Jai Breitnauer explores the latest trends taking place in the food industry – from broths to fast food and going Dutch.
The trend for anything coconut is still going strong, despite recent media claims coconut oil is not good for your heart. Sticking to the virgin cold pressed variety is best. Coconut oil is considered a super food for lots of reasons – one 2009 study from Brazil, published in the journal Lipids, showed young obese women had improved HDL (good cholestrol) levels when consuming coconut oil. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed early indications it could help protect cortical neurons in mice.. But it is still 90 percent saturated fat, so portion control should be observed. One great aspect of coconut oil compared to other dairy substitutes is that it can be used in baking in the same quantities as butter; just be aware it has a much lower melting point, which can be problematic for recipes that need manipulation, such as pastry.
Dutch style cheeses swept the board in the 12th New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards at the end of March. Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese won the Champion of Champions award for their Very Old Edam, Mercer Mature Cumin won the Champion Artisan Cheese award and Miel Meyer of Gouda Cheese took out the Champion Cheese maker award. While the Meyers are a fairly new family to New Zealand, the tradition of Dutch cheese down-under began after World War II, when New Zealand’s need for labour was matched by the desire of many young Dutch people to seek opportunities beyond post-war Europe. As our taste for traditional, artisan food grows, the local Dutch cheese tradition is reaping the benefit.
Fast and casual
“American style junk food done well is still underpinning the growing ‘fast and casual’ movement,” says deputy editor of Dish magazine Alice Galletly. Not so much about dry, flat patties served in polystyrene as free range Wagyu beef in sourdough, gourmet junk is not going away. “Street food is also continuing to gain momentum,” says Alice. “Particularly in Christchurch where the inner-city landscape is constantly evolving, and being a man in a van is more responsive than owning real-estate.” Tommy Tacos launched in Christchurch in July after its owners, friends Tom Hibbard and Tom Karstensen, saw the Mexican food market taking off. They fitted out an old textiles van, parked it on the corner of Colombo street, and serve up tacos five days a week made from fresh local produce – only closing when they’re sold out. Meanwhile Dunedin has seen a boom in mobile street traders with a 273 percent increase in the last five years. The Otago farmers’ market has its own street kitchen, and restaurants such as Fish Hook fish ‘n’ chip shop and Deep Creek Deli are investing in mobile options.
According to the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, today’s households are run as “loose democracies” where children have equal say in what, where and when the family should eat. This mirrors a trend for food transparency, where local produce and a clear chain of custody over edible products are essential to the purchaser. “Children are asking more questions, and parents feel a need to give honest answers,” says Nicola Dewe, editor of Little Treasures magazine. Long gone are the days when we pretend beef burgers have nothing to do with cows. “By growing your own produce you are teaching children an important lesson about where their food comes from, but that extends into what you buy from the supermarket too.”
“Another increasingly popular restaurant option is shared plates,” says Alice Galletly from Dish magazine. “This isn’t tapas, but family style eating where ordered food is put in the middle of the table for groups to help themselves.” New Auckland offering Ima’s has an entire sharing menu available to groups seated on large tables, while The Hop Garden in Mt Victoria, Wellington, offers a selection of Mediterranean tasting plates alongside craft beer. The trend for shared meals is moving out of the restaurant and into the home, as families are increasingly encouraged to sit down for dinner together and take advantage of the mental and physical health benefits that brings with it. A recent study published in the journal Child Language Teaching and Therapy shows that talking to your children is even more beneficial for language development than reading to them. A 2006 study demonstrated that talking at mealtime could introduce your children to more than 1000 rare words. Add the evidence that children who eat meals at the table with their family are more emotionally stable, achieve higher grades at school and eat healthier food, and group dinners seem like a no-brainer.
Borne out of the Paleo movement, where the food of our primeval cousins is king, the trend for bone broth is gaining momentum. Even the Warrior’s Sam Tompkins is jumping on the mammoth-wagon. Bone broth is made from a simmering mixture of free-range animal bones, vegetable matter, lemon juice and cider vinegar. The 48 hours it takes to cook means valuable nutrients are drawn into the mix. Lee-Anne Wan, nutritionist to the Warriors, apparently describes it as “cuppa soup on steroids” because of its ability to aid joint and muscle recovery, reduce inflammation and boost energy. Bone-based broth is nothing new, we’ll all have enjoyed Gran’s homemade gravy at some point. But drinking it as a health food is a craze taking the northern hemisphere by storm, and as we move into winter don’t be surprised to see your local cafe serving it from an urn alongside their usual fayre.
Fancy a spot of brinner?
According to BBC home economist Miriam Nice, brinner, or breakfast for dinner, is one of the hottest trends for 2015. “Full English breakfast, frittatas, or frankly anything with bacon or a poached egg on top will be midweek favourites this year,” says Miriam. This is backed up by San Francisco-based hospitality consultants AF & Co, who identified pancakes for dinner as an important millennial food trend in their most recent report, The Pleasure Principal. Meanwhile, breakfast for breakfast is also getting a makeover, with The Telegraph reporting the morning meal to be the new choice for people looking to eat out socially for less – and restaurants expanding their morning menu accordingly. In 2015 the question, ‘Would you like to join me for breakfast?’, is less about innuendo than you might think.