10 of the biggest food trends for 2020 – and where to find them in Suffolk
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From kombucha to vegan burgers and open fire cooking - what will we all be eating and drinking this year?
There's no abating for this growing phenomenon, and vegan eateries and businesses are springing up here there and everywhere. Brands such as Moving Mountains have become the norm on loads of menus but if you are a true vegan at heart you'll seek out burgers made with actual vegetables. At The Walnut Tree in Thwaite vegans are very well served and can currently tuck into not one, not two, but three burgers, with a trio of sliders residing on the main menu. These include barbecued jackfruit, and Lebanese spiced. The third is halloumi but can be switched out to a vegan option. They're served in different flavoured buns with Asian slaw and curly fries.
From kefir to kombucha, fermented drinks are big news for 2020 as promoting good gut health remains on our agenda. LA Brewery in Suffolk is producing some pretty darn good kombucha - naturally fermented, low in sugar and made with only natural ingredients. The drink is packed with healthy bacteria and has a tangy, lightly fizzy quality and refreshing taste. Our favourite flavour is strawberry and black pepper.
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There has been huge growth in the non-alcoholic drinks market - particularly beer. And spirits brands are responding too. All good bars tend to have a bottle of Seedlip non-alcoholic gin on the shelf these days, for example. As more and more of us choose to cut back on booze, so has there been an increase in mocktails and drivers' drinks on pub, restaurant and bar menus. In the retro cool bar at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds you can sip on Not Old Yet (strawberry, hibiscus, raspberry vinegar and soda) and No Regrets (orange, passion fruit, cold brew, honey and lime).
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Nut butters and spreads
Have you seen the peanut butter section in your local supermarket recently? It's not just plastic tubs of Sunpat anymore is it? Nut butters have become big business and you can get everything from almond to sunflower seed in larger stores these days. These ranges are apparently set to increase further in 2020, with dark roast peanut butters (richer, more caramelly) becoming ever prevalent. Locally Bonkers Snacks look set to launch their own dark roast in 2020, and the twin sisters behind Nuoi Foods churn out everything from Pecan Pie to Chilli Peanut nut butters.
Got a gluten allergy? The options available to you have never been so varied, with manufacturers constantly bringing out alternatives to plain white processed flour. Loads of eateries are bringing them into their kitchens too - from teff to banana flour. In East Anglia seek out Nova Farina, making naturally gluten-free British-grown pea flours. And also Hodmedod's, whose (also British-grown) range includes everything from quinoa to marrowfat pea flour.
According to food trend experts 2020 is the year more of us choose better bread. And how lucky are we, in the 'bread basket' of England to have such incredible bakers. The craft bread market is truly alive and well here. Award-winning Woosters is a true family affair, with brothers Will, Joe and dad Simon all involved, running bakeries in Bury St Edmunds and Bardwell, and appearing at markets in Bury, Hadleigh and Wyken. Everything is traditionally made, and slowly crafted for the very best flavour. You'll find the fluffiest pull apart white batch loaves, seeded sourdoughs, oil slicked focaccia, bouncy oat bread and the best malt loaf ever.
With Brexit looming on the horizon, food and drink prices have already been creeping up, and restaurants will be looking ever closer to home and to local producers for ingredients. In East Anglia, using local produce is something we probably take for granted. The majority of independent pubs, cafes and restaurants in our region are likely already using products from Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex on their menus - from Red Poll beef, to line-caught fish off the North Sea, and the freshest fruit and vegetables. Look out for local when you're dining out in 2020.
Family style dining
Not a fan of cooking the Sunday roast? No worries, because sharing roasts are becoming a 'thing' in pubs and restaurants. Simply rock up with your family and friends, choose your meat, and it will be delivered, ready to carve with all the trimmings, to your table. No washing up required. The Unruly Pig in Bromeswell near Woodbridge offers a bespoke roast dinner in its private dining room on Sundays. Priced per person (including a starter and dessert), take your pick between stuffed, roasted chicken, slow roasted garlic and rosemary lamb, Dingly Dell pork or dry aged rib of beef for the table.
Interactive food and drink experiences
We want more from our days and nights out. We want theatre, drama and fun. And you'll certainly get that at the ICE lunch bar. Regularly sold out (check their website for 2020 bookings), the intimate experience sees you and 11 other diners placed front and centre of the action, as the ICE chefs use kitchen wizardry and theatre to magic up interesting, unique small plates. It's £50 per person.
Open Fire Cooking
Big in Southern America, open fire cooking is a time-honoured way to bring intense flavours to everything from vegetables to fish and, of course meat. More kitchens in the UK are bringing in charcoal grills and Big Green Eggs to replicate the effects. But some are going the whole hog.
In 2019 The Bildeston Crown launched an outdoor private dining space, attached to its new Champagne bar where a variety of barbecue packages is available. Take a seat at the specially designed tables, with in-built barbecue grills, and (depending on your bespoke selection) cook your own burgers, corn on the cob, steaks and more, under the guidance of the kitchen team. A variety of salads and homemade sauces completes the experience.