01 | Jan | 10

Richard Johnson

The Word On The Street

2009 was truly memorable – for many reasons. It was the year I discovered that 1) all Mexican food is the same – it’s just folded in different ways – and 2) ‘naked sushi’ really does exist. I saw it with my own eyes in a Japanese bar in New York. It’s only a matter of time before naked women, covered in cling film, come to a town near you and try and pass themselves off as serving platters for raw fish. Careful with your chopsticks.

Because of the success of grazing foods like sushi, dim sum and tapas, we’ll see more and more chefs learning to be more flexible with their menus. I’ve always had my suspicions that the starter-main-course-dessert structure is actually as much of a bore for the chef as it is for the diner. The only problem with grazing menus that offer lots of small courses is that – whether you like it or not – you’ll be on first name terms with your waiter before you leave the restaurant.

stock-photo-sushi-menu-15797242Menus in 2010 will continue to tell us more about the origins of our food. ‘Transparency’ is the buzzword because, these days, we all want to know the farm where our food comes from. We even want to know the name of the farmer. I’m amazed by the number of waiters who have no idea. Admittedly, most of them don’t even know what the soup of the day is, but it seems ridiculous in this day and age that waiters – and even chefs – are working in ignorance.

But the only trend that all critics seem to agree on is the importance of street food in 2010. I read about it first in the wonderful Olive magazine (where I used to be a restaurant reviewer). And now the Guardian are behind the Awards. According to http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/31/the-year-ahead-food, we are up there with the London opening of Heston Blumenthal’s new London restaurant. I fully intend to make the most of being a What’s Hot, before I’m a What’s Not. But, in the meantime, here are my thoughts on the foodie year ahead……

 

Last year
Salt

This year
Pepper. I kid you not. This trend is in response to the fact that many processed foods are high in sodium, and companies are trying to replace the savouriness of salt with pepper. Without salt life would be impossible. Without pepper, it would be impossibly dull.

Last year’s superfood
Pomegranate

This year’s superfood
Spelt – one of the most ancient cereals known to mankind. It fell from grace because the chaff was so difficult to remove, but now it’s back. It is wheat free and has a Glycaemix Index of just 30, making it a natural choice for those with a wheat allergy and on a low-GI diet. And, let’s be honest, isn’t that pretty much everyone these days?

 

Last year
Dessert to end a meal.

This year
Savouries to end a meal. The Ivy recommend their savouries to diners who are still lingering over a bottle of red which would be spoiled by a pudding. Just don’t show yourself up by ordering one (whether it’s the welsh rarebit or the herring roe) as a starter. So nouveau!