F&W's Dana Cowin Reveals Food Trends and Travel Ideas
Editor in chief Dana Cowin chats with F&W Facebook fans about dining out, the next big food trends and turning a blog into a writing career.
There are always projections that the cupcake fad will wind down, and that pie could be the new doll of the dessert industry. Thoughts?
The cupcake fad, I’ve finally realized, will never die. Cupcakes are just too seductive. Much as I do love pie, and think the pie trendlets are fun, I don’t think it has quite the staying power of the cupcake. Pies require a commitment—unlike a two-bite treat.
What’s trending for foodies?
Some of my favorites: sprouted things. I’d seen sprouted legumes, grains and breads in the market. TruRoots has incredible sprouted lentils—they’re ready in 5 minutes and super healthy! I’m not sure if this is just wishful thinking, but I’m seeing a lot of alternate meats like goat and rabbit on restaurant menus and I’m hoping they’ll turn up in home kitchens, too. They’re often sustainably raised and they’re healthy for you, too. We’ve seen cocktail kegs at bars—so instead of mixologists making drinks on at a time, the drinks are on tap. One example is Tavernita in Chicago. And we’ve seen a lot of innovative bakeries.
How do you see the local food movement evolving or devolving?
The local food movement is only going to grow and evolve in the coming year(s). As consumers become more attuned to where their food comes from, they will want to buy local. That in turn will help farmers’ businesses grow and change. There’s only more interesting local food ahead!
Where to Eat Next
What are your favorite American cities for dining out?
NYC, SF, Chicago, L.A. But I find that the second cities—Brooklyn, Oakland—also have incredible food scenes. And, not to list every major city in America, but I’m also really excited about Portland, Seattle and Austin. There’s so much creativity and passion!
Where should I take my out-of-town girlfriends for lunch in NYC?
ABC Kitchen. Everything Dan Kluger makes is delicious. It’s a great meal for vegetarians, meat-eaters, foodies, and picky-eaters.
What to Cook Now
What is your go-to comfort food?
Two words: fried chicken. I also make a lot of pasta with olive oil, garlic, hot pepper, parmesan.
What is your go-to “wow” dish for dinner parties?
I don’t actually try too hard to wow people. I do try really hard to make most of the food ahead so I can have a good time, too. So I make a lot of roasted vegetables, a grain side dish and then make a main dish that might require last minute finessing. Hugh Acheson’s Slow Grilled Rack of Lamb with Mustard & Herbs is an amazing option if you’re entertaining carnivores.
Hi Dana, I am a single mother of two. The older is a picky eater (but willing to try new things) and the younger one eats almost anything. I’ve done everything I can think of with ground beef (spaghetti, lasagna, meatballs, hamburgers, hamburger helper). Can you give me some other ideas?
Seems you’ve done a great job with ground beef. How about trying ground turkey as an option...turkey and mushroom meatloaf? Or add Asian flavors to the beef...sweet Thai chili sauce or mild salsa?
Advice on Food Writing
What skills are needed to be a food critic?
Not in any order: you need an open-mind and an appreciation of everything from the homey to the haute; a lot of experience with a wide range of cuisines and cooking styles; a big appetite; a good workout routine; a passion for finding and telling stories; an interest in culture at large; a talent for writing.
I have a food blog and would like to turn my writing into a full time gig. Any suggestions?
It’s important to become an expert in an area of food that you care about. When you know more than anyone else on that topic, you can become the go-to journalist. To do this, you need to taste as much as you can, read as much as you can and then focus on growing your audience. You can promote your blog on Twitter and Facebook. Then you can reach out to local media outlets and offer to post some of your stories on their site. If it becomes popular, you might find yourself with a paying gig!
What keeps you motivated to keep eating out, cooking great and hunting down the next new thing?
I wake up every day wanting to taste the next big thing, the next little thing...in fact, everything. Sports fanatics are adrenaline junkies, I’m a new food junkie.