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Top Five Food Trends of 2011: Local Beers, Cheap Eats and Damned Tiny Cupcakes

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Looking back upon the year that was, it's not too difficult to narrow the field of food trends that gripped Miami's culinary scene. There are those that we love (local craft brews to go with your meal) and naturally, those that we hate (those silly mini-cupcakes that are everywhere), but overall, the city saw a massive proliferation of local business owners making good on restaurant promises.

5. Local products
We hail Paradise Farms as the bringer of good things to the table, with fresh local produce that makes them justifiably popular at Miami's restaurants. They sort of won the lottery this year, because if you write about food, you read an unbelievably long list of press releases that included the words, "featuring locally sourced fruits and vegetables from Paradise Farms." Nevertheless, we are on the fence about whether or not every single restaurant needs to shout about it, particularly because as one executive chef cited, it's not possible to only cook with local produce all year long, unless you want to serve diners a menu that includes citrus on citrus all the time. The local farming trend is definitely a positive, but the unrealistic expectations of Florida's ability to be completely locavore are a bit heady.

4. Good cheap eats
Miami is not exactly characterized as a destination for quality food offered at a reasonable cost structure. In fact, those big glossy restaurants are what the city has always been known for. So we were thrilled to watch the rise of the inexpensive mobile meal movement in 2011, which included the continuing explosion of food truck offerings, as well as the first version of a trend that has been gaining tremendous steam in other major cities, the pop-up restaurant. Phuc Yea! may have come and gone quickly, but ranked along with permanent hot spots like Yardbird and Tudor House in Eater's poll. We would say that makes them the little trend engine that could.

3. Burger acronyms
Every burger joint seems to have donned an acronym, from oldies like BBJ (Burger & Beer Joint) and KB (KB Burgers), to newcomers like CG's (CG Burgers), DGB (Damn Good Burger), and BGR (BGR The Burger Joint). We suppose they just want to reaffirm their individual branding, especially considering how many places sell burgers around town, but seriously, do we need to be hit over the head with it? Burning monograms into our buns seems like overkill. We're not quite that drunk, we know where we're eating.

2. Local craft beer
We are doubled over with happiness about the increasing trend of offering locally crafted brewskies like Monk In The Trunk (Jupiter), Holy Mackerel (Fort Lauderdale), Ybor Gold Amber Lager (Tampa), and Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale (Tampa). From Harry's Pizzeria to Lokal, beer-centric restaurateurs who opened this year cultivated lists that chased down unusual brews from our home state. Bravo people!

1. Mini cupcakes
Maybe not everyone dislikes having their food miniaturized as much as we do, but seriously, anyone over the age of five should be eating a full-sized cupcake. First off, cupcakes are named as such because those clever Brits baked them the size of a standard teacup. Secondly, it's not nearly as fun to bite the frosted head off of a cupcake when all you are left with is a smidgen of cake crumbling in your fingertips. If calories really are that much of an issue for you, stay on the treadmill for an extra fifteen minutes or eat a damn apple instead. Death to mini baked goods in general, but particularly, the mini cupcakes have just gotta go; they are the pastry equivalent of a bathroom quickie.

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