2013 Culinary Travel Trends

What are the world's finest restaurants dishing out? Sour beer and pigs’ ears, for starters.

Jan 8, 2013
Peruvian ceviche is a culinary trend to try in 2013
Peruvian cuisine, including ceviche, is more popular than ever.
Photography Thinkstock

From local hangouts to gourmet restaurants, dining around the globe is more adventuresome than ever. Pigs’ ears are making their way west to top kitchens in New York and Chicago; sour beers accented with tangy fruits can be found at breweries far beyond their native Belgium; and Peruvian cuisine is fast becoming the favourite international style. Find out what else you’ll taste in 2013.

Chefs are getting creative with kimchi.
Chefs from Atlanta to Sydney have begun embracing this condiment that’s beloved in Korea (there’s even a museum dedicated to kimchi in Seoul). You’ll find this versatile, piquant side dish of pickled vegetables in everything from stir-fries and glazes to creative side dishes—kimchi fried rice, kimchi mashed potatoes, kimchi succotash. It’s made with chopped cabbage, garlic, ginger, scallions, radishes and—somewhat less commonly—carrots and cucumbers. The cabbage is soaked and salted, mixed with the rest of the vegetables along with a healthy dose of chilli paste or minced chillies, and then fermented for a couple of days in a tightly sealed container. Aficionados tend to prefer their kimchi on the pungent side and frequently age it for a week or even longer.

Single-dish restaurants are on the rise.
The proliferation of restaurants built around one type of food is most pronounced in New York City, where you’ll find dining spots devoted to rice pudding, mac and cheese, falafel, and meatballs, to name a few. The single-food craze is, however, gaining ground in other cities, too. The majority of these one-track-mind restaurants do offer a handful of additional items on their menus, but the raison d’être is typically one celebrated dish. Desserts are a common theme: Bananarchy in Austin serves nothing but bananas dipped in your choice of sauce (chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla), and then dusted with a variety of toppings (Oreo cookies, coconut). And in Manhattan, Macaron Café serves the delicate French pastries for which it’s named in a dazzling array of flavours, from matcha green tea to grapefruit.

Novel examples of savoury single-dish eateries include Ooze Risotteria in London, where the risotto with tiger prawns and peas is a favourite; Fritz European Fry House in Vancouver, known for the French Canadian delicacy poutine; and Wurstküche, a haute sausage grill with locations in downtown Los Angeles and Venice Beach, where you might try rabbit-and-rattlesnake sausage with jalapeños, or Filipino sweet pork maharlika. (Belgian frites and beers are served, too.)

Brewing styles are turning sour.
Although they come from an Old-World Belgian brewing tradition that harks back several centuries, sour beers have only recently emerged in craft brewpubs in North America, Australia and elsewhere. These pucker-inducing ales derive their tart yet often subtly sweet flavour profiles from the addition of wild yeasts and tangy fruits (cherries, raspberries) during the aging process. Some find sour beers a bit too biting, but if you’ve been craving a break from craft brewing’s fervent focus on hoppy IPAs and rich porters, these typically light, crisp beers may be just what you’re looking for.

Peruvian cuisine is heating up around the globe.
You may think primarily of ceviche when talk turns to Peruvian restaurants, which seem to be opening at breakneck speed all over the world. Influenced by Peru’s pronounced Japanese immigrant population, this tasty dish of raw seafood “cooked” in spicy citrus marinades, along with its sashimi-inspired cousin tiradito, is ubiquitous on Peruvian menus. But the typically hearty, boldly flavoured cuisine of this geographically diverse South American nation—the source of now common worldwide staples like tomatoes, beans, chillies and potatoes—incorporates a tremendous variety of ethnic (Spanish, Italian, African, Japanese, Chinese) and indigenous (Quechua) influences.

At Bangkok’s Above Eleven, you can sample the Peruvian version of bouillabaisse, parihuela—here it’s served with an Asian miso-wakame broth. A specialty at Miami Beach’s Juvia, the tender lamb chops are basted with Peruvian aji panca chilli paste with generous complements of quinoa couscous, bok choy and shimeji mushrooms. Other notable spots for haute Peruvian fare include Laurel Hardware in West Hollywood and El Picaflor in Paris.

Pigs’ ears are no longer just eastern delicacies.
Given the remarkable staying power of the wholly inclusive “tail to snout” movement, it’s only natural that the traditional Chinese delicacy of pig’s ears is gaining prominence, especially in cities with locavore-driven food scenes. Expect this trend to continue, and for pigs’ ears to gradually shed their still rather exotic reputation among less adventuresome diners. These satisfyingly chewy treats—usually deep-fried or braised—appear on menus throughout China. The Sichuan restaurant Pin Chuan, in Shanghai’s French concession, is a terrific place to try them, as is the famed Portuguese-Macanese restaurant A Lorcha, in Macau.

But plenty of notable restaurants outside Asia now feature pigs’ ears, usually as a starter or small plate. Chicago’s famed Purple Pig serves them with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers and fried egg. At Local 360 in Seattle’s Belltown neighbourhood, you can tuck into a plate of spicy fried pig’s ear with a tangy blue-cheese sauce, and New York City’s Spotted Pig serves these crispy delicacies in a hearty salad laced with a lemon-caper dressing.

Further reading:

“Our Predictions: 2013 Food Trends” (Cooking Light)

“Trendspotting: American Craft Beers” (Food & Wine)

“Rise of the Single Dish Restaurant” (The Guardian)


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