Vegetables have been high on the food trends radar for a couple of years now, and in 2016 many chefs declared a “vegetable first” policy. But this year the obsession has reached fever-pitch, with our green friends popping up as replacements for meat, in desserts, adorning our cocktails and as an alternative way of life. Read on for the key players.
Veganism goes mainstream
Long shunned by the foodie industry as an overly restrictive and bland dietary imposition, veganism is at last emerging as a positive, and—most importantly—tasty alternative to the never ending parade of meat-based food trends. It’s thanks to a perfect storm of escalating concerns about the damage of industrial farming, a slew of high-profile celebrities proclaiming their conversion (oh hi, Bill Clinton and Beyoncé) and a flurry of truly delicious vegan eateries opening in London this year.
The jewel in the vegan crown is Club Mexicana, a semi-permanent Mexican-vegan residency at Pamela Bar in Dalston. It’s achingly hip but don’t let that put you off (we are on the subject of current food trends, after all), their take on Mexican street food will crush any preconceived notions of vegan food on first bite. Particular highlights include the succulent ‘chicken’ wings with hot sauce, or the killing-two-trends-in-one Baja to-fish taco, which gives any meaty competitor a run for its money. So hang your preconceptions at the door and get your slice of vegetable action.
Vegetables as meat/carbs/water and beyond
If it’s edible and looks good on Instagram, you can bet it’s been substituted for a vegetable alternative already this year. Last year we embraced spiralisers and cauliflower pizzas, now it’s time to turn your mind to vegetables as steaks, infusing our water or even moistening our cakes.
The cocktail world has even weighed in on the trend, as ferments and pickles crop up in revitalised classics such as the Gibson (anything featuring pickled onions is a win in our books); now that’s a way to get your five-a-day!
Grow your own
Why leave the farm-to-table trend to the professionals when anyone with a windowsill can get involved? Combining so many 2017 trends we’ve stopped counting, and despite our ridiculously cramped living conditions, London has gone gaga for growing our own fruit and vegetables.
A food trend that even saves you money – not to mention is immensely rewarding – all you need is a sunny spot near a window and a potential herb garden or vegetable plot is yours for the taking. Just think of all those impressed murmurs you’ll garner at your next dinner party when you declare the garnish was ‘from your urban garden’.
The days when Mexican food meant stodgy burritos and bad pub-nachos are well and truly behind us: London is in the midst of a taco revolution. From international mash-ups at Breddos and DIY jobs at El Pastor, to remastered classics at Corazon and aged cheeseburger varieties at Temper, the capital’s taco fever is inescapable. And when they’re this tasty and fun to eat, why try?
Us Brits are no strangers to the joys of Indian food, but it’s only recently we discovered the cuisine beyond traditional Indian curry houses. Thanks to the likes of Gymkhana, we’re finally getting exposed to its refinery, whilst the enduring popularity of Dishoom has encouraged aspiring new chefs that we’re finally ready to acquaint ourselves with real Indian food. Thus, enter the likes of Jamavar, Gunpowder and Kricket into the fray. Unabashedly modern, defiantly regional and with just a hint of that British-Indian familiarity, Indian cuisine is truly in bloom in London this spring.
No and low alcohol cocktails
As anyone who regularly acts as designated driver can testify to, the soft drink scene has been chronically lacking in viable alternatives to the old adage ‘Coke-or-juice’. But finally, no and low alcohol drinks are getting the attention they deserve. Far from a puritanical call for restraint, the new concoctions breaking onto the scene are all about refined methodology and maximising flavour.
Take Seedlip as a prime example. Developed using the same traditional pot still methods of distillation that are usually reserved for alcohol, the result is a booze-free spirit infused with botanicals and perfect served with tonic. Suddenly, Sober October doesn’t seem as much of a challenge.
Catch Seedlip Drinks at Taste of London this summer.