Looking for food trends 2018? When a new food trend gains traction, it can influence our eating habits for months or even years to come. Here are the ones we reckon are destined to take off in 2018. You heard it here first...
The flavours of Africa have increasingly become part of the British food dialogue this past year, thanks in no small part to books from food blogger Lopè Ariyo and restaurateur Zoe Adjonyoh, who brought the foods of Nigeria and Ghana to the masses. Now there are plenty of restaurants to try it at in London, too. Grab oga burritos – served at Nigerian takeaway I Go Chop in Camberwell – filled with jollof rice, beans and meat. Ikoyi in London’s St James’s Market serves upmarket jollof rice with smoked bone marrow, and buttermilk plantain with smoked scotch bonnet chillies. New York export Red Rooster, in London’s Shoreditch, uses fiery Ethiopian spice blend berbere in its fried chicken recipe. Or, if you’re after some of the best-tasting wings in the capital, head to Eritrean specialist Lemlem Kitchen in Netil Market, east London – the guys here smother their wings in a berbere, ginger and garlic rub.
After Anthony Bourdain’s documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste and Dan Barber’s WastED pop-up in New York and London, will we see even more environmentally aware chefs reducing food waste and using surplus ingredients? It’s already happening in hip eco-restaurants like Poco in Bristol and Silo in Brighton (broccoli with seaweed dashi pictured), both of which are striving for zero waste, and let’s hope more follow.
Yorkshireman Henry Preen has sparked a wave of Yorkshire pudding wraps across the country. Since 2016, Yorkshire Burrito has been dishing out comforting Yorkies with slow-cooked meats, veggies and plenty of gravy from a stand at Street Food Union in Soho. The rest of the country is cottoning on, and this latest street-food phenomenon has popped up at Bournemouth’s Syron Café and The York Roast Co in Yorkshire. Here's our expert Yorkshire pudding recipe to get the best results every time.
VEGAN: THE NEXT GENERATION
Vegan food has finally gone mainstream, and this new wave is ushering in no-compromise, great-tasting, meat-free junk food. What the Pitta (Croydon, Shoreditch and Camden) is serving vegan doner kebabs with soya alternatives; Hackney’s Temple of Seitan has queues out the door for its hot ‘wings’ and spicy burgers; and Brighton’s Terre a Terre has its own KFC – Korean fried cauliflower. And, if you’re after the ultimate vegan burger, look out for the newly crowdfunded Vurger Co on the street-food/festival scene. The vegan movement also has a hip new ambassador in Cardiff blogger and YouTube star Gaz Oakley (@avantgardevegan) whose Vegan 100 book is published early this year. It can only be a matter of time before the supermarket ready-meal departments latch on to this trend of vegan fast food, but meat-substitute, plant proteins like seitan and tempeh are widely available from health stores and online, so you can recreate them at home, too. Try our best vegan recipes ready in under 30 minutes here or all of our vegan recipes here.
As well as being used to wrap and steam seafood, fig leaves are increasingly being used as an ingredient in their own right. We spotted them in late summer (when the trees begin producing fruit) in the likes of fig-leaf ice cream at Salon in Brixton and Michelin-starred Lyle’s in Shoreditch, and fig-leaf panna cotta with fig, honeycomb and honey and orange gel at The Castle Inn in Castle Combe, Wiltshire.
ARTISAN ENGLISH PUDDINGS
Trad puds are back! Norfolk-based pudd’Eng has launched a range of steamed puds – syrup, spotted dick, sticky toffee, chocolate and ale, treacle and walnut or marmalade – using organic Norfolk flour and dried fruit. Get your chops around Georgie Porgie’s Puddings in Devon, or The Old Fashioned Pudding Company in Peterborough for more rib-sticking English classics. We're also big fans of The Pudding Stop in St Albans, read our review here.
Sustainable and known for its delicate, slightly salty flavour, jellyfish has long been a favourite of the Chinese and Japanese, who often eat it raw or sliced up as a salad ingredient – but is it about to catch on in the UK? At a recent Slow Food conference in Genoa, chefs were serving fried jellyfish, and now Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Josh Eggleton (of The Pony & Trap, Salt & Malt, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion and Root) says he is planning to cook them in 2018, as soon as he can find a decent supply from British waters.
GOURMET BREAD AND BUTTER
Long gone are the days when you were presented with a white roll and a knob of mass-produced, fridge-cold butter to kick off your meal. Chefs have been getting more and more creative with their bread and butter, making it a course of its own on many tasting menus. You’ll want two portions of the seaweed bread at Perilla in Stoke Newington, London, brushed with lamb fat and served with butter whipped with more lamb fat. At Scandi-influenced Norse in Harrogate, whipped butter is topped with crispy toasted grains, while the homemade bread at Bastible in Dublin mops up super smooth and tangy cultured butter.
