VSAG on Seasonal Success: Top 3 Summer Menu Trends

Introducing seasonal ingredients, flavor profiles, and trends not only keeps menus interesting, but it also allows for more creativity in the kitchen.

We discovered some seasonal trends we think are worth adding to your flavor profiles this summer.

Wood-fire Cooking. Nothing says summer like some great, downhome bbq. And we couldn’t be more excited that the trend of authentic, rustic, wood-fire cooking is getting fired-up (yes, we went there!) this season. What’s not to love about the slow-roasted, natural, smoky flavor? Take your wood fire game up a notch by infusing flavors such as fruit woods like apple, apricot, and cherry or nutty woods like almond and pecan or smoking woods like mesquite and hickory.

Iced Coffee: Going Global? Yup! Iced coffee is already big business in the U.S. restaurant industry, la-dd-iced-coffee-photos-20150805-003a billion dollar business in fact, and since our summer wouldn’t be complete without our beloved, rich ‘n frothy iced coffee, we’re big fans of this season’s iced coffee + international flair trend. From Vietnamese iced coffee made with fresh ground coffee and sweet condensed milk to Italian favorites like caffè macchiato pairing espresso with steamed milk and caffè medici made by pouring espresso over chocolate syrup with an orange peel twist or Mexican-centric iced coffee with milk, chocolate syrup, sugar, and ground cinnamon (+add a shot of tequila, if desired) – this season’s iced coffees are taking flight.

Flavor Standouts: Bitters & Sours. We still love our sweet and salty, but we’re intrigued with this season’s standouts: bitters and sours. Bitters (i.e. rich coffees, delicious dark chocolate desserts, craft beers) tend to balance other flavors found in dishes or beverages, while sours add zest and brightness (i.e. vinegars perfect relishes, slaws, and barbeque sauces; citrus adds brightness to fish, poultry, salads, pastas, and the like). Experiment with marrying these flavors for interest and harmony on a plate, i.e. a fresh salad of (bitter) baby arugula, topped with (sour) lemon-zest vinaigrette.

*photo: LA Times Daily Dish