Samuel Muston: Forbes Magazine tells me octopus is the new prawn, and veganism is in
If Forbes Magazine were a person it would probably wear hemp trousers. Or at least that's the conclusion I've drawn since the business bible declared last week that "high-end vegan" food was going to be the number 1 coming food trend of 2014.
The list, compiled by chefs, restaurateurs and "food educators", makes interesting reading. Apparently it will soon be de rigueur for wine to be served out of beer taps, while pastrami will be the thing from which dreams (and everyone's lunch) is made. Octopus also gets the nod, too: "In five years," it declares, "octopus will be the new prawn".
Now, it may be that barmen will soon be "pulling" glasses of pinot noir and my gran will serve pastrami sandwiches after enjoying octopus cocktail with my aunt Joan. Such things are not beyond the realms of possibility. But vegan food in the mainstream? I think not.
It's not that going the way of the vegetable isn't an attractive prospect. I remember a couple of years ago writing a piece about raw-food vegans and going to meet a particularly committed trio in a local café. As soon as I'd walked through the door, I knew who they were – their skin shone bright like apples.
They'd chosen this strain of veganism, they said, "because of the health benefits" – and indeed, they did look as though they could fly off to scale Everest or fill in for Usain Bolt. They also looked fed up.
I wasn't entirely surprised to bump into one of them at the bar of a very un-vegan restaurant in central London a year or so later. Yes, he was indeed eating here, he told me. He had succumbed, he said, for that most compelling of reasons: "boredom".
That's the rub, and that's why I'd bet the ranch on Forbes' prediction not coming true. Because for most of us, going out for dinner is an indulgence, a little treat; a time to drink wine, order three courses and undo the top button of your trousers in the car on the way home. It is about pleasure unalloyed, which is not necessarily what veganism is about.
Most of us recognise that eating a few extra veggies is good, but paying to eat in a restaurant where the menu has been denuded of meat, eggs, butter and milk seems, well, like a missed opportunity.
There have been valiant attempts to change our habits, of course – Saf in Shoreditch, east London, soldiered on for several years serving salsify fettuccine and flax crackers – but ultimately it was all in vain. It couldn't crack the cultural nut. Its dining room was seldom more than half full.
So, while I've no doubt Forbes is pretty on the money when it comes to bonds, gilts and stocks, when it comes to dinner, lunch and tea... well, not so much.
If you're forever drinking bubbles...
We are soon to enter the annual bubblefest known as Christmas party season. And if we're lucky, the bubbles in our glass will be champagne. Traditionally, that's meant drinking a glass of something from one of the blockbuster champagne houses – Moët & Chandon, Piper-Heidsieck, or Veuve Clicquot if we were in the money – but, increasingly, a new gang of wine-makers is makings its presence felt with "grower champagne".
Yes, I know what you're thinking: all the grapes that go into champagne are "grown". But that's not what we are on about here. In this case, it refers to the small vineyards in the Champagne region which supply the big names with grapes, but also make their own stuff.
If your taste buds are adventurous, grower champagne is where you want to spend your cash. Check out J.L. Vergnon Conversation Brut Grand Cru if you like your wine delicate and mousey (from £24). Or instead try the drier, more saline René Geoffroy, Premier Cru Pureté Brut Zero (£32). Available from bbr.com, champagne-jl-vergnon.com
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