Grow Your Own Burger (With Stem Cells): Eye-Openers From Food Arts 2011 Review

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'Tis the season for holiday shopping, good cheer, and year-end reviews. In fact, a barrage of back-looking Best-Ofs are being banged out around copy tables across the nation as we speak. Food Arts' ("At The Restaurant And Hotel Forefront") annual summation is one of the better ones, so we've combed through it for highlights -- including the hottest foods, trends, and buzzwords, along with some of 2011's quirkier findings. A few of our own comments are added.

Food trucks up; pop-ups bursting?
Food truck sales for 2011 are estimated at $630 million, which is 3.6% higher than the year before. The rest of the food industry is up 2.5%.

Pop-ups are facing difficulties with local health departments and liquor licensing complications. Trend appears to be pop-ups popping up for shorter periods of time -- or, as is the case in Miami, hardly popping up at all (farewell, Phuc Yea!).

Greek yogurt becomes big
In 2005, the thicker Greek-style yogurt accounted for $60 million in sales -- or about .7% of the yogurt industry. In 2011, sales jumped to $1.5 billion, or 19% of the yogurt market. Chobani was the biggest hit, with almost half of all Greek-style yogurt sales. Interestingly, Chobani's founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, is Turkish.

College students eat four or five servings of fruits and vegetables
Per week. That's according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Suggested intake is five servings per day. Then again, the way America's school systems have been operating, it may be less a matter of nutritional indifference than the students not being able to count properly.

Buzzwords of the year: Artisan; Authentic; Bespoke; Cloying; Curate; Farm to Table; Fierce Dedication; Food Desert; Gravylicious; Hipsteraunts; House-made; Handcrafted; Meatless Mondays; Mouthfeel; Offal; Renegade; Sammies; Sustainable; Tablescape; Tofu Thursdays.

Just for the record: Of the 20 listed above, I used eight (artisan, authentic, bespoke, cloying, farm to table, house-made, mouthfeel, sustainable -- and possibly offal, but definitely not gravylicious).

The Hot List:
Too many to mention, but here are a few:

  • aïolis
  • cheeks of anything that moves
  • chocolate tarts (don't see much of that here)
  • compressed watermelon
  • corn puddings
  • duck ham
  • frog's legs (surprisingly, not here where we have so many)
  • hominy (quite a few years after Michael Schwartz started serving it at MGFD)
  • pine tree shoots (haven't seen this yet)
  • poached farm eggs (very big in Miami)
  • pork belly (more 2010 than 2011, no?)
  • quenelles of pike the old fashioned way with sauce Nantua (I'm looking forward to this one)
  • smoked meats (coming on strong here)
  • watermelon and goat cheese salad (also old news)
  • woodruff (not for me -- I use good shampoo)

Tea Grows In Britain For The First Time
Because of global warming, farmers in the United Kingdom have been experimenting with growing foods usually associated with more temperate climates. These include olives, nectarines, apricots, and tea. That's right: Britain's first ever tea plantation, in Cornwall, has after a decade of cultivation harvested a 10-ton crop. China, in retaliation, is said to be working on creating its own version of Marmite.

Cuisine of the Year: Korean (and Korean-fusion)
Richard Hales of Sakaya Kitchen (and his other spin-offs) seems to be the sole man surfing this wave.

Drink of the year: The Negroni

Culinary trend of the year: Foraging
The phenomenon is getting very popular with locavores along the West Coast, where exotic mushrooms and herbs grow wildly in the countryside. The Miami version is picking up mangos from the side of the road.

Honey, I shrunk the restaurant!
"The latest restaurant trend in rent-heavy cities is to open spaces that are smaller and smaller -- thereby reducing the overhead and pretty much guaranteeing an SRO crowd every night."

The 250,000 euro burger
Researchers at Maastricht University (Netherlands) have developed a way to "grow" small "strands" of meat using stem cells. The meat can then be processed into burgers and sausage. Eventually, the goal is to grow steaks, but that technology is still years away. Current cost of growing a burger is 250,000 euros, or $344,450.00. Add $.75 for cheese.

Oh yeah, one last thing:
Scandinavia usurped Spain as culinary hotspot number one.

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