Here’s what’s coming in 2012 dining

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Rounding the final turn for 2011, it’s time for the annual parade of predictions to begin. What will we be eating next year? Look for more, different foods, including an emphasis on foraging wild foods and breakthrough years for Korean and Peruvian.

To make it short, the whole country is going to look a lot more like Southern California.
At least that’s what Baum + Whiteman are predicting, and they’ve been around long enough to know a thing or two. The restaurant consultancy founded by the late, legendary Joe Baum (Four Seasons, Windows on the World, Rainbow Room) is still being run by partners Michael Whiteman, Rozanne Gold and Dennis Sweeney.

Their predictions aren’t all foodie, and they’re not all positive. The No. 1 thing to look for in 2012? A lot of restaurant closings. “As the economy crawls sideways, like blue crabs at the shore, mom-and-pop eateries will be hit the hardest.” They predict 8,000 to 10,000 closings in 2012.

But on to the fun stuff.

  • Look for lots more diverse ethnic and regional flavor influences, and look for lots of smaller restaurants to embrace them as a way to differentiate themselves from the mainstream.
  • That will include lots of different breads, such as arepas, waffles, bao and tostones.
  • There’ll be a continuing growth of interest in offal — those so-far under-used parts of the animal such as gizzards, tongue, pigs ears, tripe and livers.
  • House-made pickles will also continue to be popular (and certainly using vegetables way beyond the familiar cucumber).
  • Korean is going to be big. “Bulgogi, kimchi, kalbi, bibim bap are all the rage in … food sections, which means that shelter magazines will start running dumbed-down recipes.”
  • Peruvian is on its way as well, as the “source of the world’s most exciting ceviches and tiraditos.”
  • Drink-friendly fried finger foods such as arancini, goat-cheese balls, meat balls and bacalao croquettes.
  • Beer gardens.
  • Fewer food trucks as operators, having established their brands, move into the mainstream with brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Baum + Whiteman also predict the following will be among food buzzwords next year: Fresh sardines, uni, yuzu, oxtail, duck, hand-made ricotta and burrata, kalbi, bone marrow, hibiscus, arepas, goat meat, micro-distilleries and seaweed.



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