Meat is killing it in Chicago (and artisanal trumps farm-to-table)

Roasted Pork

Roast Pork

Aha! The recent food trend charts published by Eater.com confirm what I’d been thinking to myself – there’s a certain amount of “message fatigue” when it comes to the whole farm-to-table thing (inevitable, although it doesn’t invalidate the concept), but we are increasingly interested in small-batch artisan-produced food products, like the house made pickles so many restaurants are featuring now. (Witness the beautiful jars that are part of the décor at Agricola in Princeton.)

According to the Eater.com story, “Review site Yelp has launched a data tool which graphs the popularity of trends — like the ramen burger and the Cronut — over time. According to the company’s blog, the feature is called Yelp Trends, and it ‘searches through words used in Yelp reviews’ to show users ‘what’s hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off.’ It’s based on data and reviews gathered since 2004 when Yelp was founded.”

I’ve always enjoyed reading about trends, so this is right up my alley. I enjoy tracing the arc of cupcake-donut-cronut popularity in New York – looks like cupcakes really are on the way out there, although to me they are timeless. (Wonder where that leaves the lowly muffin, which today is all too often over-sweetened to the point of cupcake-ness? I like a nice muffin if it’s not too sweet. But, sigh, my breakfast (such as it is) is more often protein-based these days, like yogurt or a cheese stick or protein shake.)

In Austin, Yelp Trends reveals that the bread basket has pretty much given way to gluten-free concerns. This – in the larger arena – seems to be providing restaurants in major cities with an excuse to 86 the bread basket, or at least start charging for it. Darn! And I wonder how that ties in to the current craze for toast. Yes, toast, and at a cool $3 or more per slice in some restaurants (with, of course, artisanal house made butter and preserves). Just read what Zagat  and Huffington Post have to say about this!

Further down the list of 23 charts on Eater, we see that burritos are more popular in San Francisco than LA, where tacos still rule (Yay for tacos, which at least come from Mexico.). Vegan is gaining ground in Paris (sigh), and craft beer is pounding Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser into the ground. And the world goes on…

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