Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trending Bites on Cooking Channel

Food trends seem to be on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps it has to do with the amount of food television I seem to be watching now that summer is over and I have more time inside. It makes me feel the need to seek out unusual ingredients- sea beans being the one thing I am currently obsessed with finding- and try different styles of cooking. New spices and flavors. Unusual produce. Exotic meats. You get the idea.

Today while stuck at home recuperating I happened to catch a special show on The Cooking Channel called Trending Bites. Hosted by Mo Rocca, the show featured several current and growing trends in the food scene- nationwide. While a lot of them seemed like the logical next step from their predecessor trend (the Crookie having been inspired by the Cronut, and so forth) some of them are completely new and inspired. 

Food boats- Food trucks have been on the scene for quite a few years now. There are a still a few hot food truck spots, and some cities that haven't embraced them (like Chicago) but chefs have begun to take their mobile kitchens in a fun new direction. Summertime brings crowds of visitors to all the vacation destinations, especially if there is a beach involved. A few enterprising chefs have started to leave the wheels on dry land and are launching a whole new mobile restaurant- the food boat. Just the Cook is a food boat owned by Ernie Hall in Panama City, Florida. The whole setup is little more than a small building on a pontoon platform. No boat motor, it gets towed out into the water, sets anchor and opens for business.  Famous for their Dandy Donut Burger, a handcrafted burger seasoned with pulverized garlic and rosemary, grilled and topped with Swiss and Blue cheeses, Canadian bacon and a grilled red bell pepper, with a split and toasted glazed donut serving as the bun, Just the Cook uses marine radio to take orders from nearby boaters and boxes everything up for pickup. Boaters cruise over and dock up to collect their meals. The end of the day isn't the end of business either. Just the Cook has a dockside boat slip for serving land lubbers as well. Look for other food boats in other states too.

Hybrid desserts-  You would have to be on another planet to not have heard about the Cronut craze a year or so ago. Combining two different food ideas into one unique dish is alive and well all over. In Chicago Waffles Cafe is serving up the "WoNut." Rich batter starts on a waffle iron to set the shape, then finishes cooking in hot oil like a donut, giving the WoNut a crispy exterior, super soft and fluffy interior covered in a sweet glaze. Expect all the usual cake flavors like Red Velvet, with lots of sprinkles and other embellishments. A Toronto, Canada French bakery is changing up the Cronut with the "Crookie"- part croissant, part Oreo cookie, and all delicious. Fans are snapping them up like crazy. Los Angeleans can get a late night dose of sweetness at AfterHours, a bakery and ice cream shop serving up the "MilkyBun"- a light and fluffy fried donut and ice cream sandwich. Gourmet ice cream flavors make it extra special.

Edible serving ware- This ideas is a little lost on me. Cambridge MA Harvard professor David Edwards has invented the WikiPearl as a way to serve food in edible shells. Oddly enough, the edible packaging comes packaged in PACKAGES. Seems to me that alone erases the novelty and uniqueness of this product. Maybe when edible cups and spoons becomes more mainstream......

Photo courtesy of WikiPedia
Shipping container restaurants- Montreal restauranteur Daniel Noiseau transforms old shipping containers into MuvBoxes- moveable kitchens. Watching these restaurant boxes open and set up for business everyday was fascinating. The sides fold down and form the dining areas with pop up and add on seating. Many are totally off-grid. They have the look of a food truck in many ways but with a sense of permanency at the same time. What really appealed to me is the open kitchen design, lots of windows and a very contemporary, urban look. Sleek and modern. I could definitely see myself owning and operating one of these.

3D Printed food- Using edible "inks" to create intricate food designs engineers have designed giant printers to create edible items. Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman is one baker who has embraced this new technology. Common in European countries, in the US the trend seems to focus on sugar use and baking/candy making. Kyle Von Hasseln and Elizabeth Von Hasseln owners of Sugar Labs create amazing cake toppers using the ChefJet Pro for other bakers, including Chef Duff at his Charm City Cakes West shop. We got to see a printer working on a cake topper Sugar Labs was creating for Chef Duff- seeing the finished piece emerge from the machine was amazing. 

Craft beer trends- What is icy cold and swirls like DQ ice cream? Frozen beer, of course. This Japanese craze hit MLB stadiums in the US and took off.  Frozen beer foams tops a chilled beer- looks like a beer float. Imbibers swear it keeps the beer cold longer and since it's frozen beer, it doesn't water down the drink. In Atlanta, Ari Fliescher's company Frozen Pints creates craft beer ice creams. Claimed to be the result of an accidental spill Frozen Pints has created 7 flavors to date. Since they use real beer in every ice cream there is 1-3% alcohol in finished ice cream. 

Food ATMs- In Chicago you can grab a healthy lunch on the run from a vending machine- no kidding- salad vending machines. Farmers Fridge packs fresh and healthy ingredients into jars with extra attention paid to organic and local ingredients. Antioxidant Salad, Detox Salad, The Cheater and Crunchy Thai salad are just a few offerings. West Hollywood boasts Burrito Box machines, fresh-steamed to order.  Beverly Hills Caviar is a caviar vending machine $5-$500. And of course, we cannot forget the one that started it all- the Sprinkles Cupcake Bakery ATM. 

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