Posts Tagged ‘Trends’

Cupcakes are mainstream, whoopie pies are last year and decorated cookies are EVERYWHERE.

So what are ahead of the pack brides-to-be, fashionistas and fans of indulgent sweet treats meant to go for now?

Step forward the petits fours. Part fondant fancy, part mini cake, this new indulgence is waiting in the wings, ready to take the cupcake crown.

Admittedly, these aren’t particularly new: my mother’s Hamlyn All Colour Recipe book from the 70s has a recipe for these fondant covered mini cakes, while Konditor & Cook have offered Magic Cakes for years.

Where the potential is (like cupcakes) lies in the decoration and the flavour combinations of the sponge and fondant.

Dragonfly Cakes is a bakery located in Sausalito, California just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Their website illustrates a wealth of colours, flavours and themes – the stuff of women and gay men’s dreams.

It’s surely only a matter of time before they cross the water and head for our waistlines.


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In a pickle

One of the joys of summer is a glut of produce.  In times gone buy, people would lay down an excess of produce in various forms depending on environment and weather.  Luckily, the humble pickle doesn’t require hot sunshine, dry winds or moist atmospheres – just good vinegar, sugar and a key choice of spices.

Pickles seem to be cropping up on restaurant menus both in the UK and the US of late, and at the Fancy Food Show, two great brands were showcasing their wares:

Unbound Pickling

Based in Portland, Oregon, Unbound uses locally sourced vegetables and herbs in order to ensure production is the highest quality and made when produce is at its peak.  Unusual additions include their Bread & Butter pickles sweetened with blueberries and pear, as well as their Beatnik Pickled Beets with pomegranate and chai spice.

McClure’s Pickles

In 2006, using their great grandmother Lala’s recipe, Bob and Joe started McClure’s Pickles after years of making pickles in their tiny Michigan kitchen. Their pickles, relish, mustard and other McClure’s products are produced just outside of Detroit, Michigan and in Brooklyn, New York.  

They use as much local produce as possible when it is in season and when it’s not, they call up the farms and speak directly with the growers to know where produce is coming from and how it is being grown, making sure they are getting some of the best, freshest produce available. Every jar is hand packed, the cucumbers hand sliced, and their labels, printed by Rolling Press, use soy and vegetables inks with chemical-free plating and  wind-powered electricity.

The last brand featured was found at a new concept store at 331 Cortland Market Place (more on this later).

Paulie’s Pickling

Paul and Liz Ashby’s pickle obsession began one Sunday afternoon.  While waiting for Liz to finish her shift at a restaurant near Civic Center, Paul  decided to kill some time at the nearby farmer’s market. Drawn to the tiny cucumbers, he decided to pick up a couple of bags and try his hand at making pickles. …

Together, for months afterward, the couple tried many different recipes and techniques, striving for the perfect pickle. And the dedication paid off, resulting in a briny, spicy, crunchy, delicious pickle that pays homage to the traditional Jewish foods that Liz grew up with.

Apart from offering an array of seasonal specials that use the best of in season produce, favourite pickles include their Spicy Green Beans, made with jalapenos for an extra kick, as well as Paulie’s Zesty Originals – zesty and crunchy small cucumbers.

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Water water everywhere..

..but in this case, there was plenty to drink.

The Winter Fancy Food Show here in San Francisco has revealed a huge number of waters: functional, flavoured with herbs, artisan..the list is extensive, but these were my top 3 in terms of interesting ideas:


A new premium water, blk. is pure Canadian spring water infused with Fulvic Acid, which is considered to be the most powerful organic anti oxidant. blk. has a low acidity level and contains 77 trace minerals. The infomation sheets says that it contains no dyes, yet the water is jet black.


SanTasti is a new beverage that is just like a lightly sparkling water. Invented in San Luis Obibspo, California, it refreshes your taste by moderating sweetness, acidity and astringency. The two variations are made from all natural ingredients, have only ten calories, and work to restore your palate so you can experience more flavours from more foods. Perfect for wine tasting, after coffee or as a low calorie special treat to enjoy with your meal.

