Japanese fine dining at Fyn restaurant in Cape Town.
Japanese fine dining at Fyn restaurant in Cape Town.
Image: Bruce Tuck

1. FERMENTATION

The trend that first gained attention thanks to health bloggers and Goop* aficionados’ kombucha/gut-health addictions has made its way into restaurant kitchens and cocktail bars across the country. This is in no small part thanks to René Redzepi and David Zilber’s book The Noma Guide to Fermentation, which outlines the complex art. We’re seeing a host of culinary creatives experimenting with the likes of koji, shoyus, misos, vinegars, garums, lacto-ferments, and, yes, kombuchas. It’s a trend that’s just started, so we suggest getting acclimatised to the slightly salty, slightly sour, and slightly acidic combinations of flavours we’re bound to see more of.

*Goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand”. A lifestyle impossible to lead unless you’re a multimillionaire, that is.

2. SUSTAINABILITY

Hopefully this one is more of a permanent shift than a trend. Sustainability, locality, and seasonality are at the tip of many a chef’s tongue these days. The move toward a waste-conscious mindset and environmentally aware culinary scene shows no sign of slowing down. Nose-to-tail is definitely something to expect more of and, if you can’t yet stomach the idea of lamb brains or chicken hearts, more conservative options such as beef cheek and liver parfaits are already making their way onto menus across the country. They’re both tasty dishes, using secondary cuts of beef and offal, respectively, and a great place to start should this style of dining intrigue you.

3. FINE-DINING POP-UPS AND KITCHEN TAKEOVERS

While we’ve had our fair share of pop-ups in the past, there’s an emerging group of talented young chefs embracing their inner millennial. Rather than commit to permanent spaces, they’re opting to partner with restaurants and bars for short-term residencies. It’s a super-cool concept and an obvious decision for those who aren’t ready to open their own eateries. Emma Hof Fiedler, previously head chef of Hallelujah, recently popped up with a four-night izakaya (a type of informal Japanese pub) within Publik Wine Bar, and John van Zyl took over Cape Town’s Marrow with The Melting Pot, serving up his take on global street food within the bone-broth bar’s tiny space.

Cape Town’s Marrow with The Melting Pot.
Cape Town’s Marrow with The Melting Pot.
Image: Supplied

4. JAPANESE FINE DINING

It’s the cuisine of the moment, and it shows no sign of slowing down. We’ve already seen the rise of Japanese-style street food such as ramen, yakitori, and sushi bowls, but this year we wager the trend gets serious. Expect a rise in fine-dining takes on Japanese food, with multi-course kaiseki and omakase offerings, and a return to traditional sushi. Flavours such as miso, ponzu, and daikon will infiltrate menus.

IN MEMORIAM: Here we highlight some of the gastronomic trends we’re dying to forget

1. FOOD ON BOARDS

The appeal of unusual crockery has thankfully run its course. We were never fans of having sauce all over the table, and outfit, while your knife gouged into untreated wood beneath it. Same goes for squares of slate, shards of ice, concrete plinths, or other flat entities. Enough already. Bring back bowls.

2. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

For a decidedly murky moment, smoothies, burgers, croissants, and the occasional cocktail all crossed on over to the dark side. Don’t get us wrong: we’re here for the health benefits, but we’d really like our food to go back to looking like it’s actually edible. That said, here’s a shout-out to squid ink, the original ingredient of the all-black everything. More of that, please.

3. MEXICAN FUSION

For a fleeting moment this was all anyone could, er, taco’bout. There were dessert tacos and sushi burritos, nachos assaulted with everything but the kitchen sink, and tequila in a mélange of flavours — with the resulting hangovers taking on as many forms. While we still love indulging in good Hispanic fare, it’s definitely time to ditch the mixed-up Mex.

4. ZOODLES

For those not in the know, this is a combination of the words zucchini and noodles. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. While we’re all for getting in our five a day and staying healthy, we’re purists when it comes to pasta. The same applies for any other pseudo-spaghetti substitute.

6. CRAFT GIN

Certainly the spirit of the nation for a moment, infused with the whole of the Cape floral kingdom and crafted in a variety of styles from clear to colour-changing. We think it’s time to go back to basics. Strip back all the bells and whistles, and enjoy a simple, classic gin and tonic.

7. UNICORNS & RAINBOWS

It’s time we bid adieu to glittered and rainbow-bedecked creations, horned or otherwise. The past few years have seen everything from cakes and ice creams to bagels and coffees given a fantastical twist. The magic is dead. Unless you’re eight years old, get a grip.

• From the June edition of Wanted 2019.

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