Food Trends of 2014
Locally sourced produce, sustainable seafood, gluten-free cuisine and craft cocktails
According to the National Restaurant Association, those are just a few of the top culinary trends for 2014.
Of course, many of the chefs and restaurants in Newport Beach have been ahead of the trends, often introducing guests to exotic or unusual dishes that are soon embraced as mainstream.
A good example of that is The Resort at Pelican Hill. Their trio of restaurants – Andrea, Coliseum Pool & Grill, and Pelican Grill – all use locally sourced, seasonal produce from the Irvine Ranch whenever possible. The chefs at these restaurants also take pride in introducing diners to unusual ingredients and entrees, such as a fish known as barramundi, one of the recent delicious Restaurant Week menu items at Pelican Grill.
Using locally sourced produce is akin to the “farm to table” concept that became popular several years ago. Many local chefs visit the Irvine Farmer’s Market every week, while some – like Chef Cathy Pavlos of the new Provenance restaurant opening next month in Eastbluff – are growing produce and herbs on site. Can’t get much fresher than that!
Locally sourced and sustainable seafood are trends embraced by Bluewater Grill and The Cannery. Bluewater has its own boat that fishes for swordfish in season (often the dinner menu is based on their catch that day), while
The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific uses only wild, line-caught fish.
Gluten-free is another trend that’s been growing in popularity. Many local restaurants now have gluten-free options on their menus. Zinc Café offers multiple styles of gluten-free pizzas, Tamarind of London has several gluten-free dishes plainly marked on its menu, and SOL Cocina has a separate gluten-free menu.
True Food Kitchen in Fashion Island probably has more gluten-free items on its menu than any other restaurant, and they even serve organic and sustainably farmed wines. They’re also masters at incorporating healthy grains in non-traditional ways, such as their quinoa burger, available on a gluten-free bun, of course.
Street food inspired main courses is another category growing in popularity, although Chef Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina was ahead of the trend when she opened her restaurant several years ago with a menu based on the street tacos and other local cuisine she enjoyed while visiting Baja California.
Last year, the muddled cocktail trend exploded on the scene and shows no sign of slowing down. You can find everything from chili powder and jalapenos to fresh fruits and herbs muddled into a cocktail.
Some of the more noted restaurants creating craft cocktails include SOL Cocina and its marvelous margarita menu, Fig & Olive (which is using muddled figs and plums in some cocktails), and Sidedoor Gastropub, where they’ve made craft cocktails a work of art.
Other hot trends for 2014 include healthful kids’ meals, new cuts of meat, nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking, and hybrid desserts.
We’ll cover those, and more, in future posts!
*Photo Credit: Sidedoor