Look, what's cooking...

Look, what's cooking...

Look, what's cooking...

Have you ever stumbled upon next year's trend while sitting in a fancy restaurant digging your fork into heavenly food? That’s serendipity. A revelation when you are not even looking for one. Just before 2014 fluttered into history, in Geneva’s iconic Hotel Bristol, I had slurped clean mushroom soup embellished with dainty foam when the server bent and posed the usual “some dessert for you?” question.

Before I could say a yes/no, he returned with an iPad in hand, flipped open the jacket, opened a page. “The desserts are listed here. So are the ingredients and calories.” As is wont with a paper menu, I did not have to overwork my imagination. The iPad had photographs of the mousse and the crème brûlée.Tech was on the table. See before you order and eat. High-tech, informative and utterly user-friendly. That's the big 2015 food trend. Technology will take over how food is brought to the table. All the whys, hows, wheres and everything else about food will be tech-driven. In 2015, technology will be the big game-changer. They are called front-facing or guest-facing technology that interface directly with the diner. It saves downtime and reams of explanations!

Tech for sure. But what will be on the plate? There was so much to love and hate in 2014. Kale was everywhere – in juices, biscuits, salads. Everyone learnt to pronounce - and spell - quinoa, the protein-rich supergrain. Paleo (high protein, low-carb diet with no grains) food fad had several takers and the headcount of gluten-free diet devotees soared. Will 2015 edge all these out of the dinner table? Let’s look at all that will make it on the plate and in the cuppa this year. 

Small eats  Worldwide, veggies are having a tiny/micro moment. Miniature versions of everything are nudging out their bigger brethren. The diminutive vegetables are lighting fast to cook and often boast a sweeter flavour and tender texture. Broccolini (baby broccoli) and cornlettes (tinier than baby corn) will win you over. But if there’s one miniature that will rule 2015, it is kalettes. Also known as kale sprouts and Brussel kale, it looks like a kale head and is a cross between Russian kale and Brussel sprouts.

Rainbow carrots and broccoflower (cross between cauliflower and broccoli) will become more popular.

Even nutrients are going micro. Micro greens (typically one to one-and-half inch) are eaten whole (root, seed, shoot). Andrew Freeman, president of AF&Co, a restaurant consulting firm, predicts that radish is going to make a move in 2015.

Diners are queuing up for radish appetizers and roasted radishes.
Get bugsy

How about cricket for lunch? The bug, not the game, silly. Eat bugs. Save the planet. That is the new war cry of food activists who believe that insects are gluten-free, high in protein and emit fewer greenhouse gases than cattle. Not that it is a new fad. Humans have been eating insects since prehistoric times. Cricket flour has already found way in protein bars and baked goods. An insect cake might be 2015’s next big thing. Dragonflies, cicadas and termites could be the new munchies. Lollipops with ants are already in the market and pizzas  come with roasted cricket as topping. Do not pucker your nose. All Things Bugs that sells cricket flour was the winner of Bill & Melinda Gates’ Great Exploration Challenge, which provides funding to individuals with ideas for public health and development. So, eat bugs and save the world.

Ancient grain, anyone?

Now that you have learnt to pronounce and spell quinoa, brace yourself for more ancient tongue twisters of the superfood set. Freekeh, kamut and teff are the new supergrains. Of course, there’s amaranth. It is not even a grain; it is a seed, but there’s enough hype around this gluten-free, protein-packed new kid on the block.And do not be surprised if cauliflower pops up as your pizza crust or porridge base. The steamed-on-the-side cauliflower is getting a makeover as an alternative to grain-based flours.

 Paleo-diet addicts shun the grain completely, but for the grain lovers, ancient is the new buzzword. 

Bitter love

Not bitter love. But love for all things bitter. Bitter chocolate, bitter coffee, bitter greens. You have tried the 98 percent bitter chocolate, this year experiment with a bite of bitter in everything. Why? Because umami will be the taste of 2015. From brash, bitter India Pale Ale (IPA) that has become the signature style of American craft beer to bitter Negroni cocktail, you will get your acerbic on at the bar. Turmeric is also catching up. It is now showing up in tea and other beverages.      Up in smoke

Everyone lends an ear to Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru. So, believe him when he says that food will be up in smoke this year. Literally. More smoked food will be served in 2015. Not just smoked meats and barbecues. Even smoked salt, which made its debut five years ago, might have its big moment now. Smoked butters and smoked cocktails will also be gaining ground.    Sweet nothings

With a dwindling bee population, honey is a big worry for food and sustainability lovers. So, what will 2015 do about honey? Replace it with maple syrup. If your next honey-chicken tastes different, you’d know why. There’s plant sap, not bee honey in it. Pistachios will also be seen more, so will beets, tomatoes or carrot-flavoured yogurts. Set the regular milk-tea-sugar cup aside. Order Matcha, described by some health gurus as the ‘superpower green tea’. This traditional powdered Japanese tea is jam-packed with antioxidants. 

Sterling-Rice Group, US-based advertising major, predicts that cannabis will move beyond pot brownies to confections, bars, simple syrups and bottled, cold-brewed coffee. The locavores will reign supreme in 2015. 

“Locally-sourced meat and seafood” and “locally-grown produce” topped the list of Top 10 Trends in a National Restaurant Association survey of almost 1,300 professional chefs.  Get futuristic 
According to Baum & Whiteman, international food and restaurant consultants, touch-screen ordering and paying with smartphones is the wave of the future. Beyond this, the sci-fi Google Glass will be the next futuristic thing. The company foresees a not-so-distant future, wherein waiters use face-recognition software combined with Google’s next-gen eyewear to identify everyone at the table and make personalised menu recommendations. There’s also talks of more non-refundable prepay reservations at a few fancy restaurants. Put simply, it will be similar to people buying ‘tickets’ for dinner like seats on an airplane.

In other words, if a dinner date ditches you at the last moment, you’ll walk away hungry and with an empty wallet. Don’t blame me. I warned you about this pretty early!