Archive for January, 2014

Flavor Forecast: Predicting 2014’s Top Food Trends

Friday, January 17, 2014
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As much as people have been buzzing about Charleston’s upcoming “Restaurant Week,” there’s been no escaping the week’s biggest local news – a tainted water supply that forced the closure of almost all local restaurants.

Like many people, I turned to social media for all the latest updates and occasional comic relief to help laugh away the pain. Among the witty banter I saw, one post that particularly resonated with me involved a New Year’s do-over.

Lamenting the wave of sub-zero temperatures that gripped the area and a subsequent chemical leak that poured more salt in our wounds, one friend called for another celebration to ring in 2014 once all this mess is cleaned up.

Love it.

So in honor of ringing in a “new” new year, here’s a sneak peek at what’s supposed to be hot on this year’s food scene.

Marketing and communications agency JWT has just released the results of its ninth annual forecast of world trends, including some that relate to food and drink …

  • Edible Packaging – To make their food more sustainable, marketers are tapping into new technologies to create edible wrappers around burgers, ice cream and more.
  • Infused Ice Cubes – Taking cocktail culture to the next level, mixologists are starting to push the flavors of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups and herbs, enhancing their look and adding complementary flavors as they melt.
  • Silent Meals – To help diners eat more mindfully, some restaurants now hold silent meals. The Brooklyn restaurant Eat has been doing this periodically, asking patrons to remain quiet and focus on the taste of the food, sounds of the food prep and details of the room. In Mexico City, “anti-restaurants” have popped up where people eat in silence — no music, noise or waiter haranguing you.
  • Ugly Produce – Seeing more lumpy heirloom tomatoes or gnarled carrots on store shelves or at farmers markets? If not, you will. In Europe, there’s a movement afoot to reduce food waste by selling rather than discarding imperfect produce. U.K. magazine Delicious is encouraging readers to buy imperfect produce and speak out against regulations governing the appearance of produce sold in stores.

Spice company McCormick also compiled its annual list of the top flavors to look for in 2014 …

  • Aji Amarillo: A hot Peruvian yellow chile pepper with bold, fruity flavor.
  • Kashmiri Masala: An often homemade blend of spices from northern India featuring cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and ginger.
  • Tea: Not just for sipping anymore, this natural ingredient is making its way into rubs, broths and marinades.
  • Chamoy Sauce: A unique Mexican condiment (made from apricot, lime, chilies and spices) that is beginning to gain a following in the U.S.
  • Cassava Flour: Also known as manioc or tapioca flour, this gluten-free alternative is a Brazilian staple prized for its versatility.

Charleston “Restaurant Week” Menus Announced!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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For those of you salivating over what choices you’ll have during Charleston’s upcoming “Restaurant Week,” I’m going to put you out of your misery. The menus have been announced! 

In case you missed the big news, Buzz Food Service has recruited eight top-notch local restaurants to participate in this year’s inaugural event, coming up Jan. 27-Feb. 1. 

Get the original scoop at http://bit.ly/KxGgjH, then check out the eight featured menus below …

 

BLUEGRASS KITCHEN (1600 Washington St. East, 304-346-2871)

First course:

* Simple salad or cup of soup du jour

Entrée:

* Pan-seared whole trout with organic stoneground grits, stewed kale and bourbon mustard sauce.

Dessert, choice of:

* Any available dessert.

 

BRIDGE ROAD BISTRO (915 Bridge Road, 304-720-3500)

First course, choice of:

* Cup of French Onion Soup

* House Salad

Entrée, choice of:

* Grecian Chicken Penne Pasta

* Apple Cured Pork Chop with fig and apple glaze with polenta and house vegetable

* Seared Salmon with polenta and house vegetable

Dessert, choice of:

* Bread Pudding

* Ice Cream

 

ICHIBAN (103 Capitol St., 304-720-7874)

First course, choice of:

* Gyoza (steamed pork dumpling)

* Almost Heaven Maki (shrimp and blue crab with spicy mayo, garnished with green onions and chili powder)

Entrée, choice of:

* Ichiban Land & Sea (filet with scallops drizzled with Asian sauce served with asparagus and choice of steamed or fried rice)

* Bamboo Chicken sautéed in General Tso’s sauce with choice of steamed or fried rice.

