O.B. James 1 p.m., March 7
Trends: Keep It Close
If you had to pick four letters that spelled out what's happening in our restaurants this coming year, they’re “K.I.S.S.”
Yeah, that’s “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
Or maybe that should be “K.I.L.S.” “Keep It Local, Son.”
The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 trend-tracking “What’s Hot in 2012” list, which they say is based on interviews with around 1800 chefs, is bursting with words like “local,” “healthful,” and “sustainable.”
How local? Number 4 on the list has restaurants growing food in their own gardens.
Top Ten were:
Locally sourced meats and seafood
Locally grown produce
Healthful kids’ meals
Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
Locally produced wine and beer
Whole grain items in kids’ meals
Good to see food trucks/street food came in at #14. And half-portions/smaller portion sizes was #5 in main dish trends.
Of course you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: Lists are fine, and all these “save the earth” and “stop the gunk” trends may be great for the Wolfgang Pucks of the gastro-world, but hey, what about the rest of us?
I still see Sysco and other supply trucks pulling up at eateries every morning delivering the same suffrin’ chickens from massive gulags in, say Arkansas.
If you consider the “lives” (Ha!) of battery chickens, and the tons of diesel fuel it costs to get them here, you’re not such a happy camper when you hold up that drumstick.
One trend that might help small San Diego farms: mobile slaughterhouses. Trucks with butchers aboard, who’ll kill your cow or whatever according to national standards.
Sounds grisly, but it means small farms can raise pigs/cows/buffalo/whatever organically, sustainably, let’s say, and sell direct to local eateries without having to first send them to hell and back to have them killed. They can raise locally and sell locally.
Also good to see: Locally produced wine and beer came in at #8.
For San Diego, beer’s the incredible story.
But how about wine? Isn't San Diego where California wine began? Was born, in 1769?
For crying out loud, where - 243 years after the good friars planted the state’s first grapes right here, years before Napa Valley - can you walk in to a likker store and ask for a bottle of the local plonk?