Being a multicultural nation, Australia is home to a huge range of cuisines. Boasting culinary influences from various parts of the globe, it sits atop a growing list of countries striving to be at the forefront of the latest food and dining trends.
In 2015, these trends largely involved a new, healthier approach to dining, with major food buzzwords being: amaranth, cauliflower rice, fermented foods, matcha tea and raw foods. In 2016, many of these healthy trends look set to continue (especially raw dining and fermented foods), but what else can you expect from the year ahead?
Let’s delve in by taking a look at some of the hottest food and dining trends for 2016…
‘Natural’ has become the latest buzzword in wine, and according to wine journalist Sylvie Augereau, there are over 400 natural wine producers in France alone. Natural wine fairs are now common practice, with events being held in France, Italy, the UK, U.S., New Zealand, Tokyo and of course, Australia. Natural wines are often allowed to ferment from ambient yeasts with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.
If traditional sweet treats aren’t really your thing, you may be interested to know that 2016 could be the year for savoury desserts. From savoury soda cupcakes to Bloody Mary Popsicles, savoury desserts are popping up in a number of Australian restaurants, and food companies and bakeries are infusing more and more traditional dessert items with savoury ingredients to create a new and unexpected flavour pairing. Sizzling bacon cannoli anyone?
Burmese food blends different spices together for a delicious dining experience. Owing to the geographic location of Myanmar, Burmese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Thai flavours, but it’s “modern” Burmese food that’s causing a stir. Burma Lane, at the Paris end of Little Collins Street does modern Burmese food perfectly, offering dishes such as smashed sweet potato, broad bean and cashew samosas and mouthwatering beef cheek curry.
Seaweed is the new kale, being packed with antioxidants, fibre, iodine, and good fats. The ocean vegetable is set to explode thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal, and is so popular, it’s being touted as a “future food” and the ultimate superfood.
The ‘pickleback’ has been a growing trend since its life began in Philadelphia, and consists of a shot of Irish whiskey, “chased” with a shot of pickle juice to neutralise the heat of the alcohol. Another term popping up on drink menus is the ‘boilermaker’, which encourages drinkers to drop a shot of whiskey into a glass of beer before consuming in one long draw.
Menus these days are full of meals that are “smoked”, “cured”, and “charred”, and any other technique that takes the concept of cooking back to its first principles. Those seeking authentic experiences will be delighted to find pickles and fermented vegetables are still hugely popular in 2016, as are simple charcuterie and cheeses, matched with boutique alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The world’s leading chefs, from Redzepi to Heston Blumenthal, have built empires based on their love for regional ingredients, and all over the world, chefs are honing their skills of foraging for local delicacies. We’re being encouraged to look for food in our own backyards, swapping foods like spinach for native warrigal greens.
Cupcakes and macarons are out and donuts and cronuts (half croissant half donut) are in. Whether in ring form, churros, crullers, glazed or jam-filled, donuts are taking over the Instagram news feed (#donuts). You can even combine the donut trend with the savoury dessert trend and try a pumpkin spiced donut with bourbon caramel glaze!
Australians have always loved a good BBQ, but the nation’s obsession with the grill has moved from the back verandah to prime position in restaurant kitchens. Author of Food + Beer, Ross Dobson believes the parilla (Argentine) and robata (Japanese) methods of cooking will be particularly popular in 2016. Head to Boca Argentinean Grill in Darlinghurst to learn why 2016 is all about meat.
According to food journalist and MasterChef judge Matt Preston, roe is cropping up on a number of menus, alongside the words fresh, smoked, dried and sauce. As well as roe, we’re also seeing the popularity of small fish rise, with consumers being encouraged to eat more herring, mackerel and butterfish.
Creepy-crawlies have been de rigeuer in night markets for years, but now bugs are set to go mainstream on a global scale. A great source of protein, bugs are inexpensive, plentiful, and according to most who eat them – rather delicious. Brisbane restaurant PUBLIC has been leading the charge with its adventurous menu, which includes items such as salmon with manuka honey and black ants (among other options such as worms and emu).
Chefs are paying attention to the fact we need to reduce the amount of wastage going through Australian restaurants, and as a result, much of the food that was once thrown away is now being used as key ingredients for delicious dishes. Think juice pulp hamburger patties!
2016 will be the year that people step back and start to realise just how rich and diverse the food culture of Japan is. Japanese food is not just sushi and Ramen, and hot Japanese trends of 2016 will be dishes such as okonomiyaki, Shabu Shabu, and Chawanmushi. Sample it all at Noosa’s Izakaya Geisha Restaurant, known for its exquisite food and fluid incorporation of multicultural and local ingredients.