SanTásti is available in two refreshing flavours… Classic and Cucumber.


Sourced from one of the deepest aquifers in New Zealand, this creates a natural filtration process that has lead

to it being classed as the deepest and highest quality artesian water in New Zealand.

This is a carbon neutral water, bottled at source in a pristine environment where no human contact comes between the water and the bottle.  The bottle itself uses local recycled glass.

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Small is beautiful

With the popularity of supper clubs on the rise, it would seem that the restaurant scene in California has adapted to suit the demand for smaller, more intimate places, without compromising on the quality and food innovation.

Self-financed and self- built, these restaurants have less than forty seats, are designed by friends or family, and the owners’ hands touch every ingredient and every part of the restaurant.

Examples include the hand-poured concrete tables and steaming homemade potato rolls along side Caesar Salad Soup at eVe in Berkeley , and the gothic style Sons and Daughters, which I visited last night.

The open kitchen has a team of three turning out a four course tasting menu for $48.  For an additional $36 you can have a sommelier selected flight of wines to accompany each course. Dishes are also available to order a la carte.

I had:

An amuse bouche of Cauliflower puree with pickled cauliflower and caviar

Beets, bergamot ice cream, Meyer lemon, Goats Cheese and broccoli flower

Cream of parsley root soup with black trumpets, maitake and enoki

Abalone, burdock root, celery, salsify, castelvellano olives

Pork loin, jowel, chestnuts, mustard greens, sweet onion puree

Pre dessert of pear soup with candied walnut

Blood orange tapioca, candied kumquat, vanilla and chamomile.

I didn’t enjoy every dish: the pork loin, while delicious was extremely rich and cloying, while the blood orange tapioca looked like salmon roe and had the consistency to match.  However what was interesting was watching the interaction between front of house staff and the kitchen.

As in conventional kitchens, there was somebody at the pass (in this case a dresser unit that acted as a barrier between the open kitchen and the rest of the space) reading orders and checking all the food, but the rest of the staff had no defined role: everyone served all the tables, bringing cutlery (presented in vintage cigar cases which I rather liked) when needed, and clearing away as and when required.

Despite being a lone diner, I loved it, as I never felt on my own, and the combination of excellent food and intimate but buzzy atmosphere means that I’ve certainly adopted them as part of my family of must visit restaurants in San Francisco.

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San Francisco, like London is cosmopolitan: you can get a wide variety of foods, and there is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and flavours.

On our first foray into the city we found E&O Trading Company, which describes itself as somewhere that ‘transports you to Southeast Asia for an exotic “cook’s tour” of the ancient spice routes. Weaving the flavors and textures of Asia into our lively and spirited dining rooms, both of our award winning E&O Trading Company restaurants retains the culture of the East while celebrating the individuality of their locations through distinctive menus and ambiance.’

E&O Trading Company, San Francisco

This isn’t meant to be a restaurant review post – it’s merely meant to highlight a few interesting things that we found:

Asian grilling – not content with a simple barbecue, there seems to be a desire to add zing and exotic  flavours, borrowing from the East, and using five flavour notes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy.  E&O offer a wood roasted char siu black cod with sauteed pea tendrils, while Saison offer Bonito poached Tokyo Turnips roasted in embers.

East meets West – mixing Western flavours with oriental influence.  E&O offered beef short rib sliders braised in Shaoshing wine, Miso Caesar salad and Foie gras miso sauce to name but a few.

Salty Sweet – becoming increasingly popular (such as salt caramel), the Asian method not just contrasts the flavour, but also the texture. E.g. Coconut panna cotta with Black sesame creme and black sesame crunch, from the E&O menu.

Tea as an ingredient – already mentioned as a trend for 2011, at E&O Oolong tea is not only infused into soy sauce for dipping, but is also used to glaze duck.

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