Before we ring in the new year, let's take one last look back at the best of 2010. Here are a few food trends that I'd be happy to see continue into 2011 and beyond.
Food trucks - popping up in a growing number of parking lots all over the Triangle, they're serving sweet and savory fare ranging from Korean barbecue tacos (Bulkogi's) to crêpes (Parlez-Vous Crêpe). Many of these moveable feasts tweet their locations, adding convenience to affordability. Some are proving so successful that they've opened a brick-and-mortar location (OnlyBurger comes to mind), while others are actively searching for a permanent home.
Gourmet bargains - casual restaurants opened by chefs who have already established solid reputations in fine-dining establishments. The restaurant One, the latest venture of Four Square owner/chef Shane Ingram, comes to mind. And bu.ku, the brainchild of Fins chef William D'Auvray (who has since moved on, though the restaurant continues to serve his global street food-inspired menu).
Ethnic diversity - with an increasing emphasis on authenticity and regional focus. Newcomers have brought us an international smorgasbord of authentic fare, from Peruvian rotisserie chicken (Lucky Chicken and Mami Nora's) to Shanghainese soup dumplings (Asian Grill).
Scratch cooking - as welcome as ever, but it's increasingly less surprising to read on a menu that the bratwurst is house-made (Bavarian Brathaus) or that the pita is house-baked with organic flour (Mediterranean Deli). In a region where a few years ago homemade salad dressing was a point of pride, we've come a long way indeed.
Local breweries - Remember when "local brew" was synonymous with "Carolina Pale Ale?" My, how we've grown. The 2010 openings of Fullsteam and Roth Brewing brought the number of area breweries to an even dozen, with at least one more on the way. Maybe we should toast the new year with a local brew.