More Hot Food Trends for 2012

I’m back with more trends.  I love this time of year because there are so many trend predictions from all sorts of folks (and sometimes they even agree!).  I’ve written about the 2012 food and dining trends from Technomic and Baum+Whiteman.  Now I’ve culled down some of the 2012 food trend lists from Andrew Freeman & Co. , Epicurious, the James Beard Foundation, Food Channel, National Restaurant Association, Phil Lempert, Huffington Post and Mintel. So here’s another look at 10 hot food and dining trends for the coming year.

1. 2012 will be the year of the potato.

I’m so glad to hear that since spuds have taken such a beating in the nutrition arena this year. Harvard abolished potatoes from their version of MyPlate and schools have banned them from lunch menus.  Thank goodness chefs have a different view.  Look for french fry menus that let guests choose the cut, crispness and sauce; make-your-own mashers with different mix-ins; or custom cut chips with dusts and dips to order.

French Fries At Senart's(F)oxymoron on flickr

2. Grilled cheese is the new hamburger.

Restaurants are devoting special evenings or entire menus to this childhood favorite loved by kids of all ages.  There are grilled cheese food festivals, such as the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles, and new restaurants that only sell grilled cheese sandwiches. From fast-casual and quick service (including Dunkin Donuts) to high end, expect more restaurants to develop their own signature grilled cheese sandwiches.


4181010910_9e16d45675_bSifu Renka on flickr

3. A forest of flavors.

Chefs are pine-ing for new flavors, and they’ve found it with new inspiration from the forest.  Expect to see  more flavors that use subtle infusions of pine needles, douglas fir and eucalyptus to flavor sauces, rubs, meats, jus and broths. The new Nordic pantry (inspired by Noma) includes wood sorrel, buckhorn (a tart orange berry), bark flour (made from real trees) and evergreens, including douglas fir.

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Grilled steak of Berkshire Roe deer and douglas fir sausage with raw celeriac, spelt flatbread and field mushrooms at The Harwood Arms by  Purple Cloud on flickr.

4. Caneles are the new cupcakes.

Get ready for a new bakery item to replace cupcakes (well, maybe not at kids’ birthday parties).  The new hot baked good will the canele, a specialty of Bordeaux.  They’re made from an egg-yolk-enriched crepe-like batter that’s baked in copper molds lined with caramel and beeswax.  So move over cupcakes, pies and macarons, get ready for caneles to  make their mark.

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Caneles by Emm Ess on flickr

5. Doughnuts get upgraded.

These irresistible fried treats have recently resurged in popularity.  Look for other regional and country-specific doughnuts, such as the Texan kolache, Turkish lokma or Portuguese malasada.  The fried sweet dough will also be showing up as churros (preferably with cajeta on the side), beignets, and koeksisters.

4550711665_0c9242e2fe_ojoyosity on flickr

6. Hand-pulled noodles.

Noodles may be nothing new, but innovative and exciting restaurants are highlighting this ancient art with glorified exhibition style hand-pulled noodles.  It’s dinner and a show.  One example includes Hand Pulled Noodles at Chef Martin Yan’s M.Y. China, which is opening Spring 2012 in San Francisco.

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Hand-pulled noodles by Kattebelletje on flickr

7. Desserts veggie up.

Move over carrot cake, cutting edge pastry chefs are turning vegetables into sweet finales.  They’ll make you eat your veggies with sweet satisfaction.  This trend coincides with the wacky ice cream trend, including veggie-centric flavors like this beet ice cream.

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Beet ice cream by shesimmers.com on flickr

8. Bloody good food.

I’ll admit that this one has me a bit squeamish.  The folks at James Beard believe it’s the natural step in the nose-to-tail movement (or maybe it’s our love for Twilight and all things vampires these days).  Whatever the reason, blood is appearing on menus more and more: Blood pancakes, blood pudding waffles, blood cups, sauces thickened with blood, blood ice cream.  In fact, bloody food was the cover story in the July issue of Food Arts magazine, written by Brad Farmerie of the Michelin awarded restaurant Public in NYC.  Public even featured a special bloody menu recently for an underground supper club that included Swedish blood bread, blood tofu, pig blood popsicles and horse pig blood brûlée.

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Blood sausage crepes by Sifu Renka on flickr.

9. Fennel pollen

The latest in rare, must-have ingredients for chefs? An Italian favorite: fennel pollen. While Mario Batali extols its virtues, chefs far and wide are finding inventive uses for it, including Canlis in Seattle, where the powder dusts snapper sashimi. Where to get it? Try the Pollen Ranch.

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Fennel pollen vinaigrette by Hawaiianbeeswax on flickr

10. Global cuisines

Previous trend reports said Korean and Peruvian cuisines will be big in 2012.  The latest lists predict a range of international cuisines:  modern Thai, fast casual Asian (like Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen from the folks behind Chipotle), Indian street foods, high-end Indian, Nordic, Czech, Hungarian and Eastern European.  Epicurious calls out  Singapore as one of the tastiest cities on Earth — the place to eat in 2012.

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  • Donna Feldman

    So many lists, so little time. It’s a bit suspicious that the recent ones start to repeat trends noted previously. Are they copying each other, to be on the safe side? I think the really interesting thing would be to create a list of trends that showed up on most or all lists, and then check back in a year to see how that panned out. I’m not sure how you’d do that though – sales data? Google hits?

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