Dessert:

* Decadent Chocolate Spoon Cake.

 

NOAH’S ECLECTRIC BISTRO (110 McFarland St., 304-343-6558)

First course, choice of:

* Grilled Romaine Salad: Lightly grilled romaine, peppercorn dressing, grape tomato and shaved parmesan

* Soup of the Day: Chef’s Daily Creation

Entrée, choice of:

* Moroccan Spiced Braised Lamb: Tender braised leg of lamb with chickpeas, apricots, golden raisins, cous cous and mint yogurt

* Shrimp or Chicken Pad Thai: Bean sprouts, julienne vegetables, fried egg, rice noodles, peanuts, cilantro, coconut-peanut sauce

Dessert, choice of:

* Chocolate Lava Cake

* Vanilla Ice Cream with fresh berries

 

PATERNO’S AT THE PARK (601 Morris St., 304-205-5482)

First course, choice of:

* House-made meatball over polenta cake

* Italian Sausage Stuffed Pepper

Entrée, choice of:

* basil chicken (pan seared bone-in chicken breast with a basil marsala cream), tomato risotto and seasonal vegetable

* veal cutlet picatta (pounded veal tenderloin with a lemon and caper butter sauce), parmesan risotto and seasonal vegetable

Dessert:

* Cannoli chips

 

SOHO’S CAPITOL MARKET (800 Smith St., 304-720-7646)

First course, choice of:

* Caprese Salad

* Minestrone

Entrée, choice of:

* Lasagna

* Four-cheese ravioli with tomato basil

Dessert, choice of:

* Tiramisu

* Cannoli

 

SOUTH HILLS MARKET AND CAFÉ (1010 Bridge Road, 304-345-2585)

First course, choice of:

* Spanakopita Dip with Smoked Tomato Relish and Pita

* Garden Greens with choice of Dressing

* Braised Pork Belly with Succotash and Caramel Soy

Entrée, choice of:

* Chicken and Waffles with Braised Greens and Pecan Gastrique

* Pan Seared Grouper with Braised Leeks and Fennel with Saffron Beurre Blanc

* Grilled Petite Filet with whipped Potatoes and Vegetable Melange with Bordelaise

Dessert, choice of:

* Petite Doughnuts with Chocolate Sauce

* Creme Brûlée with Berry compote

 

VANDALIA GRILLE (212 Hale St., 304-343-4110)

First course, choice of:

* Tuna Nachos

* Bruschetta

Entrée, choice of:

* Cedar Plank Salmon

* Vandalia Filet

Dessert:

* Fried Cheesecake

Oh, Deer! What To Do With All That Venison?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
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With another deer-hunting season wrapping up, many of you may find your freezers full of rich venison meat waiting to be put to good use.

Well look no further!

Today’s Charleston Daily Mail offers a variety of suggestions to inspire you, including ideas from some from the area’s finest restaurants. (You can check them out here: http://bit.ly/Juxu5z) And here’s another idea from my own experience …

My mother-in-law has served venison for big family dinners twice in the past week – and the results have been phenomenal. Born and raised in Austria, Louise Wiseman knows her way around the kitchen, and is especially skilled at baking world-class desserts and preparing flavorful, fork-tender meat.

This week’s venison was no exception.

Although she’s hesitant to reveal her precise recipe, I can tell you she braised it in a flavorful broth seasoned with mushrooms and onions until a fork pierced it as if it were soft butter. (You can make your own braising liquid, or use any combination of prepared broths/soups to create the taste you want.)

Pair this awesome venison with some roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a hearty red wine for one heckuva meal!