Trend spotting is an exhausting job. After all, trends come and go at hyperspeed. Who can keep up? We can, that's who. Here at FOOD & WINE, we have an insatiable curiosity about what's coming next. Last year we chased down breaking news about crêpes, Las Vegas restaurants and white-on-white place settings; this year we're in hot pursuit of the latest on gnocchi, Wales, haute chopsticks and $80 Australian wines. And our forward-looking test kitchen has developed seven recipes that give a preview of the taste of things to come. It could be tiring--if it weren't so much fun.
Tired of steak? Pork (including suckling pig), once merely the other white meat, is now the meat of the millennium. Sausages and cured meats are favored first courses, along with carpaccios. Whole fish will be wildly popular; they're dramatic and more likely to stay moist than fillets. Freshwater fish, especially sturgeon and Arctic char, is newly fashionable. Brining, wood roasting and wood grilling are everywhere. New seasonings include Japanese sansho pepper and Italian dried fennel pollen. The latest side dishes: gnocchi (from those made with the traditional potatoes to rutabaga updates), pierogi and spaetzle. Latin ingredients will keep pace with the exploding Latin music scene as guava paste, yuca and Scotch bonnet chiles become supermarket staples. Cooks are also turning to nut oils, especially almond and pistachio, for mixing into vegetable purees, drizzling on roasted fish and even spooning over ice cream. In fact, fat in all its guises--especially butter from France, Italy and Scandinavia--will make a comeback in the 21st century.
The biggest surprise: Eastern Europe is in. At Walzwerk in San Francisco (German) and Danube (Austrian) and the Russian Tea Room in New York City, chefs are celebrating foods from the other side of the Rhine. Chefs at Canteen in Manhattan, Gordon's House of Fine Eats in San Francisco and other places are busy reimagining good old American cuisine as edgy comfort food. Fish restaurants are this year's steak houses--witness Johnny's Half Shell in Washington, D.C., the Fish Market in Philadelphia and Jasper White's yet to be opened place in Boston. The layered look is officially over: at restaurants like Santa Monica's Melisse, chefs are deconstructing dishes and presenting each component separately on the plate. San Francisco's Foreign Cinema, a bistro combined with a movie theater, is just one example of restaurants as entertainment centers. Rich colors, like the deep indigo at Tizi Melloul in Chicago, have replaced the forlorn beige look in interior design. Multistory spaces, like Terence Conran's bi-level Guastavino's in New York City, are generating excitement with a different ambience on each floor. Another popular use for extra space: take-out and fancy-food shops. Bacchanalia in Atlanta has Star Provisions, and Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia has a "pastry laboratory" that sells chocolates, pastries and wedding cakes too.
American microdistilleries will be the microbreweries of the next decade as small independent producers turn out well-crafted brandies, whiskeys, gins and vodkas. We'll even be seeing a pack of boutique rums (like R. L. Seale's smooth, complicated 10 year old from Barbados) that ask to be taken as seriously as small-batch bourbons. The French brandy of the moment is Cognac, especially those bottles coming from single vineyards, single distilleries or single vintages. Single-malt scotch isn't going away; it's just getting more confusing, with individual distilleries releasing whiskies that are 10, 15, 18 and 21 years old. You even have to decide what kind of cask you want your scotch aged in: bourbon? sherry? virgin oak? Two more spirits about to take off are South American pisco and all-American rye (like Old Potrero). Sake is also making its presence known in mixed drinks and on wine lists. Now that we've mastered the basics of matching wines with food, restaurants are suggesting spirits that go well with dinner--rums, tequilas and cocktails (even nonalcoholic ones). Mixed drinks on the rise: rum punch, variations on the Manhattan and anything made with Champagne. Say good-bye to the industrial-size martini: small cocktails are in, with a refill on the side in a carafe or a cocktail shaker. Vermouth is going solo. Pioneering American brands like Vya from Quady and King Eider from Duckhorn use good wine as a base and add a whole spice shop of aromatics for flavor.
