Photo credit: Zach Malone for Taste of Vail
In the mountain town of Vail, Colorado, there’s a ritual that has become a rite of spring for the last 25 years—the Taste of Vail. Distinguished from other food events by its mountaintop picnic, The Taste also features an American Lamb Cook-Off and a Grand Tasting. This year the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, with national and local chefs, arrived in Vail in conjunction with the Taste. All the events were a good way to wake up winter dormant taste buds and find out what foods may be on everyone’s plate in the coming season.
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We just got back from the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. Yes, it was a tough task stuffing our faces at the largest pizza show in the world, but someone had to do it. While our Roma Italian brand celebrated its 60th anniversary, we scouted out new trends to complement our Old World-inspired collection. Here’s a roundup of what we came back with.
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Bone broth—the hottest trend in 2015 so far—is one of those commodities that came out of seemingly nowhere, and is somewhat of a mystery to diners. First, because the name “bone broth” sounds like it’s the favorite dish of cannibals everywhere; and second, because the name doesn’t give much of a clue as to what it is. Any chef worth his weight in the kitchen knows how to make stock using bones, so how is bone broth any different?
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The citrus season is on. And with fun (and funny sounding) varieties such as Buddha’s Hand, Sumo, and Cara Cara, the food lover’s fruit basket is overflowing.
When the term citrus comes up, it’s difficult to know which ones will capture the public’s fancy unless you–and Shakespeare–know what’s in a name. For years, it was navel oranges or Valencia oranges, lemons or limes, grapefruit and other generic citrus. But, when a producer of a small, easy-to-peel mandarin orange came up with the name, “Cutie,” the rest as they say, was history. Now there is no end of producers and the clementine, one of the mandarin orange varieties, has become synonymous with this brown bag favorite.
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Consumer food demands are all over the map these days. A curious mixture of health-driven, convenience-driven, and taste-driven, diners want it all at a restaurant. They want to veer from something comforting, to something healthy, to something decadent—and back again.
No one can cater to everyone, but restaurateurs can check out these possibilities if they want to satisfy those wacky needs.
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Will we see you eating bugs in 2015?
This is the time of year when everyone looks into their crystal bowl for restaurant trends in 2015. Some of them are obvious—the increased use of technology-at-the-table for instance, so that customers can order, entertain themselves and pay their bills on a restaurant-supplied tablet—all without ever making eye contact.
Then there are those calorie counts that must be included on menus in restaurants with 20 or more outlets, movie popcorn, vending machine foods and alcoholic beverages. This one is interesting because it may—or may not—lead to consumers making more informed choices. Or it might scare them away altogether, like drinking that morning coffee without that morning pastry (sigh!). Restaurateurs are already offering smaller portion sizes (mini scones, two-bite desserts) and reconfigured menu items to make dishes lower in fat and calories.
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Last week Blanche in Charlotte, N.C., wrote to us asking for a spinach crab dip recipe. We asked our team of chefs and received two right away! Since this is a popular party dish, we thought we'd share them both with our readers.
The first is from Chef Lonnie Varisco in Houma, La.. He says, "In New Orleans seafood is king. This is a great twist on the classic spinach and artichoke dip. Using crab boil in the recipe provides that classic boiled seafood taste everyone loves down here."
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2014 was full of fresh trends and flavors. As we all know, restaurant trends start high-end and slowly make their way mainstream. Since gift season is in full swing, we’ve picked up a few trends that are still riding high on the style wave. They make great additions in restaurants, and, hint: they also make great gifts for restaurant professionals. If you’ve been stressing over what to get your favorite chef, barman or server, look no further.
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To be au courant these days, look no further than those restaurants that specialize in “small plates,” or “shared plates.” If you want your own food, forget about it. At a recent visit to a hot new restaurant, we nearly took off someone’s arm wrestling for that last mouthful of a thumb-size crab cake.
The dishes at shared plates restaurants are meticulously prepared. Instead of spooning a sauce over the dish, it might be dolloped on the plate in a decorative swirl. The chef gets to exercise his or her creativity and the diner gets a one-bite beignet with slivers of mushroom artfully placed, or as a friend likes to call it, “tweezer food.”
But the idea of the small precious food perfectly plated is hardly a new one.
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If you’ve ever been a poor struggling student, you already know about living on a cup of ramen noodles to make that dollar stretch. Heck, even a pack of gum costs more than those crispy, curly bricks. But these days, ramen is a whole ‘nother cup of noodles.
Ramen restaurants focused on full-flavored broths and fresh ingredients—including the noodles—are new showplaces for a chef’s talent. It’s thought that ramen began in China and spread to Japan in the nineteenth century. Noodle shops are ubiquitous in Japan but most folks credit David Chang, the famous New York chef and restaurateur, for introducing the concept of a high-end noodle shop to America. Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York in 2004—and within 10 years, the noodle bar concept, built around ramen, has spread across the country.
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