You know what they say: “Out with the old and in with the new!” Trends can come and go in our city’s food scene as quickly as a Carly Rae Jepsen single on the radio, but it doesn’t mean we don’t really, really, really, really like them too. Here are 8 trends you can watch gain momentum in Calgary throughout the year.
1. The Tiki Influence
There have been many rumours swirling that the vacant-for-years space behind National 17th will be turning into a rum bar (think “tiki” with a less tacky decor). We’ve already seen places like Proof and Container Bar opt for tiki themed evenings, and Native Tongues embracing tiki-style glassware for their cocktails. It’s only a matter of time before we are all sitting around a table sipping a ridiculously boozy, sweet rum punch cocktail from a giant ceramic pineapple. What’s old always becomes new again. Make sure to keep a bottle of Advil handy though, as this trend does not come without a headache.
2. Gooseneck Barnacles
Quite possibly the most bizarre-looking seafood out there, gooseneck barnacles were noted as highly sustainable by Ocean Wise this past fall, and chefs are embracing these blue-red ombre creatures like the world with a new Adele album. Okay, so maybe they aren’t going to get that popular, but we’ll see more of them on menus this year, mark my words. Once you get over the visuals, they actually have quite a nice texture, somewhat similar to razor clams.
3. Better Airport Dining
A bite at Chili’s or Montana’s in the Calgary airport is always made out of necessity (“I’m starving!”) and never out of deliciousness. The new international airport wing is looking to up the ante with more forward-thinking restaurant concepts from including Calgary’s own Vin Room. A good glass of wine and some decent food before hopping on my plane? I’m chalking this one up to a goddamn miracle!
Caulifloweris in the process of going into retirement, the beloved kale was laid to rest in 2014, turnips had a strong showing last year – so which oddball or neglected veggie is left to take the limelight? My money’s on kohlrabi. Readily grown in Alberta and easily cellared, kohlrabi has all of the makings of a new “it” vegetable. It’s cheap, under-utilized and best of all; it’s easy to work with. Sear it, roast it, sauce it, pickle it, love it. This is one root vegetable that’s ready for its close-up.
5. Macadamia Nuts
Do you know what’s not cheap anymore? Pretty much every other nut aside from peanuts and macadamia nuts. California droughts of 2014 were unkind to almond crops, resulting in a spike in price. Previously underutilized, this white, earthy nut is seeing a lot more love on menus and in home kitchens alike.
6. Orange Wine
If you thought red, white and rosé was the only trio you needed to know, you were wrong. Let’s turn that wine lovers’ triangle into a square with orange wine. What exactly is orange wine? Great question! It’s prominently featured on Pigeonhole’s wine list, and being the trendsetter that Chef Justin Leboe always proves to be, there’s no doubt we’ll all be sipping on orange wine at many Calgary restaurants in no time.
7. Value-Driven Menus
We’ve heard it a million times. We’re in a recession. Lay-offs, scale-backs and everything that goes along with the current decline of the oil and gas industry has had a significant impact on the local food scene. We’ve seen countless concepts (both old and new) close their doors throughout 2015 and the ones that remain are tightening up their game. Expect way better lunch deals, extended happy hours, and places that have never before opted for discount food and drink, offering up specials to get people into seats. It’s not a great time in Calgary, but the strong and business savvy will weather this storm.
8. Regionality Over Locality
The country in general has been experiencing a sort of renaissance in the past year or two with how our chefs define their food. They are no longer searching for that one singular definition of Canadian food. Instead, you see different regions of the country simply embracing what they have around them.