Month: June 2014

Food Trends: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You go to the supermarket- it’s there. The other moms at the playground won’t shut up about it. Your still-hip high school friend is Facebooking about it. Just where did this food come from and why is everyone obsessing over it? Welcome to food trends. Fear not, soon you will be able to find this item at your local McDonald’s and that is how you will know it is almost over. Some food trends will get you excited, some will make you scratch your head, and if you’re like me some will make you FURIOUS.


  1. Kale: My God. Kale is everywhere. Sautéed kale, kale in salads, kale chips. Here’s what: I don’t think that kale is any better for you than arugula, endive, spinach, or any other greens out there. And, it tastes terrible. Kale chips are not real chips. C’mon people.                                                                                                                            Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.51.46 AM
  2. In-house charcuterie: I am super-excited about this one. This trend came about with the morphing of 2 trends: head-to-tail eating (in other words you purchase an entire animal and eat ALL of it’s bits and pieces) and the pork-everywhere trend. Both of which are trends I am fully on board with. I think this may also be, at least partially, a backlash from the vegan food overload we’ve been seeing in the last few years. Charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school and homemade pâtés and terrines are very nearly a lost art. LOVE.                                                                          charcuterie
  3. Pretentious food: It’s so very avant-garde (eyeroll)! What? You’re not a fan of deconstructed burritos? There’s a tiny stack of tortilla strips over there, and a small smudge of refried beans here, and some artfully arranged beef in the corner and a smattering of shredded cheese sprinkled over the whole thing. Under the heading of pretentious food is deconstructed anything, anything prepared in a sous-vide (AKA French boiling bags), and anything that Gwyneth Paltrow puts on GOOP.gallery_main-gwyneth-paltrow-meme-01
  4. Canning/brining/pickling: This is uber-trendy at the moment and I’m all over it. I learned to brine my Thanksgiving turkey a few years ago from Aunt Martha– to which my Southern Belle Bestie replied “How else do you make a turkey?” I got a canner at Christmas and I’ve been happily canning soups and tomato sauce ever since. I’ve even made some jams out of wine! So trendy! And let’s talk about pickling and brining. I will literally eat ANYTHING that is pickled or brined– except those weird pale tomatoes at the kosher deli. They’re just creepy.                                          portlanda-pickles
  5. Asian cuisine: It’s not just about Chinese takeout anymore. A few years ago the trend was Pad Thai, then Vietnamese Pho, and now suddenly it’s any and all things Korean. Bulgogi and Kimchi are not words that were in the average American’s food vocabulary 2 years ago and now Korean BBQ places are popping up all over and dishes like Korean Short Ribs are showing up on fine dining menus. A coincidental combination of #4 and #5: you can buy a kimchi pot from Williams-Sonoma! Make your own kimchi at home, and then can it!!                                                                    kimchi-1
  6. Cupcakes and macarons: When I was growing up, cupcakes were what your mom brought to school when it was your birthday and a macaroon was something that was made by Manischewitz and came in a canister. Today, high-end cupcake shops are all the rage and feature humungous cupcakes in interesting flavors. Food Network is running a competition show called Cupcake Wars You can even pair your cupcakes with wine! The macaron (not macaroons) that you’re seeing are are delicate, adorable, fussy, tiny French cakes (although historically they are Italian in origin) made from meringue, sugar, and almond flour (no coconut as present in the macaroons). A sweet trend!


    These are actual cupcakes made by moi to be paired with wines. From the top: dolce de leche, red velvet, lemon drop.

