Recently, I was cleaning out my pantry and it got me thinking. A lot of people do their big cleaning in the spring or fall but January is my time for a good refresh.
I have a huge collection of cookbooks. Before moving from MA to TX, I had over 400 cookbooks in my cabinet. You might say that I had an addiction. Actually, my husband did say that but I say it was a collection.
I read cookbooks like novels and love hearing the writers voice, not to mention a new thought on a recipe and inspiration for other recipes. The collection sadly got reduced down by either giving them away, sold some or donated them to the library for them to use or sell. I arrived in TX with around 50 cookbooks.
In the almost 4 years that I have been in TX, I have started to collect them again. I am now a bit more selective on the books purchased. Now I buy or preview a lot on my kindle and if it really intrigues me, I will purchase the hard copy.
My cookbooks in my pantry are arranged by color, except for the queen, Ina Garten, as she has a whole shelf dedicated to her.
When it can time to categorize my cookbooks, I started thinking about the trends that I have seen come and go both in restaurants and in-home kitchens. This inevitably led to me thinking that I should do a blog post about it.
Drum roll please……here is my list of food trends for 2023 that I hope will happen and some things I hope will be put out to pasture. Let’s start with what I would love to see excel in the food culture world this year.
One of my favorite ways to entertain is to do a dinner party. Sitting around a table, sharing stories and food fills my cup. A dinner party to me is anything over 4 people. My sweet spot is between 6-10 guests. While the world starts to slowly come back to “normal”, my hope is to see more and more people opening their home and sharpening up their party throwing skills.
Let me state for the record that you do NOT have to be a professional chef or have years of experience to throw a successful party in your home. Game Day parties are one of my favorites! Some wings, guacamole and jalapeno poppers on a table, turn on that game and let’s go! How about ordering pizza (or making pizza, see below) and having a designated movie night? It can be just as much fun as a formal dinner party.
Connection, fellowship, conversations with friends and neighbors is the name of the game. Stop worrying about someone potentially spilling wine on your carpet and realize material things are nothing compared to relationships. You could also do a party outside so you don’t need to worry about things like that.
I will pull out my soap box here and publicly state that I believe social media is killing us as a society. Ironically, this is coming from someone who uses social media for her business, but hear me out. Prior to the existence of the internet people tended to have more conversations. Actual face-to-face conversations vs assumption, half truths and gossip. We have gone down the slippery slope of thinking that just because we have an opinion, not only does it need to be shared but some people are outright nasty about it if you don’t agree with them. Mean for the sport of just being mean.
We need to remember, just because we think it doesn’t make it the truth. As Diane Keaton says in “Somethings Gotta Give” – “The truth doesn’t have versions”. As a society we have created rifts because of “their version” and stirring the proverbial pot for their own ego as a keyboard warrior. I am personally tired of it. We have the power to do something about it and I am challenging you to step up and create opportunities for discussion and true connection. (Quietly slides soap box back under her desk).
Bringing parties back, no matter the size, is important as we build community around us. We need to keep those lines of communication open, welcome people into our homes and feel good about it.
Still hesitant to throw a party yourself? How about getting some friends together and throw a Progressive Supper? They are so much fun and all of the burden doesn’t fall on your shoulders. Check out my blog post on how to pull it off without a hitch.
If you are rusty or a beginner and are looking for some great party ideas, please check out my subscription service Every Day Fête. My goal is to empower you to go for it. Open that door! Let the sunshine in.
Let me be clear here, I am talking about the fruit not the sometimes draining act of dating. I know what you’re thinking. Dates seem a little old fashioned and some what retro. That’s exactly why I love them!
A classic catering appetizer are dates, stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon. The smell and taste of that bite makes me smile. Of course bacon makes everything taste better but the dates have a lovely texture to them and the sweetness makes it feel like a treat.
One of my favorite recipes of all time (that I made so many times for catering events I’ve lost count) is Chicken Marbella. This classic from the Silver Palate cookbook has been updated by Ottolenghi to include dates versus prunes and a touch of date molasses. Talk about modernizing a retro dish! See where I’m going with this? Dates for 2023.
As we get another year away from 2020 a.k.a. the beginning of the pandemic, I feel like I want to continue to expand my food horizons, explore the culinary world and immerse myself in different food cultures.
