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Oct 25, 2006 04:00 PM

what's HOT? what's NOT?

Not HOT as in temperature but HOT as in food trends. What's out there that you think is the IT food? What's not so hot? Or is food not meant to be trendy?

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  1. Tartare and carpaccio everything (oddly, even veggies) seems to be a hot food trend at the moment. And gourmet mac 'n' cheese is even bigger than ever--a trend I hope never ends.

    11 Replies
    1. re: gina

      Where do you live? Those dishes were hot in Mexico City about 8 years, & in L.A. about 4 years ago.

      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        That's nice. What dishes are hot in Mexico City and L.A. now?

        1. re: gina

          Very gracious of you. Actually, I still see tartare and carpaccio on Bay Area menus.

          1. re: gina

            I am very sorry... I didn't mean to be insulting in any way... I am just very curious about how trends spread. A couple of months ago I was in Chicago & had a suprising conversation. An Ohio resident told me about how Martinis are just starting to be the in thing there & he asked me if they are popular in L.A. I commented it that Martinis were the big hit around 1999... when the Sour Apple Martinis were all the rage. Then I told him to expect Ohioans to drink Vodka on the Rocks pretty soon. Incredious... he said something like... next you are going to tell me that Tequila is popular. And of course I informed him that good Tequila is old news...its all about the Rum now.

            So given the Internet & the fast speed of communications... I am trying to understanding how it is that trends actually spread & how long they take.

            So I am honestly very curious about where you live.

            In terms of what is hot in Mexico City... there are number of them:
            > Pre-Hispanic Tasting Menus (Lots of Vanilla & Ground Chocolate used in Savory Dishes, Pre-Hispanic Herbs like Hoja Santa, Epazote, Native Varieties of "Oregano", Basil, Mint & Anise)
            > California Cuisine is all the rage in Mexico City. Restaurants range from casual California style Salads, Pasta & Pizza to Pan-California Wine Cuisine that brings the best Pairings from Alta California (U.S.) & Baja California.
            > Mexican Wines. They have now displaced French & Spanish wines as the most consumed in Mexico & there is a whole fuss about figuring out what foods to create for pairing with Baja California's wines (which are based on Classic Varieties)
            > Foams, Aromas & other fad items from the scientific cuisine movement.
            > Duck Carnitas seem to be on every menu

            In L.A... the big thing seems to be the heavy Thai & Spanish influences in California & New American cuisine.... Scallops in Red Curry Reduction with Pineapple Polenta (Thai) & Calamari with Spicy Fava Beans & Frisse in Squid Ink Vinaigrette (Spanish) would be a perfect example. Also all kinds savory Flan (custard).

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              I think most people pick up on trends from their friends/local establishments, not the Internet. Fancy "martinis" are hot now in a small city a mere hour from Boston.

              1. re: Aromatherapy

                Yeah... but you would think that Restaurateurs & Bar Keepers travel & try to bring back ideas to the regional hubs like Chicago... from which they would spread to small cities like Cincinnati etc.,

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  One could reverse that and say that you would think that big cities could get over the latest trend and see that the smaller cities are getting by with just great food.

                  I personally love creativity, but trends produce the opposite. They're one person's, or a small group of people's, creativity exploited by anyone with a license to market the trend. To me, a truly HOT trend is something that lifts up the entire industry, rather than giving a crutch. The ubiquitous figs and dates are a crutch, whereas local farming/produce is really lifting up the entire industry. That's the big difference I think. That's why I believe that small plates in some manner will stick around well past mojitos and deconstructed this or that, because they provide something really useful, not just copies of someone else's, albiet good, idea.

                  Notice the mini-thread near the bottom (as of OCT 30, 2006) about German restaurants. Like steakhouses, I don't think places where you go to get large amounts of great food will ever go out of style. I think a truly creative person goes in and makes an authentic German restaurant work, despite the market, because they're offering really high quality interpretations, not so-so imitations.

