I know this is a) late in the day for me to post and b) a cop-out, but it's been a busy morning and my house is still full of dirty dishes and Christmas decorations, so I'm going to cheat and repost something that I wrote over on Examiner.com. It's relevant, though, I promise.
So, here it is:
Based on my careful observations of the food world and the current cultural climate, here are five predictions I have for the 2009 food scene in Baltimore and beyond:
1. Peruvian cuisine: Love for all things Peruvian (and, more generally, South American) was all over the mainstream food press in 2008 and Baltimore jumped into the action with the November opening of Mari Luna Latin Grille.
2. Budget-friendly restaurants: This year, this is the no-brainer prediction. Everybody's feeling the heat, economically, and spending on dinners out is often the first home budget item to get the axe. Look for restaurants to beef up their promotions - more 1/2 price wine Wednesdays and 2-for-1 meal Tuesdays, and more inexpensive meal selections and wine lists all the way around.
3. Comfort food: Again, with the economy. In uncertain times, don't we all look for a little mac and cheese? I predict the rise of more comfort food-centric menus, both take-out and eat-in, following the success of Clementine and Atwaters.
4. Local, local, local (plus a little backlash): "Locavore" was the big word in 2008, but I expect that we'll see more attention paid to using local ingredients, relying on CSA's for dinner and appreciation for restaurants, like Woodberry Kitchen and The Dogwood, that take their sourcing seriously. Of course, with all of this comes the inevitable backlash, and I also expect to see a slew of articles explaining why sometimes it's not more green or more economically viable to buy locally-grown ingredients.
5. Peanut butter: This happens to be my big, random pet prediction for 2009. No disrespect meant to bacon - really, I love bacon - but I think maybe it's had more than it's fair share of time in the spotlight as the comfort food ingredient of choice. It's peanut butter's turn. In 2009, I think we'll see more artisanal producers, more variations, and more of a general appreciation for peanut butter as an ingredient (even beyond desserts, where it's already got a stronghold). Will we end up with a Peanut Butter Bar, like the one in the West Village? Maybe not. But I wouldn't be shocked to see an Elvis sandwich on a menu or two. Maybe even a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. Could we handle that many trendy ingredients?
There you have it - my predictions for 2009. Any thoughts of your own?