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Thursday, January 7,2010

Food gurus predict hot trends for 2010

By Joan Obra

With the new year upon us, it’s time to try predicting the year’s hottest food trends.

Everyone from the National Restaurant Association to food bloggers get into this game. Here’s a look at five of these trends.

More information, please: As consumers hunger to know more about their food, manufacturers and retailers will provide it.

“It’s everything from looking for mercury-safe seafood to wanting to know that humane treatment was given to farm animals,” states The Food Channel, a website that tracks food trends. “It’s about no hormones in meats, and organically grown fruits and vegetables. It’s about Fair Trade chocolate and spices.”

Also, there’s a California law that requires chain restaurants with at least 20 locations to provide nutritional information. It’s part of a trend dubbed “maximum disclosure” by New York advertising agency JWT.

During 2010, such restaurants will gear up for the next phase of the law: They must print calories on menus or indoor menu boards as of Jan. 1, 2011.

More local food: The top two restaurant menu trends are “locally grown produce” and “locally sourced meats and seafood,” according to a National Restaurant Association survey of more than 1,800 chefs.

More local wine and beer: As restaurants add local food to their menus, it makes sense for them to add local drinks. This is the fifth top trend in the National Restaurant Association’s survey.

Tiny desserts and retro sweets: Here’s good news for your waistline: bite-sized desserts, the No. 4 trend for restaurant menus in the National Restaurant Association’s survey.

As for types of desserts that will be popular, epicurious.com’s blog (called the epilog) has high praise for the sandwich cookies known as whoopie pies.

One restaurant trend for the coming year is to have local wines and beers on the menu.

Evidence of this trend is in the upcoming book Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix ’em, Match ’em, Eat ’em Up Recipes!, by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell (Chronicle Books, $16.95), and the carrot-cake whoopie pies from Recchiuti, a San Francisco chocolatier.

Black garlic: These black, savorysweet garlic cloves contain twice the antioxidants as regular garlic — and don’t cause bad breath, JWT says. You’ll find them at upscale restaurants and gourmet food shops, but at $28 a pound, black garlic isn’t cheap.

(c) 2009, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.). Via MCT.

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