What do cupcakes, juicing, small plates, gluten-free, Greek yogurt, coconut oil, and food trucks all have in common? They’ve all been considered food trends at one time or another in our recent culinary history in North America.
As we move deeper into 2015, here’s a look at some food trends that are sustaining or on the rise here in Vancouver.
It wasn’t too long ago we wondered if soup was poised to take over as the liquid of choice for cleanse diets, and, with good reason: Soup cleanses, and, specifically, bone broth, are the buzziest food trends being ladled up all over North America. While bone broth is similar to stock (one of the cornerstones of cookery), the rise in trend of bone broth can be traced back to 2014 in New York City, thanks to one chef’s bone broth take out window, Brodo.
When New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream Shop hit the streets of Los Angeles with a truck to serve up their creamy, delicious soft serve in cones and sundaes (in dishes with cheeky-cute names like Salty Pimp and Bea Arthur), the lines were oh so long. Soft serve, traditionally the domain of fast food joints or summertime street-side treats, is making a comeback. The next wave is all about milk-based soft serve paired with honey, which is a huge trend in Korea and other Asian countries (HoneyCreme, for example), and Vancouver is already in on that game, thanks to Soft Peaks in Gastown.
Where to find soft serve ice cream in Vancouver: Gastown’s Soft Peaks has soft serve made with organic milk, which can be swirled up with toppings like fresh Okanagan honeycomb. Places like Shishinori in Fairview Slopes are serving up matcha soft serve. In the summer, head south to Richmond’s Steveston Village to check out the seasonal spot Screamers. If you want to keep it old school, stick to DQ.
And here you thought toast was just a boring ol’ morning staple. Nope. It’s a mega trend at the restaurant level. And it’s not just plain bread, or even French Toast; it’s (fancy) stuff on (fancy) toast. In 2014, Pacific Standard magazine posited that the toast trend began in San Francisco at a place called the Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club. Toast was (and remains) a signature dish at L.A.’s Sqirl, and New Yorkers were getting toasted then, too. Vancouver is (toast) point, too; check out this recent Globe & Mail roundup.
Where to find toast on the menu in Vancouver: Bel Café, Basho, and Matchstick Coffee Roasters all have toast on their menus.
We’re health nuts in Vancouver, so it’s no surprise chia seeds are getting lots of love in Vancouver. A rising global trend for the past year or so, chia seeds work great in pudding or oatmeal, or even in beverages.
Where to find dishes made with chia seeds in Vancouver: In your own kitchen (and morning oatmeal), or in beverages like at the grab-and-go Peqish, or juice bars. The Juice Truck includes a packet of chia seeds for each day of their cleanse program.
We’re big on not being wasteful in Vancouver, but we haven’t totally gotten into the trend of edible packaging, but we sure could. There are Wikipearls, bite-sized morsels that have an outer “skin” that serves as packaging you can eat. Coolhaus, the ice cream sandwich empire that began as an L.A. food truck, uses edible wrappers, and even KFC is looking to make edible coffee cups (but only in the U.K.).
Where to find edible packaging in Vancouver: Hit up an Asian candy shop to get some White Rabbit candy, with their edible rice-paper inner wrapper. Beyond that, we can’t put our finger on anywhere in Vancouver that’s got edible packaging on the menu. Let us know if you know of any!
Move over craft beer, Vancouver has embraced craft distilling, and in a big way. Sure, distilleries will start out with the quicker clear stuff (vodka, gin) because it takes years to produce the dark stuff (i.e. whisky). But if a craft distillery wants to stay afloat, they’d best diversify their portfolio pronto, and add some unique liquors into their offerings. Case in point Vancouver’s Odd Society Spirits, who make a beautiful, and locally-sourced Creme de Cassis that rivals those produced in France.
Where to find craft distilled liquers in Vancouver: Odd Society Spirits leads the liquor pack (Creme de Cassis, vermouth), and Long Table Distillery makes Marc du Soleil (which starts as wine).
If you’re pulling artisanal locally-made craft distilled booze off your shelves for use in cocktails, you’re probably not about to mix it with Red Bull or Five Alive. Enter artisanal cocktail ingredients. These are being concocted by the city’s top bartenders behind the stick at bars and restaurants, and include all manner of liquids: tinctures, bitters, fermentations, syrups, shrubs. They’re also being made and packaged by thirsty entrepreneurs, like Bowman Bottling, who are crowdfunding their small batch tonic biz.
Where to find artisanal cocktail ingredients in Vancouver: Look for bar menus designed by Vancouver’s cocktail making elite: Lauren Mote, Justin Taylor, Grant Sceney, and more (this guide might be helpful). Mote is also behind Bittered Sling, a bitters endeavour here in Vancouver, too. Keep an eye on small businesses like Mixers & Elixers (they make Shrubs).
David Chang may have written ramen’s eulogy in Luck Peach in early 2015, but the news didn’t reach Vancouver, where ramen shops are clogging city arteries enough for one particularly ramen-dense area on Robson near Denman to have been bestowed the nickname Ramen District. We may not still be making burgers out of its noodles, but we are definitely making it by the bowlful for enthusiastic slurpers across the city. Look for more inventive riffs on ramen to come.
Where to find ramen in Vancouver: Hungry? You’d have to be to eat all of Vancouver’s ramen. Some noteworthy places to check out include Ramen Butcher, Taishoken, Ramen Jinya, Santouka, and more (and more, and more).
This one is purely scientific: Fermentation is the process that converts sugar to acids, gases, and/or alcohol. Think bacteria, think yeast. More than just the whole “we can pickle that!” zeitgeist Portlandia-style, fermentation is next level preservation and food transformation. Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and even sourdough bread are examples of fermented foods. Look for more cocktails made with kombucha, and lots of DIY home fermentation projects and cooking classes (everyone’s getting sauerkraut for Christmas!).
Where to find fermented foods in Vancouver: Look for kombucha and other fermented drinks popping up more at food events (like Hawkers Market) and even kombucha in cocktails, like at Nomad. Chefs like Café Medina’s Jonathan Chovancek are major fans of fermentation, so expect to see more of that on menus at great local restaurants.