So Hot Right Now

2015's trend ingredients are ridiculously good looking

So Hot Right Now
by Jason Stout/Thinkstock

Say bye-bye to burrata cheese, sayonara to shishitos, and adiós to aioli. The food industry is a fickle lover. Kale, brussels sprouts, and pork belly are already yesterday's flame. Cuisine's new darlings (with a few exceptions) are mostly the plain Jane ingredients we've known for years, made suddenly dazzling with some new adornments.

Pickles: Not the dill or bread-and-butter variety. It turns out that eggplant, cauliflower, turnips, and even cantaloupe can be profitably pickled. Salt & Time, qui, Swift's Attic, and others are doing it to crowd-pleasing results. Low in calories and bursting with flavor, expect to see more of these on menus across town.

Flans, puddings, and custards: Both sweet and savory varieties are popping up on menus around town. And why not? Eggy, custardy dishes take us all back to tender moments in grandma's kitchen. Think Lenoir's terrific vegetable flans, or Sway's sinful jasmine panna cotta.

Cauliflower: This meatiest of all brassicas is finally getting the love it deserves. Whether it is a healthier substitute for mashed potatoes, pickled, roasted, or curried, cauliflower is definitely 2015's kale. Look for it wrapped up at Fork & Taco or paired with scallops at Apothecary.

Sunchokes: These knobby tubers have the versatility of a potato. They can be roasted, mashed, or served raw, drizzled with herbed olive oil, but they have a sunnier flavor and are often considered to be a healthy choice because they are high in inulin, vitamin C, and iron. They are abundant in the farmers' markets around town, and chefs – such as Andrew Wiseheart at Gardner – are starting to use them on their menus as well.

Ricotta: Most of us only know how to use ricotta in lasagna or ravioli, but its creamy, mild taste is actually the perfect platform to support many different types of foods. Chefs know this too, and ricotta is making regular appearances in salads, desserts, custards, and spreads. And at Patrizi's, you can still have it with pasta.

Yogurt and buttermilk: Chefs are discovering what little old ladies have known for generations: that foods marinated in yogurt or buttermilk before they are cooked are delicious. But that's not all – in 2015 look for these to replace cream and aioli in sauces, dressings, and cakes. Buttermilk is an essential component of Fixe's fried chicken.

Broth: Pun aside, broth is hot these days. New York's Marco Canora has a takeout window devoted to it. An entire subplot revolves around it in this season of Downton Abbey. Homey, curative, and healthful, paleo-dieters love it. Look for it served as a restorative shot or paired with something else. You can even take some of it home at Dai Due.

Forbidden Rice: The name alone evokes secret assignations met in dark corners. And for that we want it. Actually, forbidden rice is so named because supposedly only Chinese royalty were allowed to eat it. Chefs love it now because of its nutty flavor and stunning deep purple hues. It looked great next to salmon belly at Congress.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Rachel Feit
Kitchen Ghosts
Kitchen Ghosts
Unearthing Austin's culinary history: Schneider Beer Vaults

May 20, 2016

Walking the Fine-Dining Line
Walking the Fine-Dining Line
How much is too much for Austin diners?

May 6, 2016


Qui, Salt & Time, Swift's Attic, Sway, Lenoir, Gardner, Dai Due, Fork & Taco, Apothecary, Fixe, Congress, Food trends

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle