Food Predictions for 2011

As each year comes to a close, food companies and food publications gaze into their crystal balls and attempt to predict what will be the hot foods and food trends for the coming year. The following are a few of the most interesting predictions that I discovered.

1. McCormick Spices ( ): taking into account a convergence of influences which are impacting today’s food culture like never before ( the economy, the environment and a focus on health and wellness ), the experts at McCormick’s along with a coalition of top chefs, popular food bloggers and a mixologist have identified leading trends and flavor parings that are poised to shape the way we eat.

McCormick’s TOP TEN Trends for 2011

  1. ‘In’ is the New ‘Out’ – big flavors and new definitions of ‘dinner party’ bring the best of restaurant meals home
  2. Always in Season – preserving the peak of ripeness for year-round enjoyment, fresh at the ready
  3. Meatless on the Menu – mixing up the center of the plate
  4. Ethnic Sizzle – tastes of the global grill, appearing in the backyard
  5. New Comfort Cuisine – a renewed appreciation for the integrity of ingredients and cooking techniques
  6. Where the Cocktail Meets the Kitchen – shaken or stirred, tasteful inspiration takes on new forms

McCormick’s TOP TEN Flavor Pairings  for 2011: 

  • Ginger & Rhubarb – the combination of roasted ginger and rhubarb shakes up traditional barbecue sauces or chunky chutneys for roasted meats
  • Thai Basil & Watermelon– the fusion of Thai basil’s licorice-like edge and the sweet juiciness of ripe watermelon is a colorful study in contrasts
  • Caraway & Bitter Greens– the unmistakable flavor of caraway tames the aggressiveness of bold greens that are a signature of Southern cooking.
  • Bay Leaves & Preserved Lemon– the intensely aromatic coupling of bay leaves and preserved lemon is an alluring blend of bitter, salty-tart and bright
  •  Almond & Ale – evoking the spirit of the modern gastropub, the bittersweet character of both almonds and ale are a rich, hearty match for one another
  • Turmeric & Vine-Ripened Tomatoes – vivid turmeric teams up with juicy, peak-of-harvest tomatoes to accent  their subtle sweetness and add a mildly bitter, earthy note
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice & Coconut Milk – summoning the essence of its island origins, this lush, warm pairing reconnects the components of a familiar American spice mixture with their tropical roots
  • Roasted Cumin & Chickpeas – a harmony of culinary commonalities unites roasted cumin and chickpeas for a robust, nourishing and surprisingly versatile taste experience
  • Creole Mustard & Shellfish – the lively zip of Creole mustard wakes up a range of shellfish from shrimp, crayfish and crabs to oysters and clams
  • Chives & Fish Sauce – The mild, oniony bite of chives adds a fresh green dimension and color to the salty complexity of fish sauce

2. The FoodChannel ( ) predicts that we will be seeing a lot more of these trends this year:

Food Channel’s TOP TEN Food Trends for 2011:

  • The Canning Comeback – ‘putting up’ is gaining popularity for both economy and health
  • Men in Aprons – layoffs have led to more men cooking
  • Local Somewhere – we care about hand-tended no matter where it’s grown
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – we’re tired of being told what we can eat
  • Appetite for Food Apps – social media is our guide and coupon source
  • Small is the New Big Business – corporations are thinking like small businesses
  • Fresh Every Day – rooftop gardens are just part of this trend
  • Chefs in Schools – better flavor is possible in an institutional setting
  • Discomfort Foods – changes makes us more comfortable with more change
  • Eating for Sex and Other Things – we are working longer and want all the gusto

Food Channel’s TOP TEN Foods for 2011:

  • Small pies – small pies, in sweet and savory varieties. Some call them the next ‘cupcake’
  • Sausage – look for leaner, better quality sausage, sourced locally at farmers markets, to take on the role as the ‘new bacon.’  Home butchery and the charcuterie trend that has led to remewed interest in cured meats are additional factors here as well
  • Nutmeg – researchers have discoverd that nutmeg’s reputation as an aphordisiac, especially for women, has some merit
  • Moonshine – has gone legit. Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery opened last summer and the clear corn whickey hootch can now be found in many liquor stores and even purchased online. It still packs a wallop.
  • Gourmet Ice Pops – in exotic flavors like bacon, mango, chile and peanut butter are the latest to get the artisinal treatment
  • Grits – could this old southern favorite move beyond the breakfast menu and become the ‘new grain ? “
  • Sweet Potatoes – these super-nutritious tubers will be orange-hot in 2011. They will be especially molten as the better-for-you french fry.
  • Fin Fish – we are still discovering so much about the benefits of fish. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that we found out about Omega 3’s, and we know that obtaining these nutrients from food is the best way to get them into our system. We’re banking on more acceptance of farmed fish as it becomes more important to have a good supply of this lean protein
  • Cupuacu Fruit – following in the footsteps of acai fruit, this superfruit is from the Brazilian rainforest. Cupuacu has a number of antioxidants and minerals, and is considered a natural source of energy
  • Beans – the lowly legume will step up to the spotlight in 2011, as a great source of protein and a versatile ingredient in appetizes like white bean & rosemary bruschetta, and soups of all types

3. Food Arts , the premiere restaurant and hotel magazine has their own HOT LIST of tastes and flavors to expect in 2011, too. Perhaps a bit more esoteric that the others, these ideas will be popping up in trendy restaurants around the country:

Food Arts HOT LIST of Tastes & Flavors for 2011:

  • affogato ( ice cream with espresso )
  • agrodolce ( sweet with sour )
  • artichoke in everything
  • black garlic
  • black mission figs
  • branzino ( ‘loup de mer’ or Mediterraneas sea bass )
  • bread crumbs
  • broccoli raab
  • charcuterie and salumi plates
  • cherry tomatoes in rainbow colors
  • chocolate budino ( see my blog post Budino Tartlets with Sea Salt and Olive oil from April 2009
  • chorizo
  • chuncks of confectionery ‘sponge’ in desserts
  • coconut soups
  • corn with everything
  • crab in soups
  • cracked black pepper pasta
  • cubes of fried or sauteed squash
  • duck fat
  • fennel soups
  • fried chicken
  • grits
  • hazelnuts with fish and meat
  • kale
  • Kona Kampachi ( sustainably open-ocean grown environmentally friendly fish with the Latin name of Seriola rivoliana )
  • lardo ( thin, nearly transluscent strips of pork fatback )
  • lemon pastas
  • little gem lettuce
  • mascarpone
  • persimmons
  • pickled everything
  • pies with streusel topping
  • pistachio cakes
  • pots de creme
  • profiteroles
  • red velvet cakes
  • rum in desserts
  • sea urchin
  • fresh shell beans
  • spiced or gingered chocolate cakes
  • steak for two
  • strozzapreti ( strangle the priest ) pasta
  • succotash
  • tripe
  • venison
  • vinaigrettes & vinegar-based sauces (yeah! says the vinegar queen)
  • whole roasted pig
  • wild arugula

4. Sensient Flavors ( ), is one of the world’s leading flavor companies, has announced its flavor trend predictions for 2011. The list encompasses exotic and tropical flavors inspired from multiple macro trends including Health & Wellness, Sensory, and Personalization.


