We're fresh into the new year, which means it is time for resolutions, diets and mocktails. My resolution: just say no to resolutions, diets and mocktails. You know they won't last. By the time Jan. 20 and a certain swearing-in rolls around, we all might be swearing off salads and be ready to kill for a three-martini, double-cheeseburger-with-duck-fat-fries lunch. So I resolve to do what I've always done: seek moderation, get plenty of exercise and try anything once.
The new year also means it is time for predictions, and the fine foodie folks at the James Beard Foundation recently released a list of projected dining trends for 2017. They see a big year ahead for French food, cauliflower and delivery-only restaurants. So tap the UberEats app and order up some cauliflower bourguignon, or something like that. The following is a rundown of some predicted trends, along with my take.
Vive la France! The Beardies predict a renaissance in classic French cuisine, noting top-flight arrivals in Los Angeles and New York. In Miami Beach, we have seen the recent opening of Paris 6 Bistro (2200 Collins Avenue, 305-363-6801), a 24-hour eatery where you can always get steak au poivre or tuna nicoise. This being South Florida, it should come as no shock that the restaurant is actually part of a Brazilian chain, its first outpost in the U.S. My take: The angry, petulant days of freedom fries seem so last decade. Let's raise a glass of Dom Perignon, because it's time to Make Bouillabaise Great Again!
Cauliflower blossoming: Stick a fork in kale. The Beard Foundation sees cauliflower as the trendy veggie of the year. It's meaty, burly and substantial, and makes for some very satisfying dishes, a blank canvas that can be chopped up as a stand-in for pasta or rice and used whole for steaks. My take: I think they're late to the party, because cauliflower was all the rage in South Florida restaurants in 2016. One Door East in Fort Lauderdale (620 S. Federal Highway, 954-368-6902) serves a killer roasted version with Earl Grey raisins, brown butter, capers and Madras spice. And KYU in Miami (251 NW 25th St., 786-577-0150) knocks it out of the park with its beautiful roasted hunk, served with goat cheese and shishito-herb vinaigrette.
Delivery-only restaurants: Many South Florida restaurants have aligned with web and app-based delivery services such as UberEats, Amazon Restaurants, Delivery Dudes, GrubHub, Yelp and Eat24. The Beard Foundation reports some restaurateurs are taking the trend a step further, opening delivery-only operations without dining rooms, such as David Chang's Ando in New York. My take: SMH (that's text shorthand for "shaking my head"). Call me old-fashioned, but I think the whole point of fine dining is socialization and conversation. All this does is threaten to make us more of a nation of alienated couch potatoes. What's next, "cooking" and "eating" with Virtual Reality goggles? Ugh.
Sorghum rising: The Beardies say sorghum is poised to become the hot new grain on plates. Known mostly for its sweet syrup (which was America's most popular sweetener in the 19th century), sorghum also is a grain that can be cooked as such, "resembling Israeli couscous but with a little dot on each orb." It is chewier than Israeli couscous, and also a little sweet. My take: Oh great, just when I learned how to spell and pronounce "quinoa."
Kalettes: The Beard Foundation says they're starting to see this hybrid vegetable pop up at farmer's markets, but not yet on many menus. They describe it as "tiny little kale growing off of what looks like a Brussels sprout stalk ... cute as can be, they are also quite tasty." My take: Wait, I thought they said kale was over. Can't these food faddists make up their minds?
Other trends the Beard Foundation panel predicts: more experimentation with fermentation, more vegetable dishes in starring roles, meat taking a back seat in supporting roles and acid whey (a byproduct of Greek yogurt) being used as a marinade and food supplement. And now that we've looked ahead, it's time to look back at some trends that I hope to see disappear.
Sous vide, a fancy way of saying, "cooking stuff in plastic and tepid water." Servers who don't tell you about automatic tips added to checks. Octopus, which has become so ubiquitous on menus you'd think the poor creatures would be armless by now. Foams, except at the top of my beer. Servers who tell you their names when they first arrive at your table. Diners who play with their smart phones throughout a meal, or worse, shout on them without getting up from the table. On second thought, maybe those delivery-only restaurants are a great idea.