AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The food trends of 2011 included high-end food trucks and gourmet versions of everything from hot dogs to Twinkies. So, what lies ahead for 2012? WEEKEND EDITION food commentator Bonny Wolf has a few ideas.
BONNY WOLF, BYLINE: There's a new vocabulary: authentic, craft, small-batch, artisanal, rustic and, of course, local. It's the opposite of processed, mass produced and factory farmed. What might be called urban neo-ruralism has apartment dwellers canning tomatoes, keeping bees, churning butter. The small farmer is the new gastronomic super hero, sourced on restaurant menus. Independent butcher shops are opening across the country with unfamiliar cuts like Denver steak, petite tender, flat iron. Expect more specialty meats, too - bison, elk, goat, rabbit. Whole pigs and whole fish are prepared in restaurants, and there's more interest in nose-to-tail dining where no piece of the animal goes to waste. Think internal organs - and bone marrow. It's being smoked, tossed with pasta, served with tamarind sauce. Bars, too, are speaking the language of authenticity. Local craft distilleries are making small batches of bourbon, rye, vodka, gin and bitters. There are absinthe and mezcal bars. Modern moonshine is also on the ascendency. If it's made legally, it's called white dog or white whiskey. Like the hooch made in unlicensed stills, it's raw, un-aged corn whiskey. Can you get more authentic? Look forward to even more attention to detail in food and drink. There are micro-roasters of organic coffee where each cup is individually brewed. There's even craft ice. One New York bar freezes 300-pound blocks of ice - free of impurities and bubbles - and it's someone's job to harvest the ice. The international flavor of the moment is Nordic. A few years ago, a group of Scandinavian chefs signed a culinary manifesto promoting purity, simplicity, freshness and ethics. The most famous practitioner is Rene Redzepi who runs Noma in Copenhagen, just named the best restaurant in the world. His staff forages in the woods, and the menu includes such things as sorrel granita, muskox, pork skin and chicken skin, accents of hay, pine, moss and juniper. For dessert? Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Savory ice creams should be popular this year, too. When New York Magazine asked Redzepi what he thought of the so-called new Nordic cuisine, he said he thought it should be called regional authentic cuisine, like I said.
CORNISH: Bonny Wolf is working on a book about the foods of Maryland's Eastern Shore. This is NPR News.