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Top 10 of 2010: Food (from USA Network's own "Character Approved Blog")

Top 10 of 2010: Food 

Written By Terry Boyd  Narrowing the list of food trends down to just ten was hard--this has been an interesting year for food. It was easy to see some important overarching trends, though. Many of the items listed below reflect a growing interest in where our food comes from, how it's produced, and how that affects our health and the health of the planet. And some of this year's biggest trends didn't actually start this year, but gained serious traction, changing the way we all eat. Here is what's Character Approved in Food for 2010:

1. April Bloomfield.  We love eating great food. We also love the friendly, casual atmosphere of our neighborhood tavern. Character Approved chef April Bloomfield is at the forefront of a trend creating exciting mash-ups of these two loves. Her New York restaurants The Spotted Pig and The Breslin both offer relaxed pub-like settings that serve up Michelin-starred meals that are anything but bar food.

2. The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living.  As humanely raised meat becomes more readily available, more and more vegetarians are becoming flexitarians--vegetarians who occasionally eat meat. And meat eaters are opting for fewer meat meals. Published this fall, Mark Bittman's cookbook offers recipes that will please both and be healthier for us, our animals, and our planet.

3. Artisanal Spirits.  Cocktails are enjoying a moment, with bartenders--excuse me, mixologists--conjuring up all kinds of magical concoctions. And suddenly, "top shelf" isn't enough. Enter artisanal, small-batch spirits--vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch, and more. New micro-distilleries like Heartland Distillers, Indiana's first post-Prohibition distillery (as we reported here), and Brooklyn's Breuckelen Distilling are mixing things up with distinctive, delicious results.

4. Bacon is Officially Over.  Somewhere between bacon chocolate and bacon-infused bourbon, the overheated trend finally jumped the shark this year. The good news is that bacon by itself still tastes better than almost anything, and we've found some really cool things to do with it. Now back away from the bacon cupcakes, sir.

5. Seattle Urban Farm Company.  Going way beyond the backyard garden plot, some city dwellers are keeping bees and harvesting the honey (New York City even legalized beekeeping this year). Others collect eggs from their own backyard chicken coops. Character Approved Seattle Urban Farm Company helps neophyte city farmers set up organic urban farms, beehives and chicken coops, with consultations, classes and even installations.

6. Food Trucks.  Gourmet food trucks have been around for a few years, but this year, they made it clear they were here to stay (as we reported here too). A couple of Character Approved additions to the scene include San Francisco's Chairman Bao, taking traditional Chinese steamed and baked buns to the streets in a psychedelic truck, and New Orleans-based Taceaux Loceaux, serves up "Nola-Mex" tacos.

7. Rob Levitt.  First, it was chefs. Next, came small, independent farmers. Now, as we all pay more attention to how our food gets to our plates, modern butchers are basking in the culinary limelight. Chicago chef-turned-butcher Rob Levitt is known for his meat-based dishes at restaurant Mado, and will feature locally sourced, humanely raised animals at his soon-to-open Butcher & Larder.

otarian.jpg8. Otarian.  Eating locally produced, sustainable food just keeps making more sense and getting more refined. Character Approved vegetarian fast food chain Otarian measures its food's carbon footprint--including its greenhouse gas emissions impact on the world. With restaurants in New York and the UK, Otarian even lets diners collect Carbon Karma credits good for future meals.

9. OpenTable Goes Mobile.  Since its founding in 1998, the free online restaurant reservations service OpenTable has helped 175 million diners make reservations at 15,000 restaurants worldwide. Now when hunger hits, you can make those reservations from your iPhone or iPad. The free app lets you specify your desired dining time and party size and see available tables at nearby restaurants on an interactive map. You can also search by name, cuisine, price, and location. No iPhone? OpenTable also makes apps for the Android, Blackberry, and other mobile devices.

10. Canning for a New Generation.  Once the domain of frugal aunts, pickling and canning--putting up jars of all manner of nature's bounty--has professional chefs and home cooks alike totally smitten. "House made" pickled vegetables are turning up in the toniest restaurants. And books like the Character Approved Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry are encouraging us to preserve everything from curried cauliflower to peach and cilantro salsa.

[Images: The Breslin, Imageshack, Lovely Package, Food Network, Seattle Urban Farm Company, Chef Shack, Grub Street, Otarian, The Parenting Magazine, Dana's Market Basket]


Read it & eat...and, P.S., I disagree with #4! 

The Lunch Belle

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