10 Top Dining Trends for 2014

The 2014 trend predictions have begun.  And I couldn’t be happier.

It seems the trend reports are coming out earlier and earlier — just like Christmas decorations.   I’ll be doing a recap of all the major reports like I did last year, but in the meantime, here’s what the Sterling-Rice Group predicts will be the top 10 trends that will go from culinary cutting-edge to mainstream in 2014.

1. Lemon steps into the sun.


The folks at Sterling-Rice Group — who consulted chefs, product developers, and grocery shoppers to develop their predictions — believe lemons and other citrus will be the flavor of 2014. They say the simple, vibrant citrus will show up in its purest form — juice, but also watch out for it as a preserve, an addition to yogurt, and a star pastry ingredient.  Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director at Sterling-Rice, says “it ties into the cuisines of the Mediterranean, which are growing in popularity, plus, it brings back memories of lemonade afternoons, Grandma’s lemon bars, and summer desserts with lemon meringue pie.”  I certainly adore the bright taste of lemon  and use it often in my cooking, especially when mixing up my own salad dressings, roasting vegetables, and preparing sauces and seafood.

2. Tea leaves the cup.


Tea is no longer just for sipping —  expect to see black, green and other leafy brews stretch into dinner, desserts and more.  Chefs and product developers are experimenting with tea’s natural, earthy tastes to add a flavorful twists to foods without depending on butter, bacon or oils.  Matcha tea is hot, hot, hot and you’ll find lots of different foods using this green tea.

3. The Middle Eastern Mediterranean.


Of course, I love this trend!  With a Lebanese husband, I know all about the wondrous spices from the Middle East, including za’atar and sumac — two of my favorites.  The new trend report from Sterling-Rice predicts that the Middle East will be the next big Mediterranean break out. “Next year, the flavors of Turkey, Israel, and other areas of the Middle East will join pizza, garlic and chickpeas in popularity.  Expect to taste the flavors of sumac, za’atar, aleppo peppers, and more.”

4. Dairy goes nuts.


Expect to see more nut-based milks, such as almond and cashew,  to add rich, nutty flavor to ice creams and other desserts like panna cotta and custards, savory and sweet sauces, and entrees.

5. The year of the yolk.


We’ve seen eggs make their way across the menu, from bowls of ramen to burgers.  Next year, it’s all about the yolk.  The report predicts that the decadent, golden globe will reign in 2014, bringing meals a richness that was previously provided by cheese, dairy and sauces.  One example cited was one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago — Blackbird, which serves Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cured Egg Yolk.  Do a search for “cured egg yolk” and you’ll be surprised how often this ingredient is popping up on menus.

6. Refined classic American eats.


How wonderful is an iceberg wedge doused in blue cheese dressing and topped with crispy bacon?  This retro salad is back, along with other American classics.  The report quotes Chicago’s own classic Ina Pinkney who says “These foods are a reminder of foods we ate that were delicious and  understandable, with ingredients that didn’t need a culinary dictionary.”

7. The return of poaching and steaming.


Poaching and steaming are often dismissed as bland techniques, yet 2014 will see flavor put back into these cooking processes, the report predicts.  Wine, coffee, beer and even smoky liquids will replace water for poached and steamed proteins and vegetables, full of delicate, nuanced flavor.

8. Seaweed goes beyond sushi.


Start preparing for seaweed to show up in all sorts of places.  I love seaweed salad, but expect to find it in salty snacks, as a umami-rich topping fish, in stir-fries, sandwiches and more.  “The wide variety, textures, health benefits, and the seasoning of seaweed make it my have of the year,” says Hosea Rosenberg, winner Top Chef season 5, and owner of Blackbelly Catering and Farm.

9. No ordinary pasta.


This view of pasta at Eataly helps illustrate the types of out-of-the-ordinary pastas we’ll see in the coming year.  Expect more  alternative flours, seasoned with global spices and formed into new shapes of all sizes.  Black squid ink pasta, for instance, will be served up more often, along with vegetable-based pastas.

10. The new flavors of farm-to-table.


Look for more alternative meats in 2014 — goat, rabbit and even pigeon meat raised by small-scale producers will provide more choices that we can feel good about and a new palette of flavors for experimenting in the kitchen.  Here’s Le Pigeon in Portand that celebrates the small bird, and one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, The Girl & the Goat, is all about the other hot meat of 2014 – goat.


flickr images courtesy of:

katipeck lemon cupcakes
bookchen two tea ice creams
drew dies za’atar bread
midwesternvegan almond milk
frodnesor beef tartare with egg yolk
shutterbean wedge salad
muy yum olive oil poached halibut at the Farm at the Carneros Inn
amuse bouche seaweed salad
davez picts pasta at Eataly
traveloregon Le Pigeon restaurant

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