broken into six chapters based around categories of dishes, from noodles and dumplings to salads and not-too-sweet desserts. With each recipe, McKinnon explains how she fell in love with the dish, but she doesn’t label it Korean, Japanese, Thai, or Chinese. Her recipe for cold noodle soup with watermelon, kimchi, and nashi pear, for example, isn’t definitively Korean rather, it’s inspired by naengmyeon, the tangy Korean cold noodle soup her husband orders from their favorite Korean restaurant on hot summer days. Asian flavors also lend a spin to dishes that aren’t traditionally Asian at all, including cacio e pepe udon noodles, inspired in part by Shin, an udon noodle restaurant in Tokyo Caesar salad made with grilled napa cabbage and wonton-scallion crackers and ketchup fried rice arancini.
The book happens to be vegetarian (and mostly vegan), but it doesn’t compromise on big flavors. By incorporating flavor-packed pantry items such as fermented black beans and homemade chile oil — which the author calls “everything oil” — McKinnon challenges the idea that Asian cooking is meat-centric and heavy, and invites readers into her vision for modern Asian cooking. With these highly flexible recipes, which are easy enough to make any day of the week, they’ll come to approach that once-vague umbrella category with McKinnon’s same curiosity and genuine appreciation. — JP
It’s Always Freezer Season: How to Freeze Like a Chef with 100 Make-Ahead Recipes
Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen
Ten Speed Press, April 6
There are people who consistently excel in the art of home cooking, and then there are people who need all the help they can get. It’s Always Freezer Season, full of practical storage suggestions and shortcuts, appeals to both groups but will be a boon especially for the latter. As restaurateurs, partners and co-writers Ashley Christensen and Kaitlyn Goalen know the value of organization and efficiency in the kitchen. Now, by sharing their methods for proper storage and preparing food in advance, they’re spreading their methodology to home cooks.
As a disorganized person, the book taught me a lot. For example, did you know that to keep fresh eggs, you can crack them into an ice-cube tray first, because freezing them in the shells gives them a weird flavor? Or that pesto freezes better if the herbs are blanched first? The book’s 100 recipes — which include hearty dishes such as cornbread panzanella, carnitas tacos, and banana cream profiteroles — all involve some effort and skill. But by advising their readers that some versatile ingredients can be made and stored in advance, Christensen and Goalen remove the intimidation factor… or at least present time management as one way to make complicated recipes less stressful. — MD
Environmental concerns will affect how we eat
With people becoming more concerned about the environmental impact of food, cooks predict an uplift in local and seasonal eating.
Chris Bavin, who returns to TV screens on January 2 with a new series of Best Home Cook , says “I believe in 2020 we will see the food focus move to seasonal eating, with more home-grown ingredients and produce from the UK popping up in supermarkets and other retailers. I think there are a couple of main drivers behind this, the first being a less predictable import market and potential increased costs, the second more awareness about our food miles and carbon footprint.”
Chef Matt Tebbutt also sees the ‘local seasonal’ trend on the cards. “I think it will become much more important for a wider section of the population. I’m hopeful this will give much-needed support to small producers and local farmers.”
Whole Foods releases Top 10 food trends for 2021
This year marks the sixth year that Whole Foods has released its annual trend predictions for food and beverage. While some trends look familiar and are an extension of years past, 2021’s list of up-and-coming products has also been heavily influenced by the pandemic.
“Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, the company’s chief marketing officer. She said that there have been “radical shifts” in consumer behavior with at-home cooking, health and wellness and eating breakfast at home largely defining the identified trends for the upcoming year.
Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
The 10 trends underscored for 2021 are Well Being is Served, Epic Breakfast Every Day, Basics on Fire, Coffee Beyond the Mug, Baby Food, All Grown Up, Upcycled Foods, Oil Change, Boozed-Up Booch, The Mighty Chickpea and Fruit and Veggie Jerkey.
Already, foods crafted to benefit the immune system were gaining popularity. Now, as half of the world heads into colder months and there is a global pandemic lingering, Whole Foods predicts that trend will accelerate with the line between the supplement and grocery aisles blurring further to bring foods like probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts to the top of shoppers' lists.
