Tess on the Town: Trends for 2012: Sea salt, home roasted coffee, ceramic-coated pans, Wagyu beef

Sifting through the predictions for 2012 from the world’s food trends gurus, I was struck by the strange and rarefied elements of what have become in vogue.

Most of us will never see the existential creations served in the finest restaurant, nor would many of us want to. Some of these foods, I’m sure, won’t trickle down to any restaurant I visit.

Deconstruction is a buzzword. By this I mean unfamiliar flavor combinations served in the form of foams, jellies and spherical objects. Food created in a “techno-emotional approach” and served in test tubes and cylinders. “It’s boundary-shifting stuff,” one critic gushed.

Other trends seem more reasonable for making the local food scene. Here are a few:

n FOOD COSTS: The first, and most painful, prediction is that food prices will continue to rise, based on fuel costs, increased food safety, feed costs and shifting environmental conditions.

This will make locally grown fruits, vegetables, grains and meats more important sources.

Shoppers will be looking to shave costs by revising recipes to use less meat and adding more proteins that are filling and less expensive, including whole-wheat pasta, beans, lentils, root vegetables and brown rice, reports supermarketnews.com.

These staples come in handy for the meatless Mondays.

n SALT NON GRATA: Like carbs, salt faces increased scrutiny by the public, and many restaurants are reducing salt in incremental amounts and using sea salt.

Regular table salt is highly processed and removes magnesium and trace minerals. Sun-dried sea salt does not, and as a recovering salt junkie, I’ve noticed that I use less.

The Food Network predicts low-salt pickled vegetables and fruits, such as grapes, will replace salty offerings.

n GLUTEN BURNOUT: Am I the last person to not care about gluten?

I understand that some people need to avoid the grain protein, but for most of us it’s nothing to worry about. I’m glad the gluten-free option is available, but I think the craze is overblown.

People with celiac or those who are gluten-sensitive make up 6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

But manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, declaring products “gluten free,” when they wouldn’t contain gluten anyway.

n CAST-IRON, MOVE OVER: Bon Appetit is crazy about the Bialetti’s Aeternum line of ceramic-coated pans.

Unlike cast-iron, the pans are non-stick and unlike Teflon pans, they crisp food nicely. And they’re affordable. Expect copycats.

n SUSTAINABLE: Bon Appetit also thinks we’ll see more lowly mackerel in the fish department.

With so many commercial fishing stocks endangered by overfishing, the sustainable and inexpensive fish is packed with protein, Vitamin D and Omega 3s,” the magazine reports.

Prepared correctly, it can shed its peasant reputation.

n HOME ROASTED COFFEE: Unless you have a connection, you’ll have to order your green coffee beans off the Internet.

A coffee fiend friend of mine roasts his in an air popcorn popper that he found at a thrift store.

It takes less effort than you would imagine, about 10–12 minutes in the popper for fresh roasted beans.

See coffeegeek.com for details.

n THE NEW KOBE: A Japanese cattle breed called Wagyu was showcased at this month’s Denver’s Stock Show and Rodeo.

The fork-tender beef is not for those averse to pulling out the platinum card. But, the premium steaks are making their way to Colorado.

A Wagyu hamburger at Aspen’s Little Nell is going for $22, according to The Denver Post. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs serves at Wagyu ribeye for $50.

n REPEATS: Two trends from 2011 appear to be sticking around for another year.

Everything pork. Pork bellies are popping up on menus everywhere. Home cooks are cutting and curing their own bacon. Noted Boulder restaurants are serving fresh chicharrones (pork rinds).

The other repeat is Southern food. Inspirations from below the Mason-Dixon line include grits, dumplings, greens (collard, mustard, turnip) and gumbo. I’m hoping field peas are next.

n NOT GOING AWAY: Farm-to-fork food won’t abate anytime soon, as consumers become increasingly interested in fresh, wholesome and healthy cuisine.

Plus, because our valley is a bread basket, we don’t have to go far.

QUOTE: “Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” — Mark Twain

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COMMENTS

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Your mention of needing a connection for green coffee beans locally showed a real lack of research.  Colorado Legacy Coffee-1048 Independent Ave. a local roaster, retailer and wholesaler of coffee (best one dollar cup of coffee in town) not only has all the green beans you would ever need, but Dan will also help you with the finer aspects of roasting. you owe Dan a paragraph. http://www.legacycoffee.com

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