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FOOD POWER • THE SECRET INGREDIENT FOR STAYING POPULAR & PROFITABLE • FoodPower is a restaurant consulting firm that coaches industry leaders to leverage strengths, create concepts, refine menus and identify opportunities to increase revenue and capitalize on the changes in todayÂ’s dining out patterns.

LET'S TALK TRENDS, NOT TRASH!

There’s something about the New Year and this kind of an economy that makes us all hungry for new ideas – and we all want to know what’s IN! So, in this newsletter, I want to talk trends, not trash.

Trends on FoodPower’s list that continue to demonstrate the amazing power of food, that we can expect to see more of in 2010 include gastropubs, speakeasies, casual environs with comfy seating, creative food & spirits at affordable prices, craft beers, charcuterie, artisan cheeses, small plates, sharing platters, mixologists, tuned-in hospitality and, of course, all things PORK.
 


Smart restaurants are responding to these trends - incorporating not just one or two of the most popular (IN) ideas, but enough to create a whole new dining experience – and no one has done it better than the Five Crowns, a traditional English Inn in Corona del Mar, CA.

Three generations of the Frank family have added a new concept on the side (literally) of their popular fine dining restaurant to create an English-style gastropub, SideDoor. The Pub has an edgy red key hanging from the side of it’s 1965-built building offering a kind of an “in-the-know” entrance – almost like a speakeasy. It yells fun, even before you enter!



SideDoor has an amazing list of artisan beers, wines and innovative cocktails to pair with the many culinary choices on the menu.  I love the flights of beer and wine – an opportunity to try something new without a major investment. The staff is well trained to suggest pairings, which is key since the menu focuses on a variety of great tastes on small plates. Start with the salumi and cheese platter and add the warm olives.  The beet salad is lovely and light, the bacon-wrapped dates pair well with drinks, and this meat-centric house does all center of the plate items extraordinarily well.  Order something you’ve never tried before – the specials are worthy, especially the duck confit.  Finish with a lemon crème brulee spread on a butter cookie to cleanse the palate and make you smile all the way home.


SUPER-TREND ALERT: HOG WILD OVER ALL THINGS PORK! 

We’ve pulled it, slow-cooked it, and we’ve pickled the feet.  There’s a bit of the awful offal out there.  Mario Batali and his father started us on the housemade salumi kick and influenced the charcuterie platters on restaurant menus. Charlie Palmer’s “Pigs and Pinot” event - when the Hotel Healdsburg becomes Hog Heaven - sold out again, as did Chef Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy’s Heirloom Pig Butchery and Charcuterie workshop.
 


In NYC, Danny Meyer opened a new restaurant, a Roman-style trattoria called Maialino, which means “suckling pig,” but it is also the assonant nickname Roman colleagues gave Meyer during a summer work stint in their city decades ago, because of his lust for pork.

In LA, Church & State has Rillette and Crispy Pigs Ears on the menu, and pedigreed bacon is on and in everything. Last month, I saw Bacon Marshmallows at the Fancy Food Show, along with Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, Bacon Martinis, and my favorite:  Bacon Salt that has no fat, calories and is vegetarian.  Add some to your menu  - it could save your bacon!
 
Oh, and last night I sautéed fresh organic brussels sprouts in maple bacon and saved my reputation… so I guess we can all get in the act.
 
Trend for another day:  Gourmet Roach Coaches. Stay tuned for that one – I’m having too much fun doing my homework there!