Here's a sneak peek at how some of the global food trends are expected to play out at a local level during the year ahead. Lots of delicious anticipation here!
Hot pot, a broth-based fondue, is on the rise across North America. Open to interpretations, international giants in this space include Morals Village which has six hundred restaurants in China and recently opened its sixth in Canada, right here in Ottawa. Hot pot can span a wide variety of ingredients and flavour profiles; it’s also a great make-at-home trend for a fun and interactive dinner with family or friends.
Flowers will be blooming on plates and in glasses everywhere – from lavender and elderflower based beverages to attractive, nutritious edible flowers in salads, desserts and more. We are fortunate to have a fantastic local, organic supplier in Corinne Mooney, whose Ottawa Edible Flowers provides a continuous supply to restaurants, caterers and the general public from mid-May to mid-October each year. In the off season, crystallized flowers and leaves are available.
Health conscious consumers are looking to lighten things up this year with innovative non-alcoholic beverages. Expect to see some of Ottawa`s finest mixologists offering up `placebo drinks` - a fancy new way to refer to mocktails – that smell and taste as appealing as alcohol-based concoctions. At home, you can work with premium tonic waters and cordials like the tasty ones from Ottawa`s Split Tree Cocktail Co or splurge and enjoy drinks made with Seedlip, the world`s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits. Seedlip products are available at Jacobsons and Pot and Pantry in Ottawa, plus Pan Chancho in Kingston.
Chef Briana Kim of Café My House took top honours at Ottawa`s Gold Medal Plates competition late last year with a mushroom-based dish that wowed the judges with its complex flavours. Industry experts are suggesting we’ll see mushrooms popping up in smoothies, teas, coffees and body care products in 2018. Mushrooms Canada is also promoting `blend and extend` which means combining minced mushrooms with ground meat to decrease calories while increasing both flavour and nutrition. Ottawans have a fantastic supply of top quality, hyper-local mushrooms thanks to Carleton Mushroom Farms in Osgoode.
Gold accents are trending in the interior design world for 2018, but you can also expect to see them on dessert plates too. Dark chocolate and gold are an ideal pairing; pick up edible gold products in Ottawa at Artistic Cake Design.
Superior tinned fish and seafood
Canned fish products are trending as a convenient and extremely flavourful alternative to fresh or frozen. Ottawa is home to the dynamic team at Solfarmers, which was founded several years ago to supply the local restaurant market with top quality imported oils, fish, charcuterie and cheese from Spain. Now, their products are available for purchase online or at several local food emporiums.
Exotic root vegetables
Humble roots like parsnip, beets, turnips, rutabaga and heirloom carrots continue to be prized by Ottawa chefs for their versatility and flavour, especially in the fall and winter months. Expect to see other, sometimes overlooked, root vegetables such as kohlrabi, lotus root, sunchoke (also known as Jerusalem artichoke), celeriac and jicama popping up more often on local menus this year. Many root vegetables are especially enjoyable served raw – try them in carpaccio form with a lemon vinaigrette!
Root to stem cooking
Speaking of roots, using all parts of vegetables, a trend called ‘root to stem’ cooking, will continue to increase in popularity. Whether you choose to make pesto from carrot tops or beet greens, prepare a coleslaw with shredded broccoli stems or whip up a jar of pickled watermelon rind, you’ll be tapping into a whole lot of great flavour while reducing your food waste at the same time.
Better grocery options
Business analysts at Forbes are predicting the continued rise of better grocery stores in 2018. We don`t know yet what the marriage between Whole Foods and Amazon is going to mean for us in Canada`s capital, but we are lucky in Ottawa to have access to fifteen Farm Boy locations. Great produce and an impressive array of house-made packaged and ready-to-eat foods are the big draw here. The chain, founded in Eastern Ontario 36 years ago, will continue to grow this year with more new stores in southwestern Ontario and is expected to expand across the country within the next year or two.