Breakfast too seems to be here to stay. As a large number of people continue to work at home, the most important meal of the day has taken on a new meaning with the grocery chain predicting to see pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites and even “eggs” made from mung beans become popular morning staples.
Pasta, rice and salt often do not garner more than a cursory glance from shoppers looking to keep a well-stocked pantry. However, in 2021, manufacturers can expect to up the ante and reimagine these staples with innovations like hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and “meaty” vegan soup.
Coffee is a basic tenant of many people’s routines that Whole Foods gave its own growth category for next year. The popularity of coffee continues to grow with Americans consuming cups of joe at elevated rates since 2012, according to a 2018 survey from the National Coffee Association. Now the grocery store chain expects coffee to move beyond the cup and enter categories from bars and granolas to smoothie boosters and booze.
Adults will not be the only ones updating their culinary choices next year. Parents will also bring their babies on board with portable, on-the-go squeeze pouches of baby food that are jazzed up to include a wide variety of ingredients such as rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds.
And all that waste that these inventive foods generate? Packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient are on the rise. While some companies like The Ugly Company have been around for a while, Whole Foods expects to see newcomers onto the scene such as the Renewal Mill.
Olive oil is another kitchen basic that was specifically called out in this trend analysis as an ingredient that is on its way out in favor of more adventurous oils like walnut, pumpkin seed and sunflower. These newcomers onto the scene offer at-home chefs the ability to branch out and experiment with the unique properties of alternative fats.
Whole Foods called on hard seltzer to move over. Although the category exploded once again this summer with a UBS analysis expecting the category to jump 66% from 14 million cases in 2019 to 72 million by 2021 for total sales of $2.5 billion, the grocery store expects hard kombucha to make its way onto the scene in a big way too. With a lower sugar profile, gluten-free profile and loaded with probiotics, brands like Flying Embers and Aqua ViTea have stepped up to deliver another ready-to-drink option for consumers looking for a healthier way to imbibe.
Chickpeas will also have their moment to shine come 2021. No longer relegated to falafels and hummus, these pulse proteins are moving beyond pasta and entering unexpected categories like ice cream with Peppi’s Greek Gourmet GreekFreez and the breakfast aisle with Three Wishes Cereal.
Lastly, jerky will no longer remain the exclusive domain of meat-eaters. From mushrooms to jackfruit, manufacturers are converting an array of fruits and vegetables into shelf-stable jerky snacks for those looking for a plant-based pick me up.
Whole Foods’ annual predictions are compiled based on the input from 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers and culinary experts that built this trend list by focusing on how the food industry is adapting and innovating in response to COVID-19 for a post-pandemic food world.
The Best Smoked Salmon in the World
Smoke masters go to extraordinary lengths to perfect their craft, chopping and seasoning their own wood, butchering their own meats, spending sleepless nights tending pits or smokehouses. But as far as I know, only one serenades his smoked salmon with piano music. His name is Ole Hansen of Hansen & Lydersen in London. At six foot three, with long blond hair and piercing blue eyes, he looks more like one of his Viking ancestors than the bespoke salmon master to star chefs and Michelin star restaurants.
I'm not sure I'm ready to add Chopin to my smoked salmon recipe, but after tasting Hansen's fish, I can't discount the process either. Extraordinary? Imagine sides of salmon bronzed with juniper and beech smoke, sea salty and bacon-y crispy on the outside, giving way to creamy, velvety, gently smoke-scented fish that's not quite raw but certainly not cooked in the center. Oily-rich, yet incredibly delicate, with a flavor that changes subtly yet unmistakably as you sample slices cut from the top, center, or bottom of the fillet.
"Smoked salmon transports you," Hansen says. "One taste of this fish takes me back to fishing trips with my grandfather. We'd lunch on his smoked salmon and bread my mother baked that morning. That was the taste of my childhood."
Salmon was the last thing on Hansen's mind when he moved to London to become a sound artist. But he wound up spending most of his time lugging heavy sound equipment to pay for the brief time he could actually compose.
