Uh oh!

November 30, 2009

Photo: James Tse

According to a study by Ketchum that was reported in the February issue of Canadian Grocer magazine, 78% of Canadians would like to get their food from local farms or companies by 2020.  Regrettably, this isn’t likely since as Rebecca LeHuep, executive director of the  Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance pointed out in the September issue of that same magazine, “by 2012, more than 60% of farmers and farm managers will be retiring. The average age of a farmer is about 57 and he doesn’t have a succession plan for his farm.” In an email correspondence Rebecca shares another grim stat that between 1991 and 2001 Ontario lost 135 of its farmers.

Beyond the fact that these stats reveal a disappointing gap between Canadian consumer aspirations and the reality of farming situation, LeHeup’s comments point out that we may be en route to becoming a society almost solely dependent on other countries for food.

Would you ever consider being a farmer?  Or, if you are a farmer, is it a career choice you’d make again?

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Topline Trends Tuesday: Is tea cooling down?

November 17, 2009

TA3

Curious about what’s happening with the tea trend? So am I. So, I asked tea aficionado and graphic design expert Adrian Doran to attend a tea event in Toronto and report back to us.

His findings are interesting. While reports show that consumers are as curious as ever about the health benefits of tea, it seems that food service professionals still haven’t realized how to incorporate tea successfully into their commercial concepts:


Tea Report 2009

 

By Adrian Doran

Ever consulted a wine sommelier at your favourite restaurant? What about their tea sommelier? Do they even have one? More importantly, ever wondered why a meal of exceptional quality and service ends with a tea bag?

At the recent launch of Jeff Fuchs book The Ancient Tea Horse Road, Bill Kamula, instructor at George Brown College Chef School and Louise Roberge, President of the Tea Association of Canada, spoke about the traditions of tea and it’s future – the first batch of graduates from the College’s Tea Sommelier course.

“Tea is where wine was 20 years ago” said Roberge. “Then it was, red or white? Now, we’re aware of region, vintage, so on.” She believes the course will produce the generation of food service professionals that will lead the education of the public.

The tea industry seems to be waiting for a breakthrough. Tea consumption has grown hugely but it’s coming from far behind. A tea-equivalent of Starbucks isn’t even on the horizon and attempts to promote new tea drinks and introduce new customers to classic varieties can feel gimmicky – milk-infused oolong, anyone? There’s even some resistance from the foodservice industry – wine sommeliers seem curious enough about tea to expand their knowledge but not enough to fully commit to a 44 week course.

Kamula admits that the first dozen graduates included few foodservice professionals. “Some are from the distribution side, some are buyers. We had one lady who plans to open a bed-and-breakfast, with afternoon tea, even some Starbucks middle-management but few who plan to go into the restaurant industry.” So, if the market isn’t knowledgeable enough to drive the decisions about tea, it’s going to take a while.

At the end of an exceptional restaurant meal, do you even want to decide between early and late harvest oolongs or are you happy with a bag of Tetley’s?


Topline Trends Tuesday: Help!

October 20, 2009

imageTwo weeks ago when I was getting ready to send out a notice to my food trend newsletter subscribers that the Autumn of issue of Topline Trends was posted, I discovered that the company that handled my subscriber list was no longer in business. Vanished. Vamoosed. Gone.

To be honest I was heart broken. Topline Trends has been building its readership for over 10 years and to lose contact with all of those loyal readers was a blow. I really didn’t know what to do. Sometimes life gives you lemons and you just don’t have a good lemonade recipe at hand. Then it hits you: you can always ask others for help. What’s the worst that can happen?  People can say ‘no’ but so what?

That’s where you come in:  Hoi En Tang, my  technical guruess, has already been a tremendous help by rising to the occasion to create a new subscription system. What you can do now is to please follow this link, read the autumn issue and sign up to be notified when each quarterly installment is ready for viewing. You could even tell a few friends about it. Or not. I get that you’re busy.

Regardless, thanks for reading today and thanks for any help you can offer!

During these difficult economic times have you lost any of your favourite or trusted suppliers?


