Based on pinned images on its site, Pinterest foresees a revival in interest in elaborate cakes — not cupcakes or cake pops, but the real thing. Trending search terms include “gravity defying cake ideas” and “3D cake ideas” — and sub-genres like bubble cakes (decorated with spheres made of gelatin, sugar, or other materials) and drip cakes (with frosting dripping down the side instead of slathered on) are gaining popularity. The trend will likely impact both home bakers and pastry shops.
Hummus, the Middle Eastern purée of chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic, and sometimes various herbs or other seasonings, is ubiquitous these days, not only in restaurants serving the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean but in lunch bags and on party platters all over America.
Beyond its traditional forms, though, hummus serves increasingly as a medium for unusual additions. Bavel in Los Angeles enriches it with duck ‘nduja (spicy Calabrian sausage); Arizona’s Pita Jungle chain gives it a Southwestern twist with cilantro, jalapeños, and pico de gallo. Meanwhile, versions with beets, chocolate, and other unlikely additions are showing up in grocery stores.
The new tea party
Pinterest identifies “vintage tea party” and “butterfly pea tea” as trending search terms (the latter refers to a dark blue caffeine-free herbal tea made from a Southeast Asian flower). The site predicts that afternoon tea will start to supplant the boozy happy hour. Fancy tea cups and even tea sandwiches are trending topics, too — and look for tea bombs to explode on the scene. These are isomalt spheres filled with tea bags and sometimes edible flowers or other ingredients. They’re placed into cups or mugs and boiling water is poured in; the isomalt melts and the enhanced beverage fills the cup.
Gin with local flavors
“After long years of being unfashionable for all but a handful of brands, gin is finally cool again,” according to the alcohol industry trade magazine Market Watch. Gin and tonic is the trendiest of drinks among contemporary chefs in Spain; vintage gin cocktails like the Aviation, the French 75, and the Corpse Reviver #2 have become staples at hip bars across the land; the Negroni is so popular that some bartenders mix up half a dozen or more variations.
Industry analysts attribute much of gin’s new-found popularity to the craze for plant-based foods. Gin is typically flavored with a host of herbs and spices, making it a botanical powerhouse. Craft distillers are taking advantage of flexibility in the recipe for gin to incorporate local ingredients — sugar kelp in Isle of Harris Gin from Scotland, rock samphire in Mermaid Gin from England’s Isle of Wight, yuzu in a gin from Japan’s Kyoya distillery, figs in North Carolina’s Conniption Navy Strength Gin, and so on.
It’s hard to believe today, considering the popularity of agave-based spirits, but 50 years ago, tequila was a novelty in America, seldom seen (or used) and mostly of mediocre quality, and 25 years ago there was only one brand of (middling) mezcal readily available here. Today, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants offer dazzling selections of both tequila and mezcal, to be mixed into ever more creative cocktails (adios, Margarita) and savored straight, and specialty outlets — tequilerías and mezcalerías — are opening everywhere. That’s just the beginning, though.
Two other hitherto obscure agave-based liquors — bacanora (from Sonora) and raicilla (from a corner of Jalisco, the tequila capital) are finding favor with American drinkers, as is sotol, a related spirit made from desert plants other than agave. Even pulque, a fermented but not distilled agave alcohol can occasionally be found here — in cans (though it’s far better freshly made).