When predicting the dining trends that would take over New York’s restaurant scene in 2014, we have to say, we proved uncannily accurate — cauliflower and ancient grains where simply everywhere last year! So let’s see if we can successfully spot the burgeoning trends of 2015, from the rise of Spanish cuisine to the hottest new condiment; harissa!
Viva la España: Asian fare has been trending heavily for some time now — from Thai to Filipino to Korean to Chinese. But the tide seems to be turning towards Spain this year, and we’re not just talking restaurants (although the semi-recent opening of tapas spots, like Toro, Huertas, El Colmado and Donostia certainly doesn’t hurt). Expect to see traditional Spanish ingredients and dishes making a regular appearance on globetrotting menus — from piquillo peppers, chorizo and marcona almonds, to paella, patatas bravas and migas.
Au Courant Cookies: Cupcakes and donuts have already had their time to shine, but it looks like bakeries and restaurants might just give center stage to cookies this year. Dominique Ansel already wowed with his ingenious Milk and Cookie Shots, and the Girl Scouts are about to take their act online, so don’t be surprised if you see refined chocolate chips or gussied up oatmeal raisin start sharing space on restaurant dessert menus, alongside intricately plated cakes, puddings and pastries.
Bugs and Blood: Not that we’re expecting an end-of-times apocalypse in 2015, but you might want to start thinking beyond chicken, beef or pork when it comes to acceptable proteins. A growing spate of regional Mexican restaurants have begun exposing New Yorkers to the edible wonders of bugs; think the crispy grasshopper tacos at Black Ant and the worm salt-rimmed cocktails at La Slowteria. And because its molecular structure is similar to eggs, look for chefs to use blood in order to add a meaty, umami element to pastas and breads — Francis Derby of The Cannibal even has a Pigs Blood Gougere in the works!
Sriracha, meet Harissa: Korean gochujang took some of sriracha’s steam as the hot condiment last year, and now it looks like North African harissa — a seriously fiery red chili pepper paste — might just emerge in 2015 as the second coming of ketchup. A flavorful combination of peppers, spices and herbs, such as caraway, coriander and cumin, thick, scarlet-colored harissa can be used in a myriad of ways; whether as a marinade for grilled meats, a dip for raw vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.
Smokin’ Hot: What did New York’s top chefs put on their holiday wish list this year? We’re willing to bet it was some sort of smoker. Smoked foods won’t be the exclusive purview of appetizing shops and barbecue joints in 2015, as more and more restaurants regularly add house-smoked elements to their menus (the logical next step to last year’s proliferation of wood-burning ovens). We’re talking House-Smoked Ham at The Breslin, House-Smoked Butter at Back Forty West, and House-Smoked Bread Pudding at Brooklyn’s The Finch.
Crazy for Uni and Abalone: Not that we’re complaining (since it’s pretty much one of our favorite things ever), but uni, the creamy, edible part of the sea urchin, was the star seafood of 2014. But you might want to bone up on this other, possibly trending shellfish, abalone; a type of sea snail coveted for it’s beautiful, iridescent shell and buttery, salty and appealingly chewy meat.