Move Over, Cronuts: Predicting Australia’s Next Food Trend
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We’ve all witnessed the deluge of food trends that have invaded Australian shores by way of that hallowed food ground, New York City. Cupcakes, cronuts, calling bành mí by its proper name, no-reservations restaurants: they’ve all touched our food lives in ways we may or may not care to admit.
But we all know what happens with food fads. A select few people get to try them, and then the swarming hordes make it impossible for anyone else without a spare hour or five to wait. I’m living in New York, but missed the ramen burger train completely; I’m not going to be one of the hundreds of people miserably lining up in the cold to get one of only three burgers made each weekend by fairy gnomes. (Are they even good?) It literally seems like less of a time investment to make your own.
To help you stay ahead of the game, I’ve tried a few New York offerings that could be the next big thing down under. Keep your eye out, and get in before the suckers.
Flavoured Rice Pudding
Yes, this is a real, popular commercial offering, and the next frozen yoghurt. Rice to Riches, a Nolita joint decked out like a Jetstar economy lounge in eye-bleedingly bright orange, serves up 19 flavours of rice pudding.
Once you’ve selected your flavour, be it “Cinnamon Sling” or the eyebrow-raisingly named “Play It Again Butter Pecan”, you can customise your dessert with one of many “Jesus Droppings” (toppings) on offer, including crushed graham crackers, dried cherries and chocolate brownie crumble. My Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug pudding with crushed graham cracker topping tasted like Nutella-flavoured Yogo – not a bad thing, per se, but kind of annoying considering it cost like $8.
For people like me who did not grow up eating rice pudding (imagine if our lunchboxes had contained Le Rice instead!), it seems an unlikely candidate for food fadness. But on the day I visited Rice to Riches, a Russian tourist was loudly praising the concept and purchasing $50 worth of pudding.
Is it the next big thing? Despite our strong track record for sweets, no. We’re a nostalgic lot, but not that nostalgic.
Eating Japanese food in Japan is wonderful, obviously — but eating Western food in Japan is a hoot. You would not believe the things that get put on spaghetti. I think I tried a strawberry-and-banana flavoured pasta in Tokyo once. You get the idea; it’s creative.
In NYC, there’s been a bit of buzz around Hi-Collar, a kissaten or Western-style Japanese café. If “siphon” or “Aeropress coffee” means a thing to you, they apparently have ace brews (I don’t drink coffee, for reasons of “gross”) — but what really excited me was the prospect of having Japanese pasta again.
I was delighted with Hi-Collar’s delicate and delicious spaghetti dish flavoured with cream, mushroom and cod roe, and will be back for their strawberries and cream sandwich (YUP). Somewhat disappointingly, it wasn’t disgusting or weird, just delicious — and with sea urchin pasta popping up on other menus across town, this is more than just a one-joint situation.
Is it the next big thing? Australians love Japanese food, and this new take could work a dream.
Packaged Kale Chips
Kale is already gracing market stalls and inner-suburban menus in Australia, but kale chips have so far been mainly a DIY effort for creative, healthy foodies.
In NYC’s organic food markets and uptown delis, packaged kale chips cluster on shelves like the uniform funbusters they are. The white miso–flavoured chips I tried – which cost $9, I might add – were so salty yet somehow tasteless and powdery that I threw the whole package in the bin after a short, very sputtery taste.
And then I was hungry, so I hated them even more.
Is it the next big thing? Yes, briefly, until all people with mouths reject them entirely.
I’m not going to even pretend to be impartial about this one: HOW ARE BISCUITS NOT ALREADY A THING IN AUSTRALIA? Is it because we already have a type of food called biscuits? Why don’t we just call them “solid sawdusts” instead?
Seriously, forget about Monte Carlos. American biscuits are like denser scones, with more butter. I’m not sure which part of this we do not seem to be interested in yet but can we just hurry up and adopt this food in Australia already? Yes, they’ve been around a long time as an integral part of Southern cuisine, but so was peanut butter before we idiot-heads realised it was god’s gift to sweets.
You can get biscuits anywhere in New York. You can even get them any time. They taste like butter and melted butter. Someone open a biscuit restaurant in every capital city about five hundred years ago, please.
Is it the next big thing? Shut up and don’t talk to me until you have opened a biscuit restaurant.
Skyr is a very thick, slightly sour yogurty product (technically a cheese) that hails from Iceland. When Sigur Rós chow down on this stuff, they are getting way more calcium and protein than we dumbos are getting from regular yogurt, because more milk is used to produce it. (This also makes it more expensive than your run-of-the-mill yogurt.)
But it is also freaking yum. A New York company, Siggi’s, now makes its own version, which is as good as the approved-by-Viking-descendants stuff I tried in Iceland a couple of years ago.
Is it the next big thing? Ultra nutritious, filling and tasty; probably will be a new staple rather than a fad. Aspirational Jalna fans will go whacko for it.
Doughnuts Filled With Things Other Than Jam
Australia is obviously on top of the jam doughnut, and we’ve taken some tips from our Italian friends on custard-filled doughnuts, for which full marks and well done.
But NYC’s Zucker Bakery has released a range of special filled doughnuts for Thanksgivukkah (we could also learn something from the States about undercooked multi-holiday portmanteaus). Fillings on offer are cranberry, toasted marshmallow and turkey with cranberry. What. I plumped for the marshmallow over the meat – so sue me – and it was wondrous.
Sweet-stuff chain Doughnut Plant also offers filled doughnuts that are so good Geoff Dyer wrote a column for The Guardian about them. My favourite there is the crème brûlée, which is somehow BETTER than it sounds. I don’t know how, something to do with science?
Is it the next big thing? Get the fuck onto this, don’t be a fool.
Estelle Tang is a literary critic, essayist and editor living in New York. She is a co-mouth at Flavour Palace and a bibliotherapist at The School of Life. Other serious things are here. Non-serious things are @waouwwaouw.