Trend-o-Meter rss

Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.

Trend-O-Meter Says: Pita Is Out, Roti Is In (8/7/09)

Long a staple favorite of old school NYC Caribbean and Indian restaurants, roti (an Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour) wrapped around a curry filling is catching on elsewhere. Spotted at the street food spinoff of NY’s upscale Tabla; with free range turkey at San Francisco’s Kasa Indian Eatery; and fusion style with hummus, at Chicago’s Roti Mediterranean Grill.

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Image source: Flickr member jasonlam under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Elderflower Desserts Are In (7/15/09)

Elderflowers, popular as a flavoring in Europe for hundreds of years (check out how they were used in medieval England, for instance) have only become familiar to the American palate in the last few years, mostly due to St-Germain liqueur hitting the market shelves and taking off in the cocktail world.

Now pastry chefs are catching up with bartenders and adding the tangy, floral, peachy flavor of the flowers to their desserts. Spotted: at Quince in San Francisco flavoring a foam that accompanied a slice of gianduja cheesecake; made into gelée with Prosecco and served with mixed berries and whipped cream at Deep Blue’s special chef’s table during the recent restaurant week in Wilmington, Delaware; and again in San Francisco flavoring a savarin served at the Ritz Carlton Dining Room with rose petal chiboust, peach sorbet, and strawberry compote. You can also grow your own and make the flowers into syrup to play with in your private patisserie.

Image source: Flickr member lizjones112 under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Hot Dogs Are In (6/30/09)

The appropriation of street food by trendy food people has yet to peak. The latest casualty: hot dogs. Bacon-wrapped for lunch at Wexler’s in San Francisco; Southeast Asian–style with shrimp paste and pickled garlic at NYC’s Fatty Crab; spicy and natural at LA’s The Golden State.

For a beautiful look at old-school Chicago dogs (they put giant slices of pickles on them!) go here. Or check out New York mag’s Adam Platt’s food-porny slideshow of dogs with nouveau toppings.

Image source: Flickr member adactio under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: German Beers Are In, Belgians Are Out (6/29/09)

Just when you were finally starting to get the difference between a double and triple, a farmhouse ale and a saison, American craft brewers have moved beyond Belgian-style beers into the realm of Germans. Sierra Nevada just released a new German-style wheat beer called Kellerweis that will be available year-round.

In addition, Brooklyn Brewery in New York teamed up with the brewer from the German Schneider brewery to create Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, a malty, darker wheat beer with pronounced hop characteristics. Yeah, Belgians are still popular. But they’re not exactly the hot new thing anymore—unless you consider Redhook, a large craft brewery part owned and distributed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, to be cutting edge. It recently released a Belgian-style triple made using a “secret monastery yeast strain.” Yawn.

Trend-O-Meter Says: Fancy-Pants Doughnuts Are In (6/23/09)

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland started it with the original maple-bacon bar. Now exotic doughuts are the new cupcakes. In San Francisco, Dynamo Donuts makes delicious lemon thyme-glazed and five-spice chocolate cake doughnuts. Los Angeles churros chain Xooro makes the Spanish sweet fried dough equivalent in wild flavors like Turkish hazelnut and dulce de leche. And NYC’s Doughnut Plant makes crème brûlée, Valrhona chocolate, and butter pecan varieties.

It’s all part of the current trend of gourmetizing formerly downmarket food (i.e., heritage pig hot dogs, Momofuku’s artisanal soft serve ice cream, ritzy chefs opening food trucks). We’re impatiently awaiting the food nerd rediscovery of nachos.

Image source: Flickr member xmatt under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Sugar Cereal Is In (6/17/09)

“My wife and I are huge sugar cereal fans,” says Supper co-owner and chef Mitch Prensky. The normally upscale Philadelphia restaurant offers a self-serve, all-you-can-eat sugar cereal buffet at brunch that includes standards like Lucky Charms along with ones from the 1970s they’re “still making somewhere,” such as Kaboom.

Elsewhere, “sweet corn cereal milk”–flavored ice cream pie can be eaten at Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar, NYC; waffles, cereal, and ice cream make up the menu at the new Shamrock Cereal Cafe & Creamery in Redding, California; and Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, serves a Froot Loop doughnut (pictured).

