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7 Food Travel Trends of 2017

See what new ingredients, menu items and cooking practices are on the rise this year.

U.S. News & World Report

7 Food Travel Trends of 2017

A rising interest in Native American food traditions and high-altitude cuisine are just a couple of culinary developments on the horizon for 2017.(Getty Images)

Lured by wine bars, microbreweries, local markets, restaurants and bakeries, food-obsessed travelers seek out destinations where they can experience dynamic regional culinary scenes. For many travelers with discerning palates, discovering the latest culinary trends has become a popular form of self-expression.

And according to top chefs, epicureans can expect to find several experimental food concepts on their plates this year. South African chef Oliver Cattermole believes that wheat-free foods will have a big impact on menus across the world. He is sprouting a lot of seeds and pods for bread baking, and is using the ancient grains spelt, wheat germ, quinoa and ground husk. Another rising trend: Dehydrating pea skins, beet skins for crisps, fruits and chick pea shells. Plus, rising chefs say savory yogurts, beets, butternut, kale and smoked garlic are likely to become more prevalent at restaurants and resorts this year. The year's biggest culinary developments are as diverse as the food itself.

With that in mind, here are boundary-pushing food tourism trends to watch in the year ahead.

A Chef-Driven NYC Culinary Scene

Always on the cusp of innovative menu items, New York City chefs are continually incorporating versatile culinary trends into their gastronomic creations. Chef Rob Newton at the Black Walnut Restaurant in the Hilton Brooklyn predicts that diners will demand more vegetarian cuisine options and there will be a continued movement toward smaller meat portions in dishes. And based on requests, chef Greg Lombardi at Del Frisco's Grille New York has added a dish that offers a unique take on lighter fare. Lombardi's quinoa tacos incorporate charred corn, roasted tomato salsa, crumbled tofu and house-made salsas wrapped in cabbage. Meanwhile, chef Adam Leonti at The Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, New York, expects that chefs will return to classical European cooking, including more rooted French, Italian and German dishes. Also, he expects that chefs – in response to consumer requests – will drop the number of proteins off their menus.

The Rise of Liquor-Laden Foods

With America's love for libations rivaling its zest for food, menus are ever-changing to meld the best of both worlds. From pizza with toppings soaked in alcohol to hard cider apple pie, alcohol-infused foods are gaining traction across the country. Enjoy sweet views and even sweeter treats at Tidal Restaurant at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, where banana waffle doughnuts layered with rum-banana foster glaze, candied walnuts and vanilla makes for a decadent rum dessert. Meanwhile, the evolving offerings at Pouring Glory in Fort Worth, Texas, includes the "Hopapeno Hop Fusion," a grilled chuck burger topped with fried egg, a HopFusion ale, pickled jalapeno relish, sliced avocado and queso fresco on ciabatta bread and is served with Pouring Glory home slices.

A Search for Centuries-Old Indigenous Cuisine

Native American cuisine is at the forefront at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, Santa Fe. Southwestern-inspired, farm-to-table dining experiences that reflect a sense of place and heritage are in the middle of a culinary resurgence at the property. The resort's chef, Kai Autenrieth, has slightly diverted from his European roots and has brought a new dimension to the resort's menus by incorporating indigenous staples such as bison, venison and local ingredients such as red and green chili to add creative twists to traditional flavorful sauces. Menu items include everything from tortilla soup to smoked mole chicken enchiladas to blue corn crusted trout.

Reinventing Traditional Continental Breakfasts

Boutique hotels are redefining and enhancing the continental breakfast concept. According to a recent 2016 survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 62 percent of hotels now offer a free breakfast with guests stays. With heightened interest in high-quality local cuisine and immersive food experiences, food-centric hotels such as the The Spectator Hotel and the French Quarter Inn in Charleston, South Carolina, are upping the ante with an abundance of locally sourced, artisanal options to satisfy guests and increase the chance of repeat visits.

High-Altitude Cuisine

Skiers will discover European-inspired cuisine at restaurants near their favorite U.S. ski resorts this year. Take Sugar Hill Inn in New Hampshire's White Mountains, which embraces a European-style gastronomic philosophy. The property features a four-course prix fixe menu, which is always made from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible. Sauteed veal sweetbreads and sage-infused potato gnocchi with red wine sauce are among the appetizers available. And innovative entrees include a sauteed duck breast, foie gras ravioli, gingered cauliflower, French-cut green beans and truffle mac and cheese.

The Rise of Cooking Vacations

These days, the art of cooking has progressed from a hobby into a passion for many travelers. Knowledge about how cuisine is prepared and finding the best way to add the most nutrients to innovative dishes are topics of interest for many travelers craving hyper-local options and immersive food experiences. The Thompson Seattle offers an opportunity to enjoy a multicourse Chef's Counter experience ($130 per person), and engage with the restaurant's chef, Quinton Stewart, as he prepares a 10- to 14-course tasting menu.

Meanwhile, The Lodge at Woodloch, a luxurious retreat in northeast Pennsylvania, embraces a philosophy that organic food is not only good for your health, but can also be artfully presented. The Lodge's intimate kitchen allows guests to enjoy special cooking demonstrations with executive chef Josh Tomson and a talented team of chefs who present new cooking techniques, healthy and surprising alternative ingredients and inventive meal presentation ideas. Plus, guests can learn how to plan a menu around seasonal produce and herbs at the property's garden.

A Demand for Simpler Dishes

The methods of food preparation and our cuisine choices are constantly evolving, thanks in part to creative chefs who dare to experiment with bold techniques and flavors. But then again, the most recent food trend defining the culinary landscape is returning to less complicated dishes prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients. In the year ahead, look for a rise in traditional, crowd-pleasing dishes sourced with organic local ingredients.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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