It's been an exciting year for food. We already rounded up our favorite cookbooks and food books, and you can expect several more food-related round-ups throughout the rest of the month. After watching our stomachs oh-so-slowly expand this past year, we feel pretty confident in our assessment of 2011's food trends. We saw some great new restaurants pop up, had some memorable meals and fabulous drinks.
A lot of people cringe at the word "trend." After all -- how does one really determine if something is a trend, or a fad. Certainly, media professionals have been accused of creating trends where there really aren't. But in the past year we've seen a lot of activity around all of the examples below. Although you may have seen lots of these grow before 2011, the 11 trends below really reached their apex in 2011. Feel free to express your disagreement in the comments below but this is our list and we're sticking to it!
Check out the slideshow, and check back Wednesday for food trends we expect in 2012:
For more on the best of 2011, visit AOL's Best of 2011.