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Tea is one of the hottest trends in 2014

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Did you know that January is National Hot Tea Month? According to National Public Radio’s Kitchen, tea leaves will be big in entrees, desserts and cocktails in 2014. Even Starbucks has opened its first tea shop. Here in the Hudson Valley, there is an endless variety of gourmet teas created by Harney & Sons in Millerton. A visit to the Tea Bar and Shop is a must for tea lovers. And, at the end of this article, look for a terrific and tasty new cocktail made with green tea. For dessert, try some Green Tea Ice Cream from Mr. Green Tea Ice Cream Company.

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Not only will tea be a big trend in 2014, so will artisan distilling, which keeps on growing. This could be the year of gin, made with local plants as well as the traditional juniper berry. Ancient grains will become popular as with quinoa and spelt. The new buzz words in grains may be teff (a teeny grain, about the size of a poppy seed, loaded with calcium and vitamin C) and freekeh (extremely high in fiber and, like quinoa, is an excellent source of protein).

Due to their healthy attributes, nuts will continue to be trendy, especially for light snacks when traveling. According to a Harvard Medical report, nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews and pistachios help promote cardiovascular health, reduce stress and waist size with weight loss.

Move over Brussels sprouts and kale. Cauliflower is going to rule the range and tastes much better when sautéed rather than steamed or boiled when it tends to get mushy. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese and it provides us with two core conventional antioxidants. But its antioxidant support extends far beyond the conventional nutrients into the realm of phytonutrients e.g. beta-carotene. It is also an excellent source of the anti-inflammatory nutrient, vitamin K.

Good news for all the farmers out there as “eating local” is going into high gear. Restaurant chefs and green markets have planted gardens and built farms from the ground up to the roof tops. Many noted chefs are moving out of the big cities like New York and into the country where they are buying up land and starting their own farming. Zak Pelaccio, Chef/Owner of Fish & Game in Hudson exemplifies this movement. What is hard to find or can’t be bought can be obtained from professional foragers who will bring acorn cakes, edible wildflowers and chanterelles to the kitchen.

Sustainable and biodynamic farming is creating a niche for small-scale meat producers as we grow more adverse to industrial farming. Diners will see more small game birds, goat, rabbit and heritage beef on the menu. There are many small farms raising cattle, pigs, lamb, sheep, goats and chickens. Among them are Cool Whisper Farm (North Hillsdale), Harondale Farm (Ancramdale) and Raven and Boar Farm (East Chatham), along with an entire community of dairy farms and artisanal cheese makers producing fabulous cheeses and dairy products.

As for regional cuisine, the Midwest will reign supreme according to the Food Network. More Midwestern chefs are opening restaurants in New York as is Wisconsin native Gabriel Stulman creating his own “Little Wisco.”

Now it’s time for that cocktail!
Green & Spiced Cocktail (courtesy of Avenue Restaurant, Long Branch, NJ)

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Hot Organic Ceylon Green Tea
  • 1 oz. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
  • ½ oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 1 oz. Vermont Maple Syrup
  • Garnish: Orange Twist

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a tea cup.

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