7:30pm

Sat January 1, 2011
Commentary

Cupcakes Are Dead. Long Live The Pie!

Every year, I predict the death of the cupcake. I'm always wrong.

But this year, they'll have real competition from the humble pie. Trend-spotters are calling pie the food of the year. Texas and New York restaurants offer pie happy hours. Pies are showing up at weddings, and pie shops are opening in a neighborhood near you. Pies come in sweet and savory, maxi and mini, deep dish and deep-fried.

If pies are the new cupcakes, New York Magazine says, vegetables are the new meat.

No more the supporting actors. Vegetables are stars. Remember food guru Michael Pollan's mantra? "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's getting some serious traction.

And when Mario Batali -- the prince of pork -- embraces meatless Mondays, you know the times they are a-changing.

One of the most glam vegetables will be kale. Look for the frilly bouquet of slightly bitter, dark greens both cooked and raw in a salad.

Root vegetables, meanwhile, are the new heirlooms. These gnarled vegetables such as salsify, Jerusalem artichokes and celery root are about to step onto the food fashion runway.

Child nutrition is definitely on the national radar screen. Childhood obesity has been called the new tobacco. We'll see top chefs in school cafeterias and more healthful choices on kids' menus in restaurants.

At the same time, junk food is going upscale. I have reports of foie gras wrapped in cotton candy and restaurant-made Cheeto-like snacks.

After years of gourmet hamburgers, hot dogs may be the new popular kids. They're moving from street carts to brick-and-mortar buildings. Watch for them on your block.

We'll also see more pop-up restaurants. Chefs find underused restaurant space and take it over for a few days a week. Of course, they use the freshest, most local ingredients and reservations are hard to get, increasing their cachet. Sort of like speakeasies.

And food halls like the one at Harrods in London are opening in the U.S.

Mario Batali and the Bastianich restaurant family recently opened Eataly, a 50,000 square foot shrine to Italian food in New York City. And the Plaza Hotel now houses the Plaza Food Hall, a food hall-cum-food court. Watch for other European-style food markets in California and Washington, D.C.

Whatever you eat, save room for a slice of pie.

Bonny Wolf is author of Talking With My Mouth Full and editor of NPR's Kitchen Window. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.