Indulge your passion for food and drink with the top food trends of 2013, found at many of the 33 destinations participating in California Restaurant Month, a special month-long event in January that offers travelers gourmet prix-fixe menus, wine-pairing opportunities and more. Here are the top trends you’ll see emerge this year:
Trend 1: Wine experimentation
When you visit a restaurant in 2013, don’t be surprised if you see wine flights on the menu, which allow patrons to sample different wines and find new varietals they enjoy. “From pouring a flight of the same varietal from three different regions, to grouping wines by style, such as robust reds, flights encourage diners to experiment and try different wine and food combinations,” explains Nancy Light of the Wine Institute.
What wines will be popular in 2013? Light says that the top three California varietals – chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir – will continue to be the best-selling wines. Moscato and red blends – i.e. zinfandel and petite sirah combined with cabernet or merlot – will be hot in the new year.
Trend 2: Food foraging flourishes
Food foraging is set to hit its stride in 2013, meaning finding foods that are growing organically in nature and then using them in your cooking. Things like wild edible plants, berries, nuts and of course mushrooms are the most popular items foraged from the wild.
Restaurants are embracing this trend and using foraged ingredients at the peak of freshness, offering guests new flavors along with an interesting back-story about their dish. For example, Chef Tin Vuong of Abigaile restaurant in Hermosa Beach, Calif., partners with a local food forager group Shiitake Happens to get the freshest mushrooms for their recipes.
Trend 3: The reinvention of the burger
Did you know the cheeseburger was born in Pasadena, Calif., and every year the city hosts a special Cheeseburger Week that attracts travelers from around the world? In 2013, the burger is getting reinvented and can be found on menus from casual diners to gourmet eateries throughout the country.
In 2013 take a fresh look at your burger and be creative with toppings and seasoning. Pasadena’s Umami Burger restaurant takes toppings to the limit: shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and parmesan crisp make for a burger that’s anything but boring. Another example is Slater’s 50/50, which reinvents the burger from the inside out with a mix of half ground beef and half ground bacon.
Trend 4: Olive oil is king
Two reasons make extra virgin olive oil the oil of choice for 2013 – it’s versatile and healthier. How is olive oil different than other oils? “Nutritional quality for one,” says Theo Stephan, olive oil expert for Global Gardens. “Polyphenols are found in olive oil which translates to antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil is a monounsaturated fat; ‘fat’ is actually necessary in our diets if we are going to maintain proper organ health and keep our weight stable.”
She suggests when dining out to ask for extra virgin olive oil as a butter substitute. For the home cook, extra virgin olive oil can be used in just about any kind of cooking. Consider shopping online or going to a specialty store to sample different varieties – many options at regular grocery stores are altered or have high levels of acidity, making them not truly extra virgin.
Trend 5: Farm to table grows
“Farm to table basically means you’re dealing with farmers, fishermen or ranchers you know and are using their products in your style of food,” says Chef Gregg Wangard of Marisol at the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, Calif. “With that comes a lot of seasonality in products throughout the course of the year.”
In 2013, more people will utilize farmers markets and restaurants will make efforts to source from local suppliers, which means rapidly changing menus for diners. “Right now, we work with around 30 different farmers, local fishermen and ranchers. The menu is updated about every two weeks and is reflective of what we get from these local suppliers,” notes Wangard.
For more information about 2013 food trends or California Restaurant Month visit www.DineInCA.com.