Image source: Flickr member Carolyn Coles under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Weird Ice Cream Is In (6/12/09)

Esteemed chocolatier Jacques Torres got a total beatdown by New York magazine readers with the opening of his new ice cream stand; turns out regular old chocolate and vanilla (even if they’re served on a tasty waffle with caramel sauce) just aren’t good enough anymore. “Conservative and boring,” sniffed one commenter. Scoops with nonstandard flavors—perhaps more appropriately dubbed “shock cream”—are what’s exciting people now. San Francisco is all over the trend: You can get ube (purple yam) ice cream at Mitchell’s, durian flavor at Marco Polo, and Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles) at Bi-Rite Creamery. Humphry Slocombe has a revolving menu that has seen the likes of foie gras, hibiscus-beet sorbet, pistachio-bacon, and “secret breakfast” (bourbon ice cream with corn flakes). “I’m not a classically trained pastry chef. I worked in savory,” explains Slocombe’s owner, Jake Godby.

In Columbus, Ohio, Jeni’s serves Thai chili flavor and goat cheese with roasted red cherries, among others. Then there’s NYC’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato, making mastic, aromatic bitters, and a gazillion other intriguing varieties. Take that, Jacques Torres, you conservative ol’ fuddy-duddy chocolate-maker guy you.

Trend-O-Meter Says: Infused Vodka Is Out (6/12/09)

Vodka “infused” with everything from raspberry to chile peppers served as a brainless cocktail base for much of the early 2000s. It wasn’t a good thing: Most of it tasted like Jolly Rancher candy.

Thankfully it is out, out, out, in large part due to bartenders at high-end cocktail bars like Pegu Club refusing to touch it with a 10-foot swizzle stick, and in part to the waning interest in all things formerly described as metrosexual. New infused-vodka-esque products (that is, neutral, unaged spirits containing flavoring) are rebranding. Case in point: VeeV Açaí Spirit is sold as a liqueur, and it lists açaí as its main ingredient but does not say it’s infused with it. Square One Botanical is described as follows: “Square One Botanical isn’t a flavored vodka. With its broad range of botanicals and high proof, Square One Botanical takes us beyond our vodka heritage to a new category of specialty spirit.” Graphic designers are hard at work on a new symbol, which will replace the “category formerly known as infused vodka” and make all this a lot easier to understand.

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Image source: Flickr member Elin B under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Still Goin’ Strong (6/10/09)

Every major city in the USA now has a gastropub serving Duvel and chicken-liver pâté, but to quote Dennis Hopper’s oxygen-mask-wearing Frank Booth in the movie Blue Velvet: “Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”

The never-stops-being-cool PBR has been spotted: Stuffed into the mouth of a roast suckling pig in tall boy form by the chefs at Fatty Crab, NYC, during the Cochon555 pig cook-off (they won); at fancy beer-focused restaurants, like San Francisco’s Monk’s Kettle, to keep it real; sipped by old-school graffiti writers Lava One and Shadow, who came out to watch Manfred Kirchheimer’s 1981 cult classic Stations of the Elevated at the Maysles Cinema and Film Institute in Harlem; and on tap at LA’s the Power House.

“Four and a half years ago, when my partner and I took this over, and we put Pabst on tap, NOBODY was doing it,” says Power House part-owner Jim Kalin. “Everybody would laugh! Now you go everywhere and everyone has Pabst.” As BeerAdvocate reviewer BasementBrewerSF says, “it is the best of the worst.”

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Image source: Flickr member mollypop under Creative Commons

Trend-O-Meter Says: Duck Hash Is In (6/9/09)

Hash is the kind of dish that manages to be good even when it’s made with that canned corned beef that looks like cat food—and it’s particularly good with duck meat. Spotted at the Girl & the Fig in Sonoma, California, made with chunky pieces of duck and topped with poached eggs and bacon; at Coquette in Philly using duck confit and served with fried eggs; making an appearance on the specials board at Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it’s been served Cajun style with andouille sausage (we called and they said it might be around this weekend); and at Seattle’s fancy Veil made with yellow potatoes and caramelized onions. Hash is also supereasy to make at home—check out this easy recipe that uses a whole roasted duck from an Asian market, or browse CHOW’s hash recipes.

Good news: Corned beef hash is still in despite its competition.

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Image source: Flickr member miss karen under Creative Commons