Afternoons by the pool, leisurely walks in the evenings, vacations, outdoor adventures, rooftop happy hours watching the sunset… In the words of Sublime, “Summer time and the living’s easy.”
Here are 3 food and beverage trends to try this summer in between all that relaxation and fun in the sun:
1. Burger Madness
Trendy burger specialty restaurants have taken the food industry by storm. “The burger is making a huge presence in the food industry,” Scott Shacklett, manager of Cornucopia Foods, LLC said. “You’ve got mainstream, big-name chefs like Gordon Ramsey opening burger bars. Any high caliber hotel will have at least one specialty burger.” Unique toppings, meats and buns continue to help burgers evolve. “It’s not your basic beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes anymore,” Scott said. “They are making burgers more than a burger.’”
Where to go:
You could eat one specialty burger a week and still not get through the list by the time September rolls around. Restaurants like Umami Burger serve a rich variety of burgers with toppings like shitake mushrooms, port-caramelized onions, beer-cheddar cheese and dozens of other tantalizing options. Restaurants like The Counter and Stacked allow guests to build their own customized burgers.
Our own Finish Line Sports Grill features a new burger every month. July’s “Big Poppy Burger” features blue cheese-stuffed Angus beef, avocado, olive tapenade, roasted poblano ranch aioli atop a poppy seed bun.
2. The Craft Beer Experience
“It’s about the experience, man.”
The craft beer experience—trying new flavors, food pairings and brands beyond Budlight–is on the rise, especially during summer when outdoor happy hours, festivals and concerts are booming. “We are creating an experience at the L.A. County Fair where you can pour your own beer and we charge by the ounce,” Scott said. “Guests who are interested in the many craft beers we serve can try sample sizes.”
Image courtesy of ahmet guler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Where to go:
Craft beers are available at multiple restaurants and bars but for a true craft brew experience, visit small independent joints like our recent Farm-to-Table guest Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in Redlands. There are plenty of craft breweries throughout Los Angeles, from Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach to City Tavern in Culver City (my personal favorite), to Spring Street Bar in downtown to Beer Belly in Koreatown. The key is to be adventurous and to try brews you haven’t experienced before. Food GPS does a great job of rounding up the best brews in L.A.
3. Staying Local
Sustainability has become a way of life. Whether its growing fruit and vegetables in your own home or eating at restaurants that specialize in farm fresh cuisine, there are plenty of ways to enjoy sustainable meals. “Sustainability will be a trend for years to come,” Chef David Teig said. “A top priority will be food production without damaging the environment. Small producers are still the focus. They have a love for what they do and what they grow.”
Many restaurants offer local ingredients as part of their menus, although their “local” resources could be located hundreds of miles away. Space is a luxury for many venues. McKinley’s Grille is fortunate to have ample space for its on-site farm. Because Fairplex occupies hundreds of acres, it’s not difficult to grow crops year-round. Vegetables, fruits and herbs thrive in the warm Southern California climate and our seasonal menu reflects that. “We are the micro-version of sustainability,” Chef David Teig said. “We have great resources and we know exactly where our food is coming from – because it’s coming from us.”
Where to go:
For those cooking at home, your neighborhood Farmers Market is a great source for local ingredients. Forgo Jamba Juice and try making a smoothie with farm-fresh strawberries and blueberries or throw together a salad of freshly picked leafy greens, tomatoes and carrots. If cooking isn’t an option, there are plenty of restaurants who focus on serving organic ingredients and fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.