When we asked the owner of Croton-on-Hudson’s Hopscotch what 2017 has in store for American eaters, he was sure of himself. “Foraged foods and fluke,” asserted Marko Rudovic, without missing a beat.
While some lament what knotweed does to their property values, Rudovic is serving it alongside mussels to discerning locals. He’s just one area chef of many thinking through how to cook with what is hyper-local and best available, rather than what can be imported across state lines or brought in by seaway.
If the agrarian sector has been hit hard — think drought and wildfires — there are effects in the kitchen, too. “When you’re held to the elements it’s hard to control,” he explains. “But we’re getting smarter with the ocean — it’s hard to gauge how much we have, but the animals are staying longer in their basins.”
Moratoriums have been lifted on Chilean sea bass and Amazonian sea bass, meaning we’ll likely see more of that. The aftermath of severe Midwestern drought in 2012 is also finally ebbing, driving beef prices down. So, Rudovic believes there will be more meat on your menu, and more of using everything you’ve got, including marrow.
Thirty miles north, in Newburgh, Caffe Macchiato’s Chef/owner, Jodi Cummings, thinks trends will be driven in a different direction: by healthful eating and economics, and shifting toward a plant-based diet. “The cooking techniques that can be applied to vegetables are very similar to working with animal proteins — guests don’t feel like they are missing anything on the plate,” says Cummings. “It’s healthier to have smaller portions of protein.”
So will we be dining on — and with — the bovine in our backyard? Or are we more apt to order broccoli Ossobuco? Whatever’s offered, one thing so far seems certain: eating with intention will be popular among chefs up and down the Hudson.