Food predictions and trends for 2016

Vegetables are expected to take center stage on the menu in 2016. —Photo by Marnely Murray

2016 is set to be a year packed with delicious foods. Many food professionals have researched and predicted what food, ingredients, and cuisines will be at the top of the list this new year. Here are some of my own predictions, and how I think the Island will adapt to them:

Vegetables take center stage My travels in 2015 took me to a variety of big cities, where I wined and dined at some of the top restaurants. One common thread was the focus on vegetables as a main dish, not just as side dishes. Gorgeously coated pakora delicata squash topped with the finest shaving of Parmesan cheese in Nashville, and the grain salad with puffed red quinoa and labneh in New York City, convinced me that 2016 will be the year of vegetables as main dishes.

Smoking technique takes over grilling Our interview with America’s grill master, Steven Raichlen, this summer, initiated us into the world of smoking, and how the centuries-old technique is making a comeback. Raichlen’s “Project Smoke” is the first how-to show to focus exclusively on smoking. From hot-smoking and smoke-roasting to cold-smoking and smoking with hay, Raichlen shows you how to get creative with smoked food. Gone are the days of adding that awful “liquid smoke” to foods — it’s all about smoking in real life!

Bowls, bowls, and more bowls Bowls translate to healthy fast food. There are bountiful acai bowls, as well as grain bowls that have restaurants ordering quinoa, farro, and bulgur in bulk. Not only are bowls a vessel that will enjoy more popularity this year, but the ingredients will align well with our healthy resolutions.

Peruvian cuisine on the rise You’ll see more and more ceviches on menus, and I hope Island restaurants will take note, as there’s nothing more refreshing than ceviche on a hot summer day. With a couple of our own Peruvian chefs at some of the Island’s top restaurants, I’m hoping to be dining on more Peruvian-inspired cuisine this season.

Artisanal ice cream Consumers want better ice cream, and are willing to pay higher prices for these artisanal flavors. One of my favorite spots to get the ever-so-popular Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is at the Katama General Store during the season. They carry some of Jeni’s pints, as well as the highly coveted ice cream sandwiches. New flavors, ingredients, and combinations are created by artisan brands, and I’m looking to Island ice cream shops to develop their own. Browse what these brands are offering, and get some inspiration for your own at-home ice cream making: Sherbert Salt & Straw, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, and Big Dipper Ice Cream are just a few favorites.

Seaweed is the new kale This is one trend that I’ve seen taking over the Island, slowly but surely. I tried sea beans at a wine dinner at Atria. Seaweed and sea beans are great ingredients that wash ashore all over the Island. Granted, you need to know what you’re foraging for. Not only that, but the brininess that they add to the dish, and the health benefits, are superb. Remember, seaweed includes nori, kelp, wakame, and more.

Pop-up restaurants keep popping up This year we saw Chris Fisher do a pop-up in New York, and we experienced our own pop-ups alongside the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival. The objective is simple: Bring a new experience to the Island for a weekend or longer, and invite guests to enjoy. I’m looking at you, Island chefs. Bring your chef buddies to the Island for more delicious collaborations.

No more food waste Chefs all over the world are cooking with more odds and ends, inspired by the master himself, Dan Barber of Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns. Chefs are cooking with carrot tops, beet trimmings, cheese whey, and other remnants that would normally end up in the trash. Waste not, want not!

Spiralized vegetables are the new pasta Spiralizers are the latest gadget to be welcomed into home kitchens, and I’m head over heels about mine. Inspiration comes from everywhere, but I’ve been addicted to the food blog “Inspiralized,” by Ali Mafucci, for a while now. You can spiralize everything from plantains to sweet potatoes, to cucumbers. The possibilities are endless, healthy, and delicious.

No-tip restaurants The service industry is being hit by tipping changes, which may be good or bad depending on your school of thought. Some restaurants are removing tips, raising hourly wages, and offering benefits to waitresses and waiters. The goal is to prevent staff turnover and improve service. Your server would make the same on a dead Monday night as he or she would on a crazy Friday night. This might work … or it might not. I’m still debating the pros and cons.

All in all, I can’t wait to see what delicious things 2016 has to offer.