Sensient Flavors FLAVOR TREND PREDICTIONS for 2011

  • Aguaje: widely grown and consumed in Peru, aguaje is a highly nutritious fruit with a bright orange flesh and a sweet taste that has been compared to a carrot
  • Berbere: an Ethiopian spice mixture, berbere is a blend of cayenne pepper, allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper, and salt
  • Borojo: grown in Colombia and Ecuador and thought to boost energy, borojo has a pleasantly sweet and sour taste
  • Ceylon Cinnamon: used widely in England and Mexico, Ceylon cinnamon has a complex flavor with a citrus overtone and is less sweet than cassia cinnamon
  • Cherimoya: native to Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, the cherimoya has a tropical fruit flavor with slight cream and green notes
  • Grains of Paradise: native to Africa, these dried seeds offer a complex flavor profile with earthy, woody, citrus, herb and heat nuances
  • Hibiscus: popular in South America and the Caribbean, hibiscus offers a tart, tangy berry flavor
  • Pandan: grown in the tropical areas of Asia, pandan offers a uniquely sweet flavor and aroma
  • Yacon: native to Peru, the yacon is a vegetable that has a distinctly unique flavor that is fruity and earthy and is compared most commonly with an apple
  • Yumberry: officially known as the Yang Mei and native to China, the yumberry has a pleasantly tart and sweet flavor profile

In our shop, Cooks Shop Here  ( ), we sell several of the ingredients mentioned above, including Bay Leaves; Berebere spice blend; French duck fat; Ceylon Cinnamon; Grains of Paradise; Hibiscus Flowers; Nutmeg; Turmeric; and vinegars, wonderful vinegars.


Tea Ceramics Exhibition: Richard Milgrim

Those of us within striking distance of Boston ( and who are looking for something tea-related or ceramics-related to do on a winter’s day ) are in for a treat this month. From January 15th until February 14th the Pucker Gallery at 171 Newbury Street in Boston is featuring the inagural exhibition of the tea ceramics of Richard Milgrim. The opening reception is scheduled for January 15th and from 3 – 6 pm the artist will be in attendance.

Richard Milgrim is an American potter fully imbued in the Japanese tradition of ceramic tea wares (chato) and Chado, The Way of Tea. (Chado is a synthesis of numerous philosophies and arts which culminate into a unique method of preparing and drinking matcha (powdered green tea) known as Chanoyu, or the Japanese tea ceremony. Cultivated and nourished by the Japanese since the 1500s, the Way of Tea is a discipline which transforms simple daily activities into the fine art of life. )

He is an exceptional artist whose work reflects what he has learned and absorbed from his time studying with four different Japanese master potters. Early in his career, Richard was endorsed by Dr. Sen Soshitsu XV, who was at that time the Grand Master and Head of the Urasenke School of Tea. Dr. Sen was so impressed with Richard’s interest in Japanese tea and the tea arts, his potter’s skills and knowledge of the intricacies of Japanese tea ceramics traditions that his endorsement opened the door for a young Richard to meet and work with many famed Japanese potters.

As a result, Richard studied with Iwabuchi Shigeya, a specialist in Kyoto ceramics; Tahara Tobei, a 12-th generation master of the Korean-inspired Hagi tradition; Fujiwara Yu, a famed maker of wood-fired Bizen ware (who was later named a Living National Treasure), and Kato Koemon, a prominent potter of Shino and Oribe wares in the Mino tradition.

Since 1979, Richard has worked in Japan as a potter specializing in tea ceramics, first under known masters and then as a master himself. These extraordinary opportunities have put Richard in the unique position of being an American with a breadth of understanding and familiarity with Japanese ceramics that no other American potter possesses.

Richard approaches tea ceramics as an insider and his work reflects the complete degree to which he has immersed himself in understanding all the essential aspects of what is required of his pieces to work successfully in a Chanoyu setting: the size, proper balance, weight, form, and above all, functionality. It is because of his high level of accomplishment and because he lives a life dedicated to tea and tea ceramics that his best customers are among the most discriminating tea practioners and ceramics collectors in Japan.