Topline Trends Tuesday: Flavour trends of note

February 24, 2009

bloodoranges

Although it isn’t true that I never repeat myself (just ask my son if I’m a broken record and he’ll give you his signature eye roll in agreement -yeah, he’s at that stage), I do try to make each of these posts at least somewhat original. That said, although I’ve already discussed some of these trends here and in my latest Topline Trends newsletter, people keep asking me to list what I think the top flavour trends are right now!!! So, today I’m posting this succinct little, alphabetical list that interested folks can refer to easily:

1. Bacon: in desserts. So wrong but so good.
2. Flavoured sugars: for finishing baked goods, as a garnish and for coffee and tea.
3. Floral flavours: beyond rose and lavender, this trend is expanding to include hibiscus in desserts and cocktails.
4. Fruit in burgers: jazzing up meat patties with fruit fillings and toppings will be popular in restaurants this summer.
5. Fruits: in drinks, yumberry is emerging and acai continues to gain momentum. That said, local fruit will be king in the kitchen during harvest season.
6. Fruitwood smoke: applewood, persimmon and cherry will add subtlety to smoked meats, cheese, fish and more.
7. Greek flavours: oregano, garlic, lemon and mint will reach new gourmet heights when teamed together.
8. Miso: look for more people using miso in home cooked soups, salad dressings and marinades.
9. Pepper: from comet tail to bali long, pepper is hot for 2009.
10. Varietal citrus: meyer lemons, kaffir lime and blood orange are turning up in products and recipes at a rapid pace.

On a personal note, I’m hooked on grapefruit these days. What flavour(s) are you hooked on these days?


Topline Trends Tuesdays: Goat Milk

January 27, 2009

laloosgoatmilkicecream1

Recently my trend tracker’s radar screen has picked up buzz about not only goat milk but also products made with goat milk. Turns out I’m not the only one picking up this static; this article highlights the trend, too.

If you’re wondering what’s enticing consumers to give goat milk a try, you should know that many people who are sensitive to cow milk can drink goat milk with no ill effect since the fatty acid and protein structure of goat milk is different than cow milk, making it easier to digest. Likewise, compared to cow milk, goat milk is higher in calcium and some other nutrients, too.

I haven’t tried goat milk or any products or recipes made with it myself but, I’m very curious about it. In fact, I really want to try these LaLoo ice creams.

Have any of you tried goat milk or goat milk products?  If so, are they very different in taste and texture to cow milk versions?


Canadians becoming cuckoo for Korean kimchi

November 18, 2008

korean

For a few weeks now, I’ve been planning to write a post about the rising popularity of Korean food. A spate of recent PR driven articles in foodservice publications and the main stream press show that other food writers have taken notice of this cuisine while the three-foot high letters on a banner over the checkouts at my local T&T Chinese supermarket proclaim “We Love Korean Food” prove that retailers have figured out that consumers are kooky for kimchi, too.

So, I was very pleased by the serendipity in life when Martin came home Friday with a little care package from our Korean friend and food lover, Jee. She has cooked for us many times and often sends little bits of this and that over for us to try. Through Jee I’ve learned a lot about Korean cooking and ingredients and she is my go-to-it person for all Korean cuisine questions.

Friday’s eggplant-based pickle seemed a bit mild by normal Jee standards, but it was delicious and for several days I served it to everyone who’d try a bite, proudly proclaiming it a Korean delicacy. Oddly, I didn’t serve it with Korean food: I had some with crackers and cheese and I plunked a bowl of this pickle on the table when I served duck and rice stuffed lotus leaves (a Chinese dim sum standard – more on that recipe later this week) for dinner.

When a few days later Vince, Jee’s husband, dropped by, I asked him what this wonderful eggplanty goodness was called.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Jee bought a huge jar of it at the Japanese grocery store. There was no way we could eat it all and since she thought you’d like it, she sent some over.”

I was momentarily chagrined since I’d already taken the photo above and had plans for my Korean post. Now what was I going to write?

Then I realized that this situation is a wonderful example of daily life in Toronto. Where else can your Korean friend send over Japanese food that you serve with Chinese food? If that isn’t an example of living in a cosmopolitan city, I don’t know what is!

Now, back to Korean food… have you noticed more Korean restaurants or recipes turning up lately? And, if you have, will you be jumping on the bandwagon or waving as it goes by?


Drinkin’

June 18, 2008

Thirsty for the latest news about this summer’s trendiest beverages? Drink in these words on the subject:

1. Cosmos – thanks to those Sex and the City gals cosmos are back! I for one look forward to having a cold, frosty, pink drink in my hand all summer long.

2. Winetails – bartenders are turning their creativity to developing sophisticated wine based cocktails (dubbed Winetails by mixologist Alex Ott). These alchemists have revitalized the hackneyed spritzer with the addition of muddled ingredients (a la mojitos), fresh pressed juices and martini making techniques. No shame in being this kind of wino.

3. Talking vodka bottles are a Russian novelty item that I think would make the ultimate hostess gift for my party animal friends (yes, Laura and Gabby, I’m looking at you!).