With shows like Stanley Tucci’s Italian show, “Searching for Italy”, it provided an escape for us when we were restricted in our own foodie adventures. I was totally influenced by Mr. Tucci and planned a trip to Emilia-Romagna, in the fall of 2022. I have written about Bologna and Rimini if you want to follow along.
Recently, while visiting Charleston SC, I had a free morning and decided to do a culinary tour of that city. I learned the history of a few restaurants and of the food we were about to enjoy. I also learned a lot about my countries history, both the good and the bad, that I didn’t previously know. If you were visiting a new city a great way to get to know your home -away- from home is to try a culinary tour.
Cooking classes or something I thoroughly enjoy, not only taking but teaching! I currently am a freelance instructor at Fischer & Weiser in Fredericksburg, TX. Before we start a class, I ask everyone to introduce themselves and if they are not local what their agenda is while visiting Fredericksburg. So many have responded recently that they want to now learn how to cook and explore the culinary world of Fredericksburg.
I get 2-5 requests weekly to do private classes or private chef engagements. People are starting to see this as a great way to expand their mind and palate. I welcome the inquiry.
My friend Arin Smith, from Perfectly Preserved in Stonewall, TX teaches all sorts of canning classes. Last year a few friends and I took the Bloody Mary class. We pickled all types of veggies to put in Bloody Marys. It was so much fun and I learned to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to canning and “putting things up”.
Scot and I took a private cooking class in Modena and it was one of my favorite days of 2022! It was definitely a highlight of our Italy trip. Check that blog post out here if you want to read about that day and see the recipes we created together.
In the fall we are heading back to Italy, this time Tuscany is included. We will be immersed in the culture and food that region for a whole week. Tuscan Women Cooks is a unique food immersion experience in a small village in Tuscany. To say I am excited, is an understatement.
If you have seen the TV show La Pitchoune: Cooking in France about the Courageous Cooking School in the south of France you might also be intrigued. It is held in Julia Childs summer home so you know I had to sign up! I am attending in May 2024 and am giddy about it just typing this sentence. I had to check it out, and am blessed to have a husband who loves food as much as I do. Julia is the inspiration for my business! If you want to learn more about my love of Julia Child check it out here.
All of this to say stay tuned, I think we are on to something here.
I mentioned above my love of dates. Let’s dive a little further into some food and drinks that I think need to come back.
Recently on Instagram, I saw a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of “Just Like That” walking down the street with Aiden. As a huge “Sex and the City” fan I was admittedly disappointed in the reboot, but of course, had to follow along.
When I was approaching my 40th birthday my friend Karen took me to New York City to do the “Sex and the City” tour. One of the stops we got tiny martini glasses filled with a Cosmopolitan. Oh, I would love for the Cosmopolitan to come back with a vengeance! I don’t mean the one that’s too sweet with too much cranberry juice, I’m talking the perfect little light pink Cosmo with a lime wedge that transports me back to 2006. Don’t you think the perfect Cosmo deserves a reboot?
Fondue. All kinds of fondue. Chocolate, cheese anything i can dip into fondue I am happy. I have fondue pots from my catering days. I recently had a party and did a cheese fondue with smoked sausage as the dipper. It creates conversation, not to mention it is so good.
I have always loved mushrooms. Growing up I only had tried the basic white button mushrooms as that is what was readily available. As a South Dakota girl I had cream of mushroom soup in a lot of different hot dishes and my mother prepared the pheasant that my father brought home in a cream sauce with a base of creamy soup.
Cremini and Portobella mushrooms are always a favorite and pretty readily available at most markets. I use them a lot in recipes and love to combine them to build flavor to a dish.
One of my favorite things to see when I walk into a Central Market (HEBs answer to Whole Foods) is the huge mushroom display. The trumpets, oysters, Lions mane, chanterelles, etc. etc. make my mouth water and my mind whir with creativity.
More and more exotic mushrooms are popping up at your local grocery store and farmers markets. The earthy and almost meaty textures make this an appealing substitute for meat. I like to do one meatless meal a week, if possible, and mushrooms are usually a star.
I’m looking forward to finally splurging and trying chanterelles the next time I see them.