He decided to return to his roots and smoke salmon the way his grandfather did. He rented an old hangar in a gritty row of warehouses and constructed his smokehouse from materials scavenged from building sites. The sum total of his working capital: 30 pounds.
Hansen resolved to use salting and smoking supplies only from family businesses. His fish comes from the icy waters above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway. He cures it with fleur de sel (hand-harvested sea salt) from the west coast of France (the same salt his Viking forebears used to salt cod ten centuries earlier). He hangs the fish vertically for rinsing, drying, and smoking, using twine spun by a fourth generation twine maker. ("When you lay fish on its side, you make it seem like it's dead.")
The smoke comes from an old potbellied stove situated outside the smoke chamber. A fan pumps in air, which swirls around the hanging salmon. "My grandfather would say that the fish should move around as it smokes," Hanson explains. "This movement gives the smoked salmon energy--makes it taste alive." Then there's the music, which Hansen plays on an upright piano outside the smoke chamber.
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Street food: the new trends shaping foodie culture
Twenty years ago, street food was barely a concept in the UK. If you told your friends you had eaten a street delicacy, it generally meant you had succumbed to the late-night temptations of a greasy burger or kebab van. As Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers remembers, “getting anything other than a hot dog or Mr Whippy on the streets was almost impossible”.
Thanks to the likes of Miers, the picture today could not be more different. Street food is now at the forefront of culinary innovation. Showcasing everything from crowd-pleasing Indian wraps to unfamiliar cuisines such as Ugandan and Filipino, it’s fast becoming big business. According to a report by The Grocer’s sister publication MCA, the street food market is forecast to reach £1.2bn this year, up 9.1% from 2017. That’s comfortably outstripping the percentage growth seen in fast food, albeit from a smaller base.
Watch: The Grocer visits Brighton’s Street Diner
Foodies are a driving force behind this explosion. Nearly a third of self-described foodies say they often buy street food, compared with just 5% of non-foodies, according to a poll of over 2,080 consumers conducted by Harris Interactive exclusively for The Grocer. This food-loving demographic was also more likely to describe street food as exciting (80%), authentic (78%) and high quality (72%).
All of which means it’s a trend worth noting. Not only are restaurants rushing to mimic the flavours of street food – Dishoom, Wahaca and Masala Zone are among the high-profile examples – but retail is now getting in on the act. Schwartz, Rubicon and Street Delights are among the brands to have brought out products that aim to replicate the experience at home (see innovations, below). If they can get it right, they stand a chance of tapping the high-value foodie audience.
So which cuisines are leading the way in the retail crossover? Which flavours and dishes are proving popular? And what will be the next big street food cuisine?
From Kolkata to Kerala
Puchkas, a popular street food in areas such as Calcutta, are making their way into UK cuisine
In store now: Waitrose’s Bombay brunch wrap and Iceland’s Mumbai street food range
In store tomorrow: Indian burgers – ‘pavs’ – are tipped to make their way into retail, along with vegetarian-led Gujarat dishes
Named one of the top trends in the latest Waitrose Food and Drink report, Indian street food has exploded onto the scene as predicted. And it bears very little resemblance to the tikka masala. That the first Market Hall food site in Fulham – a blueprint for the two other Market Halls set to come to London, including the gargantuan 36,000 sq ft Oxford Street site – includes a Calcuttan stall speaks volumes. Founded by Asma Khan of the critically acclaimed Darjeeling Express, the Calcutta Canteen serves delicacies such as kati rolls (a wrap made with paratha bread and a choice of spicy fillings) and puchkas (wheat and semolina shells filled with spiced black chickpeas, potatoes and tamarind water).
Street food is bringing this type of regional cuisine to the fore, says Indian chef Hari Ghotra. “From the Punjabi chole bhature (tangy chickpea curry and soft fluffy bread) to Mumbai’s pav (bread rolls served with potato cakes or speared with spiced vegetable curry), each state has its favourite street corner dish,” she explains.
George Pitkeathley, founder of Indian street food chain Pilau, says handheld options are also proving popular. He names its butter chicken wrap, which includes the traditional dish with fresh ginger, lime, slaw and chutney or yoghurt, as a favourite among its core lunchtime crowd.
