The pundits have predicted political upheavals for 2014. The market soothsayers have hedged their bets on the coming year's investments. Admittedly, the future of barbecue isn't as weighty as politics or high finance, but it certainly does more to further the cause of human happiness.
I believe that 2014 will be another banner year for barbecue. Here are some of the trends the Barbecue! Bible pundits predict for the coming year.
Quality trumps quantity: "Eat less meat but better meat," advise food experts, from superstar chef José Andrés to writer-activist Michael Pollan. Which is to say, the coming year will see us eat less overall meat, but spend more per pound to enjoy grass-fed, organic, and aged beef, heritage pork, organic chicken, pastured lamb, etc. They're better tasting and better for you and the planet. A win-win for all.
Veggies get their due: Brussels sprouts roasted on a wood fire at Hi Lo BBQ in San Francisco. Artichokes grilled right on the embers at Ox in Portland, Oregon. Wood oven peas with Maldon sea salt at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica. Mom was right—eat your vegetables. Especially if they come charred and smoky hot off the grill.
Great barbecue where you least expect it: Naturally, you'd expect to find great barbecue in Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and the Carolinas, and you won't be disappointed. But in Brooklyn, New York? Scottsdale, Arizona? Portland, Oregon? Yet all three figure on my list of the best new barbecue joints in 2013. In the coming year, expect to find even more great 'que in cities with no historic tradition of barbecue.
Wood grilling comes home: 2013 was the year that the high-design, wood-burning grill (epitomized by the Grillworks Dual 48 Architectural grill) became must-have gear at high-end restaurants (Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York State and Coqueta in San Francisco, to name a few). In the coming year, I predict we'll be doing more and more wood grilling at home. Tip: The next time you grill steaks or chops, try lighting wood chunks in your chimney starter instead of charcoal and direct grill over the wood embers. The flavor will amaze you.
Cocktails get smoked: It started with master mixologist, Dale DeGroff's, Smoky Mary. Then came Greg Denton's Smoked Pisco Sour. And the Dragon's Breath served from a smoking snifter at Renegade restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Thanks to the widening popularity of smoke guns, some of America's coolest cocktails now come smoked.
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