After a year of food and beverage shows, I have eaten and drank enough to make some educated predictions for 2015. Collaborating with my good friend, Christopher Bifano, director of operations at Bon Appétit Management Company at Yahoo, we’re pointing you in the right direction when Yelping nearby restaurants for trendy bites or how to impress your friends with some new ingredients to work into your next dinner party.
1. For refreshing your palates, keep an eye out for mezcal, the cousin of tequila. This Mexican spirit, unlike tequila, is made from other species of the agave plant, while tequila is made only from the blue. Brilliantly, bartenders are infusing them into ice cubes with citrus juice and agave nectar.
2. Ramen is everywhere and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. We recommend you embrace it. Don’t have a ramen noodle shop nearby yet? Hack a gourmet ramen dish simply by adding Asian vegetables, thinly sliced meat or tofu, fish sauce and chilies; top with bean sprouts, cilantro and fresh lime.
3. With veganism on the rise, and at only 60 calories per serving, almond milk is what’s up. Add it to your smoothies, or as a substitute base for cream-based sauces like Alfredo or for a guilt-free cream of mushroom soup. By stepping up the other herbs and seasonings, almond milk is a terrific substitution for heavy cream.
4. Todd Jurich’s Bistro in Norfolk, Virginia, does a clever take on a Hampton Roads staple: crab cakes. Served with a peanut fennel slaw, a sweet pickle tartar sauce, and Old Bay chips—because it wouldn’t be a crab cake without Old Bay—beloved dishes like these are being reinvented into higher-end dishes worthy of Instagram and the price mark-up.
5. Look for new fun flavors of infused olive oils like avocado, blood orange and jalapeño. Use them just as you would regular olive oil and pair with complementing dishes, like an Asian chicken dish with the blood orange olive oil topped with toasted cashews. Or if you’re still experimenting, there’s nothing wrong with breaking a fresh loaf of bread and using the oils for dipping. Have fun with some innovative wine pairings—a great and informal first course with friends, for sure.
6. Watch the rise of “the other white meat”. In years past, it was bacon. I did a birthday last year which revolved around bacon—it was ridiculously sinful. However, our obsession with pork hasn’t veered completely away from the belly, as pulled-pork anything is everywhere. It’s in sliders, dumplings, spring rolls, used as a garnish, all over flatbreads and at Subway.
7. Lastly, look out for tea. Hot or cold, it’s converting coffee drinkers rapidly. I just spent $100 dollars at Teavana because I was memorized by the possibilities. It isn’t limited to a cup these days either. Use it to flavor desserts, or to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to a refreshing cocktail. If Starbucks is banking on it, I’m confident this trend is going to explode.