Looking back at Island food trends of 2014

This year at Martha’s Vineyard restaurants, comfort foods and cruciferous vegetables made a comeback.

Locally sourced produce. Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray.

Updated, 10:30 am, December 31

Where did 2014 go? This year flew by! I hear these comments around town as December winds down and the new year of 2015 stares us in the face. But let’s take a moment to remember 2014 in all its food glory, and explore some of the culinary trends we experienced this year. Here’s a look back at 2014 through food and a view into the future and what 2015 will have to offer.

Trend: locally sourcing

On an Island where we strive to know our farmers, this isn’t a trend, but a way of life. This year we saw more and more locals purchasing from local farms and growers. Not only that, but CSA opportunities, such as those at Whippoorwill and Slip Away farms, grew in 2014, making it easier for consumers to obtain local produce and meats. An interest in foraging continued, and was showcased best in the Wild Food Challenge annual event.

Trend: kale/Brussels sprouts

Between cooking from Catherine Walthers’s new book, Kale, Glorious Kale, and overdosing on Red Cat Kitchen’s amazing Brussels sprouts, we can certainly say that these two vegetables were the stars of 2014. And you might find it crazy, but in 2015 you’ll be able to cook with the love child of kale and Brussels sprouts. Rightly named “kalettes,” this new powerhouse superfood was created by a vegetable breeding company in the U.K. using hybridization (genetically modified crops are grown commercially in the U.K.). So keep your eyes peeled for kalettes in the States.

Trend: upscale comfort food

This year, we saw a variety of chefs, on and off Island, re-imagining iconic comfort food recipes into upscale dishes served at fine dining restaurants. Not only were consumers craving more down-to-earth foods, but chefs had a fun time re-creating dishes from their childhood at their restaurants. Detente’s chicken and waffles and Lure Grille’s lobster pot pie both captured the spirit of elegant home cooking.

Trend: small plates, tapas style

2014 made us all more aware of what we were eating, and specifically, how much of it we were eating. Tapas style menus allow guests to order a variety of small plates, getting a taste of the menu in a couple of bites, without ever feeling overstuffed. These menus were notably seen at 20 by Nine,and the brand-new Rockfish in Edgartown, where their small plates menu focuses on controlled portions of intense flavors.

Trend: artisanal doughnuts

Doughnuts have always been a draw on the Vineyard, thanks to the work of Back Door Donuts during those busy summer months. Most likely you’ve stood in line for about 20 minutes to score some fresh doughnuts. This year, we saw the trendiest of flavors, a maple bacon doughnut. Another venture this summer was Nik’s Donuts, sold poolside at the Harbor View Hotel. Our favorite flavor was a nutella and Chilmark Coffee doughnut.

Trend: wheat alternatives

A rise in the use of ancient grains like quinoa, freekah, sorghum, and amaranth was obvious this year. All over, general stores and restaurants offered to-go salads in their refrigerated sections for those looking for healthier options. Scottish Bakehouse, Katama General Store, Morning Glory Farm, and Cronig’s are some of our favorite spots to get our ancient grain fill. The focus on gluten-free offerings grew, with restaurants now offering gluten-free pasta dishes, as well bakeries having select loaves of gluten-free breads for sale. This demand will continue to rise in 2015.

Trend: craft cocktails

Gone are the days of a simple vodka tonic or a plain sparkling wine. 2014 was the year of the craft cocktail, of the small batch spirits, and the year of the artisanal bitters. Notable: The Atlantic paid tribute to the golden age of Hollywood with new specialty cocktails named for the queens of the silver screen, including their marga-RITA named after Rita Hayworth, made with tequila, limoncello, fresh lime, and cilantro. Also this summer, The Port Hunter had some fantastic cocktails.

Trend: raw foods

This summer we saw an uprising of raw food offerings, as well as green juices and smoothies. Blissed Out in Vineyard Haven, Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, and others crafted fresh juices on a daily basis to keep the masses happy. Nothing like a fresh green juice to keep you cool during those hot summer months.

Predictions for 2015:

  • Ugly root vegetables are grabbing the attention of chefs everywhere
  • New wave of spicy condiments, not only Sriracha
  • Savory yogurts, following the trend of the launch of Blue Hill’s yogurts
  • Hummus, not only traditional flavors
  • Beer cocktails, a new way to consume a local favorite
  • House-made soft drinks

A previous version of this story provided an incorrect caption. The chicken and waffles shown are from Alchemy, not Detente.