A basis of Southeast Asian curries for centuries, jackfruit has already been hailed as pulled pork for vegetarians thanks to its meaty texture. The UK has gone jackfruit crazy, from Glasgow street-food operation Chompsky’s Korean BBQ jackfruit, and the pulled jackfruit burgers of Holy Cow in Edinburgh, to Biff’s Jack Shack in London, which slow cooks it in sweet BBQ sauce, puts it in burger buns (pictured) or shapes into chicken wings and fries them. Trading at markets across the capital, including a weekly slot at Broadway Vegan Market, Biff’s is run by Christa Bloom and Biff Burrows. “I was sick of only having boring vegan bean burgers when I ate out. I felt jackfruit’s fibrous, tender texture made it an incredible meat alternative,” says Biff. “When we had the idea to create a crispy fried jackfruit wing on a sugarcane bone, we knew we were on to a winner.” If you fancy using them at home, you can buy fresh jackfruit in Asian supermarkets, or tinned in brine or water.
Not to be confused with cocoa beans, these little legumes are set to become big on menus in 2018. Best eaten fresh during their season between July and October, these creamy white beans are a variety of the humble haricot and work brilliantly with meat or fish. Newcastle restaurant The Patricia serves a notable dish of coco de paimpol beans with roasted mutton loin, peppers and salsa verde, while Bristol’s Wellbourne (read our review here) teams them with turbot and girolles.
MEALS ON WHEELS
Once a staple of 1960s restaurants, and then the preserve of posh hotels, the restaurant trolley is officially back. Our advice? Avoid the gimmicky new kids on the block and stick to the old school. Marvel at the tried-and-tested practitioners of the art at refurbished Simpson’s in the Strand, which still serves its daily beef and lamb dishes from carving trollies. Head to the two-Michelin-star Bibendum in Kensington for ice cream on wheels; try HIX Soho’s spectacular seafood trolley, where the team will fillet the catch of the day right alongside your table, or get stuck into Fitzrovia’s famous Berners Tavern pork pie trolley.
Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut has created what is being hailed as the fourth natural type of chocolate after dark, milk and white. Made from the ruby cocoa bean, complete with a natural pink hue, these chocolates are only available to chefs and patissiers at the moment, so keep an eye out for it on dessert menus this year.
BACK TO BEIGE
Now we’ve finally seen the back of all that clean eating nonsense, it seems we’re craving carbs. Waitrose revealed its shoppers ate more mac’n’cheese, bulgar wheat and quinoa during 2017. And we can’t get enough of Stevie Parle’s potato and gravy ravioli at new pasta bar Pastaio, too.
Formerly a waste product from the roasting process, coffee flour is made from dried and ground coffee cherries. Gluten-free, it can be used in all sorts of baking, from breads and muffins to sauces and savoury dishes. Look out for the CRU Kafe brand of this trending new product.
After Heston Blumenthal resurrected the Victorian-era tipsy cake at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and Primrose Bakery started to sell its cocktail cakes (anyone for a moscow mule cupcake?), the trend for ‘boozy baking’ went to another level when Cheshire’s Roberts Bakery launched its gin and tonic cocktail teacakes. Boozy bakes have certainly become a thing and we expect to see more in 2018. Check out our boozy cakes and bakes recipe collection, including our epic mojito cake.
Mexican food has been having its ‘moment’ for a few years now, but in 2017 we saw the rise of regional Mexican cuisine and, as a consequence, we also saw more of cactus. When cooked, prickly pear cactus pads have the texture and taste of peppers, with a hint of green bean. In London we’ve tried them in a salad at Ella Canta, and in tacos at Santo Remedio. At Bristol’s Cargo Cantina, chef Imogen Waite serves avocado and cactus tacos. “We saw beautiful, fresh cactus being prepared in the markets in Mexico. It has a unique texture, which is both crunchy and very moist.” Imogen sources her cactus strips from coolchile.co.uk and, if you fancy giving it a go, jars of whole leaves can be bought from mexgrocer.co.uk.
RETIRED DAIRY BEEF
Award-winning ‘old cow’ meat from ex-dairy cattle, produced by farmers in Spain and Italy, has resulted in increased demand for something a little more homegrown. Organic Coombe Farm in Somerset now sells online a range of cuts with extraordinary marbling and depth of flavour from retired dairy cows, as does butcher Gerard King of Salter & King in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, who is now taking orders for his next Suffolk old cow, which will be ready in May.
The humble Cornish pasty is enjoying a renaissance right now, with new flavours that go far beyond the traditional meat and veg once enjoyed by tin miners. Early 2018 sees the launch of Paul Whyte’s Manchester-based Str-eats with street-food-inspired pasties such as Brazilian BBQ beef with chilli lime salsa, and Vietnamese chicken. More traditional are the pasties made by Cornwall’s Warrens Bakery – it has launched roast beef and horseradish pasties as well as roast chicken with sage stuffing pasties. Master baker Jason Jobling says: “The pasty is timeless and can be tailored to meet the tastes of everyone. We strive to keep it innovative, having pioneered vegan pasties, as well as the mince pie and custard pasty.”
