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Food Trends: What’s coming to a Plate near You In 2018?

Tuesday, 01/30/2018 14:19
The New Year is well under way, and with it comes a bevy of culinary trends. Anooska Tucker-Evans looks at the hottest food fads coming to a table near you.


Gut-Friendly Menus

In the health and fitness world, 2017 was all about achieving optimum levels of “gut bacteria” through fermented foods such as kraut, kombucha and kimchi.

Imbalances have been blamed for everything from digestion issues and irritable bowel syndrome to poor immune health, weight gain and depression.

And now as everyone aims to achieve good gut health, cafes and restaurants are expected to embrace the trend, delivering gut-friendly menus filled with prebiotics such as garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and dandelion greens; fermented foods such as miso, tempeh, tamari, sauerkraut, and kimchi; and high-fibre foods such as legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.

Nootropics

Along with improving gut health, 2018 will be about increasing brain function with food.

Nootropics are known for helping memory, learning capacity, motivation, attention, mood and energy levels.

While a lot of them will come in pharmaceutical and supplement form, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, coffee, dark chocolate, blueberries, spinach and dark leafy greens, beef liver, extra virgin olive oil, nuts – particularly walnuts – and turmeric are all known nootropics.


Plant based proteins, like tofu, are bigger than ever in the foodie world.

Plant-Based Protein

With Australia the third fastest growing market in the world for vegan food, it’s no surprise plant-based proteins are tipped to become even bigger business this year.

Tofu, tempeh, legumes and pulses will all continue to see their popularity grow among both home cooks and professional chefs.

It will follow a greater focus on vegetables as a whole, with eateries from casual cafes to fine diners now embracing vegetarian and vegan menus as people look to reduce their meat intake for environmental and health reasons.

Faux Meat

The days of juicy steaks sizzling on the barbecue are numbered, with experts predicting that red meat will become a delicacy as beef production becomes increasingly land-hungry, water-thirsty and pollution-heavy, and demand simply outstrips supply.

With that news and the growing move to veganism, scientists and food technicians across the world have been developing a variety of pseudo meat products.

Perhaps the most notable is a burger product from US-based Impossible Foods. Made entirely of plant product, the pattie even oozes with “bloodiness” like real meat. The product is now widely available across America and is expected to expand overseas, including into Australia, in the near future.

Fine-Casual

Coined by American burger joint Shake Shack owner Danny Meyer, “fine-casual” is used to describe the new breed of eateries serving fast-food made with premium quality ingredients and offering upscale counter service or table service. Celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Burger Project is one such example and the number of ventures following the formula is expected to increase across Australia this year.

Upcycling Waste

As sustainability and protecting the environment becomes an increasing priority for both producers and consumers, more and more businesses will be looking for inventive ways to upcycle waste.

Eggcettera Farms, west of Brisbane, currently uses spent malt from Newstead Brewing to feed their cattle and discarded pecans to plump up their pigs; while Sunshine Coast-based the Ogilvie Group, behind big name Noosa restaurants Locale, Ricky’s River Bar, Wood Fire Grill and Aromas Noosa, set up the organically run Maravista Farm in the Noosa hinterland to supply fresh fruit and vegetables direct to their restaurants, with any food scraps and coffee grounds turned into compost for the farm.

Bars and restaurants are both expected to embrace the trend, using by-products from the kitchen in cocktails, and leftovers from cocktails in syrups and stocks.

Cold Brew


A cold brew coffee. Picture: Eugene Hyland

While cold and nitro coffees have been around for a couple of years, the chilled beverages are set to reach new levels of popularity. Helping to make them more mainstream are new mini benchtop machines, enabling the brew to be put on tap for quick, grab-and-go convenience.

Even coffee giant Nespresso last month released its first range of capsules for coffee designed to be made on ice.

And the cold brews are tipped to become pimped up, with a range of flavours from hazelnut to lavender being added to the blends.

Coffee-Infused Alcohol

From beer to whisky, vodka and gin, coffee is being infused into alcohol of all styles, as makers try to combine two of society’s great loves.

Recently Johnnie Walker joined a host of spirit producers caffeinating their drinks, releasing its new Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Espresso Roast.

Coffee-spiked cocktails will also prove big business in 2018, particularly with millennials.

Booze-Free Beverages

Spirits and beer without alcohol – what’s the point, you may ask? While the concept may seem strange to some, the market for non-alcoholic booze and botanical mixes is growing.

Last year saw the launch of the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, SeedLip, into Australia, while a number of buzz-free beers hit bottle shop shelves. This year the trend is set to continue as people look for healthier alternatives to drinking but still don’t want to miss out on the social interaction associated with it.

Kefir

Continuing on the gut health bandwagon, kefir will become the new kombucha.

The fermented milk drink made with kefir “grains” is loaded with probiotics, which can help with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms such as bloating and digestive distress in some people. It is also a good source of protein and calcium, and has been linked to helping reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Water kefir will also become increasing prevalent this year, made by using special water “kefir grains” in sweetened water. It has the same probiotic bacteria but doesn’t have the calcium or protein of the milk-based versions.

Regional Chinese Food

Forget sweet and sour pork or chicken chow mein, regional Chinese cuisine will find favour among diners, as restaurants ditch the Australianised versions and offer up authentic, province-based dishes.

Contemporary Indian

Butter chicken is gone – authentic Indian food with a contemporary twist is predicted to spice up the fading fare.

With Indian cuisine falling out of favour in recent years, billed as an “unhealthy” choice, a new breed of chefs is predicted to reinvigorate the culinary offering, ditching heavy, creamy sauces for fresher flavours and lighter dishes.

Signature Serves

Whether its cocktails, poke bowls or anything in between, the opportunity to individualise dishes and drinks to suit our own taste buds will change the way we see menus in 2018.

Customisation is becoming something more punters are looking for in all aspects of their life, and they’re happy to pay extra for the privilege.

It will mean bartenders will start to offer bespoke drinks for each punter – something Brisbane’s Cloak Room bar has already introduced; while restaurants, particularly of the fast-casual variety, will give customers the option to design their own meals.

Mezcal

The Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave has long been considered tequila’s smoky cousin.

Made by roasting agave hearts in a volcanic rock pit, it has an earthy flavour that can range from sweet and bright to spicy and savoury.

Its varying styles and flavour profiles are seeing it find favour with bartenders, who are increasingly incorporating it into a variety of cocktails.

Timut Pepper

Considered the brother of Sichuan pepper, this rare peppercorn from Nepal has a vibrant aroma of passionfruit and grapefruit, with quite the kick of heat. British supermarket giant Asda is predicting it will be the next big condiment, as it works with a variety of dishes from seafood to fruits, and even chocolate desserts.

Hemp

After becoming legal in Australia at the end of last year, hemp foods are expected to hit shelves in increasing numbers and varieties this year.

Hemp beer, chocolate and oils have been leading the charge, while protein powders, seeds and flours are due to continue the movement.

Hemp is derived from the same species as cannabis and provides a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids with a distinct nutty flavour.

By Courier Mail

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