Those familiar with Japanese tea ceramics for Chanoyu know that the pieces are usually large, and commanding in presence. Richard’s work is thusly so, but my eye finds a softness in his work rather than an aloofness or awkwardness. This welcoming quality begs the onlooker to admire and contemplate each piece individually as well as to imagine how well the piece will fit in to the context of the other materials chosen for inclusion in a particular tea ceremony. (Ceramics represent only one type of material used for Chanoyu. Other materials to be considered when planning a particular toriawase ( the selection of a combination of various tea utensils and objects chosen for a particular tea gathering ) are the iron tea kettle; chasen or bamboo whisk; chashaku or bamboo tea scoop; lacquer incense burner; woven bamboo flower container; hanging brush-painted calligraphy scroll. )

But above all else, these ceramics are appealing. I immediately want to hold them, touch their sculpted and slightly uneven surfaces, and to feel the cool smoothness or slight roughness of the glaze that drapes each piece of clay for just the right effect. The beauty of Richard’s work goes beyond their intended use for tea and will be of interest to ceramics enthusiasts in general.

Richard maintains two studios, one in MA ( Konko-Gama ) and one in Kyoto, Japan ( Richado-Gama.) The greatest concentration of his work is produced in Japan, but in each of his kilns Richard uses local clays and glazes that have been formulated for those clays. Hence, his American work and his Japanese works bear a distinct difference from one another. But they all exude the Richard Milgrim style and flair, making the purchasing decision even more difficult for collectors of tea ceramics or for Chanoyu practitioners seeking to add a new piece to their carefully chosen and valued collection of teawares.

Richard is a friend and a huge talent. I urge tea lovers and ceramics collectors to attend his inagural gallery exhibition. It will be a wonderful opportunity to view a full compliment of Richard’s work, and to see how his Western and Japanese sensibilities interplay to create Japanese tea ceramics that pay homage to the past but bring the tradition forward via pieces that both function flawlessly while effortlessly pleasing the eye.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Richard on several occasions in the past two years, including on his turf in Kyoto, Japan. It was a thrill for us to spend time in Japan with Richard and his wife, Mari, who is a master tea practitioner in the Urasenke Foundation school of Chado or Way of Tea. She is involved with both the Kyoto and Boston Chapter of Urasenke. ( The Urasenke Foundation, based in Kyoto, Japan, through diligent and dynamic efforts has become the largest school of Chado both in Japan and around the world. They have branch schools in many parts of the world, including the USA. Urasenke spreads international appreciation of Chado, through Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, which is based on tenets established by the tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591 ) and continued by successive heads of the Sen family every generation since. )

Mari and Richard lead what I call a ‘fairy-tale’ life. They are a joyful couple and each is completely devoted to separate aspects of tea culture and Chado; he to ceramics and she to teaching the graceful art of Chanoyu. ( Chanoyu is based on tea master Sen Rikyu’s seven principals: Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay charcoal so that the water boils; provide a sense of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer; arrange flowers as they are in a field; be ready ahead of time; be prepared in case it should rain; and with whom you find yourself give every consideration without fuss. Practicing these seemingly simply activities one soon discovers how challenging it is to carry them out without fail. The Way of Tea concerns the creation of the proper setting for that moment of enjoyment of a perfect bowl of tea. Everything that goes into that serving of tea, from all of the tea utensils to the quality of the air and the space where it is served, becomes a part of its flavor.’ )

As a couple and as artists they complement one another beautifully, and spend much of the year in Kyoto: the central place where the tea arts are taught and practiced and tea is considered an important aspect of life. Attending a tea cermony with Mari and Richard at a private temple was a privilege and joy to experience. We had a little glimpse into their life in Japan, enough to realize how very unique their world is. With a several hundred year old tea tradition behind them, they have dedicated their lives to the gentile Kyoto world of tea, tea ceramics, kimonos, traditions, protocol, reverence and etiquette.

You can now have a glimpse into Richard’s world by viewing his work on display at the Pucker Gallery. Come and let him tell you about the pieces. What will one see here ? Many delightful objects and vessels essential to Chanoyu. Japanese tea fanciers and collectors of Japanese ceramics are of course familiar with the chawan, the oversized tea bowl that is most central to the shared experience or direct connection between the host and the guest in a tea ceremony.

