Sour flavors and smaller plates to be big in 2013

by Staff
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BOULDER, COLO. — Sour flavors are one of the trends that will drive dining in 2013, according to Sterling-Rice Group, an integrated brand strategy company with a 28-year-old culinary practice.

The group said popular flavors will move beyond sweet, salty and fatty into sour in the form of tart, acidic and bitter flavors such as fermented cherry juice, varietal vinegars and sour beer.

“With do-it-yourself pickling and brining, you will see more sauerkrauts, pickles and tart flavors at restaurants,” said Jorge de la Torre, dean of culinary education at Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts. “The old shrub drinks from colonial times as well as the vinegar drinks from Korea and Thailand will figure into more craft cocktails.”

There also will be a move to healthier ingredients such as brown rice, high-fiber grains and vegetable broths as opposed to old-time fatty favorites such as butter, bacon and cream, Sterling-Rice said.

“A big health change for restaurants is vegetable stock,” said Victor Matthews, chef and owner of Black Bear Restaurant in Colorado Springs. “Traditional vegetable stock is simple, plain and mostly based on mirepoix.”

Asian influences will continue to be strong with Thai, Vietnamese and Korean favorites being incorporated onto menus.

Veggies will become a more integral part of the meal with dishes such as cauliflower steaks, squash noodles and celery juice cocktails.

Children’s menus will expand beyond hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese with a greater variety of vegetables, protein-rich grains and Asian flavors that will help mature children’s tastes.

Artisan foods and restaurants are picking up in steam as well.

“Lots of chefs are going local lately whether it’s the honey they use, the fruit and vegetables they buy or the wine and cheese they offer,” said Gale Gand, creator/owner of Gale’s Root Beer. “And it makes sense. It tastes better, has less food miles on it, shows support for our country and makes good copy on the menu.”

Reducing portion and plate sizes will become increasingly important, and fruit will be laced with savory flavors to bring a naturally refreshing and sweet touch to appetizers, soups, vegetable sides and meaty entrees.

With so many different diet considerations among consumers from vegetarians to those who are gluten-free, restaurants also will place importance on specialized options. And finally, popcorn will become the snack of choice in 2013 and appear in snack bars, croutons, ice cream and more.

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