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Restaurant Week is just around the corner

Turns out I wasn't the only one all "a'Twitter" over the news about Charleston's first Restaurant Week coming a little later this month.

As soon as last Wednesday's Daily Mail hit newsstands, a new Facebook page covering the event was created and generated nearly 900 likes in its first five days - even with a water crisis dominating the news - and my phone immediately blew up with tweets, posts and calls from readers either celebrating the news or hungering for more details.

Will restaurants announce menus ahead of time? Which chefs will offer set menus versus a choice for each course? Will more restaurants come on board?

I'll be posting information as it comes in on The Food Guy blog, Twitter and Facebook pages listed at the end of this column. But you can also be the first to know by following CWV Restaurant Week on Twitter (@eatlocalcwv, #cwvrestweek) or liking "Charleston WV Restaurant Week" on Facebook (www.facebook.com/eatlocalcwv).

For those who missed the news, eight top local restaurants will all be offering special three-course dinners for just $30 from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1.

Participating restaurants are Noah's Eclectic Bistro, South Hills Market & Cafe, Bridge Road Bistro, Paterno's at the Park, Bluegrass Kitchen, Ichiban, Soho's and Vandalia Grille.

The inaugural event is being organized by local purveyor Buzz Food Service.

* * *

As much as people were buzzing about Restaurant Week, there was no escaping the week's biggest local news, a tainted water supply that forced the closure of almost all local restaurants.

Like many people, I turned to social media for all the latest updates and occasional comic relief to help laugh away the pain. Among the witty banter I saw, one post that particularly resonated with me involved a New Year's do-over.

Lamenting the wave of subzero temperatures that gripped the area and a subsequent chemical leak that poured more salt in our wounds, one friend called for another celebration to ring in 2014 once all this mess is cleaned up.

Love it.

So in honor of ringing in a "new" New Year, here's a sneak peek at what's supposed to be hot on this year's food scene.

Marketing and communications agency JWT has just released the results of its ninth annual forecast of world trends, including some that relate to food and drink . . .

  • Edible packaging - To make their food more sustainable, marketers are tapping into new technologies to create edible wrappers around burgers, ice cream and more.
  • Infused ice cubes - Taking cocktail culture to the next level, mixologists are starting to push the flavors of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups and herbs, enhancing their look and adding complementary flavors as they melt.
  • Silent meals - To help diners eat more mindfully, some restaurants now hold silent meals. The Brooklyn restaurant Eat has been doing this periodically, asking patrons to remain quiet and focus on the taste of the food, sounds of the food prep and details of the room. In Mexico City, "anti-restaurants" have popped up where people eat in silence - no music, noise or waiter haranguing you.
  • Ugly produce - Seeing more lumpy heirloom tomatoes or gnarled carrots on store shelves or at farmers markets? If not, you will. In Europe, there's a movement afoot to reduce food waste by selling rather than discarding imperfect produce. U.K. magazine Delicious is encouraging readers to buy imperfect produce and speak out against regulations governing the appearance of produce sold in stores.
  • Spice company McCormick also compiled its annual list of the top flavors to look for in 2014 . . .

  • Aji amarillo: A hot Peruvian yellow chili pepper with bold, fruity flavor.
  • Kashmiri masala: An often homemade blend of spices from northern India featuring cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and ginger.
  • Tea: Not just for sipping anymore, this natural ingredient is making its way into rubs, broths and marinades.
  • Chamoy sauce: A unique Mexican condiment (made from apricot, lime, chilies and spices) that is beginning to gain a following in the U.S.
  • Cassava flour: Also known as manioc or tapioca flour, this gluten-free alternative is a Brazilian staple prized for its versatility.
  • Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Daily Mail. He can be reached at 304-348-1721 or by e-mail at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.charlestondailymail/foodguy.


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