by Malcolm Jolley
2010 was the foundational year for Good Food Revolution. We established ourselves as a viable going concern with the support of tens of thousands of people who care about food and wine in Southern Ontario and the financial support of our Certified Good Food Fighters, who believe the good food movement needs and deserves an independent media voice. Jamie and I thank all of you profusely and can’t wait to hit 2011 running – look for Good Food Revolution, Volume Three, Number One on January 7.
I learned quite a few things in 2010. Not just from our fantastic local farmers, chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and winemakers but from my people: the forsaken wretches who comprise that strange category of citizen know as the food writer. One of the best lessons was that three of my all time great food-writing heroes were perfect gentlepersons: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Harold McGee were gracious, friendly, funny, whip smart and generous with their time each in their own way. So were Jamie Oliver, Dorie Greenspan, Sandi Richard, Bob Blumer and Mark Bittman, each of whom I had interviewed before. And, just to round things out local heroine Sarah Elton carried the best, positive message, showing that Canada is as ready, willing and able to be at the forefront of the good food revolution with her book, Locavore. Great writers and communicators always have interesting new ideas about the pleasures of the table: interviewing them is the great perk of an altogether fantastic job. I am grateful to be able to what I do and learn so much.
But, one cannot spend all of one’s time looking back, so in the spirit of looking forward, I present a few trends I predict we’ll see more of in Ontario in 2011. I look forward to any commentary!
If the last 10 years have been about animal fat the next 10 will be about interesting vegetable dishes. Not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, but eyebrow raising ways to use rediscovered plants and varietals. This makes sense: market garden farmers (some of them chefs) have been working at growing all manner of interesting fruits and vegetables, they will increasingly want to interesting things to them. Vegivore is the term New York magazine journalists Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite coined in their article ‘Vegetables Are the New Meat‘ to denote a vegetable enthusiast who also eats meat. Of course, Porchetta and Co., just opened on Dundas West and serving nothing but roast pork sandwiches to rave buzz and reviews demolishes my prediction. Surely a (welcome) exception to the new rule!
2. PIIGS Wine
Okay, Ireland doesn’t make wine, so perhaps she’ll just send us whiskey, but Portugal, Greece and Spain are broke (Italy may well be too) and the value of Euro is likely to decline relative to our dollars in any event. This will mean more interesting Old Word wines for less money. Greece is one to watch in particular since 1) their estate or craft wine industry is coming of age and export ready and 2) cheap travel deals in the wake of the economic crisis will help drive demand in North America. Look for great deals in the $10-$15 range.
3. Korean Food and Flavours
Not just because of David Chang – Toronto’s large Korean community is flexing its culinary muscle. The sleeper mid-price restaurant success of 2010 might be Swish by Han on Wellington. And Marja Vongerichten (wife of Chef Jean-Georges) will launch her TV series The Kimchi Chronicles on PBS coming early in the new year, which will only fan the flames. This is overdue, I think, since Canada and Korea share a similar climate. Here’s an Asian cuisine we can incorporate local ingredients into seamlessly, as Nick Lui does at The Niagara Street Café already.
4. Wine Bars / By the Glass
Eight Wine Bar in the Cosmopolitan Hotel has re-opened with a serious sommelier, Sheila Person, and a serious commitment to Ontario wines by the glass – Tony Aspler was on hand at the launch in early December to give the blessings of The Ontario Wine Awards. Enoteca Sociale was the big/small success of the year with 80 wines by the glass. Wine has become a big focus of any night out, and there is demand for a glass or two after work. Plus, as Jamie has deftly chronicled, there is a whole new generation of recently graduated sommeliers out there dying to implement ambitious wine programmes. It will be fun to see how it plays out.
5. Canadian National Locavorism (4,000 Mile Diet)
The taste advantage of local food is obvious and the message has more or less permeated throughout the high-end dining and consuming communities. So, now we can enjoy a few ingredients like BC spot prawns or Quebec foie gras without worrying about our locavore creditentials. At the same time, Canadian cookbooks and food media have come of age and we’re learning about foods from around our great Dominion – to say nothing of the effect of the Canadian Chefs’ Congress. Watch for more inter-provincial menu making!
Wishing you a much merriment this delicious season and a happy new year!