We're living in a holistic age, and kitchenware makers are responding with body-conscious designs. Black & Decker's Ergo electric mixer is shaped to accommodate the hand's natural grip. Anolon's pot lids have angled handles to prevent steam from scalding the cook. Oxo, the company that made comfort a battle cry, is introducing serious kitchen knives with contoured, impact-absorbing handles. (Cutlery is getting more and more sophisticated: cutting-edge cooks now seek out high-carbon Japanese knives and blades made from Teflon or ceramic.) Even stoves have gone ergonomic: doors on the new Frigidaire oven are hinged on the side and set at waist height to make it easier to slide heavy pans in and out. Multitask machines that save counter space and money are also a sign of these efficiency-obsessed times. Dacor's self-cleaning electric convection oven has a gas broiler; KitchenAid's latest food processor doubles as a citrus press.
--Monica F. Forrestall
style and design
Unexpected juxtapositions will be the major trend in tableware. The key word is contrast, whether in color, shape, pattern or texture. Picture a table set with a quilted tablecloth, sisal place mats, brushed metal chargers (Calvin Klein Home makes great ones), etched or cut glasses (from the likes of Salviati) and embroidered linen napkins (look to Nancy Koltes at Home). Bold colors and rich patterns will make a strong appearance, as evidenced in Muriel Brandolini napkins and Christian Dior tablecloths. In a quieter vein, table settings that combine transparent, translucent and opaque glassware and plates can create surprising effects. Organic shapes in vases, plates and even cutlery will hold sway in tableware by Teresa Chang for Auto, Karim Rashid for Umbra and Nambé and Marc Newson for Alessi and Magis. East and West continue to come together in fusion settings: knives and forks will share the table with chopsticks and Asian-inspired plates and glasses from Christofle and Bernardaud. Gold is out; platinum and silver are the accents of choice. Look for whimsical but practical items, such as Alessi's "Anna Cheese" grater, which looks like a chubby little girl, Cor Unum's "Bananenschaal" bowl, shaped like a bunch of bananas, and Driade's aluminum "Polka" bowl with circle cutouts.
--Stephen Scoble and Sonali Rao
What's next in travel? Africa! We'll be eating spongy injera bread and stew in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia or heading off to meet the Barsarwa bushmen in Botswana. Other destinations for 2000 are Panama, which has just regained control of the canal, and Chile, which is producing some thrilling wines. South India (known for sambal and dosas) and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are emerging hot spots, as is Eastern Europe--not Prague (that's old hat) but Kraków and the Hungarian wine route around Lake Balaton. Further north, there's new excitement in Helsinki and Copenhagen; for peace and quiet, travelers are heading to Swedish country inns. In the U.K., it's time for Wales to shine: the high-style St. David's Hotel and Spa in suddenly hip Cardiff is ushering in a new era. In fact, hotels everywhere are losing that corporate feel: witness the lived-in look at The Prince in Melbourne. The freshest hotels make you think you're at home, with candles, kitchens, rapid Internet access, DVD players and thoughtful, organic design. Airlines are also getting the message. Virgin was the pioneer, with in-flight wine tastings, massages and even real bedrooms on some planes; other companies are at last following suit.
Big is the byword in wine. Demand for wines with big flavors, like Zinfandel and Syrah, will soar, while substantial quantities of inexpensive wines from such emerging districts as the Languedoc in France and the Marches in Italy will be sold. Outlandish sums will (still) be paid for first-growth Bordeaux and cult Napa Cabernet Sauvignons; now bottles from Australia and Chile will command prices up to $80. Restaurants will feature smaller, more creative wine lists but more by-the-glass offerings, such as the 72 wines on tap at Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco and the 102 at Christopher's Fermier Brasserie in Phoenix. Wine labels will get wordier, imparting more information, especially in the U.S.: in addition to vineyard designations, labels will also note the exact location of the vineyard rows and give scientific information on the grape clonal selection and the fermentation process used. Beringer, The Hess Collection, Mondavi and other big California wineries are getting bigger by forming alliances with producers in Italy, South Africa, Chile and other countries. And finally, big money will be made (and spent) at e-commerce sites as the number of wine buyers in the U.S. continues to grow.