2009 Will Be Year Of Comfort Food, Cocktails
Chicago-based market research firm Mintel, which says that 54% of people who dined out regularly were cutting back on restaurant spending because of the economy, argues that the recession could still be a boon for those who know what consumers want. One of those things is comfort food, based on slow baking and grilling. Braising and poaching will become au courant, says the firm.
Mintel also says that alongside a recrudescence of classic cocktails, mixologists will stir up a salver of recondite newcomers with ingredients like ginger, cucumber, and chili pepper, paired with beer, gin, tequila, pisco and framboise.
And consumers may have become so repulsed by genetic experiments and wary of food that has traveled so far to market that it has earned frequent flyer miles that they will pay more for organic and fresh, predicts Mintel Menu Insights. The firm, which says "fresh" labeling has increased by 22% since early 2006, predicts restaurants will start boasting on menus about the local nature of their food.
The Mediterranean food trend has been on the rise as Americans, fighting a losing war with their adipose tissue and coronary bandwidth, read about the salubrious influence of southern European and Middle Eastern food. Mintel says restaurants will expand beyond tapas, gyros and hummus to specify the Spanish, Italian, Middle Eastern, or Greek origins of food--e.g., Spanish olives, Greek cheese and Middle Eastern yogurt sauce.
The group also predicts that more authentic Mediterranean dishes may appear in fast-casual restaurants.
Finally, restaurants will begin trying harder to promote the salutary quality of their bills of fare with Walden-esque stories on menus about their foods' preparation, health benefits and origins.