Last year New York baker du jour Dominique Ansel was behind one of the biggest food sensations, the Cronut, a croissant/doughnut hybrid beloved by everyone from Victoria Beckham (above) to Heidi Klum. Queues of people outside the bakery snaked round the block trying to get their hands on one, and there are still queues to this day.
Ever since then the search was on to find the next big thing in food. There were Bruffins (brownie muffins), Crownies (croissant brownies) and Duffins (doughnut muffins) which got their turn in the limelight, but they didn't quite catch on the same way.
But that was 2013, what is 2014’s ‘It’ food?
To find out, we shadowed a team of M&S food hunters on a trip to New York, the city where many new food trends begin (cupcakes, brunch amongst others). M&S food hunters travel the world tracking down the next big food crazes and last year brought products such as Posh Dogs (posh hot dogs), glitter juice and beer-infused chocolate to the UK.
So what do we expect will see in our shopping baskets, now and in the future? Here are our predictions:
1. 2014’S ‘WONDER’ SEED
With chia seed juice (below) lining the shelves in Manhattan stores, this superfood ingredient, which used to lurk in the corners of health shops, is slowly creeping into dishes and drinks over here too and this is the year that many predict it will go mainstream. Similar to alfalfa sprouts in taste and texture, when eaten dry it tastes like a poppy seed.
2. SLUSH PUPPIES FOR GROWN-UPS
Think cocktails and mocktails with an icy twist. Newly opened hipster hotel London Edition serve them, but they were first seen in cool NYC eateries such as Uncle Boons, where their frozen beers-in-a-bottle (below) are a hit in the sweltering summers. Let’s pray for another UK heatwave.
3. RISE OF THE FLEXITARIANS AND THE NEW 'IT' VEGETABLES
Reports say our global consumption of meat is ‘unsustainable’, but whatever your opinion, it’s a fact that cutting down meat is healthier and cheaper. Just ask Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who embarked on their semi-vegan diet last year. As a result, many people are turning to flexitarianism, aka vegetarians who sometimes eat meat. To cater for this shift, more eateries here and across the pond are starting to promote the vegetable from ‘side dish’ to main. New restaurant Grain Store opened in June in London’s King’s Cross, while the Italian food mecca Eataly in Manhattan has a new vegetable bar. And forget kale – the humble cauliflower and its cousin Romanesco (below) are creeping onto menus as dishes in their own right.
4. THE NEW CRONUTS...
No sooner than the Cronut appeared, the search was on for a successor. Cue the ‘Crownie’ croissant-brownie, and the ‘Bruffin’ brownie-muffin. After the initial hysteria, the following less word-crunchy but equally inventive creations (below) were tipped by NYC foodies who know:
The Ramen Burger: a burger where the bun has been replaced by ramen noodles.
Stuffed Bagel Holes: doughnut-sized bites of bagel dough full of savoury or sweet fillings, below. From Bantam Bagels.
5. SMOKED BUTTER, ANYONE?
We’ve already seen smoked meats and cheese, but this year mozzarella, mashed potato and even butter will get the cured treatment. Just choose your wood (alder, oak, pine, maple) – each gives a different flavour to the dish. It’s a trend that’s already over here, with new restaurant Smokehouse opening in London’s Islington in October last year, and it’s looking to be a big flavour accent in summer come barbecue season.
6. CEREAL-FLAVOURED MILKSHAKES
Cereal-flavoured milk, aka sweet cereal-infused milk left over when all the Cheerios or Cocoa Krispies are gone, has been a cult NYC snack for a while now. Momofuko started it in their adjacent Milk Bar and we rather like the sound of it. If you’re not going to the States, buy their Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook on Amazon and ‘learn’ how to make it at home!
7. CHOCOLATE GETS CRAFTY
…aka handmade chocolate created on the premises by micro-chocolatiers, such as Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers (below).There’s also the rise of Cocoa Bean snobbism, with consumers learning their way round different cocoa varieties and percentages (rather like coffee beans and grape varieties).
8. WHO’S FOR YUZU?
With more and more producers looking abroad for inspiration, experts are predicting a rise in exotic fruit. Tipped for the top is the yuzu fruit from Japan, which supermarkets are hoping will become as popular here as oranges. Already used to flavour cocktails at hip NY bars like Alder (below), it tastes like a cross between a lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and is starting to be used to flavour everything from beer to chewing gum.
9. 'GROWN-UP' SOFT DRINKS
Alcoholic bitters – such as Angostura Bitters – have always been used to flavour cocktails. But bitters can be non-alcoholic too, and there’s a growing trend for people to use them as unusual-flavoured cordials. A few drops in sparkling water make for a refreshing alternative soft drink. Take your pick from anything from grapefruit to spiced cranberry. Chic New York food store and florist The Meadow sell a huge range (below).
10. IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘SLOW’ COFFEE
From latte to flat white, until recently it’s been all about what you add to your coffee. Now the fashion has moved over to how you brew it. At Brooklyn’s Blue Bottle Coffee (below), it’s all about the rather more original – and slower – technique of ‘drip brewing’, which basically involves pouring water over roasted, ground coffee beans contained in a paper filter. Starbucks have even dipped their toe into this trend over here.