  7. “Weird Dairy” and non-dairy Dairy: Wow. The dairy section in your local supermarket has grown! The yogurt you didn’t want to eat as a kid now comes in flavors like passionfruit, watermelon, and key lime. You can get an extra protein boost from Greek yogurt (best with a drizzle of honey) or the truly brave can try the weirder dairy products like Kefir. Kefir is a yogurty drink, originally from Russia (remember those Russians that ate yogurt and lived forever?) that contains both bacteria (of the probiotic variety) and yeast. If your local grocery is really trendy you will be able to find quark, a weird dairy product made from coagulated sour milk. It is used in many German baked goods and often as a breakfast spread. The other side of the weird dairy coin caters do non-dairy eating folks like vegans and the lactose-intolerant. There are no shortage of dairy alternatives for you. Gone are the days where the only non-dairy dairy you could get was soy. Today you can get almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew milk and even hemp milk!                                        milk
  8. Farm to Table: Farm to Table is huge here in the Midwest and it seems to be a trend that was MADE for America’s heartland. This trend includes things like eating local, eating seasonally, and knowing where your food comes from. The trend has even spawned a new foodie term: “locavore”- one who eats locally. Restaurants are getting away from using the big food suppliers and forming relationships with local farmers, some are even cultivating gardens and raising fish in-house!folk and roots fest 08
  9. “Ancient Grains”: Ancient Grains include grains such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, barley, and rye. Five years ago I probably couldn’t have told you what half of those are (the only Buckwheat I knew was on The Little Rascals) much less how to pronounce quinoa (it’s KEEN-wa by the way). Quinoa is super-trendy right now as a substitute for rice or pasta. I think that this trend began as an offshoot to gluten-free diets. But be wary, some of these grains (barley, rye, and spelt) DO contain gluten!                                                                                                              ancient grains
  10. Slow cookers/Crockpots/Pressure Cookers: These used to be your grandma’s bag. The roast would go into the crockpot so she could get household chores done. Today, families are BUSY. Mom and dad work all day, there are sports and rehearsals for the kids after school but most people would like to keep fast-food eating to a minimum. Enter the crockpot/slow cooker. Set it up in the morning and come home to a hot meal ready for the family! The traditional pot roast and chili are there, but also some fun outside-the-box stuff. How about breakfast in your crockpot for Christmas morning? Or a chocolate cake? Bread? Pumpkin Spice Latte? I got my crockpot as a wedding present, and for years I only used it for heating up Glühwein, but in recent years I’ve used it tons more. This is a great trend for families, homemade meals, eaten at home, possibly together? Definitely a good thing.                                                                                                         Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.13.44 AM

What’s in my glass…


Gatsby Red– an off-dry (although they call it semi-sweet) red blend I picked up while on Long (STRONG) Island this week.
A semi-sweet red blend, this wine is barrel-aged in seasoned oak, which brings out dark berry-dominated fruitiness upfront, and a firm yet lingering finish. Enjoy as an aperitif, but also pleasing slightly chilled and served with traditional barbecue or spicy Asian-inspired fare.

Cookout Wine Pairings

Cookouts Aren’t Just For Beer…

This weekend I deep cleaned all three of my grills. The weather is getting warmer, school is nearly over here in the Midwest and the time has come for cookouts. Grilling. BBQ. Whatever you call it in your neck of the woods, it usually involves meat cooked outdoors over a fire of some kind; and a cooler filled with beer. What’s a wino to do? I’m glad you asked!

Four Cookout Wine Pairings to Try:

  1. Bratwurst and Potato Salad with two options: As my hometown hero Billy Joel would say, “a bottle of red, a bottle of white”. I actually have TWO suggested pairings with this plate. The first is a Blaufränkisch also known by the “stinky” name Lemberger. This is a dry, spicy fruit-forward red wine originally from Bavaria and Austria. In the states, you can also find it in Washington. The spice notes match up with the lovely spice in the brats and contrast with the creamy potato salad. The other perhaps more crowd-friendly pairing is the German classic, a Riesling. With the heat of the brats, I would lean towards a sweeter spätlese Riesling to juxtapose the spiciness. The apple notes present in many Rieslings would definitely compliment the potato salad as well. Prost!
  2. Hamburger and Baked Beans: This is very nearly a “no brainer” pairing until you throw in the wild card: baked beans. With traditional tomato-based baked beans you can’t miss with a nice Zinfandel from Cali. The berry notes and strong tannins stand up nicely to juicy beef and tomatoes. If your baked beans are little sweet, and I usually like to put some honey or maple syrup in mine, a really good bet would be an earthier Pinot Noir or a Missouri Chambourcin. If you’re having the Chambourcin with that burger, make sure to top it with some swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms!
  3. BBQ Chicken and Cole Slaw:This is a match made in wine pairing heaven. With this plate I compliment the smokiness of the chicken with the oaky goodness of a Chardonnay. The peachy notes in a Chardonnay, or it’s midwestern cousin the hybrid Chardonnel are delicious alongside the creamy, tangy coleslaw.
  4. Grilled Steak and Cucumber Salad:Here, I’m thinking of a wonderful marinated skirt steak that’s rocking some Latin-inspired flavors like this one. Sharing the plate with the steak is a refreshing cucumber salad with cherry tomatoes and perhaps some fresh basil. A wonderful match for this plate is a dry, lighter-bodied, chill-able red such as a Tempranillo. Many lighter bodied reds can be slightly chilled which is a good option during the summer months. ¡Salud!

Bonus! Ambrosia Salad:
No cookout is complete without dessert and what dessert is better for outdoor summer fun than ambrosia salad. A delicious fruit salad with citrus fruit and marshmallows would be outstanding paired with a sweet sparkler like Spanish Cava or the insanely-popular-but-still-enjoyable Moscato d’Asti.