We are almost half way through 2014 and already we can see new trends emerging in the food and drink industry. The food business is obviously important and consumers are growing more aware of the trends taking place worldwide and Lebanon is no exception to the rule, of course. With every year comes the culmination of certain food fads, trends and ideas…
Let me break it down for you by recapping what 2013 witnessed and what we can expect in 2014…
- Armenian Blends
We’re continuing to see the wonderful blend that is Lebanese/Armenian/Levantine cuisine expand across Beirut. These beautifully subtle dishes are becoming ever more popular with diners and we’re seeing Armenian-inspired restaurants popping up all over town.
With the popularity of the Cronut something of a given in America, and increasingly Europe, it’s no surprise that the donut-croissant hybrid has shown up on our shores. The original pastry first saw the light of day thanks to New York-based baker Dominique Ansel and has been recreated by various places in Lebanon.
- Made at Home
The ladies of Lebanon are showing their entrepreneurial spirit by offering up homemade food. Cooked at home, these healthy dishes can be delivered to hungry office workers and are being advertised on social media.
- Traditional Smoke
The arguile is seeing a resurgence across the city, with the traditional water pipe appearing outside of it’s traditional haunts, even sushi and Italian restaurants are beginning to offer diners a pipe.
- Italian Invasion
Italian restaurants are booming all over the city. You can now embrace your inner Italian in any number of fine restaurants and tattorias across Beirut. It’s the usual story, a lot opened, a few survived from last year and there are sure to be more in the near future.
- French Accents
2013 saw the opening over ten French bistros, each striving to offer something a little different to diners. There’s rarely been a greater range of traditional and modern French food in the city.
- Silken Cake
The cake of last year had to be Red Velvet. The chocolate, but not chocolate smoothness of this American classic took Beirut by storm. Put simply, it was everywhere, from sweets to cakes and even Christmas logs. What’s next for Red Velvet, or has it had its time?
Frozen yogurt seems to have become a silent success. Almost without warning there appears to be a healthy alternative to ice cream in almost every Beiruti mall. Lebanese from all over the city have been enjoying toppings such as chocolate sprinkles and fresh fruit on a variety of frozen flavors.
As for 2014, call them my feelings; the year will have its special introductions while successful trends from 2013 successful trends will continue to prosper.
- Asian Influences
Asian food is wonderfully diverse, and it goes much further than the Chinese and Japanese offerings we have in Beirut. I believe that 2014 will see increased Asian food options here in the city. Le Hanoy, a Vietnamese restaurant in Achrafieh, is going to be the tip of the iceberg, I’d predict that Thai, Mongolian and other Asian cuisines will soon take off.
- Sao Paulo to Beirut
Brazilian cuisine is a personal favorite, and I’d love to see it hit Beirut. I think it’s only a matter of time, there are over 18 million Lebanese expats in Brazil, so there’s obviously going to be a market here. With the World Cup taking place in Brazil we’ll see the nation’s cuisine turning up in Beirut sooner or later. I can’t wait.
- Waste Not Want Not
We live in a material, disposable society, that’s no secret. However, with so many refugees and so much suffering happening on the streets of our cities, I believe this year will see the rise of food waste awareness. Thousands of restaurants throw our thousands of tons of waste while millions starve in front of our eyes, now’s the time to work with local NGOs to address the issue.
- Modern Take
Juice bars have been common sights on American city streets for well over a decade now and it’s about time we take the idea on board. Traditional stalls offering fresh juice have been around for a while, but real cocktails and innovative menus are starting to show up in Beirut, Qi Juices started it and others are following.
- Healthier Options
I love Lebanese desserts, my doctor tells me I shouldn’t. But, I think there’s a healthier alternative on the horizon. Spices, botanicals and fresh takes on fruits are starting to turn up on the city’s more sophisticated menus and older recipes are losing the pure, sugary syrups and fresh cream. Healthier alternatives are coming, and it’s about time.
THIS IS THE ONLY DUPLICATE FROM THIS YEARS TRENDS:
- Healthy Freeze
We’re going to continue to see the explosion of frozen yogurt. More salons in more malls, perhaps we’ll even see them hit the street. In any case, Lebanese will continue to enjoy the sweet taste of natural frozen yogurt over more calorific options.
- Sweet Innovation
Swirlyz in ABC Achrafieh has brought the concept of innovative sweet creation to Lebanon and we’re sure to see it spread throughout the country. True creativity knows no bounds and we’ll see Lebanese embrace the trend.
- Bolder Burgers
The burger trend has been going on for a few years, with Beirut’s restaurants chasing the ultimate sandwich. The burger constantly changes with the times and this year will be no different. Expect to see more options, chicken, lamb, brisket and a range of toppings, nothing is off limits.
- Loving Wine
We’ve seen the expansion of whole streets and opening of row upon row of bars, well I believe 2014 is the year of the wine bar. Vineyards are popping up all over the country, a few years ago we had four, now we’ve got 48; with those numbers driving sales we’ll see the number of wine bars boom in the near future.
- Kid Friendly
Every parent is sure to know about Kidzmondo, but there are any number of places in 2014 that seem sure to offer a little competition. Lebanon is notorious for having a very limited number of truly child-friendly places to dine and entertain, but 2014 will, I hope, prove that little people are featuring a little more prominently in the minds of restaurant and venue owners.
- Reinventing the Shawarma
A shawarma is a shawarma, right? Wrong. We’ve all got our favorites, be it a Barbar classic, a large one from Malak al Batata or a grilled sandwich from Al Fahm, the humble shawarma is nothing if not continuously changing. It all started with Shawarmanji in 2013 with their intriguing sandwich menu and I’d bet it’s going to gain momentum this year. It’s great to see old classics changing with the times.
- Pita Bread to Go
Nobody appreciates the simple things in life. Remember when you were a child and your mother would roll you a fast sandwich to munch on while heading to school? Well, the concept is back, largely thanks to Rocket’s up scaling of the humble rolled bread with filling. This humble food is slowly starting to reappear on menus, perhaps fueled by our reminiscing. #LiveLoveLebanon and let's keep it up for a better culinary industry in Lebanon.