Top Jewish Food Trends of 2011

Another (secular) year is almost up, and it’s been a pretty good year for Jewish and kosher cuisine. We’ve had a kosher pastry chef appear on a national TV Food competition, kosher food trucks gain followings across the country, and a gastronomic renaissance for traditional, Eastern European Jewish fare.

Read on to see some of the best Jewish and Kosher food trends of 2011, and make sure to send us any we missed.

Upscale Deli and Haute Jewish Cuisine

It was truly the year for re-invented Jewish deli, and traditional Jewish-American fare. Montreal-style deli and bagels made their way to Brooklyn with the opening of the Mile End Delicatessen. A “speciality bagelry” also appeared as Vic’s Bagel Bar and new restaurants such as Kutschers Tribeca all brought back the Jew food in a major way.

My own take: as Americans focus on artisanal meats and charcuterie, as well as experience a general foodie re-focus towards comfort food, its no wonder that deli sandwiches, bagels and matzah balls are being given a makeover (and popularity boost). And I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Kosher Restaurant Trends: Asian Fusion

I don’t eat solely in kosher restaurants, so I turned to kosher dining expert and blogger Dani Klein to get the latest trends in kosher dining. Dani, who is the founder of YeahThatsKosher, shares that restaurants are going Asian in the U.S. from LA to Miami to New York:

“Numerous restaurants have been opening and focusing solely on the various flavors from the East, which include a full sushi menu (a staple in nearly all kosher restaurants today), as well as other Japanese cuisine, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Malaysian, and others. Relatively new kosher Asian Fusion restaurants including Prime KO & Sushein in NYC; Estihana in Teaneck, NJ; Lotus in Surfside (Miami), FL; Saba Sushi in Los Angeles, as well as scores in Brooklyn and Israel, have opened up in the past year, or so. They’re riding the wave of sushi’s popularity and meshing it with other cuisine and meat dishes from the region.

Dessert: Bye-bye Cupcakes, Welcome Cake Pops and Macarons

Move over cupcakes, there’s a new dessert in town: cake pops and whoopie pies says DC blogger, foodie and photographer Emily P. Goodstein, of Wild and Crazy Pearl. Want to try out the latest trend? Blogger Overtime Cook has some great tips.

Other dessert trends? Chef Paula Shoyer, kosher dessert expert, cookbook author and Sweet Genius contestant shares that french macarons are becoming more popular even with kosher bakeries and caterers (good news for anyone hosting an affair in the near future).

Chef Paula also shared that special diet baking, particularly gluten free options, “is getting more attention as kosher companies see the large market for gluten free desserts….the more creative kosher restaurant chefs are trying to bake with more natural ingredients and stay away from the more processed products.” Well, who doesn’t love that – natural is back!

She also shared her kosher dessert predictions for the coming year:

“Coming up: Aerated chocolate bars and candies; hand pies and retro desserts in flavors such as malt and butterscotch; more whole grain desserts; whoopie pies; and more and more macarons!”

Food Trucks Go Kosher

Unless you’ve been under a rock, it would be hard not to notice the food truck craze that has taken over the nation. Personally, I have made it a mission to try as many NYC food trucks as possible, and the size of my tuchus is a testament to my successful foodie mission over the last two years.

Kosher food trucks have been seen gracing the streets of NYC and LA for at least two years, but perhaps the most exciting food truck that came onto the scene was the Sixth and Rye Truck.  A popular DC food truck and project of the innovative Sixth and I Synagogue, and Top Chef contestant Chef Spike Mendelsohn, the truck is now closed for the winter, but we remain hopeful this is not the end for “DC’s First Kosher Deli on Wheels.”

Other kosher food trucks include Takosher, “The Chosen Taco” in LA and Quick Stop Kosher in NYC.

Jewish goes treyf

The trend of Jewish-treyf fusion is perhaps my favorite trend of the year, and indeed, the most controversial. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn there is literally a restaurant called Treif, featuring a pork and seafood focused menu.

Then there is Top Chef Ilan Hall’s creation of a bacon wrapped matzo ball. And I have also heard reports here in NYC of bagel shops featuring bacon cream cheese.

I know, I know – some of you are deeply offended by the fusion of traditional Jewish food, and blatantly non-kosher products. But I always find it interesting when cultures merge, collide and spark creativity. Is a matzo ball wrapped in bacon still a Jewish food? And what is a Jewish food anyways?

Well, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2012 – what do you think is on the culinary horizon for Jewish and kosher food?

Posted on December 26, 2011

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