Thursday December 10, 2009
Front Burner: Fried Chicken
With its crispy skin, moist meat, luxurious flavor and inexpensive price tag, what's not to love? Top chefs agree: Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant has fried chicken night, New York's pig heaven Hill Country is set to open a fried chicken spinoff, and 2009's hottest chef, David Chang, serves the dish in a high/low style at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Front Burner: Mini Whoopie Pies
A staple of the south, this chocolate sandwich filled with marshmallow cream is a dream come true. Chronicle is publishing a whole book devoted to the subject and famed chocolatier Michael Recchiuti did a limited run carrot cake whoopie.
Back Burner: Mini cupcakes
As we've watched our wallets shrink, so too have cupcakes, but these bite-sized icing bombes just leave us feeling unsatisfied and on jittery sugar highs.
Front Burner: Lamb
Are ewe as much a fan as we? Lean, often grass-fed, and nutrient- and flavor-packed, this is meat that can be dressed up (loin) or down (burgers). Eat Me Daily agrees: "Lamb is the new pork, lamb neck is the new bacon!"
Back Burner: Pork
We love pork, but when every corner cafe has a bacon-wrapped item on the menu, it's time for something new.
Front Burner: Eating an immunity-building diet
With H1N1 (flu) hysteria continuing unabated, building your immunity with foods, such as those suggested by John La Puma, M.D., in Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine is poised to become the big health trend of 2010.
Back Burner: Dining on Omega 3s
We all know how important Omega 3 fatty acids are, but we also know that too much mercury, found in Omega 3-rich fish like tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel, and grouper, can make you sick. (Thank you Jeremy Piven.) That, coupled with the overfishing of so many varieties, makes the pill form easier to swallow.
Front Burner: Butcher
Hipsters have moved from farming to butchery, embracing becoming one with their food, and trading in their plow for a good meat hook: Tom Mylan is the poster boy for this trend. As The New York Times' Kim Severson wrote in Young Butchers Gain Rock Star Status in the Food World, "With their swinging scabbards, muscled forearms and constant proximity to flesh, butchers have the raw, emotional appeal of an indie band. They turn death into life, in the form of a really good skirt steak."
And celebrity blogger Julie Powell (of Julie & Julia fame) is about to publish Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, detailing her butchery exploits.
Back Burner: Mixologist
We love inventive cocktails but are growing weary of the Las Vegas style over-the-top theatrics. Just pour us a drink with good ingredients.
Front Burner: Homemade Beer
Marrying the rebirth of microbrews and the popularity of homemade wines, hosts who want a real house beer are going hyperlocal with beer kits such as Cooper's and Rogue Brutal Bitter.
Back Burner: Mad-Science Cocktails
After all the smoke and mirrors, these crazy cocktails made with essence of bubblegum or pulverized eye of newt are just too precious, expensive, and silly.
Front Burner: Vancouver
Before the Olympics was a glimmer in the mayor's eye, Vancouver was turning into an amazing food city, with some of the world's best Japanese and Thai fare, stunning and sustainable seafood restaurants such as C Restaurant and Blue Water Cafe, terrific food markets like Granville Island Public Market and now, some delicious local wines.
Back Burner: Barcelona
As the leading edge of first the tapas movement and then molecular gastronomy, this city has jumped the shark. While it will always have stellar wines, produce, and tapas bars, many of the restaurants are overpriced and underwhelming. There, we said it.
Front Burner: Potlucks
With wallets and schedules tight, having guests bring a specialty reduces the burden on the host and lets your friends show off their own Iron Chef culinary skills.
Back Burner: Formal Dinners at Home
Elaborate multicourse meals feel off-base in today's economic climate. The trendiest hosts are now into unpretentious entertaining that focuses on exciting food, not bells and whistles.
Front Burner: Sam Kass
The baby-faced White House's Food Initiative Coordinator has a full plate: Among his duties are leading official policy to encourage sustainable and healthy eating habits in our country's school children, running the First Family's garden, and oh yeah, cooking daily at the White House. But this 28-year-old is also a hot dish himself.
Back Burner: Curtis Stone
He has shown the Biggest Losers, as well as the country, how to eat healthfully and deliciously, and he'll always have a place in our heart. But we'd like to see him be a bit more creative in his suggestions as it's easy to fall off your diet wagon if you're bored of the same ole grilled chicken or fish.