Trendspotting: Foraging for Food; Mixology with Meals; Pigs; Pop Rocks; Pop-Up Restaurants; Sharks; Sustainable Restaurants, and More

In food-related news from the blogosphere and your favorite food sections…

* Forget singing for your supper; it’s all about searching for it these days, thanks to a renewed interest in foraged ingredients. I don’t mind the practice, but this word is beginning to crop up on menus everywhere and it’s driving me a bit batty. [Nation’s Restaurant News] [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz wants to ban the use of salt in food prep at restaurants in New York State. In other words, he wants to ruin all the restaurant food in New York State. [Nation’s Restaurant News]

* Are Pop Rocks the new truffles? Probably not, but some restaurants in New York (Klee, Kefi, and Fishtail by David Burke) are embracing this clamorous candy and other 7-11 delights as ingredients in high-end dishes. [New York Post]

* I did not know that: Eggs aren’t dairy. Whew! I recently did a cleanse that excluded dairy, but I adore eggs so it was sheer (and, in hindsight, unnecessary) torture. Thanks to Carolina Santos-Neve and Epicurious for clearing this up.  [The Epi-Log]

* It’s not easy to not eat meat, but Chow’s Roxanne Webber has some insights as to how vegetarian and vegan chefs make their meat-free dishes so delicious. [Chow]

* First craft beers, now cocktails are being paired with food at fine restaurants. Can wine get a break? [The Atlantic] [Washington Post]

* Pop-up restaurants are, well, popping up all over New York, much to diners’ great joy. [Los Angeles Times]

* Restaurateurs are embracing sustainability in ways big and small, from building materials to menu items. [Los Angeles Times]

* Shark is not sustainable, in case you were wondering. [The Atlantic]

* In news sure to shake Miss Piggy to her stilettos, whole-pig restaurants are all the rage in Southern California. [Los Angeles Times]

* Despite their appetite for whole pigs, diners want to get healthier. [Nation’s Restaurant News]

* Diners also want to eat outdoors, especially in New York. [The New York Times]

* Food is my religion, and restaurants are my houses of worship. Thankfully, I am not alone. [The Grist]

Not-so-new Food Trends for 2010

The Daily Beast gathered up predictions for the biggest food trends of 2010. James Norton quickly pointed out on Chow that many of these trends are leftovers — not just from 2009, but way back when.

I’m not sure he’s wrong about this assertion, but, in defense of The Daily Beast, there may not be anything that is, in fact, new to those of us who are really dialed into what’s happening in the food world.

Can you remember the last time a trend came along that was truly fresh news to your ears and taste buds?

When Cash Is King

Have you ever dined out at a restaurant only to discover — at the end of the meal — that they don’t accept credit cards (and you don’t have any cash)? With the advent of in-house ATMs and gaggles of websites warning you about a restaurant’s refusal to accept plastic, it may not happen quite as often as it used to. But it still happens, as one diner bemoans to Chow’s Helena Echlin.

My dad always carries cash (as does my husband, but he’s a bit of a throwback), but I rarely do. However, I try to make sure to do my due diligence before dining out so I’m not caught short. Still, when I went to a steakhouse in New York that is notorious for not accepting credit cards (except their own) with a friend and her out-of-towner father, who I’ve always known to walk around with a full money clip tucked in his pants pocket, he tried to pay with a credit card. We learned, to our chagrin, that he’d stopped carrying cash recently as so many credit card companies now offer tempting rewards programs. The situation was resolved quickly as the restaurant had just begun accepting debit cards, but I think he went away feeling a bit annoyed, and I was bit embarassed that I’d not told him of the policy.

The lesson is don’t assume anything about a restaurant’s payment policies or a dining partner’s preferences. Do a bit of research so you’ll know before you go.

Do You Know Which Fork to Use (and Does It Even Matter)?

cutlery.jpgIf the Obamas invited you to a state dinner at the White House, would you know which fork or spoon to use for each course? Perhaps not (Hint: Start on the outside and work your way in), but Chow’s Helena Echlin wonders if this even matters anymore – at least in restaurants. As a big fan of tasting menus, I’m finding that many restaurants replace the cutlery with every course, so there’s no opportunity for a fork faux pas. Five-course meals aside, restaurateurs have become so accommodating to diners, that you can be sure no one will bat an eye if you wish to eat your entire entrée with a teaspoon. However, if any of us ever get to dine with the POTUS and the First Lady, let’s be sure we know a salad fork from a seafood fork.