I don't know what the rest of the world/media will be obsessed with in 2017, but here's what I'm diving into.
1. Japanese Sweets & Spirits
I've been interested in Japanese stuff since, well, as long as I can remember (perhaps childhood cherry blossom picnics and trips to Uwajimaya in Seattle sparked my interest, and it was the painters and fashion I fell in love with during high school visits to Kinokuniya book store that cemented it). Fortunately, everyone else seems to want to hear about it too. This year I'll try to learn to make wagashi, subtle and delicate Japanese sweets. I plan to drink more shochu—especially hot in the winter—and make more of my own pickles and ferments, including a batch of miso with New York terrior.
2. Carribbean Flavors
Dancehall beats have pervaded pop music in the last year, and I suspect influencers in other realms will be picking up more Carribean flavors this year. A bottle of pepper sauce made by my friend's mother (by way of St. Vincent) caught my attention. Working on an episode of Cooklyn in Brooklyn's little Carribean—with the help of Shelley from CaribBEING and Blacka di Danca—got me hooked. This city is rich with transplants from many islands, and therefore with opportunities to learn and cook more. Maybe I'll even let my friend convince me to don a feathered carnival costume this fall.
3. Nonalcoholic Cocktails
You should be able to drink something nice even if you're not drinking booze. This has been on my mind since back when I was bar director at Cook & Brown, but I never did much about it (other than improvising drinks for guests). Thank goodness a bunch of writers and bartenders are filling the void of good, not-too-sweet, cocktails sans alcohol. Maybe this year I'll finally perfect my gin-free Juniper and Tonic.
4. Cabbage is the new Kale
Cauliflower tried, but my vote is for cabbage. I love the stuff, and it lasts forever in the refrigerator without spoiling. In 2017 I will continue to eat tons of cabbage: in yakisoba, braised al la Prune, made into kraut and kimchi (especially Sohui Kim's recipe), sliced thin for slaw and taco topping, and stir-fried in sesame oil.
5. Drinking Tea and Defending Matcha
I love matcha, which is why I hate the trend of putting it in everything and making it way too sweet. I'll continue to drink the good stuff in it's purest form, and use it judiciously in sweets (see trend number 1). I might write a rant or two about what NOT to do with it. I'm also drinking more good tea in general, because coffee—as much as I love the ritual of brewing it—just doesn't sit well with me any more. Tea that's fresh and complex (read: not lipton), and not artificially flavored like it was in the the 90s, seems to be everywhere now, so it's a lot more fun to drink tea than it used to be.
It's so good and good for you, but it takes dedication to keep up with (kind of like running or studying a Japanese...habits I also slip in and out of). I have a neglected sourdough starter that I just brought back from the brink of death. Maybe this will be the year I pick up my bread making practice again—maybe I'll even get good at it. I'm also going to use more sourdough in waffles, pie crust and tortillas, with inspiration from Sarah Owens and other masters of the craft.
7. Homemade Ceramics and Wooden Utensils
I like making stuff. I like having handmade tablewares, especially ones with imperfections. So why not try making some myself? Keep an eye out for them on my Instagram in the coming months for wonky bowls and rough chopsticks (sorry if that's just way too precious and bloggery).
Drawing ice cream cones for this Saveur article reminded me that I can do that, and I love to. I'm also working on an art installations for the windows of the Mid-Manhattan Library to go up in February. I'm not planning to become a full-time artist, but it's nice to dabble again. With the ubiquity of photos in our modern lives, illustrations feel refreshing and eye catching. I expect to see more and make more this year.
9. Live Video and Online Cooking Shows
I'm riding the wave. Watch me every Sunday at noon on Food52's Facebook page. Does anyone want to give me a cooking show?
Let me know in the comments what's trending for you in 2017.