For Christmas, each of my four kids received an Ooni from me and my husband. Now, if you haven’t heard about them, they are a reasonably priced pizza oven that can cook a pizza in less than two minutes. Yes, less than 2 minutes. This is making a make-your-own-pizza party a real thing. You can buy dough from a local pizzeria or the grocery store. Making homemade dough is super easy. I have grown to love making it with “00” flour for our favorite texture.
Living in New England for so many years, I was spoiled with outstanding pizza. My daughter went to college in New Haven, CT. She played goalie for the Universities lacrosse team so we were there pretty frequently. One of my favorite spots to get some ‘za was Zuppardis APizza. Spoiled me for life.
We have not found the perfect pizza here in the Hill Country but we have found a few that are pretty good. Unfortunately, we live 30 minutes from town so by the time we get home, the pizzas cold. It has lost its appeal leading to disappointment.
When we bought our Ooni, almost 2 years ago, we experimented a lot. My son, who is a chef, lives nearby and would come over for pizza night. Together, we would clean out my fridge and create 3 to 4 pizzas at a time from leftovers. Great combinations with leftover chicken, steak and even boudin!
Pizza making is a great thing to do with kids, at a party, or just on a date night at home. Trust me pizza at home is going to be big.
One of my favorite cookbooks this year is the cook you want to be by Andy Baraghani. When I first get a new cookbook, I go through and market with tabs of all the things I’m interested in either circling back to or testing out for myself. I really love the way that Andy’s book has a lot of white space for notes, beautiful pictures, and added information about the ingredients, he uses a lot of flavors that I am interested in exploring in 2023. Like pomegranates, tahini, and zaatar.
I believe these flavor profiles are going to be big in the next few years.
There are food trends that as a consumer and a creator, I am a bit exhausted by. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so these are mine. In reality you didn’t ask for mine but you are on my blog so that is what you are going to hear.
OK, don’t hate me for saying this, but I’m really tired of seeing avocado toast on every single menu. I happen to love it but I’ve had some really poor versions lately when tried because I feel it just has to be on every menu.
So many menu items I see them just piled with things and they are challenging to eat. I love avocados but can we please go back to chips and guacamole?
With the recent news of the world famous restaurant in Copenhagen, Noma, closing its doors, it led to a discussion with my husband about our favorite restaurant experiences. I am not knocking this restaurant. I was never lucky enough to experience their food but we noticed something when we were in Italy. It could be because we ate out 14 days in a row and really could see some trends but our favorite meals on our trip were not at the Michelin star restaurants. They were at the Osterias, bistro type places. You know what I mean? The smaller more homey restaurants were the locals go that was more our jam.
Something that came out of the pandemic is more of a realization how awful people in the hospitality industry are paid. The industry is adapting and finding ways to remedy that like a kitchen tip. While some folks find it off putting, it also makes the whole restaurant, front and back of the house, responsible for the experience. As a former restaurant manager and caterer, I could go on a tangent about this topic but I will leave it here.
I see the future restaurants will be focused on local food, the experience and hopefully taking care of their staff financially. There will always be a need for white tablecloth dining and I am not saying it’s going to go away, but I think spending all of that money to eat foam might be on its way out the door.
I admit it I am Gen X and I can’t stand TikTok. One, it is very challenging to navigate, which totally speak to my age. Two, nothing seems to be vetted before it becomes a trend. It’s bad information.
For example, the fake Coke thing with balsamic vinegar. I saw numerous people try this challenge and it turned my stomach. That’s a hard pass for me. When and actress makes a simple vinaigrette and it becomes mind blowing just because it’s on TikTok is ludicrous.
The latest TikTok food trend that I can’t take is what they have done to Wafflehouse. Love it or hate it but Wafflehouse is a barometer of a city after a storm! I am not kidding, if the Wafflehouse can open after a storm, the city will be opening soon. The menu is a simple, there are instructions but TikTok challenges people to make up their own things. There are now signs up in some establishments stating “order from the menu not what TikTok tells you to do”.
My wish for 2023 is that people start thinking for themselves again. Create opportunities for discussion, fellowship and community. You try a new type of mushroom, you play with fire (in a pizza oven), you find a good cosmopolitan, you take a cooking class and you don’t buy into all of these TikTok trends. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
With grace, grit and gratitude
JUST SAY NO TO FOAM FOOD! 😝
Love this. And if you ask me, a Cosmopolitan never went out! And thinking for oneself is always a good idea.
Right? They are always good.