Retailers are taking on board the demand for modern formats and regional flavours. Waitrose launched a Bombay brunch wrap – an egg wrap containing egg, pork sausage and spinach with a spiced tomato, chickpea and chilli bombay sauce – on the back of its trend report. “It’s all about merging different cuisines to excite our palates and create new fusion dishes,” says Waitrose executive chef Jonathan Moore. Iceland brought out its 16-strong Mumbai Street Co range in January, designed to replicate “the melting pot of flavours found on the streets of Mumbai”. Then there’s the biryani kit by Street Delights (see innovations, below), designed to replicate the one-pot cooking seen on the street.
So what’s next? The Grocer’s sister publication Food Spark, which analyses food trends, tips the pav as a dish to watch. Essentially an Indian burger, pavs are rolls stuffed with either a vegetable curry or minced meat. Gujarat street food is another area with potential. Including dishes such as dhokla – fermented rice and split chickpeas – much of Gujarat food is vegetarian by tradition, making it perfectly placed to capitalise on the plant-based boom.
New wave Mexican
Street food tacos use authentic flavours such as jalapeño, garlic and lime
In store now: The Wahaca range of kits and seasonings, including a Sweet & Smoky Barbacoa Soft Taco Kit, and Schwartz Mexican seasoning
In store tomorrow: Waitrose is set to launch a vegan jackfruit taco in time for Christmas, and Iceland has just unveiled a Mexican street food range
We’re all familiar with the standard burritos, enchilladas and tacos. But the rise of Mexican street food means UK consumers are now branching out beyond the basics. We’ve got the likes of Wahaca – arguably a pioneer of Mexican street food in the UK – serving fusion recipes such as Devon crab & avocado tostada, or regional fare such as pork pibil tacos from the Yucatán. Then there are the La Choza street food restaurants in Brighton serving pulled pork smoked in house for 14 hours. A simple burrito this is not.
As a result, Schwartz says consumers are turning away from the trusty fajita kit in favour of more subtle, authentic flavours. “People have moved away from traditional chilli towards zingy flavours with jalapeño, garlic and lime,” says head of marketing Nic Yates. Culinary developer Craddock says this means Tex Mex is out, while “Yucatan-style flavours” and more unusual dishes such as baja fish tacos are in.
All this is already evident in the retailers. We have the Wahaca range, with SKUs ranging from a Tomato and Chipotle seasoning mix to a Habanero soft taco kit, and the Gran Luchito range of sauces including a Smoked Chilli Chipotle paste.
FoodSpark says this diversity is only set to grow. Iceland has just launched a Mexican street food range with products such as chicken mole and green corn, and Waitrose is introducing a vegan jackfruit taco in time for Christmas. Plus Food Spark believes interest may venture from Central into South America, as consumers discover delicacies such as Venezuelan arepa (maize rolls) and Peruvian juanes (a rice and meat dish wrapped in leaves).
Beyond Middle Eastern mezze
The rise of Lebanese street food has seen consumers branch out beyond basic mezze
In store now: Baharat seasonings, mezze selections
In store tomorrow: Manousheh (Lebanese pizza) is tipped for big things
Aside from basic mezze, Middle Eastern food remains relatively unexplored in the UK. That all looks set to change. Lebanese cuisine is looking like a particularly hot area of growth. Street food eateries such as Yalla Yalla are bringing dishes such as Samboussek Chicken – pastry parcels filled with pulled chicken, onions confit, sumac and garlic – and baked flat pastry Manaee’sh to the UK’s palates. Or for simpler, handheld options, there are operators such as Beyroots offering the likes of a Chicken Shish Taouk wrap.
This activity prompted Schwartz to make room for Baharat – a Middle Eastern blend of spices including coriander, garlic & black pepper – in its street food seasonings range. “Baharat works well with lamb, bulgur wheat and a minted yoghurt,” says Yates. “It’s creamy and cooling and a bit spicy.” It joins existing Baharat SKUs, which include offerings from Tesco Finest and Bart, in the retailers.