If 2017 was cited as “the year of voice recognition” by techies, then 2018 is when us mere mortals (especially us foodies) will really get to recognise its true potential. New devices – including the Google Pixel 2 phone and smart speaker Google Home, which both contain a Google Assistant – have been designed to make looking for recipes, shopping for ingredients and even cooking, that much easier. From setting timers and quick conversions, to having ingredients or recipe steps read out loud – hands free – the Google Assistant is there to help. Be sure to take a picture of your creation once it’s cooked, too – the Google Pixel 2 is the best smart phone camera we’ve ever used (and the world agrees – it’s officially the highest rated smartphone camera ever). store.google.com
BRITISH GRAINS AND PULSES
If you thought dried pulses and beans were a Mediterranean thing, think again. Lentils were grown in the UK in prehistoric times, and Suffolk-based company Hodmedod’s has kickstarted a revival of British-grown crops. Hodmedod’s won Best Food Producer in the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2017, so expect to see a lot more of its dried and canned pulses, flours and grains in 2018.
Drinks trends 2018
Distilled from the sap of coconut flowers, sugar cane and red rice matured in vats made from teak, Sri Lankan arrack is going to be one of the go-to spirits of 2018. It’s already making waves on the cocktail menu at Shoreditch speakeasy The Nightjar, and Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers, off Oxford Street, where you can enjoy a Pina Pol-ada, featuring genever, arrack, fresh lime, pineapple, coconut milk and pandan leaf.
If gin was the spirit of 2017 (and 2016, and 2015...), then luxury rum is set to become the toast of 2018 according to the drinks soothsayers. Drinks company Diageo says its Guatemalan-made Zacapa rum is selling twice the amount it was last year, and more bars are filling their shelves with premium rums. In Newcastle, one of the biggest openings of recent months has been Colonel Porter’s Emporium, which serves more than 120 types of rum. Here are the best rum bars in the UK from global rum ambassador Ian Burrell.
We chatted to Ian about rum on our podcast here:
A dramatic fall in the number of young adults drinking alcohol is reflected by the rise of non-alcohol bars like Café Sobar in Nottingham and The Brink in Liverpool, but also premium-quality de-alcoholised beers like Brewdog’s Nanny State. Tapping into this growing market is east London’s Nirvana Brewery, a low-alcohol and alcohol-free craft beer brewery. The 0% ABV beers include Kosmic stout and Tantra pale ale – and very good they are too.
The Japanese have been making and drinking this potent rice wine for centuries, but now the UK is beginning to take this historic drink seriously. The Dojima Sake Brewery at Fordham Abbey near Cambridge opens a visitor centre and restaurant this coming June. Sake is also appearing on more top-end restaurant drinks lists.
Check out our podcast on sake with expert brewers Kanpai here:
Our love for madeira has never been stronger. Like sherry, this fortified wine has shaken off its dusty image and, whether it’s mixed with tonic or served straight, it’s a grown-up drink to be treated with respect. Look out for brands such as Blandy’s and Barbeito, or rarer D’Oliveiras. Fashionable bars are also stocking more madeiras, including The Remedy in Fitzrovia, which serves 17 types including an 1890 D’Oliveiras Verdelho at an eye-twitching £75 a shot.
Tony Conigliaro has been serving punchy pre-bottled negronis at his dinky Bar Termini in Soho since 2014. His classico negroni (gin, sweet vermouth and Italian bitters) joins the line-up of beautiful bottles above the bar at newly opened The Pilgrm in Paddington. Mixologists from some of the world’s best bars have contributed pre-mixed cocktails – try a rose vermouth, gin and maraschino liqueur mix from The Clumsies in Athens, or a Japanese whisky and Cocchi Americano concoction from Bar Trench in Tokyo. Elsewhere in the country, Ginger Pig in Brighton has put together 11 boutique hotel rooms complete with mini bars stocked with bottles of homemade cocktails including ice-cold Old Fashioneds made with Evan Williams extra aged bourbon. You can also buy bottled aged negronis and espresso martinis from Tesco.
We’ve had turmeric and charcoal lattes, and matcha cappuccinos – is it time for supposedly super-healthy mushroom drinks to take off? The movement is big in Australia, and the yogis of NYC can’t get enough of chaga mushroom tea, so will these funky fungi beverages become the new kombucha? If you fancy giving it a go, Finnish brand Four Sigmatic is selling an ‘anti-stress’ mushroom hot cacao mix in the UK via bodykind.com.
CHEESE TEA & FIZZY MILK
Originating from the street stalls of Taiwan, cheese tea is made up of unsweetened iced tea, topped with whipped cream cheese. The Happy Lemon Taiwanese bubble tea chain (branches in London, Coventry, Manchester and Birmingham) serves Rock Salted Cheese – bubble tea with creamy cheese mixed with rock salt. And if that’s not enough, there are reports of fizzy milk on the way, with Arla developing it at its state-of-the-art innovation centre in Denmark.
Made from grapes frozen on the vine during frosty winters, the sweet intensity of ice wines makes them an ideal dessert wine to accompany fruity puddings, or salty blue cheeses. But that’s not all – ice wines have started to interest mixologists, and Doctor Ink’s Curiosities in Exeter and The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh have introduced them to their cocktail lists. Lidl has also just introduced a Canadian ice wine collection in store.