According to the Nations' Restaurant News, the guru of food news, the number one top food trend for 2011 is pies. Oh busboy and give me a break. Pies? They have been around since we sang a song of sixpence. Trend? Doesn't every restaurant serve pies? OK, one actually can't go wrong predicting a trend with pies. Aren't pies already a permanent trend?
Doesn't every grandmother have her famous pie? Over the past holiday, how many pies did you eat? Just how many pies can you buy in the grocery store? Bakery pies, frozen pies, boxed pie crust, refrigerated pie crust, canned pie fillings. Just how many kinds of pies can you name? Pumpkin, blueberry, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, apple, boysenberry, pecan, mincemeat, cranberry surprise, coconut cream, chess and of course, pot pie. Pies are popular, always have been and always will be.
If I had to predict, it was actually a pretty good idea to guess pies as the top food trend. In the past few years, we've seen traditional food making it big.
Let's take cupcakes. For my birthday, I got Martha Stewart's cupcake book and the food mall in Albany touts Betties Cupcakes. While in New York City this summer, I visited several "cupcake only shops." I even bought a cupcake from a cupcake vendor on the street. I guess, a pie trend makes sense. Well, for this year, the Nation's Restaurant News says that cupcakes are out and pies are in. I guess it's a way to keep the economy shifting and the marketers making money.
Andrew Freeman, NRN consultant on marketing for restaurants and hotels nationwide said, "If I had one trend - one trend - of the year that I could predict this would be the trend for pie," he said. "I think that we're going to have to make room for pie shops in the next year."
Freeman noted that Hill Country Chicken in New York City even sponsors a "Pie Happy Hour" to showcase its wide variety of pies from whiskey-buttermilk to apple-cheddar and they served up more traditional pies such as banana and coconut cream pies. "This trend is predicted to not be just sweet pies, but there will be savory pies, bite-sized pies, vegetable pies and ethnic pies. I've even heard of pies blended into milkshakes." He then noted that, "I'll eat pie if I don't get this one right at the end of 2011."
When someone predicts a food trend, is it really a trend or do they create it? After reading this article, will pie shops pop up on Main Street? Will Stewart's offer the mini pie of the day? Will Dunkin Donuts offer a round, glazed hand-held pie? Will weight Watchers offer fat free crme pies at the grocery store? (Is that already available?) Now let's consider this: I already have Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts, circa 1992. So for my birthday, I guess I'll get her revised edition of Pies and Tarts, retuned this year. Martha, how did you know?
Well, dust off your pie pan and Aunt Joan's recipe. We'll just have to see what happens.
Was pie the only prediction? No, the "news" predicts a trend towards the following:
Hearth-healthy. Fatless items cooked in wood fired ovens such as vegetables, meats, and fish. I guess this should balance the visit to the pie shop.
One-ingredient restaurants. Restaurateurs will be taking one ingredient and building full restaurants around it. Following on the several-year trend of gourmet burgers, the trend is extending to grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and sliders. We could be looking at restaurant names like: Peanut Butter and Nothing, Beans only, Chili choices, Simply Spaghetti, Lone lasagna, Just Jellies, etc.
Mini plates. We've been seeing mini desserts, little bundles for only a taste. Now we will see mini everything else. Similar to tapas, small portion sizes will be introduced for our favorite dishes. This fits well in to tighter budgets and tighter waistlines.
Vegetables. I suppose it's only logical we are heading to more and better vegetable choices. We will see a trend in celebrating the local farmer with ideas as Meatless Mondays. The traditional vegetables will be prepared in new ways such as fried green beans. Obscure vegetables will turn up in new outfits such as turnip chips.
Yogurt. It is predicted this nutritious gem will show up as sun-dried, freeze-dried, smoked and pressed and in imported variations such as Skyr from Iceland.
Swede inspiration. Oh busboy, it seems food sellers are looking anywhere to create a market interest. We haven't seen much food from the Scandinavian countries, but we will soon. Ever had aebliskiver?
New ingredients and flavors. We will be, supposedly, seeing some new items this to include: Animal necks, Whey (in salads and sauces) kumquats, pimento cheese, smoked olive oil, hummus, and popcorn as ice cream, pretzels as pie crust, and lots of kumquats.
As I look at some of these predictions for the food year, I am thinking some foodies are either very creative or very bored. I predict that I will be eating more meat and potatoes. Well, anyway, have a great and unpredictable New Year.