Elaine Murphy Talks Food Trends
Restaurateur Elaine Murphy of The Winding Stair, The Woollen Mills and The Washerwoman, talks trends and troubles
In terms of food trends, I always think here in Ireland we tend to run about two years behind Australia and a year behind London. So I don't think we have even hit our stride with the fermenting and pickling of food – I reckon we will definitely be seeing more of that this coming year.
In fact, I’ve been banging on for a year or so about vegetables in general, and their time is certainly now. The Woollen Mills has its own ‘vegetable’ section on the menu and we’re putting them right at the centre of the meal. This is something I think you’ll see a lot more of this year. Cauliflower is one vegetable that looks like it will be top of this list, and so it should. Also, leaves, like purslane in particular, are set to play a starring role.
One hilarious phrase that I think is set to sum up the ethos for food in 2017 (as well as last year) is: ‘values not value’. Sustainability, ethical and ecological trading, and even cooking with waste food are hot in UK, Australia and US right now, although I'm not sure we will embrace the latter as a huge 'trend', meaning less food waste and more ethical sourcing.
Restaurant delivered food has long been an obsession of mine and is hugely popular in London and Melbourne right now. Deliveroo are forging ahead with expanding its catchment area (although the much-lamented Restaruant Express did it for many years and sadly folded during the recession), and food from both The Woollen Mills and The Washerwoman's kitchens can be brought right to your couch now through Deliveroo.
It can’t really be argued that here in Ireland we are still in the throes of our love affair with sandwiches, dogs and burgers (not all together), 'gourmet garbage' in general, and always with the chicken wings, which are still the current penchant of diners in UK, US and Australia).
I’m happy to say that we were ahead of the pack and have three types on the menu since we opened The Washerwoman in Glasnevin. Meanwhile, I don't think we have had closure yet with raw fish. There’s Scandinavian, Nordic and Icelandic influences still bubbling under the surface here and we really should be more obsessed with raw fish, given our island status. Look out for the new raw fish kid on the block – poke, a Hawaiian style ceviche, which is delicious and very 'now'. Also look out for more inventive use of roe. Goatsbridge Farm trout caviar has been one of our favourites since they started producing it, but roe is expected to be much more widely used by chefs this year.
Seaweed should take over from kale as the hottest vegetable but in Ireland's defence, we have been using both liberally for years. Home/housemade charcuterie and even cheese are expected to become de rigueur, while apparently Filipino food is set to become the new Korean; replace kimchi with adobo and you've got it.
African food and all sorts of ethnic breakfast foods, as well as alternative pastas and noodles, such as konjac, are all trends we may see, however I’m not sure if the Irish market are quite ready for Japanese fermented soya beans at 8am yet.
In terms of drinks trends, amaro is set to make a splash, with bitter drinks looking nailed on to be popular. Fruit-based cocktails are back too. I think the rising cost of food and other associated restaurant costs, insurance and licenses in particular, is going to begin to take hold of restaurants with serious impact on pricing. I feel consumers are going to have to start shifting their lowball expectations on pricing. Cheap food at what cost? The impact of our efforts with ethical sourcing, sustainability and fair and decent labour and production values must inevitably have an impact on pricing. Let's start that conversation!
We are looking forward to opening The Legal Eagle in Dublin in May this year. I adore the building. It speaks to me of a very elegant, comfortable pub in the real tradition of old-school gastro-pub. Think devilled kidneys, jugged hare, potted shrimp, Scotch eggs, crab claws, shellfish platters calves' liver’, with a great counter of hefty salads, charcuterie, smoked fish, soul-food sambos, and meatball tartines.
We also plan an unprecedented whiskey and gin bar, where people will be able to keep and mark their own bottles, and some delightful cask ales. We want it to be a place where you can sit all day, all evening, and not everyone needs to eat. The wine selection will be carefully sourced by Sean Gargano with loads of ‘by the glass’ and, oh did I mention the whiskeys?