Did you notice the fast pace with which food and beverage trends came and went in 2019? The rise and fall of consumer’s preferences and desires seemed to wane as quickly as a tropical afternoon rain shower that drenches an island one minute, only to bring intense sunshine the next. Blink, and you might miss it.
Avocado and kale may find some tough competition in the next decade with curious guests turning to unique and unusual produce. Let’s take a look at a few that are definitely not found at the corner grocery store.
Tyrant Farms describes celtuce as “the coolest veggie you’ve never heard of.” As the name implies, it’s a little like a celery-lettuce combo. The big, massive leaves, which are not it’s culinary prized possession, gives way to a thick, crunchy, juicy stem that Asians and others in the Mediterranean region have known about for over a thousand years.
The stem, after pealing the fibrous outer skin, is great raw or in stir fries, maintaining its crispy juiciness even after cooking!
According to the Forager Chef, Michel Bras, a world famous French chef, and his son, Sebastien, serve it at their 3-star Michelin restaurant, Bras. Of course, as their menu is an ongoing work of art, Celtuce may be a thing of yesteryear by the time you get to France and indulge in some of the region’s finest culinary creations. If you’re in search of this off-the-beaten path wonder, it’s best to look in your local Asian market. At least until we Americans catch on to its tasty offerings.
This hardy green, also referred to as Japanese mustard spinach, is actually not a spinach but a member of the Brassica family, home to cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage as well as mustards. Asians use it for its tender leaves as well as the flowering stems. As the name implies, it is native to Japan where it is used in salads and stir-fries.
This health trend is high in vitamin C, calcium, beta carotene, and sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to fight against cancer cells. Chef Tetsuo Takenaka, Kyoto’s leading specialist in the school of traditional Japanese kaiseki ryori, a cuisine that uses fresh ingredients distinctive to each season, recommends combining this green with fresh shitake mushrooms and dashi.
I know, this edible wonder does not seem like it belongs on the up-and-coming list. But what is new for 2020 is the “superfood” aspect of mushrooms and that it fits in well with the plant-based alternative to meats. This nutrient dense, versatile meat-alternative can be found in main dishes as well as small plates in all its remarkable forms including Shitake, Maitake, and Chanterelle. The first two started out in Asia before finding their way to the U.S. They are high in several immune-boosting, anti-cancer compounds including polysaccharides and terpenoids.
Chanterelles are native to many parts of the world, including the forests of Wisconsin in the summer months. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, set in a park pavilion overlooking Lake Michigan, offers a Chanterelle Mushroom wine-pairing dinner that includes oysters in curry with chanterelles and slow-cooked American wagyu brisket with chanterelles and shallot. This mushroom, with a distinctive mild peppery flavor, is full of vitamins and minerals including a high concentration of B vitamins, a fair share of Vitamin D—a vitamin hard to find in food—and iron.
According to USA Today, searches for nutrient-packed mushrooms has increased by 46 percent on Pinterest, a social media site with more than 250 million users. But, wait, even more astonishing is that mushroom coffee has seen a 471 percent year-on-year spike in searches. Amazing. If you’re considering getting in on this dynamic trend, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with mushrooms such as chaga, lion’s mane, reishi, and cordyceps, medicinal mushrooms that have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.It looks like more and more health-conscious consumers will be trading in their morning latte for a mug of Lion’s Mane & Chaga.
Butterfly Pea Flower
Just when you thought edible flowers were entering the downside of their climb to fame, this beautiful, vibrant blue flower enters the scene. This, however, is not just any flower—it is the chameleon of the plant kingdom, changing colors when mixed with an acidic food. It is also rich in antioxidants, making it not only Instagram worthy, but a strong contender for those drawn to health-conscious cuisine. Butterfly pea flowers offer little in the way of taste but make up for it in their natural food and drink coloring properties. The tea has a mild woody taste, a little like green tea. Indigo tea, made from its petals, is a staple in Thailand.
Beans have been a staple around the world for thousands and thousands of years, an estimated 9.000 years, to be exact. So, what’s new about something so old? Knorr and World Wildlife Fund put together a report on the Future 50 Foods—foods that are healthier for both people and the planet.In addition to foods that fall into the algae and cacti categories, superfood beans made the list and include black turtle, bambara, and marama—a bean that, when roasted, is said to taste like cashews—Yum.
We definitely recommend checking out the Future 50 Foods report which offers a wealth of information about unique foods from around the world that are sure to be growing in popularity as the rise of the health conscious consumer continues to redefine the restaurant landscape.
Know Your Produce
Whether you opt for the curious and new or for the old-time favorites, it’s important to keep abreast of the market and what is happening to produce on a world scale.
Consolidated Concept’s Freshly Picked Market Report offers weekly reports that focus on updated pricing in the meat, poultry, beef, and seafood industries as well as produce, dairy, and grains. I was surprised to see in their Freshly Picked, December 19 report that pricing on chicken wings for the coming year may run below the elevated 2019 prices. Good news for those restaurants that are building their Superbowl menu!
This report is a great resource to have at your fingertips and one that will serve you well if followed on a weekly basis.
If you’re looking to redefine your menu in the coming year, Consolidated Concepts can also help you develop your menu and connect you with the local and national sources to help you succeed.