If 2018 was the year of aquafaba and apple cider vinegar, 2019 will herald a wave of innovative ice creams, faux meats, flamboyant flavourings and more.
This is the low down…
Hot, hot, hot!
Whether it’s Habanero, Jalapeno, Pablano or Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper (yes, that is a thing) chilli is hot to trot in 2019. Smokin’ Ed’s is the world’s hottest variety, while the Moruga Scorpion, according to a US study, would kill a 68kg person if they ate 1.2 kg of it in one sitting (no, we don’t understand why you would do that either). It’s not all about the heat, though. The joy of chilli is in its many and various varieties, and the range of flavours they provide – from smokin’ hot to sweetly subtle. The Cayenne pepper, for example, is sweetly flavoured with red fruits and berries, and adds depth to tomato and Mediterranean dishes (another 2019 trend), marinades and pickles. The Aji chilli, meanwhile, has a sharp heat with a citrus edge which makes for sublime ceviches and salsas. The joy of chilli in 2019 is in the many ways you will find it served. It’s having a big moment in ice cream, for instance (see over the page), it’s amazing on barbecued pineapple (just try it), it’s all over dark, bitter chocolate (again, see over), in beer (see below) and in cocktails.
Cheers to beer
Craft and world beers will continue their inexorable rise in 2019, which is set to see more small and micro breweries operating in the UK than ever before. From one-man bands in back yard sheds to the big names in craft beer such as North Yorkshire-based Black Sheep and Theakston, we are all over great beer. The North East is blessed with numerous quality breweries producing every style of beer imaginable and innovating with overseas hops and unusual flavours. In terms of trends, our love affair with Indian and English pale ale will continue this year, while the rise in popularity of US-grown hops will see a further rise in American ales. For evidence of this, note the arrival of Texan craft brewer Alex Rattray to North East brewery S43 with a specific brief to explore beer styles ranging from intensely dry-hopped IPAs to barrel-aged imperial stouts and sours.
Ice cream – not just for kids
Ice cream is having a massive moment, fuelled by a flurry of interest in bizarre flavours and flamboyant styling which began on Pinterest. Flavours including avocado, chilli, stilton cheese, even foie gras are de rigeur, while boozy popsicles are set to be everywhere this summer. Thai-style ice cream rolls are also major news for 2019 and have arrived in the North East at Cream Curls in South Shields and Heaton, Newcastle. Meanwhile, the new Umai Mi pan-Asian kitchen in Newcastle is serving up a green tea ice cream deep-fried baowich.
2018 began with the biggest-ever Veganuary – which has been beaten again this year – and ended with arguably the biggest food story of the year – Greggs’ vegan sausage roll. Faux meat isn’t new, but the inexorable growth of new mainstream ranges is. Mushrooms are the leading ingredient in many – as in the excellent North East-based Hooba Foods – as well as soya and wheat proteins. All the major supermarkets are expanding their ranges, while the growth in vegan kitchens in the North East continues apace with the likes of Junk it Up in Newcastle and Grumpy Panda in Gateshead.
Plastic bags are going up to 10p, plastic straws are a social taboo, and shoppers worldwide are stripping fresh produce of plastic packaging and handing it back at the checkout. As the rage against plastic continues, expect to be encouraged to take your own vegetable bag to the shops and to see increasing use of packaging alternatives such as canvas and silicone. Try The Paddock Farm Shop and delivery service in Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, which sells home-grown, organic and ethically sourced produce on a zero waste basis.
Seaweeds and unusual greens including lichen are in vogue, with big rises in sales reported by producers nationwide. Dulse – Irish red sea lettuce – is having a definite moment, while North Shields-based Seaweed & Co is thriving with its seaweed-infused oils and ingredients from seaweed harvested in Scottish sea lochs. Expect to see much more of it this year.
Pop ups and specials
Expect further growth in pop-ups, collaborations and guest chef appearances as interest in special and chef-led events continues. The trend also continues for quirky events and settings, such as the monthly Speakeasy Cinema night at Tyneside Bar Café in Newcastle, serving up a classic film and a themed menu (only 20 tickets per dinner – www.tynesidecinema.co.uk). Meanwhile, at Vallum Farm, just west of Newcastle, Sunday lunch is currently served weekly in a tipi (www.vallumfarm.co.uk).
21st Century cocktails
Nearly a third of 16-25-year-olds don’t drink alcohol and they are driving continued growth in low and alcohol-free spirits and cocktails. Meanwhile, 2019 will be the year of bizarre drink flavours including bacon, beetroot, butternut, chilli, eucalyptus, apple pie, toast and much more.
The annual Waitrose food and drink report says our love affair with bitter flavours will reach a peak in 2019. This is reflected in the current vogue for charring food over a naked flame (see Träkol at By The River Co at the Gateshead end of the Swing Bridge) and for seriously grown-up flavours in deepest, darkest chocolate (see North Chocolates, handmade in Newcastle – www.northchcolates.co.uk).