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Food Trends

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The 2010 food and drink scene witnessed the rise of gluten-free, more mobile dining, and an overwhelming proliferation of organic and sustainable options, but that doesn’t mean the year went without a few items we wish would go away quickly. Luckily, 2011 has arrived, and with it comes the promise of new culinary adventures. Get ready to whet your appetite.

2010 Highlights:

Gluten-free replaces Atkins carb-free: Who knew what celiac meant a year ago? Now gluten-free restaurants, bakeries, and products proliferate.

Collectivism: Food communities, meet ups, food crawls and underground markets. Move over Chairman Mao, SF locals prove they do not need any top-down assistance to support the group mentality.

Food education: Healthier options in schools? The Obamas say, “Yes, you can” support community gardens and programs like Food Revolution.

Mobile meals: Not meals on wheels, we’re talking food trucks, food carts and food buses. The roach coach that sold you a ceviche tostada after school has turned gourmet.

Kombucha: A temporary FDA ban did not stop this yeast-cultured beverage from soaring to new heights of popularity.

Malt beverages: Smirnoff Ice, Four Lokos, and Joose prove that smart marketing strategy + potential health risks = gold mine.

Offal is no longer awful: Pig trotter, head cheese, and sweetbreads. Experimentation with unconventional animal parts yields high customer demand.

Organic/sustainable: Quite the catchphrase in 2010, organic/sustainable switched from being a differentiator to a standard for restaurants in SF.

Blue Bottle coffee: The high-end drip coffee group achieved such a saturation point that even hipster Missionites who once hailed all things BBC blocked the entrance into Dolores Park. How to know when you’ve achieved success? When initial fans call you a sell out.

Ramen: The time arrived for people to wait in line and pay $12 for a bowl of simple noodles, pork broth and toppings.


What’s in store for 2011:

Izakaya: First there was sushi. Now there is izakaya — Juku, Oyajis, Chotto, and Sozai will satisfy SF’s latest Japanese craving.

Filipino food: Filipino food was supposed to take off in 2010. I am still awaiting the deluge of crispy pata.

Meat CSAs: Carnivore lovers are catching onto the trend of vegetarian batch deliveries. With meat universities, growing ranch tours, and whole beast dinners, grass-fed and natural beef packs are on the 2011 list. I’ll take a quarter-cow please.

Bone marrow: Just like the Yanomamo tribe, Americans are starting to appreciate this cavernous delicacy.

Biodynamic wines: It was only a matter of time until organic hit the vineyard.

The Sandwich is back: Only this time gourmet and ethnic leads the way with Vietnamese banh mi, Cuban tortas and high-end deli porchetta.

Pop-up restaurants: just as retail shops cleverly avoided the bane of overhead with pop-ups, restaurants like LudoBites are following suit.

Discount dining: Groupon, ScoutMob, TownHog and LivingSocial show that people will pull dining triggers when you throw in a good deal.

Bourbon: Brown liquor is all the rage. Especially Bulleit Bourbon. Drink up.

DIY in the kitchen: Cooking classes and increased renting of commercial kitchens will dominate the next year.

Bread reintroduced: Pop-overs are just the beginning.

Large-scale cooking: An increasing number of rotisseries and pizza ovens support the cliché that bigger is in fact better.


What needs to die a quick and timely death:

Annoying food speak: If I hear one more person say the words “nom nom nom nom nom” I’m going to kick something. When did loving food equate to speaking like a Sesame Street character?

Cupcakes: No more. That’s all I have to say.

Asian fusion: I am a living, breathing Asian fusion entity but enough is enough with the miso-glazed black cod and korean tacos.

Molecular gastronomy: Sometimes you just want simple, satisfying food. Foam does not always equal perfection.

Ahi tuna tartare: We are no longer living in the nineties. Time to move on.