While kale is on its way to a "Where are They Now?" episode, the culinary world is still moving forward finding new stars for our plates. What can we expect to see trending this year in Central Oregon and beyond?
Sauerkraut is the new Kimchi
If the spiciness of kimchi was a slap in the tastebuds for you, it's time to rejoice! Europe's cabbage ferment is mellow but still packs a ton of flavor and crunch. Chefs will be pushing it past the traditional caraway and juniper berry (hey, that's local!) recipe and experimenting with bigger, bolder spice combinations.
Bowls, bowls and more bowls!
The Buddha bowl—a combination of proteins, vegetables and dressings—continues to reign supreme. But bowls don't stop there. We're going to see even more smoothie bowls (think of a smoothie topped with fresh and dried fruit, nuts and grains) and Poke bowls (a raw fish salad) for sure in the time to come.
Plant-based food takes on the real thing!
Until now vegetarians and vegans settled for products that tasted similar to the real thing, but this year we'll see them taste and act almost identical. Plant meat burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, cook, "bleed" and taste like the real thing. Faux cheese will also find its glory by learning how to spread and melt like the real deal. Kite Hill has a hold on the artisan nut milk market.
Dining pairs with experience
Dinner theatre is getting a reboot, but this time food is a paired part of the script. Locally, this happens with Anna Witham from The Root Cellar. Anna's created experiences where guests listen to local stories and eat food inspired by the tale. She also collaborates frequently with A6 Studio & Gallery to offer "Creative Feasts" that fuse art, poetry, music and food into unforgettable evenings.
Food waste reduction lightens the trash load
The word is out. We throw away a lot of food; somewhere between 25-40 percent ends up in the trash. Chefs and consumers are realizing this is an expensive habit and are finding creative solutions. We're going to see a lot more dishes such as broccoli stem salad and carrot green pesto. And don't forget, even a small portion of leftovers can become a meal if you put an egg on it!
Ramen is still on fire!
Ramen shops are popping up everywhere! We're not talking about the inexpensive packets of freeze-dried ramen. This is the real thing. Homemade noodles, broths that take all day to make, topped with slices of pork, seaweed, soft-boiled eggs, vegetables and all sorts of pickled goodies. This is Japanese comfort food to warm your heart and fill your belly. Bend has two ramen shops; check out 123 Ramen and Ajii, as well as the American Monster Noodle cart that roams around town.
Mermaids are the new Unicorns
Don't worry, we're still talking about food. Last year Pinterest was covered with rainbow-laden unicorn cakes, macaroons, toast, hot chocolate, even unicorn poop cookies with heart and star sprinkles. Mermaids are about to take over though, since mermaid toast exploded on Instagram with blue algae cream cheese and gold flakes. Seriously, look this up. You won't be disappointed.