                  1. re: amkirkland

                    It depends on the small city... most in the U.S. don't have great food. Even when they have great regional specialties... that is it. If you think of recipes as cultural solutions to a common problem... then you can see the value of new ideas... a few of which will make your life better.

        2. re: gina

          Gourmet mac 'n' cheese? What have I been missing?

          1. re: Boythefoodtalksto

            i think mac'n'cheese made with fancier cheeses like gruyere have been around for a while, but maybe gina meant the fact that they're taking a center stage like at S'Mac in NYC?


        3. Saw a recent NYT magazine article on salted caramel, but I thought they were a few years behind on that one. I still want to make the molten caramel cakes though.

          1. Tapas. Not just Spanish either, but Greek and Lebanese mezze. It's gotten to the point now that you can basically put anything on a small plate, charge $7.50 for it, and call it tapas.

            Just waiting for the American version to start rolling in. Vienna sausages dizzled with olive oil and paprika, pigs-in-a-blanket with aoli...

            7 Replies
            1. re: monkeyrotica

              Monkeyrotica, Hummm, I could see corn dogs served with a mustard-catsup reduction sauce wrapped in kale with a side of deconstructed roasted packing nuts.

              1. re: Leper

                You are sooooo ready for a Top Chef gas station challenge . . .

                1. re: Leper

                  I just made a dish called Cheeseburger lasagna! It was pretty darn silly. Tasted good, though.

                  1. re: therealbigtasty

                    Hamburger Helper has made a Cheeseburger Lasagne flavor for, like, forever....

                    sadly....I know this

                    1. re: Cathy

                      But I made Cheeseburger LASAGNE! All from scratch like.

                      I'm aware of that particular product.

                2. re: monkeyrotica

                  Interesting, because tapas are hot in Phoenix right now -- this just started within about the past year. But they were hot in Chicago about 10 years ago, and we didn't even have them in Los Angeles then.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    And Japanese tapas too. In LA Itzakaya places are popping up all over. "shared plates" are what's hot, beyond spanish and into "american."

                  2. Well, the organic food trend flowed into the slow food trend which has now flowed into the local food trend, which is currently cresting as a trend. A good marker of food trends is the religious ferver of its adherents.

                    The revival of proper pork products is moving at a much slower pace. The demand for good pork lard among cooks has increased a lot, but the supply hasn't; the boutiquing of good pork for folks with means is counterbalanced by the invasion of "enhanced" pork in markets frequented by regular folks.

                    Then there is the ethnic food of the moment. I would say that Latin American foods have the momentum of trendiness right now, especially reflected in fusion-type appropriation of ingredients and inflections. Subsaharan African foods have not caught on yet. Just waiting for eastern European foods to catch a wave; I've seen glimmers of that here or there.

                    The real trend to watch: how many Americans will increase the proportion of meals they eat around a home table with other people (aka family and/or friends). Right now, I am not holding my breath, though there are increased efforts to inspire and motivate on this score. Unless and until that happens, the other trends are fairly meaningless.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Chocolate-chip pancakes and sausage on a stick.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Jon Stewart agrees with you, but maybe that's where you picked up on this "trend"...

                        1. re: Low Country Jon

                          If it's on The Daily Show, it must be hot. Like sizzlin' John Ashcroft.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Given the popularity of corn dogs, pancakes and sausage on a stick was inevitable. But adding chocolate chips to the mix, that's just Crazy! Or is it Genius?

                          2. re: Low Country Jon

                            Its made by Jimmy Dean and quite a few years ago (more than 5)JD had test marketed blueberry pancake on sausage on a stick..I bought it at one of the "Grocery Outlet" stores (before it became a really big chain out here)...because I liked the idea of all the flavors together...but when you nuked it, the blueberries "ran" through the pancake batter (and grease from the sausage) so it was a grey mess.....

                            it still tasted good, though....

                          3. re: Robert Lauriston

                            ROTFL... My SO called me from work to tell me about this abomination... They had me, until they added chocolate chips... Hope, plain for me with a cup of Maple Syrup on the side thankuverimuch...