Foods can go in and out of fashion faster than you can say, 'frappuccino'. Today's ingredient du jour is tomorrow's Iceberg lettuce. And it's not just what's on your plate that can become seriously dated; What's In and what's Out on the dining scene can change just as fast.
If you wouldn't be caught dead with uncool crisper drawer, and want to keep up with the culinary cool kids, we've made it as easy as pie to stay ahead of the curb: Here are our predictions for the soon-to-be-big tastes and treats for 2013, and where you can find them around town.
If there was ever an ingredient that was a sign of the times, salad leaves are it. (Remember how you used to feel about rocket? Now it's so 2007.) It's time to move out the mesculin and back away from the baby spinach leaves. This year it's going to be all about kale. This robust cousin of the cabbage hasn't really been cool since the Middle Ages, so it's probably about time it got some street cred'. Kale is going to be popping up everywhere: in salads, smoothies, as a side dish, and even as a crunchy fried chip. You can use the young, tender leaves raw in salads, or cook the tougher leaves as you would spinach or cabbage. And in case you needed more incentive other than, 'it's so hot right now', kale is full of anti-cancer goodness. To get your hands on this hip foliage, try Botanica Real Foods for a kale salad, or pick up a bunch from an in-the-know green grocer and DIY.
Once a cuisine reaches a certain level of mass proliferation and acceptance it can move on from a traditional, reverential style into something less serious, more cheeky. And it's finally happened here—Brisbane is ready to have fun with its Asian food. It doesn't matter if your thing is dumplings, noodles, pork buns, Korean BBQ, or Vietnamese rolls, almost all of your Asian favourites are getting a hipster makeover. This dining genre is so called because of its tongue-in-cheek attitude, and its popularity with, well, Hipsters! Whether it's creating an entire hipster Asian dining experience (hello, Harajuku Gyoza!), making pork buns bar-snack appropriate (The Brunswick Social), or taking well-known Asian staples and rethinking them in brazen new ways (try The Survey Co's panko-crumbed lamb brains) this is a trend that is just going to get more fun. An honorable mention must also go to ramen, which is a having a serious moment (try Taro's Ramen and Café for the real deal).
Macarons have reached a level of bulk excess that, sadly, means their time as the baked treat of the moment is coming to an end—you could say they've gone stale. The big question is, which sweet little something is going to move in to replace them? Cake pops are having a brief popularity surge, but I think they're too gimmicky to make it over the long haul—sorry, cake pops, you tried. No, the forerunner for next big thing in bakery delicacies isn't quite so cutesy; it's donuts. Yes, donuts. Or churros, or Sufganiot, or whichever deep-fried dough you lean towards. It won't matter which flavor it is, or what you choose to dunk it in (or even if it has a hole), the only stipulation for the new breed of donut is that they are freshly made (Brewbakers is my pick) and preferably organic—nothing big chain or pre-packaged. Homer Simpson would approve.
There's been a growing movement towards high quality, low-key venues coming for a while now, and this year the trend is only getting stronger. The formerly sleepy 'burbs are filling up with superior coffee spots and bars that are well worth the extra legwork. Newstead's Tippler's Tap and Green Beacon, Ashgrove's Junk Bar, and Kelvin Grove's Room 60 are some boutique bars that are welcome alternatives to the usual drinking strips. And for really great coffee, minus the inner city hustle and bustle, you can't go past picturesque Dandelion and Driftwood in Hendra and Wilston's Hampton's style Alcove. But this is by no means a definitive list. After all, stumbling upon one of these little treasures before everyone else hears about them is half the fun. Happy hunting.