I think the locavore movement, recognizing the carbon footprint of imported foods, is going to be one of the driving forces, as will a return to the basics. With so much great meat and produce becoming available, highlighting the flavor of a simply prepared steak or roast chicken is bound to get trendy again, not to mention easy to cook, serve and clean up!
I’ll be soliciting lists from other writers, but for today here is my hot or not list for 2011!
Hot: Exotic spices
Spice blends like ras el hanout and garam masala are making inroads into all of our culinary resources. These complex, flavorful spice blends are wonderfully adaptable to your recipes. A pinch can add that je ne sais quoi extra layer of flavor to a dish, while more liberal use can create an assertive flavor explosion.
Not: Truffle oil
I love truffles as much as the next guy or gal but truffle oil -- most truffle oil I should say -- is actually a manufactured product that is a caricature of true truffle flavor. If your truffle oil is made with "truffle essence" or "truffle aroma," it's not made with real truffles. There is a place for truffle oil, real and fake, but people have just gone berserk with this stuff and it’s time to say "Whoa"!
Hot: Heirloom fruits and vegetables
These locally grown fruits and vegetables may be ugly or funny looking, but they’re also delicious, locally produced, sustainable and supporting farmers. It’s a veritable box of the correct culinary buzzwords, but in this case well earned and worth it.
You know what I’m talking about: goji berries, acai berries, some soon-to-be discovered berry. Yes, they’re great for you but are they really that much better than the locally fruits we’re enjoying for a fraction of the price? The push to eat local is going to take its toll here.
House cured meats, all heirloom and organic naturally, and salumi are hot and for good reason. There is very little more delicious than these concentrated hunks of succulence. Not only are these luxury items that are affordable for many (you don’t need much to experience the beauty of these products), but they are easy to serve and work well with the emerging "less is more ethos" of 2011!