By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
On spices: In the world of spices, it isn't really about new spices as much as it is about how to alter, for the better, the expected flavor of some of our favorites. Smoking spices is something new that we're doing — and plan to do more of in 2013. This past year, we rolled out smoked Tellicherry peppercorns and a new seasoning called Cape Hatteras Smoked Seafood Seasoning, and next year, we'll be smoking Saigon cinnamon. What we like about smoking spices or seasonings is that by playing with the types of woods or combinations of woods, you can add smokiness while also adding subtle hints of balanced but somewhat unexpected flavors like cherry, apple, maple and more. It is also important to note that the smoke flavor imparted to spices via a natural smoking process doesn't impart an overwhelmingly smoky flavor, but rather a subtle smokiness that can be a nice layered flavor and used to build an incredible-tasting final dish.
On...tap: Denver's only just beginning to see bars with cocktails on tap — Gaetano's and Ace have just a couple, we have seven at Vesper Lounge — and I'm sure we'll see more bars embracing that approach. I predict the same thing will happen with wines on tap. Only a few venues around town are pouring juice from kegs, but if you talk to anyone in the sales end of the wine industry, they'll tell you that's the direction accessible wine is headed.
On the upswing of fine dining: Despite what you might hear, fine dining is nowhere near dead. For proof, look at the explosion of venues putting out top-caliber food — Squeaky Bean and Central Bistro, for example. I think what's happening is that atmospheres are more relaxed and accessible, and the restaurants are popping up in smaller neighborhoods. That's where I see fine dining going — into neighborhoods. Look for something pretty great to open in the old Venue space, and keep your eyes peeled for what Matt Selby is going to do at Corner House. Oh, and the Populist. Talk about a high-end venue setting up shop in a neighborhood. Fine dining is far from dead.
On life without meat: I see vegetables as definitely moving forward. At some point, our culture is going to have to eat less meat; otherwise, I don't know how we can go on producing such inefficient food. Some people think you can't eat a meal without meat, but we need to find a better balance between vegetables and meat. The cultural challenge is how do we make it so that meat isn't the most important food on the plate?
On California rising: This will be the year that California re-emerges as an authentic wine region, which is championed by the many up-and-coming passionate young winemakers who understand that wine's place on the table is not as a starring role but as a complement to the food. They are driven not by scores, but by a quest to understand and develop an appreciation for what California wine is. I also predict that the twenty-page, leather-bound, encyclopedic wine list will give way to smaller, more focused lists.
On beer education: Something I'd like to see in the next few years is better education for beer servers. Restaurants and bars will need to take the basic steps to educate their staff on beer styles, history and service. Pouring beer in clean, appropriate glassware, as well as being able to describe a given beer style, are going to be essential in this burgeoning beer paradise. I think, too, that we're going to continue to see a trend of specialization, both in Colorado's beer scene and nationally. Breweries that focus on barrel-aged beers or beer styles from a specific region or tradition will keep popping up and garnering attention.Todd Thibault, marketing director, Breckenridge Brewery
On craft beer: The culture of craft beer will become more relevant around Denver in 2013. Just about every bar, tavern and eatery in this city will have multiple Colorado craft beers available, squeezing out the out-of-state breweries and "crafty" breweries a bit more. Don't get me wrong: The city and state will still be rife with craft beers from across the country, but Colorado will become even more dominant. Three to five significant, exclusive craft beer bars or tap houses will open in 2013, two to three of which will only serve Colorado craft beers, and possibly one or two others will be craft beer-only concepts — no wine or liquor. And the trend of opening nanobreweries or very small, one- to- seven-barrel neighborhood breweries will heat up even more in 2013, and I look forward to the movement of bringing back the concept of a brewery for every neighborhood. These small breweries will not distribute their beers in 2013 — just pour across their own bar, for the neighborhood. In addition, the sour-beer category will mature and become a bigger player in the craft beer scene in 2013. I'm not talking crazy, overly sour beers, but mildly sour, well-controlled beers — and watch out for barrel-aged sour beers. Sour beers could be quite the rage for the new — or infrequent — craft beer drinker.
In Iowa--less emphasis on pork and booze; more emphasis on eating healthy. Pigging out and getting drunk are among the leading pastimes in Iowa.
I predicted last year that Scandinavian cuisine and more low spice/low intensity meals would come back but it didn't happen. Maybe this year.