If there’s a crystal ball for the year’s upcoming food trends its the annual winter Fancy Food Show held in San Francisco in mid-January. Eager start-ups go shoulder to shoulder with international conglomerates to get the attention of food buyers who will stock their products in the coming year.
Some of my favorites of 2013 and trends we’ll be seeing on store shelves in the coming months (if not already):
- Smoke is the new bacon: The woody, campfire flavor is making a huge inroad into non-tradition foods like olive oil and chocolate. Hot Cakes alderwood smoked chocolate chips ($15) have a ton of potential for cooking.
- Foraged Food: Wild mushrooms and greens are all the rage, and Napa Forager Connie Green’s Wine Forest Foods includes packaged mushroom risottos, candy cap mushroom sugar and mushroom alchemy powder at thewildtable.net.
- Prepared sauces and relishes: Opening a jar of homemade-tasting goodness and calling it your own beats hours over the stove. Artisan sauces (curries, tomato sauces, skillet sauces and other ethnic sauces) are hot. Sonoma’s Tomato Smash features a chunky new-school tomato relish that beats the pants off ketchup. I also loved Dave’s Gourmet masala marinara.
- Microgreens and shoots: Move over sprouts. Shoots, or very young plants, come in every flavor under the rainbow — think sweet corn, radish, wasabi or cucumber — to add big taste to everyday foods. Microgreens, or baby lettuces and leaves, are also popular with the gourmet-set. Fresh Origins has some of the wildest selections of microgreens and edible flowers we’ve ever seen.
- Prunes: I’m predicting prunes to be the next cranberry. High in fiber and other health benefits, we’re seeing them pickled, pureed and mixed in as a sweetner. No longer are these sweet treats just for granny. Boat Street’s pickled French plums were insanely good.
- Wacky Ice Cream: The ice cream stampeded continues with sweet and savory flavors, mix-ins and surprises around every corner. Three Twins’ out of Petaluma makes a spicy cardamom and Jeni’s Ice Cream has come out with “influenza sorbet” with Cayenne pepper, ginger, bourbon, honey, lemon and orange to help ward off whatever bug is going around the office this week.
- Oil and Vinegar 2.0: Move over plain jane acids and oils. Vinegar is getting infused with everything from lemongrass to pear to kick up salads and add zip to pan sauces. Meanwhile, verjus has become our go-to instead of wine for adding a tart nip to recipes as well as drinking straight from the bottle. We love Terra Sonoma’s new 3L box (mostly made for restaurants, but great for sipping as well).
Of course, there were a million other ideas, trends and takes on the show…which you should check out as well.