Being a restaurant critic offers a great view of the chef hive mind. Here is a completely random list of things I expect to see more of in 2011.
Burned flavor Yes, on purpose, with ingredients such as citrus fruits and greens. Perhaps inspired by Francis Mallmann’s 2009 cookbook, “Seven Fires,’’ chefs are increasingly using charring to make dishes more complex.
Caraway, rye, and pumpernickel Scandinavia beckons. (See: Noma, chef René Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant.) These flavors are deep, intriguing, slightly earthy- crunchy, a bit sour. They pair well with smoke and fat. The caraway may come in aquavit form.
Chestnuts Like Sarah Ewald’s quince, the chestnut is making a comeback. Nostalgic and seasonal, but not yet overdone.
Hearth cooking Chefs with fireplaces will start using them for cooking. (You’ll try cooking in yours at home soon, too.)
Japanese, high and low Two poles of Japanese cooking — formal kaiseki and pub-like izakaya — will become increasingly influential.
Mexican cuisine I agree with Darren Carbone. There are already about a half-dozen new Mexican restaurants recently opened or in the works.
Pates de fruits These gelled sweets are increasingly served as a little extra with the check. It’s a nice touch that doesn’t take a huge amount of effort.
Pig roasts Several restaurants (Citizens Public House, Estragon, Marc Orfaly’s upcoming Remick’s in Quincy) are offering whole roast pigs for large parties. Others will join them. And, like Mark Cina says, other whole animals will probably follow.
Raw bar Oysters are everywhere.
Recycling Restaurant decor will increasingly incorporate reclaimed wood, salvaged brick, and antique market finds.
Street food Off the streets, onto menus. Look for more street food in sit-down restaurants.
Sustainable seafood As several of the chefs said, people are becoming more conscious of and knowledgeable about the impact of seafood consumption.
Whiskey Craft beer is mainstream. Time to get our geek on in the world of spirits. We will be learning a lot about small-batch bourbon and Scotch this year.
Yuzu kosho This Japanese condiment made from citrus, chili, and salt is just starting to crop up as an accent. Its flavor is amazing, and it pairs well with many things.