Mo' Middle Eastern flavors.
Mo' Middle Eastern flavors.

Top Five Miami Food Trend Predictions for 2015

Each year brings its own food trends, and because the people at the forefront are our city's chefs and restaurateurs, we went straight to the trendsetters.

Who would have thought 2014 would be the year of oyster bars in Miami? We asked Mignonette's Danny Serfer about this trend, and his answer was simple: "That one was really all Ryan [Roman, food writer and Mignoette co-owner]. My prediction is that I will continue to follow Ryan's predictions about trends."

In that spirit, we went to the experts as we compiled our food trend predictions for Miami in 2015.

Kimchee at Drunken Dragon
Kimchee at Drunken Dragon

5. Fermented Products

Homemade pickles had their heyday in previous years. However, according to SushiSamba Coral Gables executive chef David Sears, "In 2015, I predict chefs will draw more and more inspiration from traditional Asian cuisine to create new, exciting, and modern dishes. Fermented products, including black garlic and kimchee, are some of the hottest ingredients on the culinary scene, and I suspect this is just the beginning." Judging by the opening of Drunken Dragon, the kimchee fries at Finka Table, and now the debut of SooWoo, we see a lot of kimchee in Miami's future.

The bar at Barceloneta, where vermouth will be the star.
The bar at Barceloneta, where vermouth will be the star.

4. Vermouth

Sherry received a boost in 2014, for the first time since Frasier Crane drank it on his long-running sitcom. However, in the upcoming year, chef Juliana Gonzales of Barceloneta predicts another fortified wine: vermouth. "These fortified wines with spices have long been a staple in Spanish bars but received very little appreciation in the international scene other than 50 years ago. But mixologists now are taking a step back and perfecting the classics, which most have a base of vermouth. Due to this recent demand for classics again, there's obviously a demand from bartenders for good vermouths, not your regular Cinzano or Noilly Prat but these new arrays of artisanal brands coming from Spain and Italy, where each sip is complex and refreshing. Barceloneta just added a vermouth section to our cocktail menu, which showcases many of the classics, such as Boulevardier, Manhattan, old-fashioned, and Negroni, but all done in a creative and different way to add a unique touch. We use artisan vermouths from Spain."

Way beyond shrimp 'n' grits.
Way beyond shrimp 'n' grits.
180 Degrees at DRB via Facebook

3. Worldly Small Plates

Miami has done international tapas better than just about any American city. However, these small plates are predicted to become even more global in the upcoming year. Chef Ryan Martin at 180 Degrees at the DRB is working on doing just that. "Global ingredients in small plates. I think the push toward small plates will continue and you will see less and less of traditional protein, vegetable starch, and sauce. The ability to try many dishes is a much more enticing concept." Plus it's a lot cheaper than a trip around the world or endless entrées.

Healthy is on a roll.
Healthy is on a roll.

2. More Diet-Friendly Options

As Miami chefs become more health-conscious -- several even participated in the Fit to Fight challenge last summer -- the food is also changing. Chefs at Haven, MC Kitchen, Edge Steakhouse, and plenty of other famed eateries competed in the challenge and together lost the entire weight of a human. That experience undoubtedly changed the way the chefs eat and how they cook. The winner (biggest loser) was the chef from Basil Park, where the menu brims with healthful options. Another diet-friendly restaurant that emerged this past year was Oolite, which serves 100 percent gluten-free fare. Whatever your diet resolution for the new year, there's a restaurant in Miami that can accommodate it.

Mo' Middle Eastern flavors.
Mo' Middle Eastern flavors.

1. Mediterranean Flavors

"European kitchens have always been at the forefront of general culinary trends, but once in a while other regions of the world start causing waves. We have seen it happen with Japanese, Mexican, and Brazilian kitchens, to name a few, where influences start creeping into the international kitchen scene. Well, now I believe that Middle Eastern food, especially Turkish spices, are the new trend," says chef Juliana Gonzales of Barceloneta. New restaurants like Cleo are bringing dishes like a lebaneh dip -- made with kefir cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and za'atar -- to to the forefront.

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