Move over kale - seaweed (as seen in this dish at Melbourne's Supernormal) will be the next 'it' ingredient. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
What will we be eating in 2016? Our food writers forecast the year's upcoming food trends - and what they hope will disappear.
Blue steak (very rare) is the new tartare, seaweed the new kale, smashed cucumber on a breadstick the new avocado on toast, and anti-salt the new no sugar. African flavours are big news, but not as much as plant-based meat substitutes now that science can make a "not dog" edible and real-life meat becomes obscenely expensive. Unfortunately, the food of Peru still won't take off, but riding on the coat-tails of tequila and mescal's popularity, Peruvian brandy pisco will have its time in the sun. The use of Italian herbal liqueurs will continue to rise as consumers explore the world of amaro past Fernet-Branca.
Freakshakes; ridiculous bloody Mary garnishes; huge, colorectal-cancer-triggering burgers. Once these hashtaggable horrors reach peak Instagram, people will pause to reflect if they actually taste any good. Ever seen anyone finish a Nutella milkshake impaled with a doughnut and crowned with pretzels? No, because it's all kinds of gross.
What restaurants will take Sydney by storm?
Copenhagen's celebrated restaurant Noma won't just take Sydney by storm when it opens January 26 at Barangaroo, it will hurricane the Harbour City to the ground. For punters who missed out on a seat for its 10-week stint (pretty much everyone), the big openings to look forward to where you can snare a table are Hubert in the CBD, featuring former 10 William Street legend Dan Pepperell on the pans, Guillaume Brahimi's Bistro Guillaume, also in the CBD, and whatever The Good Food Guide's 2016 Chef of the Year, Pasi Petanen, does now that his Cafe Paci pop-up has popped down.
Camel milk is the new coconut water; it has more protein, vitamins, iron, calcium and less lactose than cow's milk and is already being produced commercially in Australia. Seaweed is the new kale. Craft beer (and the "beertail", or beer cocktail) is hotter than natural wine. Modern Vietnamese will continue to rise: see House of Hoi An (Windsor), St Cloud (Hawthorn), Tenpin (Port Melbourne, broader than Vietnamese but with influences) and Anchovy (Richmond). Indonesian: surely it's time for this varied cuisine to push beyond cheap student filler. Ice-cream: Paddle Pops are over. The ice-cream buzz is in artisan outlets and conceptual confections, such as at the Thai-style Scroll Ice Cream pop-up in Windsor. Look out for more savoury ice-cream, too.
Which restaurants are going to take Melbourne by storm?
Get excited about Embla, the new city wine bar from the Town Mouse team, plus Florent Gerardin's French bistro in the old Yu-u basement. Keep an eye on Copper Pot, the Seddon restaurant owned by talented chef Ashley Davis. Southside, Paul Wilson's new restaurant will give Prahran Market a boost and Clinton McIvor will fan the fine-dining flame at Armadale's Amaru.
What's going to fade?
This is a blind, desperate hope but we'll see the decline of frankenfoods and silly mash-ups such as cronuts (a croissant-doughnut hybrid), cruffins (croissant crossed with a muffin) and freakshakes (oversized milkshakes, generally with doughnuts stuffed in them). I also hope sushi will steer away from its "random stuff rolled with rice" pathway (ham and cheese sushi is not OK). Instead, there'll be a movement towards restrained perfection: a sublime bread roll, a nice cold glass of milk, a simple fish fillet on gleaming white rice.
What should we be ordering in bars and pubs?
Expect small-batch takes on gin, mescal and tequila to further leave behind age-old stigmas in 2016. Drink lists will be more succinct, but there will be space for combinations such as picklebacks and boilermakers (paired beer and whisky, pictured above). Widely lauded Japanese whisky is in short supply, but local distillers will continue their charmed runs, with the Kilburn's Joey Tai singling out New World Whisky's Starward single malt for widespread acclaim. Look for Melbourne's Temple Brewing (Brunswick East), Hawkers (Reservoir) and the Peninsula's Bellingham Estate Pinot Noir to infiltrate venues' taps and cellars.
What sort of vibe can we expect?
Quality booze is bountiful around Melbourne, but it's all been a bit serious. The new year is shaping as a lighter, more efficient affair, with fewer bow ties and upturned moustaches. Reality cooking shows have ignited an interest in good drink, and venues are responding. Expect more top-end chefs in wine bars, dive bars to usurp speakeasies, and beer taps fully dialled to on-trend crafts. Pre-batched cocktails are also set to jump, but you won't be able to tell the difference.
What's in store for the ever-restless cocktail?
Modern technology will continue to drive cocktail culture, as more apps, websites and social-media channels emerge. "When customers buy that wacky, flamboyant new cocktail, they post it, their followers see it and try it, and everyone seeks out the next new drink. This drives creativity for the bartender," says Albert Chan, of the Brunswick Mess Hall. Although the Noble Experiment in Collingwood lives by its name - check out its barrel-aged cocktails - owner Daniel Lemura believes the classics will be more relevant than ever. "Watch for the humble gin and tonic to come back in a big way," he says.