Much like trends that surge in a given year, there are many that begin to fade away. Here are my predictions of the Toronto food trends that should curtail in 2013.
1. Beet to Death
Almost every menu offers a beet salad of some kind. They are cheap, earthy and offer a pretty colour to a plate. They are however, very distinct. This uniqueness usually results in a short shelf life. Plus, root vegetables take turns being in favour. Just ask a sweet potato. They had to step aside for the beet and a new tuber should soon reign supreme. Perhaps an heirloom carrot, parsnip or even the relatively unknown sunchoke?
2. Doubt the Sprout
Despite its sinister reputation among the young, the brussel sprout has become the cool cruciferous vegetable in the past few years, offering a perfect marriage with other in vogue flavours like hot sauce and bacon fat. However, with other greens such as collards, swiss chard and mustard greens gaining popularity, I suspect the brussel sprout will lose some of its spark and go back to being the low point of many a childhood.
3. Pig: The Magical Animal
Pork is no longer the other white meat; it is THE white meat. Thick chops and pork belly have dominated menus in the past few years. Bacon has been used to wrap everthing from steak to scallops to ice cream. The combination of demand for lighter foods coupled with expected increases in pork prices in 2013 should see the presence of pork diminish somewhat across the board. That being said, bacon will be coveted and pork will remain a key component in ramen dishes, but don’t be surprised to see more chicken (in an attempt to gain the white meat status back) and beef options emerge as a replacement to the mighty pig.
4. Feelin’ Blue
Strong flavours will be replaced with more mild ones and cheese is no exception. The intensity of the bold blues, including gorgonzola will be replaced by lighter cheeses with more subtle flavour. The use of blue as a base for rich creamy pasta sauces (especially vegetarian ones) should fall out favour for more acidic, zingy ones.
5. Falling Flat
Flatbreads are pizzas for places that don’t make pizza. Once a popular appetizer, flatbread is a canvas to display other popular ingredients such as short rib, mushrooms and asparagus with white, red and barbeque sauce foundations. The novelty has worn off as diners are satisfied with the toppings reconstructed in novel and abstract ways minus the bland and often overcooked dough.
6. Holy Aioli!
Chipotle mayos, basil aiolis and other thick and sinful sauces should give way to vegetables based dips, sauces and condiments. The trend toward the focus on fresh and local ingredients doesn’t necessarily include mayonnaise and oil but may favor tangy, tomato jams, spicy chimichurris and vibrant pestos instead.
Call me crazy but the life cycle of poutine may be coming to an end. The classic Quebec dish has evolved to include lobster, brisket and pulled pork as well as modifications to the traditional beef or chicken gravy. The pendulum is swinging in the direction of lighter flavours. In the end, poutine, regardless of the version, is a salty and fatty mess to the extreme, one which will soon return to be reserved primarily for the after bar crowd.
8. Taking a Slide
Despite the number of new restaurants opening promoting sliders of all kinds, in all likelihood they will not sustain the popularity of the past couple of years. The initial simple slider gave way to newer ideas like pulled pork or beef topped with kimchi, slaw or fois gras. There may be some survival among the many small plate restaurants, but sliders have quickly become an outdated novelty. The advent of competitive burger joints have swung the pendulum back toward the large chin-dripping mains and away from the dainty, often dried out finger sandwiches.
Nutella has gone from a rare childhood vice to a condiment which recently seems to grace everything from grilled cheese to crepes to burgers. The hazelnut spread has been elevated to iconic levels in the past couple of year with many restaurants going as far as displaying various sized nutella jars in their establishments like some kind of award or trophy. Not that it will go away, but the jars should come down with diner’s reactions shifting from 2012’s “Cool, this place has nutella” to 2013’s “Oh, nutella…again”.
10. Muffle the Truffle
Truffle oil is not a truffle. It’s a cheaper, liquid version of the exquisite fungus which has been grossly overused in everything from popcorn to pasta. Truffle is like fish sauce and saffron; if you use too much once, it resonates to every similar dish afterwards. Truffle is meant to subtly complement other flavours, not be the main flavour and too many dishes are offered without this understanding. Similar to Newtonian law, as the numbers of those who have been subject to truffle oil abuse increase, its popularity will decrease.