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Our mood in food 2014: Will our tastes trend toward Brazil?

Updated: 2014-01-01T15:00:59Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

Is the Cronut craze of May 2013 a mere blip on the culinary radar or a new classic to add to the dessert pantheon?

The filled croissant-doughnut hybrid dessert created (and trademarked) by New York baker Dominque Ansel certainly qualifies as a viral dessert, but any cloying sweetness was tempered by a Top 10 Google search for “Paleo appetizers.” The Paleo diet is high in protein and low in pesky carbs.

To read the culinary tea leaves, the National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,300 chefs to produce “What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast,” a fairly exhaustive ranking of 209 trends ranging from the No. 5 appetizer amuse bouche to quinoa, the No. 2 starches/side item. But in overall trends, No. 1 (locally sourced meats and seafood) and No. 2 (locally grown produce), did not change from last year.

Is afternoon tea a trend or a fad? Food Channel, a trade publication, credits the PBS’ most-watched drama “Downton Abbey” for pushing a resurgence in “low tea,” an extra meal to tide one over until dinner.

Nordic cuisine has been popping up on gastronauts’ must-eat lists and even local chefs drop Denmark’s Noma restaurant into conversations, but a prominent Peruvian chef hopes his country’s cuisine is next up. And Food Channel put the Midwestern cuisine food movement at the top of its list. Indeed, Rye’s fried chicken from Leawood landed on the cover of Saveur’s August/September issue.

Kansas City chefs will have an opportunity to strut their stuff when 1,500 of the nation’s top chefs arrive in July for for the American Culinary Federation’s convention. Sessions will focus on trends and techniques. But there’s no doubt they’ll be checking out our barbecue.

The beautiful cocktail

The Brazilians call their brand of football “jogo bonito,” which translates to “beautiful game.” The 2014 World Cup (followed by the Summer Olympics in 2016, also in Brazil) should be just the thing to move the country’s star cocktail — the caipirinha — from the bench to a starting position.

Afraid to order a cocktail you can’t pronounce? Say it with me: caipirinha (ky-pee-REEN-yah), a truly beautiful cocktail made with muddled limes, sugar and cachaca, a Brazilian-style rum. They make authentic versions at Brazilian restaurants Fogo de Chao on the Country Club Plaza and Em Chamas. But there’s no reason you can’t make your own. One popular premium brand of cachaca (kah-SHAH-sah) is LeBlon, although less-expensive Pitu will do. If you need a muddler, check out my favorite: Rosle’s special caipirinha version, sold at Williams-Sonoma.

Root-to-stalk cooking

Frugal chefs and thrifty grandmas unite. First it was chefs championing nose-to-tail butchery, or using every part of the animal to avoid waste, just like grandma did. Now a growing number of chefs are using the parts most of us trim away and discard — think roots, stalks, peels and seeds.

The wide array of vegetable cookery titles appears to balance a recent spate of meaty cookbooks for carnivores. Check out the following titles: “Root to Stalk Cooking” by Tara Duggan, “Vedge” by Rick Landau and Kate Jacoby and “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison.

Loco for coconut

Things are not always as brown and white as they seem. Take the coconut: for years the oil has been labeled as an unhealthy fat and a contributor to heart disease. But now TV’s Dr. Oz is touting the benefits of a few tablespoons of coconut oil a day. Coconut oil is best for sauteing or stir frying over medium heat, and its neutral flavor makes it good for baking. High-fiber coconut flour is a smart gluten-free baking option. And while we’re talking about frugal cooking, don’t forget pure coconut water, which contains electrolytes and more potassium than a banana.

Fermentation nation

For his most recent book “Cooked: A Natural History,” food guru Michael Pollan hung out with a band of merry folks he calls “fermentos.” These folks like the taste and health benefits of naturally fermented foods that are high in probiotics. You know, grandma-style pickled vegetables, kimchi, preserved lemons, yogurt, cheese, kombucha and other homemade brews. As a culture, Pollan notes that we have become squeamish about bacteria, but fermentos argue that a little bacteria is what keeps us strong and healthy.

Rockin’ ramen

You know a trend is afoot when teenagers at a local high school create a club to celebrate the joys of slurping ramen. Then Ramen Bowls in Lawrence proclaims itself the state’s first ramen bar. And at a recent high-end wine dinner, James Beard-award-winning chef Michael Smith served his upscale interpretation of ramen noodle soup topped with a duck egg and a taro chip that is not only elegant but worthy of second helpings.

Homemade liqueurs

Lately craft bartenders have been infusing spirits with hints of fruit, nut and spice for their cocktails. Home brewing takes an investment in equipment and a certain amount of trial and error, but the recipes for DIY liqueurs are nearly foolproof. Simply take alcohol and add flavorings and sweeteners. Tincture anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, based on the concentration of flavor and the proof of the alcohol. Voila! You’ve got a delicious cordial to sip or to give as a gift.

What’s hot for chefs

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood

2. Locally grown produce

3. Environmental sustainability

4. Healthful kids’ meals

5. Gluten-free cuisine

6. Hyperlocal sourcing ( restaurant gardens)

7. Children’s nutrition

8. Nonwheat noodles/pasta ( quinoa, rice, buckwheat)

9. Sustainable seafood

10. Farm/estate-branded items

What’s hot for bartenders

1. Microdistilled/artisan spirits

2. Locally produced beer/wine/spirits

3. Onsite barrel-aged drinks

4. Culinary cocktails ( savory, fresh ingredients)

5. Regional signature cocktails

6. New make whiskey

7. Gluten-free beer

8. Edible cocktails

9. Food-liquor/cocktail pairings

10. Food-beer pairings

Top recipe searches of 2013

1. Chili

2. Lasagna

3. Cronut

4. French toast

5. Apple pie

6. Guacamole

7. Meatballs

8. Hummus

9. Sangria

10. Pizza dough

Top appetizer searches of 2013

1. Tomato mozzarella

2. Shrimp

3. Butternut squash

4. Stuffed mushrooms

5. Mini crabcake

6. Cucumber sandwich

7. Tuna tartare

8. Endive

9. Paleo appetizers (There’s a Pinterest page for paleo appetizers that covers just about everything but dairy.)

10. Grilled eggplant

Source: National Restaurant Association “What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast” Source: National Restaurant Association “What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast” Source: Google Source: Google

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