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Food: Five of this year's tastiest trends




What’s on the menu for 2021? Lucinda Ireland spotlights five of this year’s tastiest food trends

If you didn’t bake banana bread or sourdough last year, did you even 2020? If you could get hold of flour, that is! Did you find yourself pickling and preserving the uneaten produce from your veg box delivery in true #cottagecore style and, come 5pm, announcing to your household that it was “Time for a Quarantini!”? Losing hours to TikTok and its tiny pancake cereal, only coming up for air to whip up a Dalgona coffee?

In response to the stress and anxiety of ‘the new normal’, we looked to food for comfort and pleasure. Changes in how we nourish ourselves have been accelerated by Covid-19 and we’ve pinpointed five emerging trends set to define the food and drink scene in 2021, along with top tips on how to embrace them in and around Cambridge.

Better than Meat

Vegan food? But that’s not a new trend, you’re thinking. This is more than just a replacement for meat, though. Expect food that’s so delicious and original in flavour, it has an appeal that reaches far beyond the vegan community.

Thanks to fierce competition in the industry, we’re seeing constant innovation and an exciting time for plant-based food development. Without necessarily making a conscious decision to reduce their intake ofanimal-product foods, non-vegans may find themselves being gently cradled into a more planet-friendly diet, simply by picking whatever sounds tastiest.

For better-than-meat burgers, look no further than Vegan Vice - see @vegan_vice_club - which serves show-stopping Viceburger™ and Tendercrop™ at The Snug on East Road or hot and fresh straight to your door. Barbecue lovers should try the Cherry Bourbon or Peanut BBQ and, if you’re feeling fancy, how about the Truffle Shuffle Deluxe?

Founder Tommy Dexter says: “We take classic fast food and work on our recipes until we’ve created something really unique, such as the Pumpkin Pretzel Milkshake that can be celebrated for its outrageousness as much as the fact that it’s vegan, giving another reason to try Vegan Vice. We’re passionate about our community but you don’t have to be vegan… you just have to be on our wavelength.”

Magic Mushrooms

As we emerge from the global health crisis with an accelerated desire for wellbeing, we’re taking a more holistic approach to our overall wellness and increasingly treating our food as medicine. With this post-pandemic priority shift we’ve noticed lots of new food and drink products marketed to increase our gut health, mental health and immunity.

One category of wellness-boosting functional ingredients is Adaptogens - non-toxic plant ingredients that have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing practises for thousands of years. They support the immune system and foster a calm headspace, helping the body to ‘adapt’ to life’s emotional and physical demands. Alongside better-known Ashwagandha and ginseng are the Adaptogenic Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps and Shitake mushrooms. If you want to test out their mood-boosting abilities for yourself, look out for mushroom lattes, tea blends, supplements, elixirs and tonics.

The New Flat White

Bould Brothers Piccolo Latte (44093111)
Bould Brothers Piccolo Latte (44093111)

Think you’re trendy ordering a flat white with oat milk? Think again. Hailing from Sydney, where coffee is a way of life and almost everyone is a connoisseur, The Piccolo Latte is small but perfectly formed and more than just a ‘little latte’, as the name suggests. It is a smooth coffee that is bold in flavour, increasingly popular in Australia and now here in

the UK.

After hearing it referenced on Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast in an episode with Kylie Minogue, we were excited to see it on the main menu at a favourite Cambridge coffee shop. Bould Brothers Coffee on Round Church Street and Regent Street offers a speciality coffee experience in chic but friendly environs.

Max Bould, one of the eponymous brothers, told us that he’s noticed more people asking for this lesser-known coffee and how it should be made. “Traditionally, the Piccolo is made with a single shot of espresso in a small (4oz) size glass and topped up with beautifully textured milk. We often describe the Piccolo to our guests as a ‘small, strong latte’ – a little hint of beautifully textured coffee goodness.”

Tablescaping

We’ve spent most of the last year eating round our own dining tables and, looking for ways to keep things interesting, we’ve been recreating restaurant quality food at home with ambitious new recipes, meal kits or a simple meal made with excellent produce. Many restaurant suppliers such as Pata Negra Spanish Food (Cambridge and London) have pivoted to a direct-to-consumer produce offering and home deliveries.

Part of making the at-home dining experience special is in our table settings, or ‘tablescaping’ as it’s now called; the art of creating a beautiful dinner setting is no longer reserved for dinner parties. Start with a tablecloth and then you can get creative with whatever you have available – don’t worry if nothing matches, that is part of the charm!

Flowers and foliage from the garden or seasonal fruit and vegetables work well, as do brightly coloured glassware and candles at various heights.

Instagram is rife with #tablescape inspiration and accounts like Cambridge and London-based @thetablescapestore offer unique vintage treasures to help create your own.

Conscious consumption

Full Circle (44093116)
Full Circle (44093116)

Hygiene and proper sanitisation has become even more important in food packaging and purchasing, but sustainability remains a focus that brands and consumers are always working to improve upon.

After a bit of a scare with the whole stockpiling malarkey, we’ve become more self-aware of our rampant consumerism. We are more self-sufficient, better prepared to feed ourselves from the cupboards and freezer and less afraid of cooking with frozen, tinned and shelf stable foods.

Most of these can be purchased from refill shops where you bring your own container, so this is a great way to minimise on packaging. Full Circle Cambridge, the zero-waste shop on Norfolk Street, also offers a plastic-free delivery service, and Unpcked collect, refill and deliver your reusable containers.



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