The food forecast for 2016 looks flavorful, intriguing, appetizing and healthy. Restaurateurs, chefs, cocktail mixers, bakers and food experts gazed into the crystal ball and gave some grazing predictions.
▪ Hot pastas: Regional-specific pastas such as strozzapreti — a native of Romagna, Italy, that literally translates to priest strangler — will be all the rage, says Steve Salvi, co-owner of the restaurant Cenacolo and wholesale pasta business Fede in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Irregular in size and shape, the long strozzapreti has a slight twist that makes it look like a rope, and it goes well with braised meat.
Also, simple, straightforward pasta dishes that are made with three to four ingredients and have clean flavors will be popular, Salvi says.
▪ Gum Drop grapes: If you like gumdrops and you like grapes, the California-based Grapery has just the fruit for you: “Gum drop” grapes. The designer variety, which is not genetically modified or injected with flavorings, “has a candy-like flavor and a fruity finish,” says Jim Beagle, the company’s CEO. “It reminds me of gumdrops and Gummi candy.”
But the grapes won’t have that syrupy-sweet aftertaste, Beagle says, because the acidity from the fruit balances out the sweetness in the fairly crunchy, medium-size, purplish-black grapes. They are expected to hit store shelves this year.
▪ Spicy burgers: “It’s time to wake up the palate in 2016,” says Mike Remes, corporate executive chef of Burger 21 in Ross, Pennsylvania. And he’s going to do it by turning up the heat on burgers with spices and peppers, a trend he envisions picking up nationwide.
A “spicy cowboy burger” will be built with arugula greens, a certified Angus beef patty, pepper jack cheese, fried jalapeños and “Sriranchup” dressing, while a Jerk Chicken Burger will be made with ground chicken coated with a jerk rub and topped with spicy mango salsa.
▪ New juicing: Vegetables will be sipped from a glass, without extracting their fibrous pulp, says Rory Lazear, CEO of High Maintenance, a Pittsburgh-based company that provides personalized wellness concierge services to individuals and businesses. Vegetables such as spinach, romaine, cucumber, parsley and celery are blended as a whole to retain the fiber and nutritional benefits, she says. The veggies will lower the sugar and calorie levels and make you feel nourished and healthy. She also adds lemons or limes for a refreshing citrusy taste, or avocado for creaminess.
▪ Palm fruit oil: Gerard Viverito, director of culinary education for Passionfish, a nonprofit group that advocates sustainability in the seas, says Malaysian-certified sustainable palm fruit oil will reign in 2016. It’s similar to olive oil in that it is pressed from the pulp of the fruit. But unlike olive oil, it does not break down in high heat, and so is perfect for grilling vegetables and seafood, or in stir-fries, he says.
And unlike canola oil, the buttery-flavored palm oil doesn’t form toxic chemicals at high temperatures. The palm oil is also rich in vitamin E, trans-fat free, retains the flavor of the food, and doesn’t spoil as easily as other fats because it is oxidative resistant. Note; Don’t confuse palm fruit oil with palm kernel oil, which is high in saturated fat.
▪ Sandwich cookies: Cookies will be going for a layered look. Watch out for exotic-flavored cookies such as green tea, chai tea, lavender and salted sweets to be filled with familiar frostings such as peanut butter, peppermint combined with chocolate and/or coffee, and fruity ones like cherry or raspberry, says Tom Medvitz, CEO of Prantl’s Bakery.
▪ Global spices: McCormick’s says spices with global accents will be used to grill and roast meats, flavor cakes and cookies, and add zip to noodle dishes and soups. So the Middle Eastern shawarma (cumin, cinnamon and black pepper), and Japanese shichimi togarashi (chilies, sesame, orange peel, nori) will become more common. Also, coarse salt will be paired with sours like pickled ginger, cherry, dried mango and lemon zest to add color and texture to dishes.
▪ Flavored cheeses: It will be the year of flavor and freshness in cheese, predicts the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Cheeses flavored with jalapeño, herbs, garlic and berries will be a hit, and so will fresh cheese curds, which can be served alone or mixed with chilies, garlic, herbs and spices.
The Board also says there will be new blends of shredded cheeses flavored with rosemary and roasted garlic to be topped on flatbreads or used in macaroni and cheese.