The new year rings in a host of predictions: what foodstuffs will chefs be excited about in 2013? The New York Times recently ran a list of its top 10 trendy ingredients, but you don’t have to head to the coasts to try ’em. Here are my recommendations for where to sample these trends right here in the Twin Cities.
Most of our local steakhouses dry age their meat, though the king of in-house aging—the Hanger Room in Willernie, with its epic 42-day-aged ribeye—is unfortunately no longer with us. But the dry-aging process can also be applied to other meats, making their flavors more intense and complex. I’m a big fan of the dry-aged duroc pork from local producer Compart Family Farms (I’ve enjoyed Compart’s pork porterhouse at FireLake, but Bacio, Zelo, Spasso, and Bistro 11 have also served dry-aged pork on their menus) and the dry-aged Wild Acres duck, aged in-house, at Tilia.
Twin Citizens have been on this trend for at least half a decade, back when Cosmos pastry chef Khanh Tran introduced us to smoked chocolate desserts. For a fresh twist on the trend, try the smoked raw oysters at Mona.
There may be no better example of the simple beauty of this nostalgic dessert than Pizzeria Lola’s olive-oil-topped vanilla soft serve: light, sweet, creaminess slicked with grassy oil and sprinkled with a spark of salt. The new World Street Kitchen bricks-and-mortar shop on Lyndale just jumped on the soft serve bandwagon as well, offering salted caramel and passion fruit/mango lassi versions.
If you’ll eat a deep-fried Twinkie, than why not deep-fried animal skin? I lucked into the puffy pork rind cracklings garnishing pork tongue at Victory 44.
RAW WINTER VEGETABLES
You’d eat a carrot raw, right? So why not a rutabaga or a parsnip? I had a lovely raw root vegetable salad at the Gray House, in which the star ingredient was so finely shredded that it transformed its texture into that of new-fallen snow.
BARREL-AGED HOT SAUCE
So far as I know, Minnesota hasn’t yet embraced this trend: does anyone know of a locally produced barrel-aged hot sauce? The closest I can come up with is barrel-aged beers from Wisconsin’s Tyranena Brewing.
The final frontier of nose-to-tail eating is, well, the tail. The inventive, Asian-influenced Left Handed Cook has served the fork-tender meat as a special—and the tails sell out more quickly than you’d think.
Sauerkraut is the most common fermented food in this part of the country, but kombucha may soon be its rival. Dean’s Kombucha, produced in St. Paul, is my favorite of the refreshing, effervescent brews—it’s available at local liquor stores, as well as on tap at Mill Valley Kitchen.
Mike Phillips was already a 2.0 salumi maker back when he was at the Craftsman, advancing from basic charcuterie such as head cheese and rillettes to more complicated salami. Until Phillips gets his retail operation off the ground, your best bet is Northern Waters Smokehaus.
A few more ingredients/trends I’m excited about for 2013:
• Whole grains/seeds (farro at Birdhouse, kañiwa at the Lynn)
• Drinking vinegar or “shrubs” (the Kentucky Pilgrim at Cafe Maude at Loring)
• Inventive salad combos (the apple/sunchokes/hazelnut/goat cheese combo at Union)
• Lesser-known fish (skate at the Kenwood, whole branzino at Saffron)
• The use of durian, mangosteens, jackfruit, lychee and other uncommon tropical fruits beyond pastry and cocktail lists
What else are you looking forward to eating in 2013?