Posted June 10, 2016

Going Native: Trends to Sip and Savor in California

Eat + Drink

California is cooking up some tasty, genre-bending food and cocktail trends. Here’s our short list so you can have a place at the table (and bar).

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California Citrus Vodka from St. George Spirits. (Photo: Jason Tinacci for St. George Spirits)

  • California-Born Spirits Soar: Home to more craft distilleries than anywhere else in the country, it’s only natural that California is serving up a slew of artisanal spirit-makers. A key ingredient is the Golden State’s agricultural bounty, which is transformed into inventive, spirited expressions like a California Citrus vodka–infused with San Joaquin Valley citrus and bergamot–from Alameda-based St. George Spirits.
  • Brewtails On Tap: Free-spirited California is also mixing things up on the cocktail scene with malty mash-ups called “brewtails”. The creative quaffs mix quality craft beers with cocktail ingredients to produce striking new libations with names like the Tijuana Matinee (mezcal, Cointreau, orange juice, Almanac Golden Gate sour wheat beer) poured by San Francisco’s Barrel Head Brewhouse.
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The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app. (Photo : ©Monterey Bay Aquarium. Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.)

  • Sustainable Seafood Served Here: Declining fish populations globally have resulted in decisive action by Californians involved in the food industry’s entire chain, from fishermen to restaurateurs. Menus featuring fish increasingly avoid threatened species like bluefin tuna and offer planet-friendly alternatives instead. All of Kimpton’s restaurants use only fish approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. You can download the app here.
  • Trending Tacos: Tacos are California’s most loved and prevalent street food. The state’s long legacy of Mexican culture, paired with the wide availability of tacos of all types–from food truck birria to upscale iterations served at innovative spots like Kimpton’s Huntington Beach restaurant Zimzala, where they’re dressed with queso fresco and Napa cabbage slaw–signal that tacos have reached a new level of respect and status. Case in point: for four years running now, the taco-palooza known as the Tacolandia festival–an international showcase of taco pros–has sold out its venue at LA’s historic Olvera Street location.
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Street tacos at Huntington Beach’s Zimzala.

  • Runaway Ramen: Ramen, that umami-rich category of quality fast-food style noodles imported from Japan, has found a huge fan base here in California and the result is a delicious selection of ramen shops dotted statewide. LA’s westside Japanese enclave of Little Osaka is where you’ll find Tsujita LA serving ramen, tasty dipping sauces and sashimi. In the Bay Area, Oakland’s Ramen Shop is where you can savor California updates like veggie-Meyer lemon-shoyu ramen (paired with an impressive whiskey and bourbon list) or visit SF’s Japantown where ramen shops are plentiful.
  • Decadently Healthy Desserts On The Menu: In California, dessert artisans have figured out a way you can have your cake and eat it, too. The trend now is decadence with a dollop of healthy ingredients, including ingredients such as beets, coconut meat and dates. Examples abound but include selections like the gluten-free s’mores cheesecake served at Sinners and Saints Desserts in Venice, or the baklava made with pomegranate molasses, bee pollen, pistachio, mint and sumac offered at Santa Barbara’s Mesa Verde Restaurant.

Next time you’re California dreamin’, check out Kimpton hotels for a stylish place to lay your head.

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