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Top food trends for 2019

Top food trends for 2019

by Great British Chefs 04 December 2018

We take a look at the eight things we think we’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2019, from hot ingredients and cooking techniques to styles of restaurant and changing eating habits.

Food trends are always a double-edged sword – on one hand, chefs can’t ignore what’s becoming more popular if they want to stay current, but at the same time they need to stick true to their ideals to avoid becoming too faddy. Some trends come and go; others stick around and help shape the UK’s entire food scene (just look at how prominent veganism has become in just the past few years). Last year we correctly predicted the rise of West African cooking (cemented by Ikoyi’s Michelin star back in October); the continuing rise of vegan cooking; the evolution of cocktails and how important food tech became. We’re hoping this year’s predictions will be on the money too. Take a look at the trends we think will hit it big in 2019.

Fig leaves aplenty

One thing we’ve noticed cropping up on dessert menus more and more are fig leaves, a rather odd ingredient that most home cooks would have no idea how to prepare. Rather than tasting like figs, the leaves have a coconut-like flavour, which makes them a particularly impressive inclusion in British restaurants that focus on local, seasonal produce. Rather than being served as an actual leaf, it’s usually used to infuse into creams – although Ollie Dabbous’ incredible Fig leaf dessert includes a compressed, crisp fig leaf on top to showcase the ingredient in all its glory.

Honey 2.0

Honey is hardly new – we’ve been using it for thousands of years – but it’s quickly becoming one of the most varied and interesting artisan products in the pantry. Restaurants are installing their own hives; producers are shouting about their regional credentials and bees are helpfully sticking to specific varieties of flower to create distinct flavours within their golden nectar. You can also get varieties infused with everything from chilli to lemon, artisan meads continue to soar and raw and unpasteurised honeys are creating some really interesting flavours, showcasing the terroir of where they’re produced. Your bog-standard squeezy bottle of non-descript bee juice just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Wine: the next generation

Wine is no longer something to be sipped in stuffy tasting rooms – it's now a trendy, much more accessible drink. Food-focused wine bars in particular are on the rise; places like The Laughing Heart and Noble Rot in London have made wine bars places to eat great food at as well as knock back a few glasses of vino. It’s something we’re starting to see more of outside of the capital, too, with bars ensuring the food offering is just as much reason to visit as their wine list. This style of restaurant is a common sight in mainland Europe, with osterias in Italy and bistros in France serving incredibly delicious dishes alongside a carefully curated drinks menu. This new swathe of wine bars makes eating great food easier than ever, as the prices are usually lower than your average Michelin-starred establishment – but the flavours on offer are often just as good. In addition to this, the next generation of winemakers are borrowing from the craft beer scene, coming up with bold graphic labels and funky names in a bid to stand out on the shelf – and trendy food-focused wine bars can't get enough of them.

Ugly veg gets a makeover

The rise of veganism shows no signs of stopping, and its influence is reaching all corners of the UK food scene. As we all cut down on our meat consumption, we’re naturally finding more interesting things to do with vegetables, as well as falling back in love with previously neglected varieties. ‘Ugly veg’, in particular, are having a moment. Parsley root, salsify, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes and swede are starting to appear on menus just as much as celeriac – the poster boy of ugly vegetables everywhere – and we’re cooking the stalks and leaves of old favourites like broccoli and cauliflower rather than throwing them away.

The ice cream revolution

There are some great ice cream parlours in the UK, but the summertime treat is starting to get all grown up. As well as the traditional flavours we all know and love, producers such as Hackney Gelato are pushing the boundaries, creating ice creams flavoured with the likes of palm sugar, basil and smoke. Rather than imitate the sorts of flavours you get in Italy, British ice cream producers are also starting to look at the UK’s own fantastic ingredients for inspiration. After all, an Amalfi lemon sorbet is always going to taste better in Amalfi, but British fruits like quince, blackberry and pear – when combined with our fantastic milk – are where our ice creams truly shine.

Cooking with fire

It seems every new restaurant opening in London towards the latter half of 2018 focused on ‘open fire’ cooking – essentially a fancy word for barbecue. Elsewhere, restaurants like Hang Fire Southern Barbecue in Barry, Wales are winning national awards, proving that we’ve finally got past our limited ‘burgers, bangers and chicken drumsticks’ approach to cooking over charcoal at home and starting to look beyond the US-style pulled pork and ribs in restaurants. Expect this love affair with barbecuing to continue to grow, as more and more chefs realise the incredible flavours charring and smoking can give to all manner of foods (especially when combined with fermenting and pickling – just take a look at what Gareth Ward is doing in rural Wales as an example).

Return of the pulses

Another result of the rise in veganism, pulses and grains are set to become cool again in 2019. Lentil dishes will start cropping up on menus up and down the land, while healthy, nutritious ingredients like bulgur wheat, pearl barley, various beans and spelt will be celebrated for their earthy, nutty flavours. Many of these pulses are grown right here in the UK, too, so they benefit from being low in food miles.

Soft drinks in the spotlight

Experimentation in cocktails has become just as complex and interesting as what’s going on in the food world, but one of the biggest areas of growth in the industry is low- and non-alcoholic drinks. Premium teas and thoughtful mocktails will enjoy just as much menu space as martinis and G&Ts, while artisanal sodas will boast all the cool graphics and branding of the craft beer revolution without the ABV.

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