But tea practitioners need many other ceramic tea utensils, too, so one will see several examples of the lidded ceramic tea caddie or chaire which holds the koicha or thick tea ( a very particular type of matcha used at certain formal tea ceremonies); the mizusashi, or lidded container for the freshwater; the hanaire or flower vase; and various sized shallow serving bowls as well as some sake cups, sake bottles and tea cups that could be used during kaiseki, the multi-course meal with accompanies the serving of 2 types of tea in the most formal tea ceremony called a chaji. 

Of course, any of these tea utensils could also be freely used outside the formal tea setting for everyday use.

Surpassing Boundaries:

Surpassing Boundaries:
Richard Milgrim’s
Ceramics for Tea and Beyond
January 15th – February 14th

Pucker Gallery
171 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116

Hot Chocolate vs Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate versus hot cocoa….customers constantly ask us if is there a difference. Our answer is always a resounding YES, indeed there is. Neither is better but the choice has to do with resulting flavor, texture and richness.

Both beverages are delicious and either can be topped off with lightly whipped cream, and or embellished with orange slices, cinnamon sticks or powdered cinnamon, peppermint sticks, chocolate sprinkles, etc.

A cup of chocolate was originally an Aztec beverage that was no doubt far less ‘tame’  and far more heady than our familiar drink. The French have claimed rights to a very rich style of Hot Chocolate that incorporates milk, cream, sugar, and shaved or chipped bits of bittersweet chocolate.  The chocolate melts as the milk/cream mixture is heated. French-style hot chocolate is wonderfully rich, creamy, and substantial. And depending on the amount and type of chocolate used, the result can be gloriously thick – almost spoonable in the cup.

Hot Cocoa is made with water, a few tablespoons of milk or cream, sugar and cocoa powder. Cocoa powder and sugar are mixed with the cream in the bottom of a cup or cocoa pot until a paste is formed, then hot water is added to the paste and mixed until a smooth consistency is reached. Hot cocoa lacks the creaminess and luscious mouthfeel of  a cup of hot chocolate, but it is more concentrated and has a more chocolaty taste. This is because there is less vegetable fat ( natural cocoa butter ) in the cocoa than there is in shaved chocolate. And as many know, fat coats the palate and minimizes flavor.

Here are a few recipes for delicious hot chocolate and hot cocoa. My advise ? Try them all and see for yourself which you prefer.

Makes 1 serving – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 4 tablespoons cream
  • 6 ounces milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (add more to taste after the chocolate is melted if desired)
  • 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: whipped cream or mini marshmallows for garnish

Put the cream, milk and sugar into a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Add the chocolate and heat until melted, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla extract and heat for an additional few seconds. Ladle the hot chocolate into a mug and garnish if desired.

Makes 1 serving – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 2 teaspoons dutched cocoa powder ( we prefer dutched process cocoa because we feel that these cocoa powders have a deeper flavor, darker color and a smoother texture that blends flawlessly in hot beverages.)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream, not heated
  • 6 ounces boiling water

Optional: whipped cream or mini marshmallows for garnish

Place the cocoa powder and sugar into a mug and mix well. Add the cream and stir into a smooth paste. Add the boiling water and stir until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Ladle the hot cocoa into a mug and garnish if desired.


This recipe is from our book, Hot Drinks which Bob and I co-authored in 2007. Although Ten Speed Press published this book 3 years ago, sales are still strong as the recipes are intriguing and delicious, and perfect for warming winter and early spring days and nights! This is still one of my favorite recipes in the book.

Makes 2 servings – scale up the quantity for additional servings

  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1& 1/2 cups strong coffee, freshly brewed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, firmly whipped with 1 teaspoon sugar, for garnish

Optional: Pinch of fleur de sel or other sea salt for garnish

In each of two mugs, mix 2 teaspoons of the sugar and 2 teaspoons of the cocoa until well-blended and lump free. Add 2 teaspoons of the cream to each and stir until thoroughly combined into a light paste. Add 3/4 cup of the coffee to each and stir again until thoroughly mixed.

Top each with a dollop of whipped cream. Roll the dollop over to stain it with the coffee, then sprinkle a few grains of sea salt atop the whipped cream.