Trends We Loved
Tasting portions of beer (6 oz at Brux House) and wine (2 oz at Soif, 3 oz at Enoteca) mirror the appeal of small plates.
We dug the vegetable of the year butter-basted (Pigeonhole, The Merchant Tavern, La Table des Gourmets), pickled (Port City Royal, Enoteca), served as bitter greens (Pilgrimme, Dandylion) and oven-roasted and mustard-glazed like a ham (Brux House).
Low-smoke binchotan charcoal from Japan kept hibachi awesomeness on and kitchen smoke alarms off at Lavanderia and Pigeonhole.
Radishes with butter:
The new house-cured olives.
Not just for sours anymore, this aromatic grape spirit showed up in cocktails alongside gin and wild rose (Grapes & Soda), vermouth and prairie flowers cordial (The Nash), and even with hot pepper and Clamato in an Aji Caesar (Lavanderia).
Caps in the kitchen:
Out with the trucker lids, in with the Dodgers, Orioles, Blackhawks, San Francisco Giants and Blue Jays.
Easier to digest and richer in nutrients, they gave a delightful chew to salads (Pilgrimme, The Merchant Tavern).
The new fist bump – in kitchens, at the host stand and tableside after a big meal.
Well-draining volcanic soil and big diurnal temperature swings at elevation characterized the year’s hottest wine region, offering fresh nerello mascalese reds by Terre Nere (Dandylion), Planeta (AnnaLena) and Vino di Anna (Soif).
Trends We Hated
Stopping the music:
Every time your Wi-Fi skips a beat and the streaming playlist cuts out, Lorde does something terrible to a puppy.
We love small-batch, barrel-aged bottles of cider, but if you’re pricing it like a bottle of wine, think small pours in a wine glass instead of emptying a 750-ml bottle in one glug.
Cocktails at small spots:
If you’re not large enough to hire a dedicated bartender, you probably can’t afford to keep us waiting for hot food while we watch your only waiter assemble a Singapore Sling.
Overcooked humble pie:
Rather than “Congratulations” on our first visit and “We know” in response to a compliment, a simple thank you will do.
"Our cauliflower is the best cauliflower you’ve ever tasted":
Judging by the number of times we heard this, statistically very improbable.
Trend of the Year
Put it on Toast
The only thing better than sliced bread in 2015 was what went on top of it. Our favourite was a special at Enoteca in Winnipeg, where Scott Bagshaw created a complex mashup of two classics: pan con tomate and anchovies on toast.
3 More Reasons to Toast
sardine + white wine + shallot + pine nuts + golden raisins
North & Navy, Ottawa
blood sausage + quail egg + parsley oil
Bar Raval, Toronto
shiitake + ricotta + shallot + basil
Trend we Love:
Dressing the Oyster
Raw oysters on the half-shell are like beaches: Naked ones can be fun, but only for the diehards. While a spoonful of traditional mignonette - wine vinegar, shallots, black pepper - punches up those oceanic flavours, here are nine ways to hit new shores.