It's the end of the year; time for retrospectives both heartwarming and heartburning. This year's trip down memory lane starts with trends that have reached the ends of their useful lives and need to be sent down the knacker's yard to die an ignominious death.
This has been played out since, oh, 2006 or so. It was a great idea when it started; oh, the nostalgia for when the room moms would bring in metal trays of frosted cupcakes back in Grade 3! Flash forward twenty-five years, and adults are paying $3, $4, even $5 apiece for cupcakes that haven't made many strides forward in the intervening time. Oh, and red velvet cake? Stick a fork in you; you're done.
2. Korean Tacos
Korean-Mexican fusion has been around for a long time; Jose Bernstein's in Westwood Village has been delivering kalbi burritos to drunk and stoned UCLA students since Cheers went off the air. Roy Choi, founder of Kogi BBQ, tripped the light fantastic and sparked the luxe-lonchera craze that continues unabated. His many (many, many) competitors have flooded the mobile food market from East to West. OK, we get it: kimchi tastes good where cabbage or sauerkraut would normally go. Please go invent something else now.
It's been hilarious to watch the frozen yogurt fad sweep the nation. It got started, of course, right here in Southern California. Names like Humphrey Yogart and The Bigg Chill have been around for more than twenty years, but the trend has now finally swept the nation. It went through fat-free, carb-free and (predictably) taste-free periods. Tart yogurt was the swan song; at some point, every minimall in our minimall-mad county had a yogurt shop. They're finally starting to succumb to market saturation; maybe now we can have more dessert-to-go options than froyo... or those damn cupcakes. Oddly enough, despite the huge number of yogurt shops, the lines are always longest at Golden Spoon. Hmmm.
4. Pork Belly
The bacon phase is--mostly--done out here. Sure, people are still in love with bacon, but the hipsters have moved on to other pork belly creations. From candied pork belly to buta no kakuni, it's hard to find a higher-end restaurant that doesn't serve this part of the pig in at least one format. Exempt from this is samgyeopsal, the unmarinated pork belly that is a staple of every Korean barbecue and has been since first pigs met fire in the Choseon Kingdom. Does this mean pork belly is out? No. Just the fad.
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For years it seemed like every craft brewer in California had to make an India Pale Ale in order to be taken seriously by the soi-disant beernoscenti. Seattleites, Denverites and Portlanders, for whom this depressing, bitter fad was over years ago, have been hiding their snickers behind their hands. There's hope; while every craft brewer in Orange County has at least one IPA, the local brewers have been experimenting with everything from bourbon barrel-aged sour beer to a renaissance of the homegrown California Common.