Monday, December 30, 2013

Rant: Predictions & Desires for 2014

2014 is almost here, bringing a new year and hopefully some positive changes to the local food & drink industry. Some people have already made predictions for what 2014 will bring, and at the end of each year, the success rate of those predictions is usually quite low. Predicting the future isn't easy. It is difficult to decide what new trends will catch on in the future. Rather than provide a list of predictions, which probably won't come true, I'm going to give you a list of my desires, new trends which I would love to see take place, though I'm not predicting they will come to fruition. However, I think we would all benefit if these desires were fulfilled in 2014.

1) No More Froyo, Cupcakes Or Burgers.
We've been over saturated with froyo shops, cupcake stores and burger joints. Many of them offer similar products, insufficient to differentiate themselves from each other. Why is there a need to copy a trend until it becomes ubiquitous on every corner? Where is a sense of originality? I don't understand the excitement that generates when another one of these shops opens. Stop opening more and more of these places. Make your own trend rather than follow these trends like sheep.

2) More Bread Pudding  
Bread pudding is relatively easy to make, and can be inexpensive as it can be made with day old bread. Plus, it is a diverse dish, and can be made in a wide variety of flavors, with different sauces, and accompaniments. I've had some superb bread puddings at local restaurants, and would like to see more restaurants offering it on their dessert menus. However, I think there is a great opportunity for an enterprising baker to open a Bread Pudding Bakery. I recently learned of such a bakery in California, Schulzies Bread Pudding. Why hasn't anyone locally done this yet? Rather than open a cupcake bakery, go for bread pudding instead!

3) Cheaper Wine Prices
When you visit a restaurant and peruse the wine list, it is simple and quick to use your smart phone to check the usual retail prices of their wines. Wine geeks may not even need to do that as they often know the usual retail of common wines on restaurant lists. I hate when I see wine list prices that are marked up 3 or more times the usual retail, knowing that such wines are marked up 4 or more times what the restaurant actually pays for the wines. Such huge markups aren't necessary, and they can turn off many wine lovers. A number of restaurants are able to be quite successful with far more modest markups, so why can't other restaurants do the same? If you want more people to drink wine, then lower your prices and make wine buying more attractive. If not, there will be people like me who will call you out over your large markups.

4) A Filipino Restaurant
I've been ranting about this for two years, the dearth of Filipino cuisine both locally as well throughout the U.S. With apparently only a single Filipino restaurant in Massachusetts, and not even in Boston, there is a huge opportunity here for more Filipino spots. Filipino cuisine can be delicious and diverse, so there is no valid reason why a Filipino restaurant couldn't succeed. Or if not an entire restaurant, maybe we could see more Filipino inspired dishes on other menus. For example, Chef Erwin Ramos of the Ole Restaurant Group was born in the Philippines, and has served Filipino cuisine at his restaurants from time to time. Let's see more of that in 2014.

5) Wine Shipping To MA
A law that prohibited wine shipments to consumers in Massachusetts was ruled unconstitutional and since then, there have been numerous bills put forward to enact a law that would allow such shipments. That would be a great thing for Massachusetts wine lovers but such bills have often languished in committees. House Bill 294 recently had a public hearing, and hopefully that is but one step in finally enacting a proper law to benefit our consumers. Such a law is overdue and we need to continue supporting efforts to bring this to fruition.

6) More Local Seafood
When the latest statistics note that the U.S. imports an unbelievable 91% of their seafood, something is seriously wrong. Though there are issues with some locally, endangered species, there is also plenty of domestic seafood which is sustainable, delicious and should be served at restaurants and homes. For example, why serve Asian shrimp when Gulf shrimp can be just as good? We should support local fishermen and our local economy by buying local seafood.

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