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Main Dish

What's in and out: 13 food trends for 2013

By , - Last modified: January 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM
Unusual dessert combinations are all the rage for 2013. This sweet guacamole cupcake with cinnamon-sugar pistachios was entered in the 2012 Harrisburg Cupcake Cup by Lauren Caloiero, Hummelstown. Photo/Bella Vita Photography
Unusual dessert combinations are all the rage for 2013. This sweet guacamole cupcake with cinnamon-sugar pistachios was entered in the 2012 Harrisburg Cupcake Cup by Lauren Caloiero, Hummelstown. Photo/Bella Vita Photography

I'm no food psychic, but I have read up on what the experts are predicting to be this year's food trends, and they're fascinating. I've taken it all in and created my own list of what to look for on our local food scene this year. Bon appetit!

Out: Comfort food

In: Comfort food with ethnic flair

Discerning palates still crave good old-fashioned comfort food, but now it comes with an ethnic twist. Think diner food meets Asian and Latin American flavors.

Who's doing it now:

* The Belvedere Inn, Lancaster, mini Kobe burgers with soy-ginger mayo and spicy chili oil served on steamed bao buns

* Joe's Famous American Kitchen, Lancaster, mango curried chicken salad

Out: South of the Border

In: South America

Once upon a time, Chi-Chi's restaurant was a big deal. Today, we've practically adopted Mexican food as part of American cuisine, so it's time to travel further south into Peru, Argentina and Brazil. Look for ceviche, chimichurri sauce and South American-style grilled meats.

Who's doing it now:

* Bonefish Grill, Camp Hill and Lancaster, grilled fish with chimichurri sauce

* Arepa City, Harrisburg, Venezuelan arepas

Out: Kale

In: Brussels sprouts

Does anyone remember when kale was strictly for garnishes? But after all the kale hype last year, everyone's just about had it with kale soups, salads, smoothies and chips. Say hello to the new leafy green of choice: Brussels sprouts

Who's doing it now:

* Penn Square Grille, Lancaster, farm-raised salmon with spaghetti squash, pumpkin stock, Brussels sprouts, house bacon, apple salad, apple crisp

* Pour, Lancaster, roasted venison loin with leek bread pudding, roasted & fried Brussels sprouts, carrot puree, cranberry jus

Out: Tilapia and Chilean sea bass

In: Arctic char, barramundi and branzino (European sea bass)

Who knew fish could be trendy? Well, tilapia and Chilean sea bass used to be, but now Arctic char, barramundi and branzino are the ones strutting their stuff down the culinary runway.

Who's doing it now:

* Gibraltar, Lancaster, whole Adriatic Sea branzino

* Bricco, Harrisburg, whole roasted branzino, fingerling potatoes, capers, almonds & lemon

Out: Craft beer

In: Hard cider

While craft beer is still wildly popular, there's another craft producer in the game. Considering we live right near Adams County's apple country, hard cider is a natural development for Central PA.

Who's doing it now:

* Hauser Estate Winery, Jack's Hard Cider, Biglerville

Out: Tapas

In: Small plates

Maybe we don't feel like sharing or maybe we simply want main-entrée taste in a smaller portion. Either way, small plates are popping up all over local menus. No sharing necessary!

Who's doing it now:

* Annie Bailey's Irish Pub, Lancaster

* Char's — Tracy Mansion, Harrisburg

Out: Calamari

In: Baby octopus

Open just about any menu and you'll see calamari on the list of appetizers. Boring! Go for the grown-up version: grilled baby octopus tentacles. They're usually marinated and chargrilled for super-tender results.

Who's doing it now:

* Home 231, Harrisburg, grilled baby octopus with grape tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, olives, celery

* Suba, Harrisburg, pulpo a la parilla (grilled and marinated baby octopus)

Out: Noodles

In: Veggie "noodles"

From Atkins to Paleo, many of today's diets are cutting carbs and incorporating more veggies. So why not offer veggies that look like noodles? Spaghetti squash carbonara and other renditions are the obvious solution, but zucchini "noodles" and others are also gaining popularity. Bonus: They're gluten-free.

Who's doing it now:

* The Belvedere Inn, Lancaster, spaghetti squash salad

* Penn Square Grille, Lancaster, vegetarian spaghetti squash with heirloom carrots, chanterelles, dates, parsnip crisp, goat cheese

Out: Smoked barbecue

In: Smoked everything

Rumor has it we're gonna get smoked this year. Hey, focus, I'm talking about food here! Smoking is now going beyond bacon and barbecue to include all kinds of meat, seafood, oils and even smoked cocktails.

Who's doing it now:

* Bricco, Harrisburg, smoked corn agnolotti, oyster mushrooms and Camelot Valley goat cheese

* Home 231, Harrisburg, smoked trout sandwich

Out: Breakfast

In: Brunch

Gone are the days of going out for breakfast — Sunday brunch is the new fourth meal. Local eateries are diligently merging breakfast and lunch menus, and the result is a delicious yet reasonably priced repast.

Who's doing it now:

* Café Bruges, Carlisle

* Cork & Cap Restaurant, Lancaster

Out: Vegetable chips

In: Gourmet popcorn

I never bought into the concept of vegetable chips because they're really not all that healthy. But this year popcorn is set to become THE snack. Lending itself to many sweet and savory flavor combinations, this popped whole grain also will show up as a crouton, bar snack and in ice cream.

Who's doing it now:

* Half Nuts Popcorn Co., Wrightsville

* Christine's Chocolate Creations, Carlisle, chocolate-covered popcorn

Out: Fancy Cupcakes

In: Upscale Doughnut

While the Chinese calendar says it's the Year of the Snake, it might as well be the Year of the Doughnut. As one of the cupcake-obsessed, I would never admit to it, but doughnuts are taking a high-end turn, with flavors like strawberry shortcake or Black Forest cake.

Who's doing it now:

* The Fractured Prune, Lancaster, specialty doughnuts

* Café Fresco, Harrisburg, dip sum doughnuts with blackberry and chocolate sauces

Out: Bacon desserts

In: Unusual desserts

It seems Americans have finally had their fill of bacon-inspired sweets. Now desserts are increasingly featuring ingredients that are either savory or typically not included in sweets, such as the sweet guacamole cupcake that I tasted at the last Harrisburg Cupcake Cup.

Who's doing it now:

* John J. Jeffries, Lancaster, sweet potato, goat cheese and maple cheesecake

* The Belvedere Inn, Lancaster, ginger crème brûlée

What food trends do you foresee for 2013?

Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Many people also know her as founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and owner of Little Ditty Pops. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.

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