Trends without end, round three: Vegetables, spice and Scandinavia

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Elise Wiggins gets to the meat of the matter.
What will be the big culinary trends in 2013? As we prepare for a new year in gastronomy, we posed that question to dozens of people in the local food business, everyone from chefs and pastry magicians to restaurant brokers and PR consultants, from brewers and grape gurus to realtors and pig farmers.

And while their insights and opinions are all over the map, one thing is clear: Denver's culinary scene is definitely going to be a conversation piece next year, both at home and across the country. Trend lists are like Twitter accounts: Just about everyone has one. But no one has a list as comprehensive as this...

Keeping reading for our third batch of predictions from local tastemakers.

See also:
-Trends without end, round one: Simplicity, local greens and pot (maybe)
- Trends without end, round two: Beer, beer cocktails and the whole beast

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Savory Spice will spice up 2013.
Noah Stephens, owner/chef, Vert Kitchen
On menus: We'll see more prix fixe menus and restaurants that serve a changing menu every day. While traveling this past year, my favorite places all had prix fixe options with a focus on seasonal and local products.

On Scandinavian cuisine and Denver's best new restaurant: I love the Scandinavian restaurants and products, and I think my favorite meal of last year was at the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, a Scandinavian restaurant. Locally, the Populist has to be the best addition to the Denver scene in a long time.

Elise Wiggins, executive chef, Panzano
On herbivores, farmed fish and filets: I think with the continuous rise of prices of animal proteins, chefs will focus more and more on creating stellar vegetarian dishes that will satisfy the meat eater. I also think that exotic spices like asafoetida will be used more often. Chefs want to be original, so the more the exotic we are, the more desire there is from the guest. Smartly farmed fish that are sustainable with natural feed and low impact on the environment will become more acceptable because our oceans are being over-fished, and we'll also continue to see the practice of nose-to-tail utilization. This way, nothing is wasted and fewer animals are raised to provide just the very popular cuts like -- ahem -- the filet.

Mike Johnston, co-owner, Savory Spice Shop
On spices: In the world of spices, it isn't really about new spices as much as it is about how to alter, for the better, the expected flavor of some of our favorites. Smoking spices is something new that we're doing -- and plan to do more of in 2013. This past year, we rolled out smoked Tellicherry peppercorns and a new seasoning called Cape Hatteras Smoked Seafood Seasoning, and next year, we'll be smoking Saigon cinnamon. What we like about smoking spices or seasonings is that by playing with the types of woods or combinations of woods, you can add smokiness while also adding subtle hints of balanced but somewhat unexpected flavors like cherry, apple, maple and more. It is also important to note that the smoke flavor imparted to spices via a natural smoking process doesn't impart an overwhelmingly smoky flavor, but rather a subtle smokiness that can be a nice layered flavor and used to build an incredible-tasting final dish.

Frank Bonanno, owner-chef, Bonanno Concepts
On...tap: Denver's only just beginning to see bars with cocktails on tap -- Gaetano's and Ace have just a couple, we have seven at Vesper Lounge -- and I'm sure we'll see more bars embracing that approach. I predict the same thing will happen with wines on tap. Only a few venues around town are pouring juice from kegs, but if you talk to anyone in the sales end of the wine industry, they'll tell you that's the direction accessible wine is headed.

On the upswing of fine dining: Despite what you might hear, fine dining is nowhere near dead. For proof, look at the explosion of venues putting out top-caliber food -- Squeaky Bean and Central Bistro, for example. I think what's happening is that atmospheres are more relaxed and accessible, and the restaurants are popping up in smaller neighborhoods. That's where I see fine dining going -- into neighborhoods. Look for something pretty great to open in the old Venue space, and keep your eyes peeled for what Matt Selby is going to do at Corner House. Oh, and the Populist. Talk about a high-end venue setting up shop in a neighborhood. Fine dining is far from dead.

Location Info

Vert Kitchen

704 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Panzano

909 17th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Prime 121

121 Clayton Lane, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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2 comments
jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

Asafoetida or hing powder has been one of my delicious, dirty little secrets for years. Sure, it smells like rotten garlic and onions, but it adds a subtle layer of flavor to vegetable and potato dishes, and gives my vegetable soups that certain something.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

One of the common themes when it comes to restaurant trends is how to take something cheap and sell it to customers at a premium. If you can sell a bowl of collard greens for $8, there's probably more of a profit margin than selling expensive cuts of meat. Customers get excited about ordering a variety of relatively inexpensive items, especially if the flavors seem exotic through the use of minimal and select amounts of unique spices or other ingredients. Despite the abundance of fresh produce during the summer, restaurateurs probably secretly love winter because they can feature really inexpensive stuff like root vegetables and braised "off-cuts." 

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