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Food trends for 2014 - restaurants and markets

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When it comes to food trends, you can’t slice it by the year. So many trends, like choosing local produce, are continuing, so little is really new. Still, there are some directions that stand out: who ever saw people buying big bunches of kale a few years ago? Below is a list of some trends, and where to experience them – namely restaurants and markets, all in North America.

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1. Peruvian Food: With its mixture of Latin and Asian, Peruvian cuisine continues to make its mark. What has long been traditional to Peruvians - ceviche and quinoa – are super popular among health conscious foodies.

Where to experience it. LaMar Cebicheria Peruana, a high-ceilinged restaurant on San Franciso’s Waterfront features a ceviche plate that includes varieties inspired by Japan, China and Peru itself.

2. Octopus. “Octopus everything: grilled, carpaccio, salad, seviche”, announced Salon.

Where to find it: Avli, Toronto’s best Greek restaurant, grills octopus with tangy lemon and top-notch olive oil (Did you know that Greek olive oil is never blended with oil from any other country). Avli also has the best homemade eggplant dip outside of Greece, as well as expertly grilled fish and a savvy list of Greek wines.

3. Mexican Food: Going way beyond the guac and burritos, Mexican food is appealing to discerning eaters by using fresh ingredients and making the most of authentic chilies, cilantro and fish. Even tacos have become inventive.

Where to find it: El Catrin: When Toronto got its first great Mexican restaurant, it really got it. El Catrin, in the city’s atmospheric, cobblestoned Distillery district, offers authentic and inventive dishes. Start with the Ensalada Destileria – grilled shrimp green papaya, mango, cilantro, toasted pecans, frisee lettuce, with a tajin sour vinaigrette.Taco El Cazador is corn tortillas filled with foraged mushrooms, huitlacoche, queso cotija and cilantro. Chile Xcatic is a chili pepper stuffed with mahi mahi stew with axioto sauce, black bean puree and guacamole. The two-story restaurant is decorated by colorful murals; in summer there is a large outdoor patio.

4. Classics refined : Fusion and foams should not preclude the great culinary classics. The most sensitive chefs respect the classics but know how to refine them. In New Orleans, classics like Shrimp Remoulade and Jambalaya are being given new twists.

Where? Dominique’s on Magazine Street in New Orleans. French-trained Dominique Macquet applies respect and creativity to both French and New Orleans Cuisine.The classic Oysters Rockefeller inspires Louisiana Oysters, with cauliflower crème fraiche, and scotch bonnet roasted tomato. Duck a l’Orange becomes Seared Duck Breast with parsnip puree, crispy arugala, and bing cherry essence. Lobster Salad is made with celery root, shaved fennel, basil aioli and lime oil. Even the French classic, Isles Flotants, or Floating Islands, come with caramel syrup, and mint crème anglaise. With this level of food, expertly served in beautifully restored heritage building, the moderate prices are surprising.

5. Fermented foods: Fermentation has gone from being considered unhealthy to desirable, as Michael Polan has written in his book, Cooked. Now we're going beyond yoghurt and taking another look at other foods. Would you believe sauerkraut?

Where? Farmhouse Culture, in San Francisco's Ferry Building Plaza Market, sells organic sauerkraut out of a stall. Who knew the fermented cabbage could be so tasty or so varied? Jalapeno includes carrots, onions and daikon radish. Horseradish includes leeks and carrots.

6. We don't want our food to travel far before it reaches our plate.. And now we want to know the name of the farmer, cheese maker or fisher. At the Ferry Building Plaza Market, the producers' names get top billing. Not all farms are organic, mainly because of the expense of qualifying. But all meet the requirements of CUESA, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. Only the farmer sells the product at the Ferry Building, and everything must be produced locally.

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