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Crisp sandwiches, juicing... what's the next food trend to hit Ireland?

One expert says it’s fermentation

WE’VE HAD BURRITO joints. Juice bars. Milkshake bars. A cereal café.

Even a crisp sandwich café. Oh, and a porridge café.

So what’s next on the food trend horizon? We asked some experts.

On trend

J-Law-on-Eating

As creator of Lovin Dublin, Niall Harbison is usually eating soon-to-be-trendy food well before the rest of us. He takes his cues from what he sees people noshing on abroad.

“You can spot every trend by walking around the streets of New York,” he says. “They start there, move to London and then about 18 months later they arrive here. It doesn’t mean we don’t have innovation here but it does tend to come from abroad.”

He also believes in the importance of a media buzz.

Matcha – a high quality Japanese green tea powder – is something that he’s been drinking for years. After Lovin Dublin and TheJournal.ie covered the green drink, “every coffee shop I walk into I see people drinking matcha lattes”, says Harbison.

Bubbling under

Harbison names health and craft (“consumers are moving away from big brands and want more of a story and craft experience behind their products”) as two blossoming trends here.

“Irish people are fast becoming obsessed with healthy food,” he asserts.

Source: Bernardo Costa/YouTube

Katie Sanderson, of raw food pop-up Living Dinners and the Dillisk Project, echoes many of Harbison’s thoughts.

She believes fermentation is a trend that will kick off here in the coming months.

It just makes so much sense on so many levels. If you look at the States, which is a few years ahead of us in terms of lots of the food trends, all the restaurants are doing it, they incorporate it into their food.

She says some Irish restaurants are also pickling and fermentation, though “there is not a song and dance about it”.

5650179331_5808830f8f_o Source: Darrell George

She has been involved with bringing fermentation workshops to The Fumbally, a Dublin café, and is also inspired by the popularity of fermentation talks by the Cultured Club.

Sanderson sees the return to pickling and preserving as a backlash against fast consumerism. Plus, like juicing or smoothies, most people turn to fermentation for the health benefits.

“You’re dealing with live food, so you’re engaging and getting more probiotics out of the food that you’re eating.”

16502171936_ed4f16c912_z Source: ccbarr via Flickr/CC

Though she anticipates fermentation to increase in popularity, Sanderson says “it’s not like a crisp sandwich” in trending terms.

It’s been here since the beginning of time, when people salted their meat to keep it for longer.

Speaking of crisp sandwiches…

In a story worthy of an episode of Nathan Barley, Andrew McMenamin was inspired to turn That Wee Café in Belfast into a crisp sandwich cafe, Simply Crispy, after a satirical article on the Ulster Fry.

It was meant to open for four weeks – so that they could pay their rent for the first two months of the year – but six weeks on, Simply Crispy is still serving up sandwiches.

Sometimes you have to take a punt on something so stupid it might work. Who doesn’t love a crisp sandwich?

The plan now is to take the concept on the road this summer to festivals and events.

McMenamin says an intensive social media campaign helped secure the first bites of their crisp sandwiches. “People wanted to be seen queuing up there.”

He was inspired by the Shoreditch Cereal Killer café and has had customers coming in “happy with the fact [we aren't] in London”.

At Simply Crispy, they’ve responded to customer needs, such as opening later, and though things have peaked and plateaued, they’re where they want to be.

liz-lemon-eating

The fact they use decent products is what’s most important to McMenamin.

But what turns a trend into a long-lasting thing? “Value for money or an amazing product that was better than what came before,” says Harbison.

Conversely, he says that when people fail at making a splash, “it’s usually down to investing big and then moving onto the next big thing”.

Does Ireland love fads? 

Harbison describes the likes of the crisp sandwich café and cereal café as “a little bit like fads to be honest”, which are “great for worldwide media attention and a headline or viral video but their longevity is limited enough”.

“What we are seeing is a move to better quality cafes in general. Gone is the crappy coffee thats been sitting around for hours and the standard chicken and stuffing sandwich. The European influences have helped improve the ‘fast’ food we eat,” he concludes.

The future of food

At Bord Bia, they’ve pinpointed major food trends in Ireland, including

  • Duck and BBQ food
  • Baking experimentation 
  • Craftsmanship
  • Health and wellness

12113022756_6750d1e366_z Source: Wilson Hui via Flickr/CC

Meanwhile, Harbison would personally like to see some “good Chinese and Indian food in Ireland”, describing the much-loved curry chip or 3-in-1 as “pretty poor”.

Perhaps an Irish Brick Lane is the answer? Only time will tell in the world of food trends.

What are your tips for food trends in 2015? Tell us in the comments.

Read: Crisp sandwich café sells out by lunchtime on its first day>

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