Unlike the real world, there was plenty to be excited about in the food world in 2017—from a beautiful little burger in Charleston, SC to the wood-fired Maine bagels that stole Julia Kramer’s heart. But we’re not ones to dwell on the past. We’re looking ahead, into the great unknown. Well, at least to 2018. We sat down with deputy editor Andrew Knowlton with one question on the mind. What are the five food trends he’s looking forward to in 2018?
Tinned Seafood and Portuguese Sensibility
The Portuguese understand rustic simplicity better than most. Just look at the way they treat seafood in Lisbon, prepared simply, with high-quality olive oil, in true old-world, European sensibility. Talking to chefs this year, Portugal has come up frequently, not only as a destination but as a source of culinary inspiration. That same mentality is starting to show up stateside at spots like New York City’s Cervo’s or Brooklyn’s Hart’s or LA’s Hayden.
But there’s a way to bring this trend into your home, and it comes in a tin. Sustainable seafood packed in olive oil. You’ve seen it before, but the options for the good stuff have exploded over the past year. Jose or Bella tinned fish from Portugal should be found in your pantry, as well as the local wine bar, ready to be loaded on toast (try this recipe). And if anyone can figure out how to get Conservas Cego do Maio in the states, please, contact me.
The first thing you notice about lotus root is its beauty. That shape isn’t something you get with standard vegetables, it’s a cut-out wheel that’s almost floral in appearance. It’s a staple in Asian cuisine for its versatile flavor-adopting qualities and satisfying crunch, and after tearing through a salad laden with lotus root at MTN in Venice, CA, I’m riding that same wave. More restaurants will be using this root in 2018, whether it be in slow-cooked braise or crispy, shaved vegetable salad. We need to start welcoming the lotus root. You listening, Whole Foods?
The European-Style Wine Bar (in America)
As Americans, it seems to be our duty to screw up the wine bar. I wish it wasn’t so, but historically, we rarely get them right. To be clear, I’m not talking about the people who open them. I’m talking about the people who eat and drink at them. We need to approach the wine bar as the Europeans do, as a quick, purposeful stop before or after a meal.
Yeah, we need to stop treating wine bars like they’re places to sit, eat, and drink at for three hours. Wine bars like Ordinaire in Oakland, CA are perfect for a quick stop, but if you’ve been there for more than an hour, you’re doing it wrong. Let’s fix this problem together. I’ll try to work harder to only stay for 45 minutes, if you do the same for me.
The Next Big Sandwich
I’m a huge fan of overstuffed cemitas and tortas but it wasn’t until a recent trip to Güero in Portland, Oregon that I realized that torta ahogada might be my favorite Mexican sandwich. I’ve avoided the classic Jalisco, Mexico torta because, on paper, it doesn’t quite make all that much sense—a crispy sandwich drowned in a tomato-based sauce. But then I started think about French dips and meatball subs. That excessive juice adds an element and texture.
The one at Güero is served on a plate, with carnitas, habanero slaw, and cilantro, tucked inside a grilled bolillo. It’s messy and glorious and addictive. At Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara’s largest soccer stadium), they’re dunked in a vat of spicy tomato sauce and served in a plastic bag and eaten with your hands. I’m no ahogada-eating pro so I can’t master that move yet, but give me until the end of 2018 and I’ll get there.
If it was up to me, I would eat a Japanese-style breakfast every day of my life. That’s no disrespect to the breakfast burrito or the sausage, egg, and cheese, but in the interest of flavor and living to my maximum potential, nothing even comes close. My colleague Julia Kramer and I talk about the breakfast at SingleThread constantly, and the Japanese breakfast at Brooklyn’s Okonomi is something I get about once a month. The spread is everything I want. Some beautiful mixed rice with either roe or uni. Eggs with furikake. A small bowl of miso for seasoning. A pickled vegetable salad, and a piece of perfectly grilled fish. It all makes you feel healthy and alive.
Everyone here at the office eats a lot of yogurt and granola, but I’ve never been a sweet breakfast guy. I’ll skip the pancakes and waffles. Send out an array of Japanese small dishes, and I’ll bask in the savory glory all morning long.