There is clear potential to go beyond mezze and spices. Food Spark points to manousheh, which is essentially a Lebanese pizza, as a possible future crowd-pleaser. That the delicacy gained a mention in The Guardian’s faddy eater column this year suggests awareness could be building. Outside of Lebanese cuisine, Food Spark believes Turkish börek and Iranian kebabs could also prove popular. It’s certain to beat the late-night kebab of twenty years ago.
The street food innovations making their way into retail
Rubicon Street Drinks
Inspired by “authentic street drinks from some of the world’s hottest places”, this four-strong range (rsp: 79p/330ml) launched just in time for the UK’s scorching summer. With flavours including Turkish Sharbat (pomegranate & rose) Mexican Agua Fresca (watermelon, lime & mint) Indian Nimbu Pani (lemon, cumin & mint) and West African Bissap (hibiscus & ginger), AG Barr is hoping to tap the major street food markets. Plus with no more than 4.5g of sugar per 100ml, it ducks the sugar tax.
Schwartz street seasonings
Designed to help consumers recreate their favourite street food experiences at home, this range includes Korean BBQ, Baharat, Caribbean Jerk, Chimichurri, Sriracha and Mexican spices (rsp: 99p/14g). The launch is backed by a campaign “to help reinvigorate the herbs and spices category” including a partnership with Kyra TV, a digital channel aimed at millennials.
London Flavours Street Food crisps
Manufacturer: London Flavours
High-end crisp brand London Flavours is hoping to inject more excitement into the market with this street food inspired range, which includes Pho, Teriyaki and Sticky Ribs flavours. Available in 40g and 150g bags (rsp: £1 and £1.99), the new range will be supported by social media activity and sampling around London ahead of its big-bang launch later this month.
Street Delights meal kits
Launched: August 2018
Manufacturer: Indo-European Foods
IEF’s head development chef Navin Bhatia travelled far and wide to find “the most iconic street food dishes” for the Street Delights range, launched and listed in Tesco this summer. The result is a six-strong range of meal kits including everything from Caribbean Jerk to Indonesian Nasi Goreng and Moroccan tagine (rsp £3/£3.69). All dishes can be made in ”three simple steps” to ensure they are easy to recreate at home.
Store profile: Eat 17
The latest Eat 17 branch in Hammersmith, London aims to bring the experience of outdoor street food markets indoors
Who said you could only get street food on the street? Eat 17 is hoping to recreate the atmopshere of a “vibrant open air food market” in its latest opening in Hammersmith’s Smiths Square building.
Two thirds a grocery store and one third a street food market, the branch hopes to capture both time-poor commuters in search of a meal for tonight and diners wanting a quick bite before a night out.
The street food area includes three independent sellers: an Indian street food outlet, a BBQ stall and a pizza stand with a full pizza oven. For drinks, there is an in-house coffee bar and refill stations for food, wine and beer.
With 34 spaces to eat inside and 20 outside, Eat 17 hopes it will become an eating area that will attract high footfall “well into late evening”.
Does sous vide have legs?
Sous vide is more than a splash in the pot followed by a flash in the grill. Without a doubt it will be used extensively by restaurateurs and caterers. Will it be a hit at home? Is this the next fondue pot? The cool wedding gift you use for a year and then it goes into the attic?
At the current price point, under $200, I suspect tens of thousands will be sold in the coming years. But because the food must be submerged 4 to 40 hours in advance, many of us just won’t plan far enough in advance. And because it has greater impact on some foods more than others we won’t use it for everything. But I think we will figure out what dishes we like it best for and we’ll probably use it much more often than a fondue pot. I think it will become a regular tool in many homes.
What will we use it for? Really tough cuts that will benefit from a sear on the grill like beef flank steak, beef short ribs, corned beef and pastrami, poultry breasts such as duck and goose, and lean pork loin chops. Check out this video of how we used sous vide to make a small cut of beef brisket far better than it is possible in a smoker, and how we made a chuck steak sing. As we continue to experiment this list will grow. And if you want to dig deeper into this cooking method, check out our Deep Dive Guide, Sous Vide Que Made Easy: How to Deliciously Marry the Grill and Smoker with Sous Vide.